Having won their third NBA Championship in four years, the Golden State Warriors are the embodiment of having not just assembled the perfect pieces to the puzzle, but of also having cleverly worked cleverly within the NBA's salary cap threshold. With the exception of Kevin Durant who had signed with the Golden State Warriors on July 4th, 2016 and Andre Iguodala who had signed with the Warriors on July 5th, 2013, the vast majority of the Warriors core is homegrown talent.
The Dubs selected the first integral piece of the puzzle in 2009 when they selected sharpshooting Point Guard Stephen Curry out of Davidson. Two years later, the Warriors found the jelly to Curry's peanut butter when they selected another sharpshooter by the name of Klay Thompson out of Washington State. One year later, the Warriors followed that up by selecting Harrison Barnes seventh overall (a key piece to the Warriors claiming the NBA Championship in 2015) and Draymond Green thirty-fifth overall (what a steal!).
In order to reach the NBA's mountaintop a team almost always has to draft keenly along with having to maintain that core without overpaying individuals. Fortunately for Warriors fans their core has shown they are arguably the most selfless group of superstars in NBA history. Unfortunately for Warriors haters their core comes off as unbeatable. The Warriors shelled out dollars to the proper necessary individuals and are thriving as a result of it. Here, we take a look at the ten worst and ten best contracts in the NBA today.
20 Worst: Joakim Noah - New York Knicks
On July 8th, 2016 then New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson decided to hand Center Joakim Noah a four-year $72 million dollar deal to bring his lack of talent to "Gotham City". In two seasons in New York, Noah has played in a total of 53 games and only played in 7 in the 2017-2018 season. Noah's production has been even more dismal than playing in 53 out of a possible 164 games. His PPG average with the Knicks across two seasons is 3.4 while his RPG totals to an uninspiring 5.4. Noah is on contract for two more seasons with the Knicks and is scheduled to make $18,530,000 in 2018-2019 and $19,295,000 in 2019-2020. At this point, a buyout is simply best for both parties.
19 Best: Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons may have missed his rookie season which essentially meant that the Philadelphia 76ers paid Simmons $5,903,160 for not stepping foot on the court for a season. However, Simmons showed the 76ers and their fanbase in the 2017-2018 season (whether you consider it his Rookie season or not is a whole different conversation) that waiting for him to hit the NBA hardwood was well worth the wait. Simmons technically only has one more year on his contract which will pay him $6,434,520 in the 2018-2019 season. The following year, Simmons has a team option (he isn't going anywhere) for $8,113,930. Simmons is a bargain at this price and the Philly faithful is lucky to have him.
18 Worst: Luol Deng - Los Angeles Lakers
Once upon a time ago, Luol Deng was one of the league's best two-way players (primarily due to his defensive prowess) as a member of the Chicago Bulls. Following his stint in "The Windy City", Deng "took his talents to South Beach" where despite showing signs of regressing proved he could be a valuable asset for the organization run by Pat Riley. But, since he's been in "The City of Angels" as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers he's been nothing more than a detriment to the Lakers salary cap. To make matters worse, Deng only played in one game in the 2017-2018 season. One game! Deng will be getting paid $18,000,000 in 2018-2019 and $18,810,000 in 2019-2020. The 2020 off-season couldn't come quicker for Lakers fans.
17 Best: Jayson Tatum - Boston Celtics
While Boston Celtics fans may have experienced their fair share of bad luck with Gordon Hayward suffering a season ending injury in his first game in Celtic green and white and Kyrie Irving's season ending prematurely in March, they were treated to quite the treat via former Duke swingman Jayson Tatum. Tatum especially proved his worth in the 2018 NBA Playoffs as he put up 350 points in his playoff run- the most for a Rookie in his inaugural playoff run (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds this record with a total of 351 points). In 2018-2019 Tatum will make $6,780,000 and in 2019-2020 Danny Ainge will have to make the arduous decision of deciding whether or not to pick up Tatum's team option for $7,830,000. You got yourselves a good one, Boston!
16 Worst: Timofey Mozgov - Charlotte Hornets
In the 2016 NBA off-season then Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had decided to shell out a whopping $64,000,000 across four seasons to Center Timofey Mozgov. In May of 2018, Kupchak took over as General Manager for the Charlotte Hornets. His first move? You guessed it- trade for Mozgov! The Hornets will have the pleasure of paying Mozgov $16,000,000 in 2018-2019 and will pay him $16,720,000 in 2019-2012 before he hits unrestricted free agency. Considering Kupchak's affinity for Mozgov and his average of 4.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG in the 2017-2018 season, who's to say that another lucrative four-year deal isn't in the cards for Mozgov?
