It took a bitter, drawn-out battle that interrupted the 2011-12 season in order to stop front offices from blowing all of their money on a single player, and to prevent further careless spending. Before then, however, bad contracts were prevalent: $100 million deals to anyone that could be considered an All-Star and role players that wound up being traded or waived two years later after signing a $50 million deal.
It’s not the fault of the player. Entire front offices have to agree on a deal that they believe will point them in the right direction. But it’s easy to get careless with spending. In the summer of 2010, teams went wild attempting to take advantage of the free agent class that featured a plethora of All-Stars and role players who could fill out rotations. What we got as a result were a handful of good signings and a number of contracts that were never fulfilled by the player and the team.
You’ll notice in the following list of the 20 worst contracts in the NBA that many of them are running out and a majority of the contracts either only have a year or two left on them. However, the recent decrease in spending may have to deal more with saving towards 2014, which will replicate the 2010 free agency pool.
There will be nine-figure deals coming, and you can’t guarantee that at least a few of those deals are going to end up backfiring, whether it’s for injuries or the player just not panning out.
They’ll wind up in the 2016 edition of the 20 Worst Contracts.
Instead of worrying about who will be the next borderline star to earn a deal that exceeds their actual worth, we’ll dwell over those with deals that serve as a message to future contracts.
Amnesty casualties included
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20. RICHARD JEFFERSON – $11 million/1 year
Original deal: $38,892,000/4 years
The deal the San Antonio Spurs offered Richard Jefferson will long be considered one of the most questionable deals from a franchise that has usually prided itself on bringing in players whose talent is maximized within the system.
That never came to fruition with Richard Jefferson, who signed a $39 million deal with the Spurs back in 2010, a deal that has found a way to be moved twice.
The first move came when he was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson. Jefferson’s numbers, specifically the 2012-13 season, were historically deplorable as he finished the season playing in 56 games and averaging only 3.1 points and shooting 31 percent from beyond the arc.
But that was enough for the Jazz to not just take on his expiring deal, but that of Andris Biedrins as well. To be fair, though, Utah is in complete rebuild mode and did receive four draft picks, including two in the first round, as a part of the deal.
Jefferson is now averaging 10.3 points, but is doing so on 37 percent shooting and with a PER of 8.6. That PER is somehow lower than what he had last year when he was averaging only three points per game and averaging 10 minutes worth of playing time.
19. KRIS HUMPHRIES – $12 million/1 year
Original deal: $24 million/2 years
Coming to Boston in the blockbuster deal of the 2013 summer, Kris Humphries is yet another example of how a bad contract can be moved if under the right circumstances.
The Nets signed Humphries to a deal that would pay him $24 million over a two-year period. It was the double-double that trapped them. You see, Humphries had just averaged a double-double for two consecutive seasons and that obviously means a huge deal must be made or lose Kris Humphries.
It’s not appearing to be the best of deals, even if it did bring in a new-look team that will probably contend for a spot in the playoffs.
Humphries is a strong rebounder, but it’s a bonus any time he’s able to put the ball through the basket. He has no touch around the rim, seen by his 57 percent shooting around the rim, and was a 35 percent jump shooter last year.
His minutes and overall stats were cut in half following the 2011-12 season and he lost his starting job, as well. By the start of the 2013-14 season, he was in a new uniform and will most likely be on his third team in three years next season.
18. BEN GORDON – $13 million/1 year
Original deal: $58 million/5 years
Was there anybody who bought into the “hype” when the Detroit Pistons signed Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon to ridiculous deals?
Those two were given a heavy amount of minutes to achieve less than mediocrity and they’re still getting paid for it. Fortunately for the Pistons, they were able to rid themselves of one of those deals when they traded Ben Gordon to Charlotte for Corey Maggette and his equally bad contract.
Gordon now wallows on Charlotte’s bench as they move in a different direction, one that doesn’t include 30-year-olds that were once unstoppable when it came to getting hot from the perimeter. That used to be Gordon’s career. He was downright terrifying in some instances when he would start to make the type of shots from low-percentage areas that nobody had any right making. Even after the irrelevancy that has enveloped his name, Gordon is still shooting 40 percent from three for his career. Excluding this season, Gordon has shot at least 40 percent from three in seven of his nine years in the league.
