Thanks to the massive increase in the salary cap over the past year (and it’s only going to get higher), some players in the NBA are making massive money. Even 30 year old role players like Timofey Mozgov are getting four years and $64 million contracts, so you have to wonder what’s going to happen when some superstars are up for free agency. The contracts will be off the charts, and franchises don’t even want to think about the millions they’ll have to shell out.
If you look at the highest overall contracts right now, there are some notable names missing. Guys like Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are not signed to $100 million plus contracts, but they really should be. As it stands right now, there are 18 players that are signed to contracts that are value at nine figures.
So let’s go ahead and rank those contracts in terms of value. Who deserves to be paid just a bit more despite being worth more than $100 million and who has been a big waste of money for their respective franchises? Here is every $100 million contract that was signed prior to the 2016-17 ranked from best to worst.
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18 Chris Bosh
Is Chris Bosh worth more than $100 million when he’s able to play a full season? Absolutely. After all, he has been named to the All Star Game for each of the past 11 seasons, but it looks like that has come to an end. Health concerns have made it so that Bosh is expected to miss the entire 2016-17 season, which is a shame because he was routinely putting up big numbers and was a bigger part of the Heat winning two titles than people gave him credit for.
Bosh, in his career, has put up an average of 19.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block per game. Considering his age and his health, though, it’s tough for Miami to swallow the contract of five years and $118.7 million.
17 Steven Adams
Steven Adams is fortunate enough to be one of those young players that took advantage of the massive rise in salary cap to become one of the nine figure players in the NBA. Adams recently inked a deal to become a newest member of the club, signing with Oklahoma City for four years and $100 million after the departure of Kevin Durant gave the team some space.
Honestly, you want a big man in your lineup as it becomes very important during the playoffs, but Adams isn’t putting up the numbers of a $100 million man. Adams received his contract after a season where he scored 8.0 points per game with 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He’s a solid player that gets 25 to 30 minutes per game, but definitely not worthy of just $3 million less per year than Russell Westbrook.
16 Bradley Beal
The Washington Wizards are currently paying their star point guard John Wall just south of $17 million per year. That same team is paying Bradley Beal more than $25 million per year on a contract of five years and $127.1 million. That’s how much the NBA has changed since 2014 when Wall signed his deal. Obviously, Wall deserves more money and Beal is getting paid on his potential alone.
Beal had a fine scoring season in 2015-16 with 17.4 points per game, but that’s not among the best and the rest of his numbers are nearly non-existent with 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. So far in his career, Beal is a 16.0 point, 3.7 rebound and 3.0 assist player per game and his numbers have been fairly consistent so far.
15 Mike Conley
That man that currently has the largest contract in the NBA is Mike Conley. If you’re asking yourself why, then you’re asking the right question. There’s nothing wrong with Conley, it’s not like he’s Kwame Brown. However, Conley is averaging more than $30.5 million per year on a contract that is worth north of $152 million overall in a five year span.
With that kind of money, Conley has to be young, right? Nope, he is already 29 years old. Is he the highest scorer? Not by a long shot, he’s averaging 13.6 points per game for his career and had 15.3 points per game in the 2015-16 season. Perhaps he has some good rebound and assist numbers? Only 2.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in his career. The thing Conley has going for him is the fact he’s played in at least 70 games per season (except his rookie year and 2015/16), so while he isn't sensational, he's a steady and reliable player.
14 Al Horford
There weren’t many big names in the 2016 free agency class, which is why the Celtics backed up the truck to dump a ton of money at Al Horford’s door. Horford received a four year and $113.33 million contract from Boston heading into the season. Horford is coming off of two All Star seasons, though his numbers have actually been trending down compared to the prime of his career.
Horford is already 30 years old and his past two seasons were nearly identical at 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Horford’s a solid defender, but signing someone to a massive contract like that is usually a mistake when they’re on the wrong side of 30. Horford is off to a decent start for the Celtics, but he hasn’t yet been worth the type of cash that they dished out for the former Hawk.
