Ron Baker ($4.5 million)
Ron Baker flashed defensive upside in his rookie season with the New York Knicks, with nearly one steal per game in a limited role, as well as a playmaking ability. Thus, the organization gave him a two-year, $8.9 million contract in the 2017 offseason, with a player option for year two.
Well, for Baker’s sake, the player option came in handy. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder and torn labrum in January, and played just 29 games, averaging 2.4 points and a 33.9 percent mark from the field. Surgery was performed in February.
Of course, given the injury and lackluster stats, Baker exercised the player option and will earn $4.5 million in 2018-19.
If healthy to start the season, Baker should himself in a bench role, identical to the past two seasons. That’s behind Courtney Lee, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilkina. So it might not be impossible to carve out a role, but under the new head coach, David Fizdale, there’s work ahead for the Wichita State product to re-prove himself.
Baker can find this opportunity in training camp and the preseason to potentially navigate past Mudiay or Hezonja, pending how they perform in their first fill go-arounds in New York. It’s an opportunity to boost his value before 2019 free agency, which might not return another $4.5 million salary.