There is no doubt that the NBA pays their athletes quite handsomely but this summer was even more special because the salary cap per team went from $70 million to $94.14 million. Just two seasons ago the salary cap was just at $63.065 million, so that is nearly a 50% increase within just two years.
Players and their agents have been well aware of these salary cap increases, so they're cashing in big time. While some players deserve the money they are getting based on their performance and the value they bring to their franchise, some are also overpaid. However, sometimes these overpaid athletes may still be worth the risk, while others are not.
We've seen it time and time again in professional sports, where teams tend to overvalue the contributions a player brings to their team. They then get scrutinized by the fans and the media for the horrible contract they gave to a player that did not produce as they would've expected.
It's unfortunate to say this but we live in a time where players get paid for more than their production, so sometimes it's just as a business move. Even though a player may not be worth it in terms of on court production, they generate revenue from strategic marketing. The teams sell the idea that a particular player is going to make a difference on the team. They may even become the face of the franchise and hence fans are convinced that this particular player is going to be great. While the pundits know otherwise, it's the teams strategic marketing that generates revenue via ticket, merchandise and concession stand sales.
General managers take a calculated risk and sometimes it appears to be worth it in terms of dollars, while other times it was obvious that they overvalued their player. Consequently, general managers and other staff get fired.
This season we've seen a number of outrageous contracts due to the hike in the salary cap. Below are the top 10 overpaid NBA free agents coming into the 2016-17 season and whether or not they are worth the risk.
20 Bismack Biyombo
Bismack Biyombo signed with the Orlando Magic this summer for four years worth $72 million. $68 million is guaranteed. He'll be making an even base salary $17 million for each of the next four seasons and has $4 million in incentives. His final season in 2019-20 is a player option. The cap hit on the Magic will be $17 million per season for the next four seasons.
Biyombo cashed in big time with Orlando this offseason and it seems rather ridiculous that he will be making more money than Demarcus Cousins, Paul Gasol, and Jonas Valanciunas this season.
Yes, this year the salary cap exploded so that meant a big pay day for whoever was signing a new contract this offseason but this signing is mainly based on a small sample size. Biyombo stepped in as the starter when Valanciunas went down with an injury and he was incredible during the Raptors playoff run. However, he still averaged just 6.2 points in the playoffs on 25.3 minutes per game. He also shoots below 60 percent from the free throw line.
19 Is Biyombo Worth The Risk?
He certainly has great work ethic and a great personality. He is an excellent defender, averaging 1.6 blocks, and an excellent rebounder, averaging eight rebounds, on just 22 minutes per game last season.
So while on regular minutes he might become a double-double guy and has shown he can come through in the playoffs, he has never played real starter minutes nor has he proved he can do it consistently in the long run.
The Magic also traded for Serge Ibaka and still have Vucevic, so this indicates that Biyombo probably won't be getting big time minutes. While Biyombo will be making more than Serge, it's likely that two will be splitting time. It looks like the Magic are really going after a deep playoff run this year so the risk will only be worth the reward here if they actually utilize Bis to make a deep run.
18 Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason for four years worth $64 million. The $64 million is guaranteed. He'll earn $16 million this season and in 2018-19, $15.3 million next season, and $16.7 million in the 2019-20 season. The cap hit to the Lakers are equivalent to his annual salaries.
Mozgov's salary puts him in the top 45 paid players in the NBA for the upcoming season. The Lakers were in desperate need of a center so they pulled out their check book for Timofey.
While his role was limited in Cleveland, Timofey has had a solid career. He averaged just 6.3 points per game last season on 17.4 minutes per game but it was more about the team rather than himself and he didn't make issue of his reduced role.
17 Is Mozgov Worth The Risk?
During his best years, he averaged 10 points, eight rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting above 50 percent from the field and 75 percent from free throw line.
While the potential is there, the Lakers definitely overpaid him based on need rather than production but they are certainly hoping with his increased playing time, he can put up career point, rebounds, and block totals while maintaining his high efficiency.
Based on the Lakers needs at center and Mozgov's potential, this one is definitely worth the risk for Los Angeles. He may not be a top 45 NBA player but they also didn't pay him anywhere near max contract money and have sufficiently filled a gap. The Lakers need a quick turnaround and we wonder if Mozgov can help with this?
16 Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons signed with the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason for four years worth $94.4 million. The entire contract is guaranteed. He will earn $22.1 million in this upcoming season, $23.1 million the following season, $24.1 million in 2018-19, and $25.1 million in 2019-20. The cap hit to the Grizzlies are the full amounts of Parsons' salary each season.
He is now a top 15 paid NBA player who averaged just 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season. He's entering his sixth NBA season and has never averaged more than 16 points a game in his career but the Grizzlies really wanted him so they paid him big bucks. Parsons will play mediocre ball while being expected to perform at a high level in Memphis.
15 Is Parsons Worth The Risk?
Just to put things into perspective, he will be making more than Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Blake Griffin just to name a few.
He does shoot very efficiently and had a 49.2 FG percentage and 41.4 3PT percentage last season but was successful hitting free throws just 68.4 percentage of the time.
