In the summer of 2016, we saw an insane amount of money being spent by NBA teams to acquire free agents. With the salary cap skyrocketing that year, a lot of huge deals were inked by players that many feel didn’t deserve that type of money. Even just a year later, some of those contracts already look terrible, especially since the salary cap didn’t go up as much as expected in 2017.
That meant that newer deals were more conservative and back to the standard that we were used to seeing, but there were still some strange moves that were made this offseason. When you overpay a player compared to his production, you’re not only hurting the team now, but also three or four years down the road as you either have to swallow the contract and take a lot of losses as a result, or try and ship the player and his contract for next to nothing. There’s a lot of teams that are set up in the next few years to make some big moves for the top free agents that will be available, but some are going to have to hold out because of their current contract situations.
Here are 15 NBA Contracts That Are Killing Their Teams.
15 Andre Iguodala
There’s no doubt that Andre Iguodala has played an impressive part with the Warriors over the past four seasons, helping them reach three NBA Finals and winning two championships. After the most recent title, Iguodala was offered a contract extension worth $48 million over three seasons. It’s not the highest salary in the world at $16 million per season, but the Warriors have to be careful if they want to both keep their stars and avoid getting taxed to high heaven.
Iguodala is already 33 years old, and really only has value at this point in his career on the defensive side of the ball. With money tied up in Iguodala through the 2019-20 season, it could make re-signing Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson quite difficult.
14 Luol Deng
The reason that Luol Deng’s contract isn’t high on the list is because the Los Angeles Lakers fortunately still have plenty of salary cap room for the future, but having Deng around could prevent them from adding another piece or two that they sorely need to become contenders again. Deng signed a $72 million contract before 2016-17 worth $72 million, and the 32 year old is already struggling mightily.
In the first season of his contract, Deng averaged a measly 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and it doesn’t seem that his scoring is going to get any better at this stage. There’s still three more years of Deng’s contract, but the Lakers will undoubtedly look to shift it away to a team that’s willing to eat the salary for a couple of years in exchange for some draft picks.
13 Evan Turner
The former second overall selection in 2010 by the Philadelphia 76ers never really panned out in the City of Brotherly Love, though he did show some improvements before getting sent to Indiana in the 2013-14 season. Turner had then gone to the Celtics on a small deal worth $6.7 million over two years, and the market value should have been set at a similar level in his next contract.
Portland didn’t want to miss out on him, apparently, as they offered Turner $70 million over four years for an average salary of $17.5 million. With three more highly paid seasons left on the contract, Turner’s career in Portland has gotten off to a cold start with just 9.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Those numbers are actually down from his time in Boston, leaving Trail Blazers fans scratching their heads over this deal.
12 Matthew Dellavedova
Just like in any sport, the NBA Playoffs are a great way to earn a big contract for yourself, which is what 2016 playoff darling Matthew Dellavedova did. Dellavedova was a bench player in his first three years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, setting his career highs in 2015-16 with 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. The Milwaukee Bucks thought he could take another step up, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
The experiment cost Milwaukee a lot of money, too, as they gave up $38.4 million over four years for Dellavedova in a contract that runs through 2019-20. Dellavedova is no longer the starting point guard in Milwaukee, and his numbers were nearly identical to that of his final year in Cleveland. The Bucks rolled the dice and came up short on this one, and it could come back to bite them.
11 Andre Drummond
The Detroit Pistons thought they’d have a surefire star in the form of Andre Drummond, who was the ninth overall selection in 2012’s NBA Draft. Drummond had a quiet rookie season, but improved quickly. By his fourth season, Drummond was putting up an impressive 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, setting career highs. Drummond then inked a massive deal with the Pistons, worth $127 million over the next five years.
Drummond took a step back in the first year of his contract, taking fewer shots per game and dropping in both scoring and rebounding. Drummond has never been one to pass the ball or play defense, which causes him to be one of those stat sheet fillers that gets paid for making the team look more glamorous, and there’s four more seasons of that to come.
10 Nicolas Batum
After spending seven seasons with Portland, Nicolas Batum established himself as a decent starter with 11.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, but never really showed that he deserved the star money. Entering his age 27 season, we didn’t see huge strides taken by Batum, but that didn’t matter to Charlotte. They offered him a five-year contract worth an insane $120 million, keeping him there through 2020-21.
Batum has had decent success so far in Charlotte with 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game, but certainly not worthy of a $24 million per year salary. As he’s set to be on the decline throughout the more expensive part of the contract, the Hornets will likely be kicking themselves for giving up so much money for Batum, who hasn’t helped the team make any waves in the postseason in his two years.
9 Brandon Knight
The Phoenix Suns acquired Brandon Knight during the 2014-15 season from Milwaukee, and things seemed to be going well at first. After his season came to an end, Knight signed with the team for five years and a sum of $70 million, giving him an average of $14 million through the 2019-20 season. The contract looked like a bargain after the first year as Knight had career highs in scoring and rebounding, while nearly topping his career high assists mark.
The second season wouldn’t go as well, though, as Knight started just five games, and his playing time dropped from 36 minutes to 21 minutes per game, nearly slashing all of his numbers in half. Then, in 2017, Knight would end up tearing his ACL, which will cause him to miss the entire 2017-18 season. After trying to trade Knight, they’re now stuck with his contract while he attempts to come back from a major injury.