He’s played one game this season. Charlotte will be paying a lot of money to a sharpshooter who will continue to see no time as they give minutes to younger options in Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson. Once Gordon’s off the team, he’ll surely receive a deal that will fit his game. Until then, however, he’s one of the most grossly overpaid players in the league.
17. ANDREW BYNUM – $24 million/2 years
Was there something the Cleveland Cavaliers knew that we didn’t? Maybe they’re just keeping Andrew Bynum under wraps until they make the playoffs only to have him average 20 and 10 in a championship run. It’s still early. Really early. We’re only three weeks into the season and Bynum has been featured in seven of Cleveland’s first 11 games, even starting in two of them. He responded to his starting duties with an 11-point, 6-rebound game in a loss against Chicago and then followed that up with a dud in Washington where he scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Bynum now appears to be the offical starter and has played in at least 20 minutes in the past two contests. He made his return opening night against the Brooklyn Nets, playing seven minutes and shooting 1-of-5.
He’s started off the season shooting 34 percent. Still, he is returning after taking an entire year off to the dismay of the Philadelphia 76ers, so any playing time should be appreciated. He’s played in 60 games or less in six of his eight years in the league.
Cleveland fans will argue not all of this money is guaranteed — and there’s still a very decent chance they cut him before paying the full amount — but still, it’s a lot of money to pay for a guy who is a shell of himself and is openly talking of retirement.
16. DeANDRE JORDAN – $22 million/2 years
Original deal: $43 million/4 years
If you pay any player on your team at least $10 million per year, they need to be able to provide once the postseason rolls around.
The Los Angeles Clippers have two players that fit the bill, but DeAndre Jordan has been the greater offender. The athletic center averaged 8.8 points on an NBA-best 64 percent from the field in the regular season last year, but saw those numbers decline to 3.7 points on 46 percent shooting come playoff time. He also managed to shoot 39 percent from the foul line, but it looks like that’s improved judging from his improved mechanics at the line.
Jordan is currently the anchor for a Clippers team that ranks 29th in defensive efficiency, per Hollinger. He has not aided L.A.’s cause as he’s allowed opponents to shoot 63 percent at the rim, per SportVU. But this is all small sample size. On a larger scale, Jordan is still making far more than what he’s worth, especially once the season actually begins to matter. He can’t be utilized in the fourth quarter because he can’t shoot free throws and he’s unable to cancel it out with his defense.
The Clippers are planning on paying $43 million for someone who averages less than 30 minutes of playing time per game because he’s a liability to have on the court in the fourth quarter.
15. HEDO TURKOGLU – $12 million/1 year
Original deal: $52.8 million/5 years
In yet another installment of the Orlando Magic paying a lot of money to a player who doesn’t deserve it, here’s Hedo Turkoglu coming in and cashing his $12 million a year paycheck.
Are you sick yet? Are you sick that he made that much money last year to play in 11 games and shoot 26 percent from the field? Or are you sick that he’s getting paid $12 million and isn’t even in the league anymore?
Because we’re all living in the moment and distracted by shiny things, three-pointers at timely moments in Hedo’s case, the Magic, as well as the Toronto Raptors as we’d soon find out, were simply dumbfounded by Turkoglu’s ability to average 19.5 points and shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc in the 2007-08 season.
The Raptors had to have him, so they gave him a lot of money upon trading for him, even though his numbers regressed the year after he had his career-highs in points per and three-pointers made.
Turkoglu spent one season in Toronto. A year and five days after he was traded to Toronto, he would be traded to the Phoenix Suns. That was short-lived too as he played only 25 games with the Suns before being sent back to the Magic in a deal that sent the likes of Marcin Gortat and Vince Carter to Phoenix.
There was nothing memorable about his return. He played 53 games two years ago and shot less than 42 percent and grabbed only 3.8 rebounds per, despite being a starter. Then he hit us with the stink bomb he laid last year and hasn’t been featured in a game since February, 2013.
He managed to miss 23 of his 24 three-point attempts before he left, though, just as a consolation prize to the team that willingly brought him back.
14. KEVIN GARNETT – $23.5 million/2 years
Original deal: $36 million/3 years
Create this article a year ago and Kevin Garnett probably isn’t on this list, mainly because he was averaging 14.8 points on 50 percent shooting and still grabbing 7.8 rebounds per. But with the numbers he’s posting now? And with the 8.6 PER? And the fact that the Nets are scoring almost 10 less points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor? Yeah, I think $24 million over the next two years may be too much for the 37-year-old.
