The current landscape in the NBA is better than ever for the athletes. Contracts are becoming sweeter every year with the success of the league and the importance of star players making pay increases. Salary cap figures rose over the past two years thanks to the new television deal for the league bringing all of the money in. This has however led to a huge discrepancy in pay between some of the stars with contracts from before these changes to the lackluster players to benefit from it after. For example, John Wall is currently making less money on his contract than Evan Fournier and Stephen Curry is making less than Solomon Hill.
Most of the highest paid players actually do deserve it. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have three of the top four salaries, each making between $28 million to $33 million per season, and they likely deserve more given what they provide for their franchises and the league. Some names that earn in the $15 million to $25 million range have less successful results. We'll take a look at some of the worst contracts in the league with the fifteen most overpaid NBA stars that currently make over $15 million per season.
15 Dwyane Wade: $23.5 Million
The decision to leave the Miami Heat for Dwyane Wade stemmed from feeling underpaid. Wade took pay cuts many years during his prime to help the team get better, especially during the “big three era” that allowed the Heat sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Chicago Bulls offered Wade $23.5 million per year for two seasons and offered the perk of playing for his home city.
Wade struggled immensely during his first season in Chicago. Many experts felt Wade joining the Bulls would make them the top competition for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. They barely made the playoffs as the eighth seed thanks to a lot of luck. Wade is no longer a Superstar and probably isn’t capable of being the second best player on a contender. The contract is a bad one for Chicago but Wade at least is getting what he deserves on the backend of his career.
14 Derrick Rose: $18.8 Million
Another former Superstar with a huge fall from grace is Derrick Rose. The Chicago Bulls signed him to a contract following his years leading them to huge success that would earn the point guard $18.8 million per season. Brutal knee injuries would change the career of Rose for the worst making him downgrade from a MVP Award winner to a role player.
The New York Knicks traded for him and made him their starting point guard this season for the final year of his contract. Rose put up solid offensive numbers but did absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of improving the team. The hope of Rose is to get a new contract as he opts for free agency. Rose actually wants to upgrade his salary to $20 million per season which is a long shot given his current role in the NBA.
13 Allen Crabbe: $18.7 Million
Allen Crabbe is one of the younger players on this list at just 25 years old. The Portland Trail Blazers signed Crabbe to a four year contract at $18.7 million per season. Portland did not want to lose out on the potential of a future star and overpaid big time. Crabbe was a solid bench player but did not make a big difference in the Blazers having a good season.
Portland struggled to make the playoffs as an eighth seed and Crabbe just didn’t have much purpose for them considering Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum gets the majority of backcourt minutes. Rumors already indicate the Blazers desperately looking to unload the contract of Crabbe to a rebuilding team like the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks. Crabbe still has potential but has shown very little to make that much money.
12 Victor Oladipo: $21.2 Million
An underrated move in the decline of the Oklahoma City Thunder roster last year actually took place before the Kevin Durant departure. Oklahoma City traded the superb defensive power forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo. The plan of the Thunder was to have two fast guards in the back court with Oladipo and Russell Westbrook.
Durant then chose to leave completely changing the landscape of OKC. The team reacted by locking up Oladipo to a long term contract making $21.2 million per season. Sadly for the Thunder, Oladipo struggled to be the second best player on the team behind the MVP play of Westbrook. It has become clear the Thunder will need another Superstar to pair with Westbrook to contend. Oladipo is not that guy despite getting paid like one.
11 Timofey Mozgov: $16 Million
Timofey Mozgov shocked the world when receiving one of the biggest contracts in the NBA last summer. The Los Angeles Lakers wanted a new starting center and decided to pay Mozgov $16 million per season. Mozgov benefited from the free agent market changing to benefit secondary players, but he didn’t even get to have much of a role in his first season.
The disappointing average of 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20 minutes per game in his first season with the Lakers says all you need to know about his value. Mozgov is just not a difference maker and the Lakers learned that after giving him a fat contract. Los Angeles actually benched Mozgov for the final few weeks of the season to play the younger talent.
10 Enes Kanter: $17.5 Million
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the best run franchises in the NBA for many years now, but they have made their fair share of awful decisions regarding long term contracts. Enes Kanter is an offensively gifted big man and the Thunder decided to pay him $17.5 million per season. This was back during the Kevin Durant era with the hopes of Kanter being the missing piece to a title.
Kanter appeared to be ready for a chance at a bigger role this past season following the departure of Durant. It would instead be another lackluster year for Kanter. The Oklahoma City postseason run saw exactly what the franchise now thinks of him. Kanter received nine minutes per game in a first round series that featured the team struggling to score aside from Westbrook.
9 Evan Turner: $17.5 Million
One of the role players to receive a massive contract for his services is Evan Turner. The hard work of Turner on the Boston Celtics for a few seasons landed him the opportunity to cash in during the summer of 2016. Turner signed with the Portland Trail Blazers for $17.5 million per season. Portland had momentum following last season and hoped the addition of Turner could get them further in the playoffs.
Turner did not contribute much adding just nine points per game during a season that saw the Trail Blazers decline. Portland is now looking to shed contracts in hopes of making roster changes. Turner is one of the names that could be on the move if any team views him as important enough to take the risk. The big contract for someone like Turner can still hurt a team even under the new rules.
