Top 5 (or so) Worst NBA Contracts

Was (Not Wasdin)

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Didn't want to derail one of the other threads, so I thought it would be good to have a thread that focused on bad deals. Don't feel constrained to limit it to 5...

1. John Wall. Some contracts are bad due to the dollars, and some due to the length. Everything about Wall's is bad.
2. Chris Paul. Averaged less than 60 games per season, missed crucial playoff games, and owed $44MM for 21-22.
3. Russell Westbrook. 4 more years, topping out with a player option at 46.6MM in 22-23
4. Kevin Love. His last three seasons-60, 59 and 22 games. His next four seasons-$120MM through 22-23
5. Andrew Wiggins. Just not a good basketball player. Owed $122MM over next four years.

There are some others that could just as easily go on here (Batum, Blake Griffin, etc.) Have at it.
 

bowiac

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Per my other posts, I'd like to nominate Terry Rozier, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.
 

lovegtm

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The Love one is pretty up there for the circumstances under which it was signed. All of the other worst ones make at least some sense: WAS wanted to preemptively lock up Wall, HOU had to honor the obvious prior verbal agreement with CP3, OKC had just lost Durant, Wiggins was the usual tough one of deciding whether to pay a guy going into his next deal.

But the Love contract looked like a neutral asset at best the day it was signed.
 

Euclis20

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It'd be fun to differentiate between contracts that were immediately bad when signed (Love) vs. contracts that looked good at the time but in retrospect, for whatever reason, are terrible. It's halfway done and it certainly seemed like a good bet at the time, but in a few years there is a good chance that Gordon Hayward's 4 year $128M contract goes down as one of the worst. Shame.
 

cheech13

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By virtue of the deals also being done they can't be the worst, but Chandler Parsons and Nicolas Batum are both still hanging around from the summer of 2016. Hardly any value extracted from either of those. Parsons in particular was a franchise killer.

Since this is a Boston board, are we going to ignore Gordon Hayward? 538 has his five-year market value at $40 million and he is guaranteed almost $67 million over the next two seasons.
 

benhogan

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Harrison Barnes 4yrs @ $85MM (Vlade needed to be involved in the mania this offseason)

surprised Bowiac didn't name that one.

and my least favorite deal of the offseason:

Tobias Harris 5yrs at $180MM
and throw in Philly gave up 2 first round picks, Landry Shamet and Muscala (Zubac) for half a season of Tobias crappy defense and the honor (pressure) to MAX him. When Shamet is shooting a higher % of 3pt shots next season this deal will be glaring since Harris value is dictated by being a good 3pt shooter. This deal is so underrated by the hoops media, this massively helped the Clippers get Kawhi/George

 
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lovegtm

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By virtue of the deals also being done they can't be the worst, but Chandler Parsons and Nicolas Batum are both still hanging around from the summer of 2016. Hardly any value extracted from either of those. Parsons in particular was a franchise killer.

Since this is a Boston board, are we going to ignore Gordon Hayward? 538 has his five-year market value at $40 million and he is guaranteed almost $67 million over the next two seasons.
Hayward is fine to put on the list, but by virtue of it only having 2 years remaining, it doesn't feel as bad. I suppose when you include the opportunity cost of it being on the books right before Tatum and Brown get paid (or their salary slots are filled by other guys) it gets worse. I think it also is weird in that there's a lot of variability--he could stay bad, but there are also a lot of scenarios in which he just needed extra time and becomes a reasonably valuable player again. That's really unlikely for, say, Andrew Wiggins.
 

NomarsFool

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Even if Hayward returns to his All-Star form the next two seasons, it will go down as a fairly awful contract. Paying max-level money for 4 years for 2 years of max-level performance is not good value for money. Signing these big deals for GMs must be really nerve wracking. Some freak accident and your genius move becomes a bone-head move in a second. Especially since with the salary cap, one bad contract can really handicap your team.
 

nighthob

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Since this is a Boston board, are we going to ignore Gordon Hayward? 538 has his five-year market value at $40 million and he is guaranteed almost $67 million over the next two seasons.
Not that the OP or Bowiac has made this explicit, but I think implicit in both their lists are contracts signed at amounts of money where production had no chance of ever being cash efficient. With the Durant deal, for example, you're essentially paying for the two year recovery/rehab in order to get one healthy season. With Hayward it turned out that way, but purely by unpredictable accident.
 

