Top 10 Worst Management Decisions in NBA History

Many players find free agency one of the most exciting times in their NBA careers. Why? Well, it might mean more money in contract deals. During this finger-biting time, the fans and players wait anxi

Many players find free agency one of the most exciting times in their NBA careers. Why? Well, it might mean more money in contract deals. During this finger-biting time, the fans and players wait anxiously to see who will be traded, what deals will be executed and which coaches will be hired. The team’s front office and general managers don’t usually make the wisest choices in players and coaches. There are many proven deals that didn’t work out. In retrospect, it has many managers shaking their heads in disbelief, hoping that they had another chance to fix it. The words, ‘if only,’ come into play.

There is not a cut and dry answer to this because no one can predict the future of a NBA player or coach. Of course, there were many ideal signings that worked out for team, player and coaches such as the Lebron James signing for the Miami Heat where he won his first NBA title. He proved that he was the best player in the game and deserved a big contract (probably deserved more). Not everyone fit their role and many ended up being disappointed in their own performances. This is how the game of professional basketball plays out. There are many factors into deciding trades, contract deals, coaching changes and new signings. Physical fitness, age, existing team roster, team’s future plans, playing style, the length of the contract deal, and the funds to be paid over the contract period are the main deciding factors for general managers. The GM has to take the entire team’s perspective into consideration as well. Many of the NBA contracts are band-aid deals, but no one knows until the game is played out on the basketball court. In this article, we will discuss trades that have backfired, coaches not doing so well and bad contract signings.

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10 Marcin Gortat Signing

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Polish born, Marcin Gortat received a five year contract deal with the Washington Wizards for $60 million. The deal looked strong at first because he was thought to be an important element to the team’s dynamics. According to, his record was 11.4 points for every 100 ball possessions. $12 million for each season seemed to be reasonable for a center turning age 31 in mid-2015. In addition, he seems to have some good rim-protection skills, anchoring the defense. He has proven to be consistent in his offense to add a solid pick-and-roll component alongside players like Bradley Beal and John Wall.

Many sports experts think that this deal is very problematic because it contains an ever-increasing salary. The contract appears fine now and possibly in the next season, but the following seasons may show a decline in his abilities, forcing a lesser role because of his age. He will be 35 years old in 2019 and making more than $13 million. Moreover, centers tend not to age so well, especially if they are playing physical basketball instead of a tactful game. Even if we overlook the absence of financial flexibility that the Washington Wizards will have when NBA players such as Kevin Durant becomes a free agent and Bradley Beal gets an inevitable extension to get the maximum deal, Marcin Gortat’s deal will be like a shackle later on.

9 Juwan Howard Signing


Juwan Howard’s signing to the Washington Bullets, unfortunately did not pan out. His playing time was painful to watch, even though he was previously a strong player. He was brought on as a franchise player, but that didn’t work out. His presence was hyped and in 1996, this was proven when he was rewarded a huge 7 year deal of $105 million. His play did not express the financial sentiment. There was no return in the franchise’s investment. Howard was unable to keep the team at the top of the Eastern Conference. He failed to get the team to the playoffs more than once.

8 Grant Hill Trade For Ben Wallace


In 2000, Grant Hill was traded to the Orlando Magic for Ben Wallace. In hindsight, this was a bad deal, even though it seemed like a good opportunity at the time. Grant Hill had proven to be a good player in the NBA in the past. Wallace was not drafted but although limited, he had potential. The plan was for Grant Hill to carry the Orlando Magic to NBA title contention.

He was supposed to get help from supporting cast member, Trady McGrady. However, he had several injuries and a likely life-threatening ailment that crumpled those title dreams. Wallace became one of the best defenders in the basketball league and was considered a huge asset to the Detroit Pistons, the team he joined in their championship quest, culminating with an NBA title in 2004.