8 Gorgui Dieng: $15.7 Million
The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to rebuild around talented young assets. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are their biggest prospects, but Gorgui Dieng is actually the highest paid player on the team. Dieng signed a contract that makes him nearly $16 million per season. Minnesota looked to find a consistent power forward but paid him way too much.
Dieng does a solid job averaging ten points and eight rebounds per game along with capable defense. The problem is that he isn’t a difference maker and they have so many other talents that will need new contracts in the near future. Dieng is the kind of player that should be in the $10 million range at least unless a contender needs a paint presence. The Timberwolves are a long way from contending making this contract a bad one.
7 Bismack Biyombo: $18 Million
Bismack Biyombo has been a forgettable player in the NBA for six years now as a role player at best. One terrific postseason run with the Toronto Raptors completely changed his life. No one expected Biyombo to have any relevance in last year’s free agent class until he played the best basketball of his life at the right time. Biyombo excelled both offensively and defensively for a deep Raptors playoff run to add value to his status as an upcoming free agent.
The Orlando Magic was the team most impressed with the work of Biyombo and signed him to a four-year contract earning $18 million per season. Unfortunately, the Cinderella story is already over with Biyombo averaging just six points and seven rebounds during his first season in Orlando. It's going to be one of the worst contracts in the league for the next three years.
6 Luol Deng: $18 Million
The Los Angeles Lakers signing veterans in recent years has led to disappointing results. Another bad move came in the form of signing Luol Deng to a four year contract for $18 million per season. Deng is a solid player that proved to be very valuable in the right system. Those teams usually featured Superstars leading the offense with Deng playing good all-around basketball as a secondary option.
Los Angeles signed him to do more on a young team in need of experience. Deng only averaged 7.6 points per game in his first season as a Laker and they benched him at the end of the year to play younger talent. It's obvious the Lakers no longer view him as a relevant piece and his talent doesn’t fit in well here. Both parties can only hope he’s traded to a better team desperate for a veteran.
5 Nicolas Batum: $24 Million
Nicolas Batum is a talented player enjoying the perks of the current NBA landscape. The Charlotte Hornets signed Batum to a five-year contract earning $24 million per season. Batum played very good all-around basketball to land an opportunity to take advantage of the market. A team like Charlotte is struggling for talent and they made the move to lock up the potential of Batum.
The issue here is that Batum has a very low ceiling. It's highly unlikely that Batum will ever reach All-Star status which is what he's being paid for. The Hornets need someone to step up as a solid second star alongside Kemba Walker. Batum has proved he isn’t capable of that in recent seasons. Decent play is helpful but just not worth the money Batum is getting paid.
4 Ian Mahinmi: $16 Million
The Washington Wizards gave Ian Mahinmi one of the most shocking contracts in recent memory. Casual NBA fans likely don’t even know who Mahinmi and he has never averaged double digits in points per game during any season of his career. Mahinmi did look solid on the Indiana Pacers for one season averaging nine points and seven rebounds per game before entering free agency.
Washington signed Mahinmi to a contract that pays $16 million per season. The Wizards desperately need depth and decided overpaying a big man for the bench was worth the risk. Mahinmi regressed back to the forgettable tier of the NBA averaging just 5.6 points and 4.8 points per game. John Wall calling out Washington for not having a good enough bench looks even worse considering how much Mahinmi is being paid to be a part of it.
3 Steven Adams: $25 Million
The Oklahoma City Thunder signing Steven Adams to a four year contract for $25 million per season did actually make a little sense on the surface. Adams is young, contributes to the team in many ways and is a great teammate. The problem is he's now one of the top fifteen highest paid players in the league. Adams was the second best player on the Thunder this past season behind Russell Westbrook but only averaged 11.3 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Stats don’t tell the entire story, especially for a player like Adams, but the numbers have to be significantly better to be making $25 million. Oklahoma City will struggle to sign another top star on the free agent market given how much money Adams and others are taking up on the salary cap. Adams became one of the most overpaid talents the day he signed the contract.
2 Chandler Parsons: $23.6 Million
Chandler Parsons made a name by becoming one of the better three-point shooters and great small forwards in the league on the Houston Rockets. A move to the Dallas Mavericks saw bad luck start to strike Parsons. The injury issues shortened Parsons two seasons in Dallas despite putting up good numbers.
Parsons’ track record was enough for the Memphis Grizzlies to sign him to a contract earning $23.6 million per season over the next four seasons. The first year in Memphis for Parsons was an absolute nightmare. Injuries continued to hurt him but the play when was on the court led to huge disappointment. Parsons averaged just 6.2 points on 33% shooting from the field in the 34 games played. This could very well become the worst contract in the NBA if Parsons can’t return to form.
1 Joakim Noah: $18.1 Million
The dumbest contract in the NBA right now has to be what the New York Knicks gave to Joakim Noah. We all remember the better days of Noah’s career during the Chicago Bulls’ great seasons along with Derrick Rose. Noah made a huge difference on the defensive side as one of the best big men in the game. That quickly fell apart over the past few years with Noah becoming arguably the weakest link on the Bulls.
New York signed Noah to a four year contract at $18.1 million per season. The hope was becoming a contender with Noah and Rose joining the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. However, the Knicks missed the playoffs altogether with Noah being a huge bust. Noah averaged just five points per game before suffering an injury and getting suspended for violating the NBA’s drug policy. The Knicks may attempt to rebuild by trading Carmelo, but Noah’s contract will still hurt them over the next three years.