13 Nicolas Batum
Nicolas Batum was fairly anonymous in his first couple of NBA seasons, which might lead some to think that he’s young with a lot of potential. On the contrary, Batum is already 27 years old and will be 28 in December of 2016. Batum was traded by Portland to Charlotte before the 2015-16 season. In that year, Batum would end up scoring 14.9 points with 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Those are decent all around numbers, but the contract he received was insane.
Batum would receive five years from Charlotte worth $120 million, which is a lot for someone that has already reached their prime and will be out of it by the time the deal is done. Batum isn’t a bad player by any stretch, but he doesn’t seem to be worth the massive contract that pays him more per year than guys like Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
12 Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony signed his deal with the Knicks back in 2014 that was worth five years and more than $124 million. That was only slightly lower than the maximum contract, though people were sure he’d get max money. Anthony would be much higher on the list due to his great numbers if it weren’t for the fact that he is already 32 years old. By the time his deal wraps up after the 2017-18 season, he will be 34.
The Knicks spent all that money on Anthony and they haven’t gotten much out of it outside of his great individual numbers. Since they signed Anthony to his extension, the Knicks finished 17-65 and 32-50. By the time the rebuild will be done and the Knicks will be contending, it’s likely that Anthony won’t be around to see it.
11 Marc Gasol
Before the 2015-16 season, the Grizzlies gave Marc Gasol a max contract worth five seasons and $113.21 million. The contract would have been fine if he were putting up 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a 23 or 24 year old, but he was already on the other side of 30 by the time the Grizzlies signed him. That’s a dangerous game to play and Gasol’s scoring and rebounding took a slight decline already in just the first year of his contract.
Memphis better hope that Gasol can at least maintain the type of production that he put up in the past few seasons or else this is certainly going to be an overpriced contract. Gasol’s defense has been solid, but there are only a few players in the NBA that are getting more money than he is, which is a risk.
10 DeMar DeRozan
If you looked at the 2015-16 season alone, then you could certainly make an argument that DeMar DeRozan is worth more than $100 million. The scoring was there with 23.5 points per game, which was a career high. He’s always around the 4.0-5.0 rebound mark per game with a couple of assists thrown in. Making him the third highest paid player in the league is a stretch, though, as he inked a five year deal worth $139 million.
DeRozan is a fine player, but you have to think that he has reached his peak now at 27 years old. By the time that the Raptors get to the last couple of years on DeRozan’s deal, his numbers should be taking a hit. For now, he’s carrying the team as he's the leading scorer in the NBA after nine games, so it’s not a terrible deal, it’s just that a two-time All Star that already has seven seasons under his belt might not be worth the third richest contract.
9 Andre Drummond
The Pistons made Andre Drummond one of two players that tied for fifth highest paid in the league (the other is higher on our list). Drummond received a contract of five years and $127.17 million back in July 2016. Is Drummond worth the money if he continues to develop into a great center? Definitely. The only thing is that the 23 year old received his massive contract on potential alone.
There is a really good chance that Drummond will move up the list in the next couple of years, but for now just be wary. Judging by his numbers, this will end up being a good deal for the Pistons, as he put up 16.2 points with 14.8 rebounds (which led the league) and 1.4 blocks in the 2015-16 season, both of which were career highs. Detroit just has to keep their fingers crossed.
8 C.J. McCollum
If you are going to sign a player to a four year deal worth more than $106 million, you better be sure that he’s going to be a star. There’s a chance that Portland actually got a good deal when they paid McCollum that money before the 2016-17 season, but it’s still going to be a huge risk. McCollum was a bench player for his first two seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.3 and then 6.8 points per game. In 2015-16, McCollum would rise up in a big way, scoring 20.8 points with 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
If you can get that kind of production out of McCollum every year for the next four seasons, then this deal will work out just fine since McCollum is only 25 years old. Giving that kind of money to someone that played just one season as a starter leaves management chomping their fingernails, but it seems like Portland will be just fine here.
7 Kevin Love
It seems that half of the nation thinks Kevin Love is an underappreciated superstar while the other half thinks he’s an overpaid stat padder that wasn’t worth what the Cavaliers gave away in order to obtain him. I personally like Love, especially since he plays at a premium position where there isn’t a lot of superstar talent. Love received his five year deal worth $113.2 million before the 2015-16 season.
