Little is left of the NBA that pushed players to work hard and succeed if they wanted to make good money. Now, an average player or role player gets money thrown at him right out of the gate. Consequently, many young players do not feel the need to exert themselves as much. Many measure success by money, so when this kind of "success" arrives so easily in their NBA careers, many lose the appetite to improve and master their craft.

Harden and Curry break the bank first

James Harden and Steph Curry deserve every dollar they get, do not get me wrong.

They are among the best players in the NBA and have worked hard to become so dominant and successful. Harden recently signed a four-year extension with the Houston Rockets for $160 million and Curry re-signed with the Golden State Warriors for five years and $201 million. With all the television money NBA teams and owners have lately earned, it is only fair that the most influential players in our game receive their share of the pie. After all, people are turning on their TVs more than ever to watch the NBA because of such players.

Rewarding the average player

Harden and Curry's astronomical deals will only continue to encourage average players to ask for even more money that they do not deserve.

So far, this off-season has already shown us that mediocracy can be highly rewarded in today's NBA. For example, Otto Porter Jr., 24, will re-sign with the Washington Wizards (4yrs, $106M), Taj Gibson, 32, signed with Minnesota Timberwolves (2yrs, $28M), and J.J. Redick, 33, signed with Philadelphia 76ers (1yr, $23M). Now, these kinds of players are decent role players who can make valuable contributions to any NBA team.

However, in a different era, they would have needed to leave their blood, sweat, and tears on the court in order to approach these numbers.

Rewarding the good-but-not-great players

There are also cases of players who are past their prime or are painfully irregular who have also succeeded to land very important contracts during this NBA off-season.

This can refer to Kyle Lowry re-signing with Toronto Raptors (3yrs, $100M), Paul Millsap signing with the Denver Nuggets (3yrs, $90M), Jrue Holiday with the New Orleans Pelicans (5yrs, $126M), or Danilo Gallinari with the Los Angeles Clippers (3yrs, $65M). These are good players, some are really good, but they failed to take their game to the next level in order to truly deserve such large sums of money.

Rewarding the weak players

The third category belongs to players who would be receiving very low salaries some years ago, whether it is because they lack talent or are close to their 40s. Examples include Kelly Olynyk signing with Miami Heat (4yrs, $50M), Tony Snell with the Milwaukee Bucks (4yrs, $46M), Zach Randolph with the Sacramento Kings (2yrs, $24M), and Vince Carter with the Kings as well (1yr, $8M).

These are players who are expendable or are approaching retirement but can still make a lot of money in the NBA.

Harden, Curry and the domino effect

Harden and Curry might have accidentally triggered another salary raise for such NBA players. In addition, the other four superstars of the league will now look to jump on their bandwagon in order to earn similar record contracts. What will LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, or Kawhi Leonard ask for in the future? The negative side-effect might be that "stars" might look to auto-proclaim themselves "superstars" in order to convince teams to pay them similar salaries. In the NBA players used to chase greatness. Today, unfortunately, many are chasing money.