Garnett simply looks broken to start off the year. In nine games, he’s averaging career-lows across the board, including minutes per (22.9), shooting percentage (33 percent), points (6.9) and blocks (0.7). Yet he’s still averaging a near career-high of 2.8 personal fouls per. Per Hollinger, Garnett’s PER has him ranked 265th. Here are a few names that have a higher PER: Richard Jefferson, Robbie Hummel, Austin Rivers and Nazr Mohammed. His true shooting percentage of 34 percent has him ranked 304th in the league. There are only 310 players who qualify for this category, meaning there are only five players in the entire NBA with a worse true shooting percentage than Garnett.
He actually has negative win shares at the moment. Twice in his career he had at least 10 win shares. That number has steadily declined over the past five years and the Nets were just fortunate enough to receive Garnett at his absolute worst.
It’s going to be awfully tough to convince anyone that Garnett, who will be 38 at the start of next season, is going to turn it around at any point this year and this late in his career. The Nets probably weren’t anticipating this large of a dropoff from Garnett when trading for him over the 2013 summer, but these just might be the last two years of his career.
13. LANDRY FIELDS – $13.7 million/2 years
Original deal: $18.75 million/3 years
Recall for a moment that the Toronto Raptors deliberately offered Landry Fields a lucrative deal in hope that the New York Knicks would match the deal and effectively take themselves out of the running for Steve Nash.
This mistake lasts only two more years, but it will be remembered for years to come. Not just because it was an idea that failed miserably, but more because the Raptors are going to give Landry Fields nearly $20 million.
Like so many of us did, we bought into the hype that New York just happened upon this second-round steal out of Stanford. As a rookie, Fields put together an impressive year where he made the All-Rookie First Team following averages of 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep. Plus, he wasn’t a half-bad defender, which helped.
Then Fields departed from his hot rookie season and became your run-of-the-mill starter. Now faced with expectations, Fields saw his numbers drop, specifically his three-point percentage, which fell all the way to 26 percent.
This was more than enough to entice the Raptors into risking, I can’t stop saying this figure, nearly $20 million of their hard-earned money and giving it to a player who significantly fell off in his sophomore season.
That’s why there were no surprises when Fields just sort of fell off the planet once he joined Toronto. In 51 games, 22 of which he started, he averaged only 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds, had a career-low PER of 10.3, and shot 2-of-14 from beyond the arc for the season.
Two years after shooting 39 percent on 219 three-point attempts, Fields attempted only 14 threes and made two of them in 51 games.
Do I stop here or tell you that his numbers have only continued to decline? Suddenly two years is looking like an eternity.
12. CARLOS BOOZER – $32.1 million/2 years
Original deal: $75 million/5 years
My favorite Carlos Boozer as a Chicago Bull story will always be how he trashed Chris Bosh by calling the Miami Heat a “Big Two” and then getting thrashed by Bosh months later in the Eastern Conference Finals. Bosh averaged 23.3 points on 60 percent shooting, while Boozer averaged 14.4 points on 41 percent shooting. That one never gets old.
The Bulls signed Boozer in that same summer of 2010 where so many of these awful contracts came to be. Boozer was leaving behind a lot in Utah, including the formidable duo he created with Deron Williams, for the pastures of a Chicago team that had championship aspirations on account of their future MVP.
Despite being paid over $16 million a year, Boozer has yet to make a single All-Star Game or All-NBA team with Chicago, nor has he been capable of replicating the success he had in Utah. After recording a PER of at least 20 in four of his final five years with Utah, Boozer has yet to record such numbers in his time with Chicago.
His offensive win shares have also taken significant drops. He recorded as many as 6.5 win shares in the 2006-07 season, yet has recorded under two win shares twice in three full seasons with the Bulls.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Boozer’s run with the Bulls have been his postseason numbers. He averaged less than 13 points on 43 percent shooting in 2011 and failed to provide the Bulls any life in their 2012 postseason run that was cut short on account of Derrick Rose‘s injury.
You would still hold out some hope that your $16 million man can beat the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Tough to do when you shoot 42 percent from the field and average below your season averages for a second consecutive year.