TheRooster

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I get the forward looking skew here, but let's not forget the soon-to-expire deals of Tristan Thompson (5y $82M) and Bismark Biyambo (4y $70M). Biyambo's is just amazing.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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Even if Hayward returns to his All-Star form the next two seasons, it will go down as a fairly awful contract. Paying max-level money for 4 years for 2 years of max-level performance is not good value for money. Signing these big deals for GMs must be really nerve wracking. Some freak accident and your genius move becomes a bone-head move in a second. Especially since with the salary cap, one bad contract can really handicap your team.
Actually could only be one year of max-level performance, no? Isnt Hayward's fourth year a player option? If he comes back and is close to his old self, is there any way he doesn't opt out, even if to resign with the Celtics for a longer term?
 

HowBoutDemSox

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I get the forward looking skew here, but let's not forget the soon-to-expire deals of Tristan Thompson (5y $82M) and Bismark Biyambo (4y $70M). Biyambo's is just amazing.
Not in quite the same dollar amount range, but Ian Mahinmi at 4/$64M was also a total head scratcher.
 

Cellar-Door

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keep an eye on Lillard's 4/196 extension starting in 2 years. he'll be in his age 31 season when it starts, committing to it this early is pretty wild, considering all the things that could go wrong in 2 full seasons
 

cheech13

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Wasn't the Timofey Mozgov 4/$64 thought to be an epic overpay at the time?
Yes, he and Luol Deng were both head-scratchers at the moment they signed. But we could do this all day with the summer of 2016: Evan Turner, Allan Crabbe, Marvin Williams, Meyers Leonard, Jon Leuer, etc.
 

bowiac

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Actually could only be one year of max-level performance, no? Isnt Hayward's fourth year a player option? If he comes back and is close to his old self, is there any way he doesn't opt out, even if to resign with the Celtics for a longer term?
Hayward coming back to his old self next year, opting out, and leaving the Celtics would be an all-time hilarity situation. Would be a lot of IT2 karma coming home there.

The Barnes deal is a good one. I overlooked him. He's not a completely terrible player, but is not good, and doesn't have any plus skills either, so it's hard to find a role for him on a good team.
 

nighthob

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Actually could only be one year of max-level performance, no? Isnt Hayward's fourth year a player option? If he comes back and is close to his old self, is there any way he doesn't opt out, even if to resign with the Celtics for a longer term?
I think that if they get any hint that he's leaving that they'll trade him at the deadline.
 

luckiestman

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It hurts my head a little to think about this because these contracts are all context dependent. Klay for example, isn’t Golden State over the cap? So if they don’t resign Klay what can they actually get to replace him? So you can’t judge Klay at his number you have to tell me the range of realistic alternatives.
 

bigq

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I will nominate Nicholas Batum. Charlotte signed him to a five year $120M deal in 2016. He seems to have gotten progressively worse in each season since then. Per Sportrac in 2019-20, Batum will earn a base salary of $25,565,217, while carrying a cap hit of $25,565,217 and a dead cap value of $52,695,652. Last season in 72 starts he averaged 9.2 PPG. Ugh.
 

bowiac

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It hurts my head a little to think about this because these contracts are all context dependent. Klay for example, isn’t Golden State over the cap? So if they don’t resign Klay what can they actually get to replace him? So you can’t judge Klay at his number you have to tell me the range of realistic alternatives.
This is correct, but it's also true of most terrible contracts. They mostly made sense for the team that made them at the time (e.g., Paul for the Rockets, Westbrook for the Thunder, Wall for the Wiz, Booker for the Suns, and even Wiggins for the Wolves).

But it's true these are sort of a different category than the Rozier deal, which was made for no reason apart from poor talent evaluation.
 

benhogan

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This is correct, but it's also true of most terrible contracts. They mostly made sense for the team that made them at the time (e.g., Paul for the Rockets, Westbrook for the Thunder, Wall for the Wiz, Booker for the Suns, and even Wiggins for the Wolves).