7 Gilbert Arenas Wizards Signing


Point guard Gilbert Arenas received a six year contract for $111 million from the Washington Wizards. During the 2007-08 season, he suffered a knee injury and had to be sidelined. Still stuck with him, the Wizards worked a deal close to the maximum he would receive in 2008. This was followed by a setback. He had to have knee rehabilitation, after which he was imprisoned for gun possession without a license.

6 Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons


Everyone that is a basketball fan will remember how volatile of a player Rasheed Wallace was during his career as an NBA player with the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers. Of course, he was a great defensive player and fierce competitor, but he allowed his temper to control him. He got some good basketball deals, but failed to perform professionally, being hit with technical fouls in every basketball game. He became a nightmare to his team.

5 Kenyon Martin: 7 year, $92.5 million contract with Nuggets


As a role player, Kenyon Martin probably shouldn't have received a 7-year contract with the Nuggets in 2004 for $92.5 million. However, the free agency pool and its shallowness along with the desperation felt by the Nuggets to get a talented player forced them to make the move. Kenyon Martin was plagued with injuries. With fractured legs in previous years, he also hadn’t played in all games within a single season. He missed so many games over the period of his contract and when he was healthy, he did not produce well on the court.

4 Billy Donavan: Orlando Magic coach

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Oh what a joyous week it was that Billy Donovan was the Magic's head coach. Of course, Billy Donovan won two NCAA Championships back to back, but did this make him eligible to be coach of a professional basketball team, the Orlando Magic? This decision should not have been based on a college basketball record, but obviously the Magic hoped that his college success would translate well into the NBA. Donovan walked away from the job and returned to college basketball. Why did he accept the position in the first place? The Magic had to scramble for Stan Van Gundy who did the best job he could, after being brought into an already unstable situation.

3 Frank Vogel: Indiana Pacers coach

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Vogel, coach of the Indiana Pacers placed a lot of trust in Roy Hibbert, a big man player who went from being good to being bad to almost cartoon-like awful during the past basketball season. The coach was often the only one sheltering struggling Hibbert from the media’s firing squad. When Hibbert was confronted by the media about his terrible offensive game, Vogel was quick to come to his defense, reminding the media and everyone within hearing range that Hibbert’s defense never skipped a beat.

He said that all they needed Hibbert for was his defense. He said Hibbert wasn’t getting as many ball touches. He considered the media criticism to be unfair. Vogel wasn’t looking at the entire team and Hibbert was only one team member whose play put more pressure on the other players. Now that Lance Stephenson has defected to Charlotte and the season ended for an injured Paul George, the Pacers don’t look like title contenders, even in a weak Eastern basketball conference.

2 Brad Stevens – Boston Celtics coach

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics basketball record seems to be on the shoulders of coach Brad Stevens. The team has twice as many losses as they have wins. The record is 13-23. Who do you blame? The coach seems to be taking the blame. When asked by the media, he said that he has to figure out how to coach the team more appropriately. He said he wasn’t doing a good job and had to figure out the rotations, once the team started to play good basketball. Isn’t it too late in the season?

1 Derek Fisher: New York Knicks coach

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Fisher is the new coach for the New York Knicks. Many think that he is a better player and locker room leader than coach. Many also think that Phil Jackson is really coaching behind the scenes and telling Fisher what to do. He runs the triangle plays without a center, real playmakers or real low-post presence. Yes, he is new, but he has always been better as a facilitator and dealing with big personalities like Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been easy for him. Fisher has the huge job of developing the younger guys while Phil Jackson oversees him. Since Anthony signed a huge contract last summer, he really doesn’t have to listen to Fisher. It seems he can do whatever he wants.

Lots of money, dissatisfactions and high expectations is the result of many bad deals, bad coaching picks and bad trades. NBA history has shown the demise of so many teams as a result of free agent signing and trades. Signing the right coach can be the difference between reaching the NBA finals and gaining a championship. However, it is a hit or miss decision. The wrong guy can cost the franchise millions of dollars and embarrass the team. The guys discussed above fall in this unfortunate category. Do they learn from experience?

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Top 10 Worst Management Decisions in NBA History