8 Ryan Anderson
After a slow start to his career, Ryan Anderson improved tremendously while with Orlando, winning the 2011-12 award for the league’s Most Improved Player. That season, Anderson was putting up 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Anderson was able to continue improving his scoring for a couple more seasons, which earned him a big contract in 2016 with the Houston Rockets to the tune of $80 million over four years.
Anderson started in all but 10 games in his first season with the Rockets, and his playing time only took a slight drop between his days in New Orleans and Houston. His production fell off of a cliff, though, as his scoring dipped to 13.6 points with 4.6 rebounds per game. There’s still three more years in the Anderson contract, which will make it hard for the Rockets to put in more valuable pieces around James Harden.
7 Bismack Biyombo
For the amount of money that he’s making, the Orlando Magic really better hope that 25 year old Bismack Biyombo develops quickly. After four years with Charlotte and one with Toronto, Biyombo was putting up less than five points per game with 6.6 rebounds. There wasn’t a huge lack of playing time, either, as Biyombo was on the court for more than 20 minutes per game. For that small amount of production, Biyombo was rewarded by Orlando with a four-year, $72 million contract that runs through 2019-20.
Biyombo certainly isn’t lacking for talent on defense, but that’s the type of money you’d expect someone to get for being a starter that plays a ton of minutes. Right now, Biyombo isn’t that player, though it’s still early in his career. If he continues to develop, it wouldn’t be the worst contract around, though it’s still a lot of money to tie up in a fairly one-dimensional player.
6 Timofey Mozgov
One of the running jokes on NBA message boards is that whenever a player gets more money than the market would typically dictate, it’s called “Mozgov money.” That’s because prior to the 2016-17 season, the Lakers signed Mozgov to a four-year contract totalling $64 million, for a cool $16 million per year. At that point, Mozgov was already 30 years old, and his career highs included 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
In Mozgov’s first year with the Lakers, he averaged just 20 minutes per game, missing nearly 30 games throughout the season. Mozgov was then sent to the Brooklyn Nets during the offseason with D’Angelo Russell and Brook Lopez, as Los Angeles was able to get him off the books and acquire a late first round pick in 2017, meaning he’s the Nets’ problem now.
5 Omer Asik
Out of the players on the list, Omer Asik certainly isn’t among the highest paid, but he’s getting a lot more than he should be right now. Asik didn’t start his NBA career until he was already 24, and is now heading into his age 31 season with career low numbers in scoring, and his rebounding has plummeted while he only gets about 15 minutes per game in with the Pelicans. Putting up 2.7 points per game certainly isn’t worth millions of dollars, but that’s what Asik is getting.
Asik signed a five-year contract in 2015 with the Pelicans for nearly $58 million, meaning that he’s making more than $11.5 million per year. There’s still quite a bit of time left on the contract, too, as Asik is signed through the 2019-20 season. Luckily for the Pelicans, they can cut him during that season and only face $3 million in dead cap.
4 Al Horford
The prime for an NBA player is usually in their late 20s, meaning that they start declining pretty quickly once they hit 30 years old. In the 2016 offseason when the Celtics had a lot of money to spend, they used a lot of it to acquire Al Horford at 30 years old. The deal was worth $113.3 million over the course of four years, meaning that Horford is making an average of more than $28 million per year through 2020.
In his first season with Boston, Horford saw a drop in all of his statistics except for assists, turning the ball over more frequently. The Celtics were still able to get Gordon Hayward despite having a high salary for Horford, but it could catch up to them very quickly. Now over the cap, the window has to be open now that Boston is no longer setting up for the future.
3 Victor Oladipo
The Indiana Pacers knew that one way or another, Paul George would be leaving town. It was a tough reality to face, and knowing that he’s potentially a lame duck player meant that the trade offers for George were pretty scarce. The Oklahoma City Thunder were willing to be trade partners, and to acquire George’s services, they had to part ways with guard Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo had signed a four-year, $85 million contract with Oklahoma City, which is now on the books in Indiana. While Oladipo certainly isn’t the worst player out there, giving $21.25 million per year to someone that averaged less than 16 points, five rebounds and three assists with a better team leaves a lot to be desired. In the 2017-18 season, the Pacers are expected to be toward the bottom of the league, and this contract isn’t helping their future prospects.
2 Ian Mahinmi
A center that started just 21 games in his career heading into his age 29 season usually doesn’t have many hopes of signing a massive contract. Ian Mahinmi would defy those odds, though, as he had a career year in 2015-16 with the Pacers, putting up 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in 71 starts. Once he became a free agent, the Washington Wizards came calling, handing Mahinmi a four-year contract worth $64 million.
Mahinmi is now signed through the 2019-20 season, and the early returns leave a lot to be desire. Mahinmi played in just 31 games in his first season with no starts, averaging 5.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Fans are already hopeful that the Wizards will trade Mahinmi, as he’s tying up a lot of cap room for the Wizards and would leave $48 million in dead cap money if he wasn’t on the team next season.
1 Joakim Noah
At one point, Joakim Noah was an All Star that had been solid with the Chicago Bulls, averaging a double-double in four out of five seasons between 2009-10 and 2013-14. Noah would suffer from some injury issues and his performance started to drop after that, though, and in 2015-16 he was putting up just 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and had just gotten to the other side of 30 years old.
The New York Knicks didn’t seem to be too concerned, and gave Noah a four-year contract worth a whopping $72.6 million. In his first season with New York, Noah would slightly increase his scoring average, but there was no change to his rebounds. What made it worse is that he appeared in just 46 games, and he’ll be an expensive liability for the Knicks through the 2019-20 season.
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