But it's true these are sort of a different category than the Rozier deal, which was made for no reason apart from poor talent evaluation.
That's the difference between an average front office and a great front office, right?

Deal those players that will become expensive, underperforming players for assets. And strike, with big contracts, when you get a chance at top 10 talent. Hate to keep going back to the LA Clippers, but they didn't get to being title contenders by accident*. Especially after the end of the Lob City era 24 months ago when Jerry West joined. Dealing Paul for the haul from the Rockets, not resigning D'Andre Jordan, dealing the popular Blake Griffin, then the brilliance of the Tobias Harris heist. All on very expensive deals now (not DJ anymore but last season was a good time to say goodbye). Then locking in key vets on cheap deals (Lou Will, Trez)

Here was a nice Clipper recap, at the trade deadline:


* the writer even noted at the time that they tried to strengthen the 76ers in the playoffs last season to hurt Toronto's chances. It didn't work but was pretty darn clever, if true.
 
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Phil Plantier

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I'll be the guy that brings up the Joe Posnanski point that every NBA owner has a worse contract than any of these in that he extracts the most wealth from the team and the league while doing very little in return. By calling these contacts "bad" you're doing the owners' work for them.

I get that you mean "from a crippling the salary cap" perspective, but I just wanted to present the counterargument. Good for these guys and their agents.
 

lovegtm

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I'll be the guy that brings up the Joe Posnanski point that every NBA owner has a worse contract than any of these in that he extracts the most wealth from the team and the league while doing very little in return. By calling these contacts "bad" you're doing the owners' work for them.

I get that you mean "from a crippling the salary cap" perspective, but I just wanted to present the counterargument. Good for these guys and their agents.
This sounds like a sophisticated point, but it’s a really dumb one in the context of the NBA. The players and owners have bargained for a 50-50 split of revenue, so when one player gets a big contract, others get less.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I'll be the guy that brings up the Joe Posnanski point that every NBA owner has a worse contract than any of these in that he extracts the most wealth from the team and the league while doing very little in return. By calling these contacts "bad" you're doing the owners' work for them.

I get that you mean "from a crippling the salary cap" perspective, but I just wanted to present the counterargument. Good for these guys and their agents.
I think that's just wrong, actually. Those of us who lived through the Thanks Dad Gaston era---or any current Knick fans---would suggest that ownership matters a tremendous amount, perhaps more than all but a handful of transformational players and a once-every-decade level coach.

I also agree that players and owners bargained for this revenue split, and while in any one cycle that may be more or less than either could have gotten, overall there's a pretty sophisticated set of risks/rewards embedded in the decision on both sides. NBA players make a lot of money relative to almost any other population one can identify, and it's almost all guaranteed. That is really valuable, even if one might feel their contribution is 'more' than their share at a point in time.

Similarly, when people say "bad" contract they aren't (or at least they shouldn't be, and in most case I believe are not) saying the player shouldn't get paid or that the deal is unfair---I thnk they are just saying that the player's value today is less than expected when the deal was signed and thus, from the perspective of today, the contract isn't a good use of salary cap space. I think few fans care in the abstract about the player getting rich---they care about the team being competitive.
 

Tony C

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yeah, Phil Plantier's is a point that Michael Wilbon always makes and it drives me crazy -- this whole notion that no one should complain about what players are making. That's totally missing the point. Yes, there are probably still WEEI callers bemoaning bums making millions of dollars (often with a racial undercurrent -- "they should just be happy..."). Those people are idiots. Players have negotiated for their share of the pie and I hope they get bigger and bigger shares in all sports. But that's not what most people are complaining about when they talk about bad contracts -- they (we) are talking about how the amount a club has to spend on players is apportioned. If you overpay Chandler Parsons that means less $ available for a player who can be productive. Players overall will get the same amount and that's all good. How that amount is apportioned is key. Charlotte does a terrible job on that. The L.A. Clippers do a great job. That's all.
 