Memphis was probably attracted to those numbers of efficiency and saw the potential but they gave a role player a superstar payday. This is a high risk situation with a small chance of high reward. He is getting paid too much before proving he deserves it. He would need to put up at bare minimum 20 points per game this season with the same efficiency to earn that pay check.
14 Evan Turner
Evan Turner signed with the Portland Trail Blazers this summer for four years worth $70 million and the entire contract is guaranteed. This season he will earn $16.4 million, in 2017-18 he will earn $17.1 million, in 2018-19 he will earn $17.9 million, and in 2019-20 he will earn $18.6 million. The cap his on the Trail Blazers are the full season salary amounts.
Also known as "The Kid," Turner like many ventured into free agency and found a team that would pay him the big bucks. The team that overpaid this soon to be 28 year old was the Portland Trail Blazers.
His contract isn't as outrageous as some of the others we've seen this offseason, however, he is now being paid top 40 salary. That's quite unbelievable considering he averaged just 10.5 points per game last season.
13 Is Turner Worth The Risk?
Evan is certainly a versatile player with his size and strength but he is wildly inconsistent and enjoyed shooting an average of one three pointer per game at just a 24.1 percent success rate last season.
The upside is for a small forward/shooting guard he gets his share of rebounds and assists but when you look at his career stats season by season, there's no guessing how efficient he will shoot and how many points or assists you can expect from him.
He's definitely an asset to any team but the risk here is that he might average just the 10 points a game like he did last season. That is certainly not the type of output you'd expect from a top 40 salary. However, this addition might actually be worth it for Portland considering the amount of young talent they have, he might fit the team perfectly. He can score if they need him to, otherwise, he's a good defender that can grab boards and dish the rock. He’ll just have to leave the three point shooting to Lillard, McCollum, and Crabbe.
12 Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley signed this summer with the Phoenix Suns for three years worth $30 million. The entire contract is guaranteed. This season he will earn $10.5 million, the following season he will earn $10 million, and in 2018-19 he will earn $9.5 million. The cap hit to the Suns are the full season salaries.
Jared Dudley just got paid top 100 player money, which means he is now making more next season than Danny Green, Al Jefferson, George Hill and Jeff Teague.
I could probably continue naming dozens of players that are better than Jared Dudley but he did have some of his best years in Phoenix, so maybe him and the team are hoping to relive the past. However, at this point we have to believe that Dudley will struggle to find those Phoenix numbers again.
11 Is Dudley Worth The Risk?
He is an efficient shooter that plays off the bench for about 25 minutes a game but averages just under eight points a game. He doesn't add much in the rebounding, assists, steals and block categories.
Dudley will be expected to produce and help the Suns take a shot at the playoffs. However, we're not so sure if this player can actually handle the load and take this team to the next level in the NBA.
It's hard to imagine the Suns couldn't use the money somewhere better but maybe they are expecting him to produce the type of output he had for them years ago. They paid a steep price for an older player with little upside. Dudley is a dud for his price.
10 Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard signed with the Atlanta Hawks this offseason for $70.5 over three years. The entire contract is guaranteed. He will earn $23.2 million this season, $23.5 million the following season, and $23.8 million in 2018-19. The cap hit to Atlanta are the full salary amounts for each season.
Once upon a time, "Superman" was touted as the next Shaq but those days are long gone and for the most part his career has been a disappointment and underachieving.
He has not lived up to his expectations and somehow landed a big contract. He's now making top 10 money in the NBA and only one center makes more than him, Al Horford. It looks like the Hawks were desperate to replace Horford after he left for a big payday himself with Boston but desperation led them to overpay an injury prone star that appears past his prime.
9 Is Howard Worth The Risk?
D12 averaged a career low 13.7 points per game last season, excluding his rookie year, and a career low free throw shooting percentage of 48.9 percent. He also attempted just 8.5 field goals per game which is his lowest output since his rookie year.
He still shoots at a very high field goal percentage and had his best output in that regard last season. He also still grabs almost 12 rebounds per game but that is also down from his best years. His 1.6 blocks per game is also way down compared to his 2.9 and 2.8 career years with blocks.
He turns 31 in December and no one really calls him superman anymore because he's on the decline. So for the kind of cash they paid him, the value just isn't there anymore. The risk of him not putting up career numbers is too high but I guess Atlanta had to do something when Horford jumped ship.
8 Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah signed a four year deal worth $72.6 million with the New York Knicks this offseason. The entire contract is guaranteed. He will earn $17 million this season, $17.8 million the following season, $18.5 million in 2018-19, and $19.3 million in the 2019-20 season The Knicks cap hit are the full season salaries for Noah.
When Noah is healthy, he is one of the peskiest, hardest working players on the court. He is extremely effective at getting under his opponent's skin and has a knack for energizing his team by making a big play.
He’s willing to put his body on the line to win the game, like in 2013 when he saved ball from going out of bounds with less than 10 seconds on the clock. He flew into the crowd and Belinelli scored to put the Bulls up by two against the Pistons.