15 Best: Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz
After franchise player Gordon Hayward had bolted Utah in free agency in the 2017 NBA off-season in favor of Boston, the vast majority of NBA fans had concluded that the 2017-2018 season would be a rebuilding one for the Utah Jazz. Enter Donovan Mitchell. The former Louisville Cardinal provided the Salt Lake City faithful with not just hope but plenty of excitement. Mitchell averaged 20.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG as he led the Jazz to the second round of the NBA Playoffs before they were eliminated by the Houston Rockets. In 2018-2019 Mitchell will make $3,111,480 and in 2019-2020 he will make $3,635,760 before the Jazz have to decide whether or not they want to pick up his team option for 2020-2021 worth $5,195,501. Mitchell will be in Utah for as long as he wants to be.
14 Worst: Chandler Parsons - Memphis Grizzlies
Chandler Parsons will make $24,107,158 in the 2018-2019 season and will receive a bump in pay in the 2019-2020 season as he'll make $25,102,511. Parsons has played in 70 of a possible 164 regular season games across two seasons for the Grizzlies thus far. In 2016-2017 Parsons posted career-low averages of 6.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.2 APG. In 2017-2018 he wasn't much better as he averaged 7.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.9 APG. Parsons has robbed the Grizzlies for the first two years of this deal and to quote Portland Trail Blazers Shooting Guard CJ McCollum, "we (the Trail Blazers) hit the lottery by not signing you".
13 Best: Kyle Kuzma - Los Angeles Lakers
In the 2018 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA Point Guard Lonzo Ball second overall who grabbed a slew of headlines due to his polarizing father, Lavar Ball. But, it's the Lakers other Rookie, Kyle Kuzma, who was taken twenty-seventh overall that proved to be the more promising of the two in their respective Rookie campaigns. Kuzma posted averages of 16.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG as he basically split time between a starting role (37 games) and a bench role (40 games). Kuzma was paid $1,423,560 in the 2017-2018 season. In the 2018-2019 season Kuzma will make $1,689,840 and in the 2019-2020 season the Lakers will have to make the awfully easy decision of deciding whether or not to pick up Kuzma's team option of $1,974,600.
12 Worst: Carmelo Anthony - Oklahoma City Thunder
Before news broke of Paul George signing a four-year extension worth $137,000,000 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Thunder faithful received some less than welcome news. Carmelo Anthony, who was supposed to be one/third of the "OKThree" alongside George and Russell Westbrook picked up his player option worth $27,928,140. Anthony's first season in OKC was easily the worst of his career as he failed to jell with George and Westbrook. Anthony posted a career-low 16.2 PPG- the first time Anthony had averaged less than 21.0 PPG in his fifteen-year NBA career. Fortunately for OKC, Anthony is only on payroll for one more season and if he plays anywhere near as poorly as he did in 2017-2018, it will more than likely be his last season playing for the Thunder.
11 Best: Devin Booker - Phoenix Suns
Make no mistake- Devin Booker is in line for a big payday sooner rather than later and there's nothing to indicate that the Suns won't pony up to lock Booker in for a long-term extension to stay in "The Valley of the Sun". But, no matter how you slice it, Booker's salary for 2018-2019 will see him making $3,314,365- not exactly the type of salary a superstar with Booker's scoring prowess commands. In the 2019 off-season, the Suns will have the option of presenting Booker with a qualifying offer worth $4,583,767, but its almost more likely that the Suns and Booker will have a long-term deal in place well before then. After all, who wants to lose a player who once scored 70 points in a single NBA game?
10 Worst: Ryan Anderson - Houston Rockets
Ryan Anderson was arguably the player who was involved in the most trade rumors in the 2017 NBA off-season as well as throughout the 2017-2018 NBA season and for good reason. See, Anderson doesn't seem to fit Coach Mike D'Antoni's offensive scheme and as a result, Anderson saw his playing time and production suffer. The 2017-2018 season was the first time Anderson averaged single digit averages in the points department (9.3 PPG) since the 2009-2010 season when he was a member of the Orlando Magic. To make matters worse, Anderson only averaged 8.6 MPG in the 2018 NBA Playoffs which clearly indicates that he isn't a part of the Rockets long-term plans. The Rockets will pay him $20,421,546 in 2018-2019 and $21,264,636 in 2019-2020.
9 Best: Jaylen Brown - Boston Celtics
The former California swingman, Jaylen Brown, was taken third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft behind LSU's Ben Simmons and Duke's Brandon Ingram. Brown has proven to be a valuable piece of the Celtics core alongside the likes of Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum as he put up 14.5 PPG and 5.0 RPG in his sophomore season. Brown was paid $4,956,480 in 2017-2018 and will have $5,169,160 coming his way for the 2018-2019 season before Danny Ainge decides whether or not paying Brown $6,534,829 is worth it for the 2020-2021 season. I'm no mindreader, but something tells me Ainge will pay Brown without hesitation.
