2011-12 salary: $25,244,000.
Is he worth it? From a business standpoint, true superstars are worth far more than they're paid. Kobe and LeBron, for example, are incredible revenue generators for their franchises and the league. Still, from a basketball standpoint, is Kobe the best player in the league? Probably not. But the man works hard for his money.
Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
2011-12 salary: $18,038,573.
Is he worth it? No. After signing a five-year, $107 million deal with the Hawks in 2010, he responded with one of the worst seasons of his career. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the contract.
Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
2011-12 salary: $18,217,705.
Is he worth it? Yes. Stoudemire's first season as New York's $100 million man was a success on and off the court. Not only did he make the Knicks relevant for the first time in a decade, he embraced the Big Apple and the fans embraced him back. By pumping life into the NBA's biggest market, Amar'e was worth every penny to the team and the league.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
2011-12 salary: $18,520,000.
Is he worth it? We'll see. Anthony's arrival in Manhattan wasn't as auspicious as Stoudemire's. His departure from Denver was ugly, and he didn't make the Knicks any better, partly because they gave up half their roster to get him. 'Melo must do more than score to justify all the fuss.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
2011-12 salary: $18,714,150.
Is he worth it? Yes and no. In Gasol's four playoff runs with the Lakers, he's received more than his fair share of credit — and blame. When they've won, it's been because Pau is the most skilled big man in the league. When they've lost, it's because he's too damn soft. Gasol has to deal with the latter criticism after last season's sweep by the Mavs. But you can't call him overpaid considering what he's meant to LA's rejuvenation and Kobe's overall happiness.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
2011-12 salary: $19,092,873.
Is he worth it? Heck yes. Did you watch the 2011 playoffs?
Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Magic
2011-12 salary: $19,269,308.
Is he worth it? HA! Arenas isn't even playing in the NBA this season. The Magic used the amnesty clause to waive him and no other team wants him around. Yet he still gets his money this season, plus $43M in the next two. For Arenas, that's the beauty of a guarantee contract.
Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
2011-12 salary: $21,200,000.
Is he worth it? Nah. After 16 NBA seasons, there's not much gas left in the tank for the 35-year-old forward. But his intensity, leadership and defense are still worth a lot to this group of Celtics as they make a final run at a title. Even if he loses, he's going to go out screaming.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
2011-12 salary: $21,300,000.
Is he worth it? Of course Duncan is overpaid at this stage of his career, but it's hard to begrudge a four-time champion, a future Hall of Famer and a classy guy some extra cash at the end of his career. As with Garnett, this season is likely Duncan's last big payday, and he's earned it.
Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards
2011-12 salary: $22,152,000.
Is he worth it? Please. Lewis has been paid way too much for far too long already, ever since Orlando gave him a ridiculous max contract four years ago. At this point, Lewis is an average player making superstar money, which is something owners and fans hate to see.