NBA’s 20 Most Overpaid Players

By: 11.20.13
Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas

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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