11. ANDREA BARGNANI – $23 million/2 years
Original deal: $50 million/5 years
Would you believe that Andrea Bagnani is not even close to the first New York-based player on this list? Would you also believe that there was a time when high-paid people in high positions of NBA management regarded Bargnani as having more potential and upside than Deron Williams or Chris Paul? Would you also believe that, despite avoiding angry mobs that were forming in Toronto, there was a franchise willing enough to take on his deal? A deal that will pay him over $20 million over the next two years to be an above-average shooter, a horrific rebounder, and a subpar defender?
Bad contracts and the Knicks just seem to go hand-in-hand by this point. The Knicks traded away fan-favorite Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, and, get this, three draft picks.
There weren’t any other incentives in receiving Bargnani. It was ‘Bargs’ and ‘Bargs’ alone. The same player who played only 35 games and shot below 40 percent the year before, and the same player who had shot below 35 percent from three over the previous three seasons. The Knicks wanted him and the Raptors maniacally laughed away into the distance as they dropped the keys into the hand of James Dolan.
Surprising enough, Bargnani hasn’t been as significant a dumpster fire as many expected him to be. His rebounding numbers are still horrible, averaging 6.2 per 36 minutes despite Tyson Chandler being injured, but he’s shooting 51 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.
His current PER of 20.7 is also a career-high. Still, is it worth the $10 million-plus he’s earning this year? It isn’t, and you’ll truly start to notice once those percentages begin to fall to their usual averages, the 44 percent overall and 36 percent from three he’s been throwing up his whole career.
10. DREW GOODEN – $13.4 million/2 years (amnesty)
I didn’t understand the deal when I saw it in 2010, I don’t get it today, and I’ll never understand why it happened.
What was collectively brewing in the heads of the Milwaukee Bucks ownership when they decided to offer Drew Gooden, a journeyman who had played with eight different teams prior to joining the Bucks in 2010, $30 million? ESPN should make a “30-for-30” story about that. “What if I told you it would take eight teams before one of them was foolish enough to give you a long-term deal?”
Gooden spent three uneventful seasons with the Bucks, playing in only 35 games in his first season and 16 in his third and final. He shot 43 percent and averaged 12 and 14 points per, respectively, in his first two seasons, and then blew up in what would be his last year when he averaged 3.3 points and shot 33 percent from the field.
Drew has since been a casualty of the amnesty clause, but the Bucks still have to pay him in full unless there’s a team out there who plans on signing the 32-year-old.
9. KENDRICK PERKINS – $17.7 million/2 years
Original deal: $32.6 million/4 years
The Oklahoma City Thunder were perfect for Jeff Green and the Boston Celtics were perfect for Kendrick Perkins. Why did this trade have to occur?
The deal that left a lot of people scratching their heads hasn’t worked out well for neither side really. Yes, the Thunder made it to the NBA Finals, but Kendrick Perkins was largely ineffective throughout. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics are in an identity crisis without their “Big Three” and with Rajon Rondo still recovering from a torn ACL. But they can get use out of Green. What are the Thunder doing with Kendrick Perkins? How was he ever going to be the one to prop up Oklahoma City’s former “Big Three” and bring them championship glory as he did with Boston in 2008? So many questions, so few answers.
Perkins has been a significant bust with the Thunder and he’s somehow been worse this year than ever before, posting averages of 2.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18 minutes of action per game. His PER of 4.2 has him ranked 301st out of 310 players and he’s recorded negative win shares since joining the Thunder, which is insanely difficult since the Thunder win a lot of games. He showcased his talent last year when he posted a negative PER in the 2013 postseason after averaging 2.2 points on 26 percent shooting.
And the Thunder have two more years of this. They’ll be paying Perkins nearly $10 million in 2014-15 and who knows how irrelevant or insignificant his role will be by that point. Do I dare speak of how the Thunder could have kept James Harden had they found a way to rid themselves of the Perkins deal before then? I feel like I’ve said too much.
8. ERIC GORDON – $44 million/3 years
Original deal: $58.4 million/4 years
Eric Gordon begrudgingly signed a deal with New Orleans that would pay him nearly $60 million over a four-year period in the summer of 2012.
Whether they were the Hornets then or the Pelicans now, they’re still waiting for Gordon to make good on the deal that will reward him with $15.5 million three years from now if he decides to pick up his player option. $15.5 million? I’ve seen players take lesser deals on worse teams, so you’re stuck New Orleans and you better keep hoping Gordon is going to average 22 points like that final year with the Clippers and stops getting hurt like he’s done in the past four seasons.
