National Basketball Association franchise owners and team General Managers face interesting dilemmas every offseason. On one hand, clubs have to pay even moderate players millions upon millions of dollars on a yearly basis because of the current state of the league’s salary cap, one that is set to only rise in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, though, it’s hardly a secret that only a handful of teams can realistically win the NBA title each spring. Heading into the summer of 2017, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs are, on paper, the only three teams that can be viewed as favorites to win the title in June 2018, and it essentially seems as if the Warriors are already the uncrowned champions so long as the team’s starting lineup remains healthy and intact.
With that said, it’s no surprise the NBA is inundated with a plethora of horrible contracts that teams are seriously regretting in the middle of offseason plans and schemes. Passionate followers of the league probably won’t be shocked to learn that recognizable New York Knicks players begin and end the list of what have to be seen as some of the worst contracts in the NBA today. The Knicks would likely eliminate those contracts from the team’s books today if at all possible, and the hope, for the future of the franchise, is that the team’s biggest star will offer the club some relief and move on to a different side during the summer months. Maybe this will be the year he teams up with LeBron James in Cleveland.
15 Carmelo Anthony - $26,243,760
The New York Knicks are basically at the point where the club is happy to give Carmelo Anthony away to any team willing to accept him so long as Anthony would OK the trade.
Anthony’s contract contains a cap hit of $26,243,760 for the 2017-18 season, and that value rises to $27,928,140 for the following campaign. Regardless of what you think of Anthony’s skills at his current stage, it’s obvious to all observers the Knicks want to move on and begin looking to a future that doesn’t include a star who has never won anything of merit as a member of the club. As harsh as it may be to say, the Knicks re-signing Anthony a few years ago has to be seen as a massive mistake that only set the franchise back.
14 Robin Lopez - $14,000,000
The Chicago Bulls having nearly $14 million in cap space tied to Robin Lopez for the 2017-18 NBA season is, on its own, not all that big of a deal. After all, Lopez is a fine big man who is solid in the paint against even stellar competition.
Probably the biggest reason Lopez’s name is mentioned in this list is because the Bulls seem to be on the verge of pressing the figurative reset button and looking ahead to the next decade. It appears it's a matter of when, not if, the Bulls will trade Jimmy Butler to stock up on younger talent, and it would behoove the Bulls to have as much money as possible to pay those players. Lopez’s contract isn’t an albatross, but it also isn’t a positive for Chicago today.
13 Al Horford - $27,734,405
Al Horford’s deal has a cap hit of $27,734,405 for the 2017-18 NBA season, which is downright comical when you consider what he meant to the Boston Celtics when it mattered most during the playoffs.
Sure, Horford was a positive against lesser competition, but the 31-year-old became a forgotten figure once he and the Celtics faced the Cleveland Cavaliers with a spot in the NBA Finals on the line. The Celtics are close to competing for a title, so much so that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the club pulled off a major trade during the summer. Moving on from Horford certainly wouldn’t sink Boston’s championship hopes. Truth be told, doing so may help depending on who the Celtics could get in such a transaction.
12 LaMarcus Aldridge - $21,461,010
Some may say that LaMarcus Aldridge was never going to avoid criticism from pockets of San Antonio Spurs fans because Aldridge was tasked with replacing Tim Duncan, a legend of the game who will be in the Hall of Fame at some point in the next five years.
With that said, Aldridge seems to be more Dwight Howard than Duncan a month or so before he turns 32 years old. Aldridge’s cap hit for the 2017-18 season is $21,461,010, which is a high value for a player who may not adapt to being what San Antonio will need him to be if the Spurs are to hang with the Golden State Warriors in a playoff series. Don’t be surprised if the Spurs put Aldridge on the trade block this summer.
11 Brandon Knight - $13,600,000
The Phoenix Suns won’t publicly admit it, but the franchise would probably happily move on from guard Brandon Knight this summer. Knight’s contract carries a cap hit of roughly $13.6 million for the 2017-18 season, and that value increases by about $1 million for each of the following two campaigns.
While Knight is hardly a terrible player, it’s not a stretch to suggest the 25-year-old is somewhat of a disappointment. The Suns have to do something if the club is going to make a big splash en route to climbing in the standings, and Knight finding a new NBA home with a team that could use his services may be what’s best for all involved. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the franchise may have to take a bad contract in return in any trade that involves Knight.
10 Luol Deng - $17,190,000
At the start of the 2019-20 season, Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng will be tied to a contract that has a cap hit of $18,810,000. That’d be fine if it was 2012 and Deng was still a player worthy of receiving All-Star votes on a regular basis. Instead, the 32-year-old is now a veteran who gets benched so that younger and better talents can play ahead of him.
It’s hardly a secret the Lakers would shed Deng’s absurd and awful contract if capable of doing so without adding a draft pick in any deal, but there’s no reason to believe a team would take him in 2017. Deng’s deal is an anchor that may prevent the Lakers from truly competing for the next several seasons.
9 Brook Lopez - $22,642,350
The bad news for the Brooklyn Nets is that Brook Lopez is scheduled to carry a cap hit of $22,642,350 for the 2017-18 season. The good news for Brooklyn fans is that this regrettable contract will expire in July 2018.