It’s worked out so far as the Cavaliers won the title in the first year of his contract and he was 27 years old at the time he signed it, four years younger than Marc Gasol. Love doesn’t get the scoring numbers that he used to since he plays with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, but he’s still putting up a double double nearly every night with around 16 points and 10 rebounds per game during his time in Cleveland.
6 Chris Paul
It would be hard to knock the contract that the Clippers gave to Chris Paul, as he was given the five year deal worth $113.2 million back in 2013 for the contract that would wrap up at the end of the 2017-18 season. Paul was 28 years old when he signed the deal and his contract is now just the 14th richest in the NBA. At the time, it was expensive, but now Paul is a value player despite being 31 years old.
Since signing the contract, the Clippers have at least been contenders in the Western Conference and they have gotten some great numbers out of Paul. Paul has averaged more than 19 points per game in each of the seasons on his contract, while also averaging just under four rebounds per game and more than 10 assists.
5 Rudy Gobert
If this were a list of best nicknames, Rudy Gobert might be the top spot thanks to The French Rejection and The Stifle Tower. In terms of contracts, he’s at least a top five player in the $100 million tier. Gobert had been outplaying his contract like crazy over the past two seasons, so the Jazz rewarded him with four years and $102 million. Gobert doesn’t put up big scoring numbers (9.1 points per game in 2015-16), but he was hauling in 11 rebounds and blocking more than two shots per game.
The Jazz were also able to tie up Gobert at a young age, as he is only 24 years old, meaning that he will be giving Utah most of his prime years. Gobert will continue to improve and has a chance to be one of the better defensive players in the league. If he could increase his scoring a bit, then Gobert will be worth every penny of the contract since he’s among the lowest paid guys in this tier.
4 Damian Lillard
Mike Conley is the only player with a richer contract that Damian Lillard, but Lillard is making $13 million less over the same five year span that Conley was signed for. So what makes Lillard’s contract so much more better than Conley’s? For starters, it’s $13 million less and Lillard is already better than Conley by a long shot. Add in the fact that Lillard has just entered his prime at 26 years old and this is a fine contract for Portland despite the high price tag.
Lillard would be higher on the list if he weren’t the fact that he's the second highest paid player in the league, so the overall value isn’t quite as high, but his 2015-16 season saw him score 25.1 points per game with 4.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He’s off to a hot start in 2016-17 as well and this contract will become more valuable as big free agents sign with an even higher salary cap next season.
3 Giannis Antetokounmpo
While players like Lillard and Drummond are almost guaranteed to have their contracts move up or down the list over the next couple of years, Giannis Antetokounmpo could go either way. The Bucks get bonus points for tying up a player that’s so young (he’s only 21 years old) and even more points for getting him at four years and $100 million, just barely qualifying him for the list.
If he continues to improve on his numbers, which seems likely, then Antetokounmpo is going to be a huge value for Milwaukee. In the 2015-16 season, The Greek Freak would wind up putting up 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He’s a super versatile player that has not yet peaked, though Milwaukee might not have given him enough years on his deal.
2 James Harden
Listen, I know you probably think James Harden is completely overblown as a player, but it’s hard to say that he hasn’t completely carried an otherwise mediocre Rockets team for the past four plus seasons. Harden currently holds the 10th richest contract in the league at four years and $117.9 million. The extension came before this season and he has earned it.
While he has his critics, Harden is now in the prime of his career and the Rockets were wise to sign him to all of his prime years. Harden put up 29 points per game last season with 6.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Those are great numbers and his assists have gone up every season, along with his scoring. The guy is a superstar and is certainly worthy of being the 10th highest paid in the league.
1 Anthony Davis
Despite the injury concerns that Anthony Davis carries, I still have to consider him the best player in the nine figure tier and his contract is tied with Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond for fourth highest at five years and $127.17 million overall. Davis has already proven to be better than those two (especially Beal) and he also has age on his side at just 23 years old. Davis is among the best players in the league, posting 24.3 points with 10.3 rebounds and two blocks per game in 2015-16.
As long as he stays healthy, Davis not only deserves to be one of the highest paid players in the league, but the highest. While the Pelicans aren’t where they want to be as a franchise, they at least have someone that they can build around for years to come.
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