8 Worst: Tristan Thompson - Cleveland Cavaliers
When you're best known for cheating on Khloe Kardashian as opposed to anything you've done in your NBA career, you know you've messed up. Tristan Thompson has $17,469,565 coming his way in the 2018-2019 season and $18,539,130 in the 2019-2020 season after having been paid $16,400,000 in the 2017-2018 season. The 2017-2018 season saw Thompson put up career-low averages of 5.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG as he went from starter to primarily a bench player. With the exception of LeBron James free agency decision, there's no bigger problem on the Cavs rosters sans Thompson's contract (yes, that includes J.R. Smith not being able to read a clock).
7 Best: Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves
First thing's first- the Minnesota Timberwolves presented Andrew Wiggins with a max deal in the 2017 off-season, do you really think they'd balk at offering Karl-Anthony Towns a max deal? Towns, alongside Jimmy Butler is the face of the franchise and is one of the best big men in the league alongside the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid. In the 2018-2019 season Towns will be paid $7,839,435 before the Wolves decide on presenting Towns with a qualifying offer in the 2019 off-season. It's more likely than not that the Wolves lock Towns into a long-term deal before that period.
6 Worst: Wesley Matthews - Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban has never been shy about opening his wallet to attract free agents. However, in retrospect, he probably wishes he never shelled out a four-year deal worth $70,060,026 for Wesley Matthews. Matthews hasn't exactly been terrible for the Mavericks, but he didn't become the star the organization hoped he'd become after prying him away for the Trail Blazers. With little else to provide other than scoring, the fact that Matthews only put up 12.7 PPG this season (13.5 PPG the season prior) is alarming. Fortunately for the Mavs, Matthews is off the books after the 2018-2019 season in which he will be paid $18,622,533- the largest sum of the four-year deal.
5 Best: Spencer Dinwiddie - Brooklyn Nets
The 2017-2018 NBA's Most Improved Player award went to Victor Oladipo and it's safe to say you'd be hard-pressed to find a sensible individual who thought 'Dipo was undeserving of the award. Another player who significantly improved this season was Spencer Dindwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets. Due to a season ending injury to Jeremy Lin, Dinwiddie saw increased playing time, including starting in 58 contests for the Nets. Dinwiddie averaged a career-highs in points, rebounds and assists with 12.6, 3.2 and 6.6 respectively. Dinwiddie was paid $1,524,305 for the 2017-2018 season and won't see a huge increase for 2018-2019 as he's set to make $1,656,092 before he enters free agency.
4 Worst: Evan Turner - Portland Trail Blazers
Thus far, Evan Turner has robbed the Portland Trail Blazers for two straight seasons and there's nothing to indicate that he won't rob him for another two. Turner will make $17,868,852 in the 2018-2019 season and will make $18,606,757 in the 2019-2020 season. Last season, Turner notched 8.2 PPG to go alongside 3.1 RPG and 2.2 APG. With the exception of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (and likely Jusuf Nurkic), Turner is more than likely the next go to option for the Trail Blazers considering his hefty contract. The 2020 off-season couldn't come sooner for Blazers Owner Paul Allen any sooner.
3 Best: Jonathon Simmons - Orlando Magic
There aren't many things that the Orlando Magic get right but signing Jonathon Simmons to a three-year deal worth $18 million in the 2017 offseason is something they certainly got right. Simmons will make $6,000,000 in the 2018-2019 season and is on a non-guaranteed deal for 2019-2020 worth $5,700,000. Simmons averaged a career-high 13.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.5 APG in his first season with the Magic. Simmons started in 50 of the 69 games he played in and it's likely that his role expands even further in the 2018-2019 NBA season. Simmons deal for 2019-2020 may be non-guaranteed, but what is almost a surefire guarantee is that the Magic would love having Simmons on their roster beyond then.
2 Worst: Omer Asik - Chicago Bulls
Omer Asik didn't do much in the 2017-2018 season. He began the season with the New Orleans Pelicans and when you're a big man behind the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis it's understandably hard to get playing time. Nonetheless, when he did get playing time, Asik showed he wasn't worthy of it as he only contributed 1.3 PPG and 2.6 RPG in just over 8 minutes per contest. The problem is Asik was paid $10,595,505 for his efforts- or better put, lack of effort. Asik will be paid $11,286,516 in 2018-2019 and has an ETO in his contract for the 2019-2020 season which would pay him $11,977,527. Asik knows another big payday is highly unlikely to come his way which means the Bulls will be paying him a ludicrous sum for two more seasons.
1 Best: Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker will be making $12,000,000 in the final year of a four-year deal which has seen him make $12,000,000 in each of the previous seasons as well. The all-time points leader in Charlotte Hornets history has easily outplayed his contract in each of his four seasons and is not just one of the most underrated players at his position but in the NBA as a whole. The 2017-2018 season saw Walker tout averages of 22.1 PPG and 5.6 RPG as the Hornets once again showed a dedication to being a middle of the pack team. Walker's in line for a big payday in the 2019 NBA offseason- whether that's from the Hornets or another time.
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