Gordon missed 20 games in 2010, 26 in 2011, 57 in 2012 and 40 in 2013. This just wasn’t enough for the Hornets to match a $58 million offer by the Phoenix Suns, he was also enough for the Hornets to trade away Chris Paul.
Did we forget that happened? I know the Clippers are fun, but Chris Paul used to be on the Hornets and was also an MVP candidate there, too. Yet all it took for the Hornets to trade him was Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round pick that turned into Austin Rivers.
That happened, and New Orleans rewarded Gordon for it. They matched Phoenix’s offer so that they didn’t look completely foolish and empty-handed and they’re now paying for it with Gordon averaging 16.5 points on 42 percent shooting to go along with three rebounds and 2.9 assists per.
There needs to be a criteria for contracts such as this. Something along the lines of “You need to have (this) many All-Star Games in order to receive $14 million per year…”
7. RUDY GAY – $37.2 million/2 years
Original deal: $82.3 million/5 years
The Rudy Gay contract is just one of many examples of how overzealous general managers were in the sweet summer of 2010.
Gay was signed on the first day of free agency by the Memphis Grizzlies to a five-year deal that would pay him $82 million. The honeymoon lasted two seasons as ownership fell head over heels for the post-duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, which led Memphis to Game 7 of the 2011 West Semifinals amid Gay’s absence.
Memphis has since been to the conference finals. Gay, who became a member of the Toronto Raptors, is struggling to lead his team to any sort of postseason contention, and hasn’t gotten off to the strongest of starts in his first full season with Toronto.
In 11 games, Gay is dropping a career-high 20.6 points, but is doing so on 38 percent shooting. That number is only propped up thanks to the 40 percent he’s shooting from three. That could be due for a decline soon as Gay is only a 34 percent career shooter from deep. Per Synergy, he ranks 245th in points per possession allowed, and is allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.
At the moment, Gay isn’t convincing anyone that he’s worth an extension. He’s meant to be the leader of this team and is meant to be the player who is finally going to lead Toronto back to the playoffs, where there is still a legitimate chance because of how bad the East is.
Then it comes down to if Toronto is content with fighting for a playoff spot that would ultimately result in a first-round loss to either Indiana or Miami. Is it going to be worth the lucrative deal that some team will offer him in the offseason of 2015?
Then again, I think teams have wised up in giving up nearly $20 million for someone who has yet to make an All-Star Game or any All-NBA team.
6. TYRUS THOMAS – $18 million/2 years (amnesty)
A man without a team. A man whose worth was so insignificant he was waived by the Charlotte Bobcats. The worst part of it was Tyrus Thomas deserved to be waived. It didn’t matter that no other team was going to be pick him up. There was just as much worth in opening up a roster spot than having Tyrus play another minute in a Bobcats uniform. Should that hurt the Bobcats more or the Chicago Bulls, who traded LaMarcus Aldridge on draft day for the services of Thomas?
The Bocats signed Thomas to a deal that would pay him $40 million over five years, since he was two years removed from averaging a healthy 10.8 points on 45 percent shooting. He also put up similar numbers in the 25 games he played with Charlotte following a midseason trade with Chicago.
Thomas played only 41 games his first year with Charlotte, but still managed to put up 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per in only 21 minutes worth of action per night. No, it was the following year where the wheels came off and the Bobcats got to see who they really signed.
Starting in 30 games, playing in 54 overall, Thomas shot 37 percent from the field and averaged only 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. His PER of nine was half of what it was from the previous season and he wound up with an offensive win share total of -1.5, which, until looking up that stat, I didn’t know was possible.
He would play in 26 games last year, somehow topping himself from the year before with a shooting percentage of 35 percent, and failed to make a roster this year. It’s come to this for the former No. 4 pick, even though he’s still 27 years old.
He’ll have to continue living off of the $9 million he’ll be getting paid per year over the next two years. Tough life.
5. DERON WILLIAMS – $81.6 million/4 years
Original deal: $98.7 million/5 years
You know, it wasn’t like there were any telling signs that trading for Deron Williams may have been a bad idea. I mean, you could have cited how the longest tenured coach in Jerry Sloan just got up and quit following a tense confrontation with Williams. Or the average postseason success with Utah (BUT THAT ONE CONFERENCE FINALS RUN, THOUGH!).