Yes, Lopez is, in fact, one of the best players featuring for the Nets these days, but that’s hardly high praise considering the Nets are a complete disaster at the moment. Even if Lopez says all the right things about wanting to help the Nets “grow” and about being a part of the club’s rebuilding process, those running the franchise cannot be sentimental here. Get something for Lopez in a trade, Brooklyn, and start looking toward the upcoming decade as you attempt to give local fans a winner.
8 Chandler Parsons - $23,112,004
Per the Hoops Hype staff, forward Chandler Parsons had a $110,583,750 “money per win share” for the 2016-17 season, making him the most unproductive player, financially speaking, for this past campaign. Parsons’ cap hit for the upcoming season is an outrageous $23,112,004, which is worrisome considering he is attempting to come back from a knee injury.
While Parsons has been responsible for some memorable highlights during his career, there are serious concerns his body is betraying him even though he isn’t yet 30 years old. His contract is certainly regrettable and will continue to be unless he begins to silence doubters and critics and becomes the type of cornerstone one would build a championship roster around starting next fall. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
7 Enes Kanter - $17,884,175
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a history of making questionable transactions and business decisions, and paying big man Enes Kanter as if he was a starter for a team capable of winning a title has been a regrettable move that the Thunder will likely look to erase from the memories of fans this summer.
Kanter is set to have a cap hit of $17,884,175 for the upcoming season, which is far too high a value considering what he can and cannot provide for a club that has Superstar and league MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. Even those who would say Kanter plays well in the regular season would have to admit he’s a liability come playoff time. Some franchise interested in his offense may come calling for his services, and the Thunder need to pick up the phone and make the trade if the right offer arrives.
6 Greg Monroe - $17,884,175
The bright side for the Milwaukee Bucks is that the horrible and regrettable contract tied to center Greg Monroe may be coming to an end soon. Monroe will carry a cap hit of $17,884,175 for 2017-18 if he decides to play one final season with the Bucks, but he could exercise an early termination clause and enter free agency come July.
Some team will probably pay him money because that’s the way the NBA works right now, and those running the Bucks should cross their fingers and hope that he tries to find a new basketball home during the warm-weather months. If Monroe or those in his camp are not convinced he can cash in upon signing with a new team, the Bucks may find themselves holding the worst contract for next season.
5 Omer Asik - $10,595,505
Not only was signing Omer Asik a mistake for the New Orleans Pelicans. It now seems as if the Pelicans will have to eat the guaranteed money attached to his deal, one way or another, before the club can move on from this horrible contract.
Asik will carry a cap hit of $10,595,505 into next season, and that value only rises over the next couple of years. The Pelicans need to move on from multiple dead-weight contracts as quickly as possible in attempts to add talent to the roster, but New Orleans will probably have to hold onto Asik up through at least the start of the season and then hope some team will become convinced he can help it get over a hurdle come the spring of 2018.
4 Timofey Mozgov - $15,280,000
One would think NBA teams would know better than to pay individuals who impressed while playing alongside LeBron James with any club. That wasn’t the case after the 2016 NBA Finals, however, as center Timofey Mozgov landed a contract worth $64,000,000 over four years from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Just as with the previously mentioned Deng, the Lakers are probably going to be saddled with Mozgov’s contract unless the team is willing to couple draft picks with the player in a draft. We don’t see that happening, meaning Mozgov will probably be with the franchise up through the spring of 2020. Remember this deal and how Mozgov performed in Los Angeles, every General Manager in the NBA, whenever you think of paying one of James’ former teammates in the future.
3 Austin Rivers - $11,825,000
When your father is your head coach, you get to be on a contract that carries a cap hit of $11,825,000 for the 2017-18 season even though you’ve really only earned that type of money during a handful of games.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers made more headlines during the spring for a supposed feud with Glen Davis than for being a Superstar on the court and a player capable of guiding a team to noteworthy playoff victories. We’ll see what Rivers can do during what may be a contract season, as he has a player option after the upcoming season. The possibility exists the Clippers may have to explore finding an upgrade at the position even if doing so means moving on from head coach Doc Rivers.
2 Tristan Thompson - $16,400,000
Any and all takes about the Cleveland Cavaliers giving Tristan Thompson a five-year contract worth $82,000,000, not to mention any opinions you may have about who Thompson dates, must include the tidbit that Cleveland kept the center with the hopes that he would help the Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors in a series more than once.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, Thompson was largely a no-show in the 2017 NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers managed to defeat Golden State only once in five games. It now feels as if whoever the next General Manager will be of the Cavaliers would do well to get rid of this contract, but that’s easier said than done because of how much he is owed. The only way this won’t be a regrettable contract is if Thompson silences critics during the 2018 NBA Finals.
1 Joakim Noah - $17,765,000
The New York Knicks giving center Joakim Noah $17,000,000 for the 2016-17 NBA season would have been laughable all on its own. When you realize the Knicks awarded the veteran with a contract worth $72,590,000 over four years, though, you quickly understand why this franchise is nowhere close to winning even a playoff series, let alone a championship, with those currently running the club still steering the ship.
There is likely no saving grace from this horrible deal unless Noah decides to retire early, as no team would take his contract on anytime soon. Add in that Noah picked up a 20-game ban after he allegedly violated the league's anti-drug policy, and this may be the worst free agent contract of the current decade.