PedroKsBambino

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yeah, Phil Plantier's is a point that Michael Wilbon always makes and it drives me crazy -- this whole notion that no one should complain about what players are making. That's totally missing the point. Yes, there are probably still WEEI callers bemoaning bums making millions of dollars (often with a racial undercurrent -- "they should just be happy..."). Those people are idiots. Players have negotiated for their share of the pie and I hope they get bigger and bigger shares in all sports. But that's not what most people are complaining about when they talk about bad contracts -- they (we) are talking about how the amount a club has to spend on players is apportioned. If you overpay Chandler Parsons that means less $ available for a player who can be productive. Players overall will get the same amount and that's all good. How that amount is apportioned is key. Charlotte does a terrible job on that. The L.A. Clippers do a great job. That's all.
Agreed, and just to be 100% clear....

There certainly are SOME fans who begrudge player income just to do so. I completely disagree with this complaint--the players have rare skills and get paid for those skills just like everyone else in a free market does. And the players tend to have much shorter careers, with much greater physical risk, than most of us so being compensated for that brevity and risk is totally reasonable to me.

And unfortunately some or many of those complaints do have a racial undertone. Simply put, fuck the people who think of it this way, period.
 

Captaincoop

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I don't think you need to be racist to bristle at the money pro athletes make.

People have no problem hating corporate earners at a salary threshold way below the $30m or $40m these guys are making.

Frankly, I find it laughable that anyone feels the need to defend pro athletes or feel bad for them in any way. Their salaries are a symptom of a sickness in our society (I say this as one of the biggest drivers of that sickness).

People making ten figures in entertainment or sports is every bit as grotesque as corporate executives who make similar money.

All of this is coming from the fanaticism of fans. Fans who, even if they make good money, probably can't afford to take their family to more than a game or two a year.

So spare me the tears for the players, owners, or anyone else getting rich by soaking us all.
 

Phil Plantier

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I take lovegtm's point that revenue sharing makes this more of a moot point in basketball than in other sports. I just want to point out the normative "bad" does a little bit of damage that a change in terminology (e.g. "salary cap crippling contracts") could prevent.
 

ehaz

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Another year without a jumpshot and Ben Simmons makes this list.
 

cecil c

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John Wall. Two or three seasons ago in an interview was asked how he prepared for the season - by giving up skittles. Would love to see him and Mookie face off in a bowling match.
 

joe dokes

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I don't think you need to be racist to bristle at the money pro athletes make.

People have no problem hating corporate earners at a salary threshold way below the $30m or $40m these guys are making.

Frankly, I find it laughable that anyone feels the need to defend pro athletes or feel bad for them in any way. Their salaries are a symptom of a sickness in our society (I say this as one of the biggest drivers of that sickness).

People making ten figures in entertainment or sports is every bit as grotesque as corporate executives who make similar money.

All of this is coming from the fanaticism of fans. Fans who, even if they make good money, probably can't afford to take their family to more than a game or two a year.

So spare me the tears for the players, owners, or anyone else getting rich by soaking us all.
Im going fast so it may not be as thought-out as needed, but the corporate earners most vilified are often making many times more than those who labor to make them rich. In the NBA the players are the labor getting a piece.
 

lovegtm

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I take lovegtm's point that revenue sharing makes this more of a moot point in basketball than in other sports. I just want to point out the normative "bad" does a little bit of damage that a change in terminology (e.g. "salary cap crippling contracts") could prevent.
Yeah, didn’t mean to jump all over you. In any case, I’d say that the salary cap is such a big part of NBA fandom, particularly in forums like this one, that “bad” immediately connotes “bad for the salary cap” to fans like us.

NBA fandom is also really weird, relative to that of other sports. I love it.
 

cheech13

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Another year without a jumpshot and Ben Simmons makes this list.
According to Woj Ben Simmons' new contract is a designated Rose Rule extension which means it'll be worth 30% instead of the cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team next season. That would push the five-year value of the deal to $203,580,000. It also includes a 15% trade kicker.
 

lovegtm

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According to Woj Ben Simmons' new contract is a designated Rose Rule extension which means it'll be worth 30% instead of the cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team next season. That would push the five-year value of the deal to $203,580,000. It also includes a 15% trade kicker.
Sixers better hope he waits until the playoffs to learn how to shoot.