Value. That’s the NBA buzz word these days, as teams fight to reconcile market value with actual value. More often than not, it’s the market that dictates these gargantuan deals. Competing buyers drive up the price, and we’re left with Rudy Gay earning more than $19 million in one season. The most recent collective bargaining agreement sought to curtail such overspending. But alas, it couldn’t. This offseason, there’s been the usual batch of head-scratching contracts and personnel decisions.
Now that free agency is all but over, we’ve decided to compile the worst of the worst – the top 25 NBA players who, simply put, are making WAY too much money relative to their on-the-court value. Of course, this list is up for debate, and plenty of names were left off in favor of others. But it’s an interesting metric to measure your team’s financial intelligence – 19 teams made the list, with a few repeat offenders (Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors).
Remember, this is about value – which contracts hurt teams the most? Where’s the dead money? It’s in this gap, between market and actual value. (Note that contracts that do not count against the salary cap were not included. Therefore, amnestied players such as Brendan Haywood and Elton Brand did not count.) And now, on to the list, counting down from 25.
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25. Stephen Jackson – San Antonio Spurs
There was a time when $10 million for Stephen Jackson was his proper financial value – he was one of Indiana and Golden State’s best players during the prime of his career. But now that he’s bounced around the league in multiple trades, finally landing on San Antonio’s bench, his cap number is way too high. And while he can still fulfill a valuable role as a bench scorer, that same value can be found for half the price. Then again, the fact that his deal expires after this upcoming season could allow San Antonio to acquire the right piece to put them over the top – so maybe there is some requisite value in there, somewhere.
24. Landry Fields (year-by-year breakdown undisclosed) – Toronto Raptors
We all heard the story – Toronto overbid for Fields in an effort to handcuff the Knicks’ pursuit of Steve Nash. Yet no one has explained why Toronto would go after a 38-year-old point guard in the first place, when his presence will hardly make them competitive enough to push for a title. But the Raptors never landed Nash, and were saddled with Landry Fields instead. Not that Fields is a bad player, but $20 million and a three-year commitment for a bench player who does nothing particularly well is questionable. Yes, he’s a quality glue guy, but you don’t overpay for glue if there’s nothing to stick together.
23. Kendrick Perkins – Oklahoma City Thunder
Kendrick Perkins is the best post defender in the league. But he’s a poor rebounder for his size, ranking 74th in rebound rate in the NBA, and a non-factor offensively. So the question becomes, are you willing to pay $25 million for a post defender in an NBA with limited post threats?