Top 10 Worst NBA Contracts This Decade

By: 07.15.10  •  66 Comments

With free agency starting to slow down, I took a look back on some of the contracts handed out to marginal NBA players this summer and was shocked. It got me to thinking, if Darko gets $5 million per year, what other contracts have been handed out over the past 10 years? After much thought, here are the 10 worst contracts handed out in the NBA since 2000:

10. Rashard Lewis – 6 years, $118 million (Orlando Magic, 2007)
Rashard Lewis is the classic case of a general manager overpaying for a need. The Magic needed a shooter and second gun to take some pressure off Dwight Howard so they vastly overpaid him to be their number two guy. Lewis played well his first two years in Orlando, and is a solid player, but he doesn’t play defense and is not a true power forward. His playoff performance, or lack thereof, is most likely a sign of things to come for Lewis who still has three years left on his deal.

9. Larry Hughes – 5 years, $70 million (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2005)
Cleveland overpaid to get Hughes to play second-fiddle to LeBron. He had a good season for the Wizards prior, but then Hughes proceeded to be maddening to both his teammates and fans. He took a lot of bad shots, and didn’t hit many of those shots. He never lived up to the potential he had, and after leaving Cleveland he discussed his frustration with how everything revolved around LeBron there, clearly not what the cavs envisioned when signing him.

8. DeSagana Diop – 6 years, $32 million (Dallas Mavericks, 2008)
While Diop was seen as a bust during the early portion of his career, he shedded that reputation to get this contract. Like Foyle, Diop is a defensive specialist who provides good interior defensive but absolutely nothing on the offensive end. Diop was yet another attempt by Mark Cuban (see: Erick Dampier) to solidify the center position, but after realizing the mistake he made Cuban somehow got Charlotte to take on Diop’s contract in 2009.

7. Samuel Dalembert – 6 years, $64 million (Philadelphia 76ers, 2005)
Billy King gave Dalembert this contract based on potential alone. Dalembert has always frustrated fans and coaches because of he has tons of talent but has been constantly riddled with inconsistency. For the past five years in Philly Dalembert has alternated between above-average center, and invisible man. The Sixers finally found a taker for him (Sacramento) after years of shopping him around, but his contract has been an albatross to Philly for throughout his time there.

6. Austin Croshere – 7 years, $51 million (Indiana Pacers, 2000)
Croshere got this contract on the heels of the 2000 NBA Finals appearance the Pacers made. They wanted to lock up one of their more promising young players, but this contract went overboard. Croshere is a hard-nosed player who does all the dirty work and also has the ability to knock down jumpers. He averaged double digit points only once during the contract, and never grabbed more than six boards per game, making him an incredibly overplayed bench guy.

5. Charlie Villanueva – 5 years, $35 million and Ben Gordon – 5 years, $55 million (Detroit Pistons, 2009)
These contracts go hand-in-hand so that’s why they are listed together. After trading Chauncey Billups mid-year in 2008 to free up cap space, Joe Dumars went all in with these two contracts. They are both good offensive players, but play no defense, and certainly aren’t worth a combined $90 million. Also, worthy of noting is that Villanueva fell out of favor with coach John Kuester and barely played down the stretch, not to mention these deals will keep the Pistons hamstrung for the next few years.

4. Brian Cardinal – 6 years, $37 million (Memphis Grizzlies, 2004)
Cardinal had a very mediocre season for Golden State in 2003 averaging 9.6 points but that got him an absurd $37 million. He was injured a lot during his time in Memphis never playing for than 58 games in a season. When he wasn’t injured, he was utterly unproductive on the court averaging just over six points per game during his time in Memphis.

3. Erick Dampier – 7 years, $73 million (Dallas Mavericks, 2004)
Dampier had one good season in Golden State after five incredibly mediocre ones, and that got him this monster contract. The Mavericks and their fans were habitually frustrated by Dampier’s softness in the paint, his lack of motivation, and unwilling to assert himself. They finally ended the Dampier era with their trade the other day sending him to Charlotte, but they still had to endure six seasons of him.

2. Brian Grant – 7 years, $86 million (Miami Heat, 2000)
Role players do not deserve contracts like this. I think Brian Grant was a great role player, a tough, energy guy that most winning teams need. However, for the Heat to pay him $86 million coming off a year when he averaged 7.5 points, and 5.5 rebounds is nothing short of absurd. While he turned out to be a solid double-double guy for Miami he never lived up to this contract.

1. Adonal Foyle – 6 years, $42 million (Golden State Warriors, 2004)
Foyle is a guy that should play ten minutes per game for strictly defensive purposes. He has no offensive ability to speak of, as indicated by the fact that he never averaged over 4.5 points per game after his contract extension in 2004. When Don Nelson came on board to coach the Warriors there was no longer a place for Foyle and the Warriors waived him, eating the remaining 3 years, and $29 million on his deal.

What do you think?

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