7 Is Noah Worth The Risk?
He's a good rebounder, he can score efficiently when healthy and averages about nine points per game throughout his career. However, so much of his career has been spent recovering from injury.
It's shocking that the Knicks would pay so much and for four years to a guy who played just 29 games last season. In fact, he's played 80 games just once over his last seven seasons and in those other six seasons he hasn't played more than 67 games.
Giving Joakim top 40 salary sounds like a risk not worth taking because it is more likely he gets injured than not. The Knicks do tend to throw money around though, so despite it not being worth the risk, they probably don't care because their fans will believe the hype and show up to a sold out Madison Square Garden.
6 Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson signed with the Houston Rockets this summer for $80 million over four years and all of it is guaranteed. This season he will make $18.7 million, the following season he will make $19.6 million, in 2018-19 he will make $20.4 million, and in 2019-20 he will make $21.3 million. The cap hit to the Rockets are the full salary amounts each season.
Ryan Anderson will be making top 25 money this upcoming season and it's absolutely ridiculous but Houston showed him the money anyways.
When he is healthy, he puts up pretty solid numbers. Last year in particular he averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He shot .427/.366/.873 from the field, three point line, and free throw line.
5 Is Anderson Worth The Risk?
He doesn't offer up much defensively but those offensive numbers are certainly impressive. However, the key fact to note is that he puts those numbers up when he's healthy or more like if he's healthy.
Anderson hasn't played a full 82 game season his entire career. He has a single 81 game season under his belt but that was four seasons ago. In addition, his second highest games played is just 66 games which he managed to do last season. He also had a 22 game season just three seasons ago.
Ryan in a good year plays just three quarters of a season and is still a high risk for injuries. While he is still in his prime years and has some playoff experience, the risk of injury didn't seem to offset his top 25 payday.
If he stays healthy then the risk will be worth it but the Rockets definitely overpaid him. They are paying him with the assumption he will stay healthy but that's far from likely based on history.
4 Demar Derozan
Demar Derozan resigned with the Toronto Raptors this past offseason for $139 million over five years with $137.5 million guaranteed. He has a player option in the final year of his contract, 2020-21. In the upcoming season, he will earn $26.5 million and earn $27.7 million in each of the four seasons leading up to 2021. The cap hit to the Raptors are equivalent to his annual salaries.
The most shocking part about Derozan's contract is that it is the second highest salary in NBA history. The only player that will be making more money than him this season is Lebron James.
Demar is certainly not the second best player in the game and Sports Illustrated has him ranked at 46th. Also, no matter the structure of the fantasy basketball league you play in, I assure you that you would never take DD second overall. So it's pretty clear that he's nowhere near the second best player in the league.
3 Is Derozan Worth The Risk?
He might be worth the risk when you consider the fact he had a big role in carrying the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015-16 where they lost to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Raptors also have a huge market share because Toronto is Canada's only team and they've been marketed as Canada's team. You can also add the fact that many American players don't even consider Toronto as a viable city to reside.
He is vital to the ball clubs chances at making the playoffs and making a deep run. Even though they are unlikely to ever win a championship without number 10, without him, the Raptors may not even make the playoffs. This would cause a loss in fan base and a loss of interest from Canadians, hence decreasing revenue.
So even though the Raptors overpaid him, it's likely that he will end up being worth the risk from a business perspective.
2 Mike Conley
Mike Conley re-signed with the Memphis Grizzlies this summer for $153 million over five years. $141 million is guaranteed. He will earn a salary of $26.5 million this upcoming season $28.5 million the following season, $30.5 million in the 2018-19 season, $32.5 million in 2019-20, and $34.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2020-21. His final year is guaranteed for $22.4 million with the remaining becoming fully guaranteed if he plays in at least 55 games in either of the 2018-19 or 2019-20 seasons. The final year of his contract has early termination, which is a players option. The cap hit to the Grizzlies each season are the full amounts of his annual salaries.
Mike Conley will be the third highest paid player in the NBA for the upcoming season. Let's just think about that for a second. That's the kind of money you give a player that you are building a franchise around. The type of player that is going to take you to the Conference Finals at the very least.
1 Is Conley Worth The Risk?
Don't get me wrong, Conley is arguably one of the best defenders and better two way players. He definitely deserved a good pay day but he averaged just 15.3 points per game last season on 42.2 percentage shooting from the field. The Grizzlies also barely squeezed into the playoffs last year in an always tough Western Conference with 42 wins but got swept by the Spurs. Conley was injured for this series but with that kind of money, you'd think the Grizzlies finished top two in the Conference or made a deep run but they didn't win a single game in the playoffs.
Yes, other players will get their big payday when their current contracts are up which will push Conley down the scale a bit but this appears to be a business move or a fear of loss. Either that or Conley has the best agent in the world because Memphis got hustled. Conley is an overpaid NBA player that is not worth the risk of such a lucrative contract. Five years is also too long. The Grizzlies should be saving that big payday for a real franchise player rather than Conley, who is more of a role player and not the superstar you would want on a championship team.
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