On Twitter a couple weeks ago, WFAN Radio’s (New York) Evan Roberts tweeted a suggestion that as part of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, each team should be allowed to void one bad contract. I thought that was an interesting idea, and did some research, and here is one contract each NBA team would probably like to void:
Note: Contracts that expire after this season were not included on this list. All contracts listed here have at least one year remaining on them.
New Jersey Nets: Travis Outlaw
After the Nets missed out on all the major 2010 free agents, they were left scrambling for the remains of the 2010 free agent class. Their first “splash” was giving Travis Outlaw a five-year, $35 million contract. Everyone knew the team overpaid at the time, and Outlaw’s first season with the Nets has just reinforced that belief as he has averaged just over nine points while losing his starting job to rookie Damion James.
Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand
Brand has played well this season, leading the Sixers in scoring and rebounding as they look to be headed to the playoffs after missing them last year. Despite that, he is owed nearly $35 million over the next two years, which is near maximum money for a non-max player – especially one who has been so inconsistent and injury prone over his tenure in Philly.
Toronto Raptors: Jose Calderon
Calderon is a solid NBA point guard, and is averaging over nine assists per game for the Raptors, but for a team that is embarking on a serious rebuilding project, I don’t see him staying with the team longterm. He is owed an average of $10 million each of the next two years, and that money could be better spent by Toronto on younger, cheaper talent.
Boston Celtics: Jermaine O’Neal
The Celtics have O’Neal signed for over $6 million next season, and while he provides depth for them, the Celtics need money to re-sign Glen Davis. Plus, O’Neal has only played in 17 games this season. Finding a healthier, more productive alternative is something the Celtics would probably be interested in.
New York Knicks: Renaldo Balkman
The Knicks have an interesting salary situation. All of their salary is essentially concentrated in three players – Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire – none of whose contracts the Knicks would be interested in voiding. Balkman is slated for a $1.6 million salary in 2012-13 which means his salary would hinder the cap room the Knicks would have in the summer of 2012, making his the contract the one the Knicks would like to void.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Baron Davis
The Cavs essentially bought a Lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft by taking on Davis’ contract from the Clippers in addition to their first rounder this year. He clearly has no future in Cleveland as the Cavs are in a complete rebuilding mode, and Davis’s two years and $29 million left on his deal are not exactly conducive to that effort.
Detroit Pistons: Richard Hamilton
This one is fairly obvious. Rip was once a cornerstone of the Pistons franchise, but now Hamilton has fallen deeply out of favor with management. Coach John Kuester benched him for a month earlier in the season, and Hamilton led a supposed player boycott of a team shootaround. Additionally, with Bill Davidson‘s widow trying to sell the team, Hamilton’s $25 million over the next two years won’t help attract any suitors.
Indiana Pacers: James Posey
Posey is one of those players who is a great role player on a very good team like he was in 2008 with the Celtics. However, on a mediocre team like the Pacers, Posey is not necessarily an ideal fit. With loads of wing talent in Danny Granger, Paul George, Brandon Rush and possibly Lance Stephenson, the Pacers would do well to void Posey’s last year at $6.9 million.
Milwaukee Bucks: Corey Maggette
The Bucks acquired Maggette in the offseason hoping he would boost their perimeter offense, but he hasn’t really fit in with the Bucks and is averaging only 13 points per game (while not playing much defense). For a player who is essentially one-dimensional like Maggette is, he needs to be scoring much more than that, and the Bucks could do well without his $10 million in salary over each of the next two years.
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer
Even though the Bulls just signed Boozer, this is the one contract they probably would like to void because they really don’t have many bad contracts. When healthy, Boozer is the ideal pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose, and capable of being a 20-10 guy every night. The only problem is Boozer is frequently injured, and has missed 23 games already this season. So with four years left on his maximum deal, how healthy will he be going forward?
Miami Heat: Mike Miller
The Heat had a lot of options to put in this category. I could have put Chris Bosh, but when you average 18 points and nine rebounds you are probably valuable enough to the team for them not to void your contract – even if you are overpaid. Miller on the other hand has been injured or unproductive the entire season, and has been overshadowed by James Jones and Eddie House as the team’s designated sharpshooters. He is signed for four more years at around $6 million per, and Pat Riley would love to get rid of that contract.
Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson
Johnson is the Hawks’ best player, but the $124 million contract he got last summer is completely unjustified. As long as Johnson is on the roster, the Hawks will be a playoff team in the East, but he is not worth that type of money and will likely never lead the Hawks to a serious playoff run. With the team’s ownership group losing money, and fan attendance low, Johnson’s contract will probably become a huge albatross before all is said and done.
Charlotte Bobcats: DeSagana Diop
Mark Cuban signed Diop to a monster contract in the summer of 2008 that he immediately regretted, and somehow got the Bobcats to take on Diop’s $6-plus million per year contract. He is a good post defender, but that is about where his productivity ends. He has played only 16 games for Charlotte this year, but is on the books for two more long years (assuming he picks up his $7 million option in 2012).