No, that didn’t deter the Nets. They saw those 50-win seasons, the two All-Star appearances, and that Western Conference Finals run and said, Sure, Utah, we’ll gladly take him off your hands. We’re only going to invest $100 million in Williams, so this surely won’t come back to hurt us.
I imagine the Jazz were stifling their laughter when the Nets handed over Derrick Favors and a high draft-pick, which later turned into Enes Kanter, in return during their February 2011 trade.
The Nets have invested so much money into the likes of Williams, still with four years on his deal, Joe Johnson (three years left) and Kevin Garnett (two years) that they’re stuck with the team they have now, unless there’s another franchise insane enough to take on any of those deals.
In the three-and-a-half years he’s spent with the Nets, Williams has yet to shoot better than 44 percent from the field and has done little to improve a Nets defense that has been stagnant and below average since his arrival. At the moment, the Nets are giving up 111 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor, per Basketball-reference.
They haven’t seen much playoff success since his arrival, either. The Nets are still stinging from that embarrassing loss to Chicago in last year’s first round, a series that featured Williams dropping eight points on 1-of-9 shooting in a Game 2 loss and arguably getting outplayed by Nate Robinson for most of the series.
This prompted Nets ownership to accept the deals of veteran players with monster contracts. Boston basically moved down south. But instead of Doc Rivers, it’s rookie head coach Jason Kidd, and instead of arguably the best passing guard in the game in Rajon Rondo, it’s Deron Williams.
Williams is currently averaging 10 points on 42 percent shooting and averaging 6.5 assists per game. He’s taking fewer than 10 shots per contest and isn’t even garnering a pair of free throws in a game.
To make it all the more difficult, Williams now faces the task of playing with another perimeter player in Pierce and a second midrange threat in Garnett, as well as still attempting to thrive alongside Joe Johnson.
High hopes in the 2013 offseason have translated to a 3-7 start in the weakest division in the NBA. They still may end up winning the division and breaking .500, but they’re no match for the likes of Miami or Indiana or even Chicago.
4. GERALD WALLACE – $30 million/3 years
Original deal: $40 million/4 years
Why does it seem like the Atlantic Division is hording all of the overpaying deals to themselves? Not only are they hording these deals, but they’re trading them amongst themselves, evidenced by Andrea Bargnani going from Toronto to New York or Kevin Garnett going from Boston to Brooklyn.
But it doesn’t get much worse than Gerald Wallace joining the Boston Celtics. He arrived in the trade that sent Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, with the Boston Celtics possibly being the only team in the league so ready to take on one of the worst deals in the NBA.
Wallace is earning $10 million a year to gradually decline at this point. When we thought it couldn’t get much worse after last year’s atrocity where he averaged 7.7 points and shot less than 40 percent as a starter, Wallace has managed to top himself with his worst averages yet.
He can’t even land a starting job on a talent-parched Celtics team, starting only four of the 11 games he’s played in, and is averaging 5.4 points and shooting 29 percent from the foul line. That’s not a typo and I’m not sure why it hasn’t caused more of a stir; Gerald Wallace has made five of his 17 free throw attempts this year.
Once again, the Nets traded for Wallace and his high-paying deal and gave up a draft pick that later turned into Damian Lillard, who only won Rookie of the Year last year and could be an All-Star for the next decade.
It’s eerily similar to another move the Nets made, but we’ll get to that in time.
3. GILBERT ARENAS – $23 million/1 year (amnesty)
Yes, this monstrosity is still alive. Even though Gilbert Arenas hasn’t played a game since May 13, 2012, the Orlando Magic are still paying Agent Zero over $20 million. The deal is so egregious and so ridiculous that even Gilbert Arenas himself can’t believe it.
Even at the time it was an insane deal. The Wizards feverishly wanted to keep Arenas on their team, so they offered him a max-deal that would reward him over $100 million over the next six years in the summer of 2008. Playing the role of foreshadowing were the injuries that enabled him to play in only two games the following season.
Let me repeat: Gilbert Arenas played two games in the first year of his deal and made nearly $15 million because of it. Parents, this is the profession you need to get your kids into.
Wait, it gets worse, though, because Arenas would return to play in only 32 games the next season. He’d average over 20 points for the final time of his career, would spend half of the 2010-11 season with the Wizards before being sent to the Orlando Magic, and would play in 49 games with Orlando.
How did Washington rid themselves of the mess they created? Well, by taking on an equally appalling deal in Rashard Lewis, whose contract is now being paid for by the New Orleans Pelicans, who had Lewis suit up a total of zero times.
