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The two-time NBA champion shoots after the Thunder's spectacular free agency deal against Isaiah Hartenstein

The NBA continues to be in better financial shape than ever before, with players in the association continuing to be rewarded with gigantic contracts that provide them with security for life. One of the players who managed to secure life-changing money this year's offseason was Isaiah Hartenstein, whose tireless efforts for the New York Knicks, especially during the 2024 NBA Playoffs, were rewarded by the Oklahoma City Thunder with a three-year, $85 million contract.

Hartenstein helps the Thunder address the biggest weakness on their roster that proved to be their undoing in their second-round game in this year's playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks: rebounding. However, not everyone is a fan of the contract the Thunder gave Hartenstein.

For two-time NBA champion and two-time All-Star David West, Isaiah Hartenstein's new contract is not all that proportional to the numbers he put up for the Knicks overall in the 2023-24 season. West then poked fun at the Thunder's big man on his official Instagram account.

There's simply more money floating around among NBA players these days because of the TV deals the league has signed. In fact, David West himself has benefited from the explosion in the league's salary cap. It may not have benefited him financially, but West can call himself a two-time NBA champion, thanks in large part to the Golden State Warriors' trade for Kevin Durant in 2016, which would not have been possible without the salary cap.

Still, it's indeed a bit of a shame that West didn't get a bigger payday than Isaiah Hartenstein this offseason due to the timing of when he became an NBA player. But the goal of those who came before him is always to leave the league in a much better state. The NBA is in a great position financially and the more players that benefit from that, the better.

Did the Thunder pay too much for Isaiah Hartenstein?

Isaiah Hartenstein will make an average of $29 million over the next three seasons with the Thunder; this contract makes him the 61st highest-paid player in the association. A quick look at Hartenstein's average salaries shows that the Thunder may have actually paid above market value for the 26-year-old center.

The Thunder, however, don't necessarily have any other pressing needs on the roster. They have identified Hartenstein as the man who could help them advance in the 2025 NBA Playoffs, as he is the type of player they sorely lacked last season. The Thunder's front office has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt with all of its signings.

David West's career review

Selected 17th overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, David West emerged as a starting player in his third season, finishing second in the Most Improved Player vote in 2006. He only got better from there, developing into a 20-10 nightly threat while thriving in a productive partnership with Chris Paul.

West signed a five-year deal worth around $45 million following his rookie contract. He defaulted on his contract and opted out of the fifth year of his deal, but still earned around $55 million when converted to today's dollars, according to HoopsHype.

$55 million doesn't buy you an All-Star caliber player these days; David West would certainly have earned more than $100 million in four years if he had been born ten years later.

Perhaps West's career would have been different had he not torn his anterior cruciate ligament in March 2011. After such a serious injury, his value as a free agent plummeted that year, and as a result, he was only able to sign a two-year, $20 million contract after the lockout.

David West thrived with the Pacers, outperforming the two-year deal he signed in 2011. He became a crucial part of the Pacers' identity as a powerhouse team that gave LeBron James' Miami Heat some trouble. He then re-signed in 2013 to a contract worth $36 million for three seasons, with a player option for the final year.

West played out the two guaranteed seasons of his contract, but after feeling that the Pacers organization had disrespected fellow frontcourt player Roy Hibbert, he opted out of his contract for the 2015-16 season, which is when his journey as a ring hunter began.

In 2015, David West signed with the San Antonio Spurs for the minimum salary after they acquired LaMarcus Aldridge to expand their roster. After the Spurs fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 NBA playoffs, West moved to the superteam Warriors and signed minimum contracts in two consecutive offseasons. In total, West earned around $5.5 million from 2015 to 2018 – or about $7 million less than what he would have made in the final year of his contract with the Pacers.