Washington Wizards: Rashard Lewis
The Wizards took on Lewis’ contract earlier this season because it allowed them to get rid of Gilbert Arenas and officially usher in the John Wall era. Saying that, with the team currently mired in the Eastern Conference cellar, having the last two years of Lewis’ $22 million per year contract voided would be a Godsend for the team. They have said they want to build their team like the Thunder did around Kevin Durant, which means that the team needs to find young, relatively cheap complementary pieces and draft well. Lewis and his contract definitely don’t fit that plan.
Orlando Magic: Gilbert Arenas
General Manager Otis Smith decided to trade for Arenas in the hopes of igniting a fire under the Magic team. While they have done well after the trades for him and Hedo Turkoglu, with Arenas’ contract worth an average of $20 million over the next three years, Smith would probably like to see that wiped away. Arenas has not been near his old self this year, averaging just 11 points per game on 37 percent shooting, and has yet to show the explosive scoring ability that he had earlier in his career.
Dallas Mavericks: Brendan Haywood
Cuban has a tendency to overpay for big men (see: DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier), and he did that again with Haywood. Haywood has a contract that pays him an average of around $8.5 million for the next four seasons, and with the emergence of Tyson Chandler as the Mavs’ starting center, Haywood has become much less valuable to the team. With Chandler’s contract up after this season, Cuban would probably like to void Haywood’s and give it to Chandler instead.
Houston Rockets: Brad Miller
Daryl Morey does a great job of not overpaying for players, and this contract is not egregious, it just makes basketball sense. With the trade deadline deal that got the team Hasheem Thabeet, having Miller as the team’s backup center for the next two years will prevent the team from really being able to evaluate Thabeet, which they should try to do. That is, assuming the very productive Chuck Hayes retains his starting job.
Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley
Conley signed a five-year, $45 million extension with the team near the beginning of the season that had a lot of people scratching their heads. Conley has had a very solid season averaging 14 points, over six assists and two steals per game in helping the Grizzlies contend for the playoffs. However, Memphis has both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol becoming free agents this offseason, and the money spent on Conley could have been better spent on retaining those two.
New Orleans Hornets: Emeka Okafor
Okafor has turned into a very solid center for the Hornets, nearly averaging a double-double this season, but the last three years of his contract call for salaries averaging around $12.5 million. With David West becoming a free agent this summer, and the team’s ownership status in flux, I’m sure having Okafor’s contract off the books would be welcome for David Stern and any future Hornets owner.
San Antonio Spurs: Richard Jefferson
Since arriving in San Antonio last season, Jefferson has not lived up to expectations, but that hasn’t mattered too much as the Spurs have rolled to the League’s best record this year. He is averaging 11 points per game, but still has yet to really find his niche in the Spurs’ system. And at about $10 million over the next three years, Jefferson could be considered R.C. Buford‘s one bad contract on his entire roster.
Denver Nuggets: Al Harrington
Harrington was signed as free agent this summer with the hope he could help persuade Carmelo Anthony to stay in Denver. He has a decent year in Denver, but the Nuggets are looking to shed the four years and $28 million left on his deal, as indicated by the fact that they wanted the Nets to take on his contract if they were the ones who had acquired ‘Melo. Also with Wilson Chandler now on board, and the solid play of J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo recently, Harrington is clearly not in the team’s plans for the future, and was even a healthy scratch for two games recently.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Darko Milicic
If there is one thing David Kahn has done a good job of as GM of the T-Wolves, it has been not taking on bloated contracts. Milicic’s contract calls for him to get $5 million per year over the next three seasons, and is really the worst contract the team has. Darko has played better in Minnesota than he has anywhere else in his career, but that is not saying much. And losing him would not make the team any worse off than it already is.
Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy
Before this season, the nearly $70 million remaining on Roy’s contract over the last four years of his deal would not have been unreasonable. Roy was the team’s go-to guy and the face of the franchise in the Portland community. However, with his troublesome knees (who knows how well, and if, Roy will be able to play in four years?), that contract might come back bite the Blazers.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison
Collison has an interesting contract. He is getting paid $13 million this year before Kevin Durant‘s extension kicks in then about $3 million per year over the next four which is a bargain actually. The only reasons Collison is on this list is the fact that the Thunder have no bad contracts, and are loaded with young, front court talent in players like Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich and Byron Mullens. Plus, the recent acquisition of Kendrick Perkins makes Collison the likely odd man out.
Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson
The Jazz acquired Jefferson this offseason to help the team replace Boozer’s production. He was going to be Deron Williams‘ new pick-and-roll partner, but that didn’t last long. Williams is now gone, and the Jazz appear headed for a rebuild. And with a contract that calls for $29 million over the next two seasons, Kevin O’Connor would be happy to see that cap space freed up.