The 2009-2010 season will begin on the 27th of October, just less than four weeks from now. We take a look at the top ten paid players in the league going into the season – deserving and overpaid.

Number 10 – Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks – 17,040,000 Dollars

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Hasn’t scored less than 21.5 points per game in the last six seasons, but also hasn’t led his team into the playoffs in the last three and hasn’t played more than 72 games since 2005-2006, his and the Bucks’ last playoff appearance. True he is their best player and go to guy… but does he deserve 17 Mil a year?

Number 9 – Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic – 18,876,000 Dollars

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Although he won’t play for the first ten games of the 2009-2010 season due to a failed drug test, he still is the highest paid player on the team with the 5th highest payroll in the league. Lewis signed a 118 million dollars for six years contract two years ago an has been a crucial part of the Orlando Magic playoff runs in the last two seasons. He scores less than he did with the SuperSonics, but he wins much more.

Number 8 – Ray Allen, Boston Celtics – 19,766,860 Dollars

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One of three Boston Celtics players in the top 13 highest paid players (Kevin Garnett is 13th with 15 million dollars), making the C’s payroll the third highest in the league. Improved his numbers last season from his first (title winning) season with the Celtics, but he’s undeniably past his prime.

Number 7  – Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics – 19,795,712 Dollars

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The highest paid player out of the Celtics “Big Three”, Pierce won the 2008 Finals MVP as the Celtics won their 17th title and first since 1986. He’ll begin his 12th season with the Boston Celtics in 2009-2010 and he is currently the third highest scorer in the Franchises’ history, behind Larry Bird and John Havlicek.

Number 6 – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks – 19,795,714 Dollars

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The highest paid non-American in the NBA is also probably the best ever European in the NBA. Nowitzki won the MVP back in 2007 and after 11 seasons with the team (and counting), Nowitzki leads the Mavericks’ franchise in most statistical categories, including points and rebounds.

Number 5 – Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers – 20,000,000 Dollars

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Shaq is starting his 18th NBA season in 2009-2010 with his third team in three years, attempting to get his fifth NBA title and maybe being that missing piece in the puzzle so Lebron can get his first.

Number 4 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs – 22,183,218 Dollars

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Like Shaq, Duncan is another big man looking for a fifth NBA Championship ring, with the opportunity window slowly closing. Like Shaq, Duncan is very dependant on the players around him, especially on their ability to stay healthy during the season (Are you listening Ginobili?), and staying healthy themselves.

Number 3 – Jermaine O’Neal, Miami Heat – 22,995,000 Dollars

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What?!!!! Jermaine O’Neal? Yes, you read it correctly. Someone is paying O’Neal, who hasn’t reached 70 games a season since 2003-2004 and has averaged 13.5 points per game in the last two seasons, almost 23 million dollars.

Number 2 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – 23,034,375 Dollars

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It’ll be interesting to see if Kobe Bryant, now that he’s finally won a Shaq-less title, will be affected from taking that baggage off of him. Will it make him looser, calmer? Maybe it’ll harm his game… The Lakers will make another run at a title this season and Kobe’s fire and drive need to be there.

Number 1 – Tracy McGrady – 23,329,561 Dollars

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Wasted potential always makes basketball fans angry, and McGrady is a poster child for wasted potential. Twelve NBA seasons, only 784 games, seven playoff appearances, never passed the first round. He played only 35 games last season and his future with the Rockets and in the NBA is very unclear with his huge contract ending after the 2009-2010 season.