Arenas shot 34 percent in 49 games with Orlando and was amnestied in the winter of 2011. He’d sign with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012 and would sporadically come off the bench and play 17 games.
He’s only 31 years old. That’s the craziest thing. He has played in China since departing from Memphis, yet there’s been absolutely no rumblings in the NBA rumor mill of a potential comeback. Injuries have devastated Gilbert’s career and it has caused the $111-million man to take himself out of the running for any potential NBA jobs.
Orlando is paying nearly $35 million to two players that don’t even have a job in the league. This is a real thing.
2. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE – $45 million/2 years
Original deal: $99.7 million/5 years
It wasn’t a deplorable, gut-wrenching deal at first. In fact, you may just remember the Knicks faithful granting Amar’e Stoudemire the gift of “M-V-P” chants early on in his first year with New York following the lucrative deal he received in the summer of 2010.
Stoudemire would finish ninth in MVP voting that year following his posting of impressive averages with 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, a career-high 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks per. Unfortunately, the dream season ended with a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
And that was the end of hope for New York. Well, unless you want to count the first half of last season when the Knicks were tossing up and making a record number of three-pointers. The entire populace outside of New York knew it wasn’t sustainable, but we allowed the city to entertain the thought that they could just make low-percentage shots every game and win a championship because of it.
It was also the end of Stoudemire being relevant. The introduction of Carmelo Anthony into the lineup, and his reluctance in reinventing his game, and injuries began to plague Amar’e’s career as a member of the Knicks. He played in only 47 out of 66 games in the lockout-shortened season, averaging only 17.5 points on 48 percent shooting.
New York’s short-lived postseason, ended by the Heat in five games, was capped off by a frustrated Stoudemire angrily punching a fire extinguisher case and missing a game as a result of the lacerations he received since, you know, glass can do that.
There hasn’t been much to say since then. Amar’e played only 29 games in the entire 2012-13 season and has been struggling to reacclimate back to the game this season, averaging only 10 minutes and posting up 3.2 points per game on 38 percent shooting.
Don’t worry, New York. You’ll always have Carmelo Anthony. Wait, am I doing this wrong?
1. JOE JOHNSON – $69 million/3 years
Original deal: $123.7 million/6 years
One more Net for good measure! I don’t have anything against this team. It’s not my fault they have no idea how to spend their money and that they’re content with being fourth or fifth-best in an extremely weak Eastern Conference.
Three summers ago, the NBA free agency market was abound with big-name free agents calling for high-price contracts from franchises that were fortunate enough to have the funds and the cap space to make some waves and possibly point their team in a different direction.
The Atlanta Hawks chose to give a high-price deal to a free agent, but not to a big name nor a player that was going to change the outlook of the franchise. While the Miami Heat hoarded Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and the New York Knicks took Amar’e Stoudemire and the Chicago Bulls brought in Carlos Boozer, the Hawks chose to take nearly all of their money and continue to invest in Joe Johnson.
Johnson was coming off his fourth All-Star appearance and a nod to the All-NBA Third Team. This prompted the Hawks to give the sharpshooting guard $120 million that would span six years.
My guess is the Hawks chose to give Johnson the money simply because he brought mediocre playoff success to a franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs for eight consecutive years. Appparently it didn’t matter that the Hawks were a combined 0-8 in the previous two semifinals in 2009 and ’10.
They offered him a deal only a few months after he had just shot below 40 percent overall and 22 percent from beyond the arc in 11 playoff games.
Nobody was surprised when the Hawks lost in the semifinals of the following postseason, falling in six games to a superior Chicago team; and nobody was surprised a year later when the Hawks were disposed of in six games where Johnson shot 37 percent overall and 25 percent from deep.
But here’s the kicker: The Hawks obviously wanted to trade Johnson, following consecutive years of the middling success we all expected, and they found a dupe, I mean team, that was willing to take on the remaining four years and nearly $100 million of his contract.
Now the Brooklyn Nets are that middling playoff team. Congratulations! Your strive for mediocrity has been a resounding success thus far, Brooklyn. My compliments on paying over $20 million to a player who averaged 15 points and shot 26 percent from beyond the arc to lose to a depleted Bulls team. Hopefully they turn it around this year, but I doubt it.
Who do you think has the worst contract in the NBA?
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