If you were to take a look at the list of contracts handed out to National Basketball Association players this past offseason, you would say that league general managers need to have their collective heads examined. After all, these GMs were throwing cash suited for solid starters at backups and other depth players.
Several players received way more money than their numbers indicate they deserve and it was a bloodbath in terms of teams having a sense of fiscal responsibility. Some—or in my estimation, most—of these contracts will leave teams in financial ruin and handcuff them for years to come when said contracts don't pan out. It is inevitable given the amount of expectations that come with big-money contracts in sports.
The biggest reason for the epic increase in salary for these players is a result of the payroll increase NBA squads are seeing. Thanks to a television deal with networks ESPN and TNT that totals $24 billion, NBA teams had more money to work with this past offseason and will see yet another increase for the 2017-18 campaign.
Such an increase has caused salaries to balloon and even some bottom-of-the-barrel players are getting close to star money. It's the new reality in basketball contracts today and not a single team will be able to avoid it.
15 Nicolas Batum
Maybe I'm wrong, but Nocolas Batum doesn't seem like the kind of player who should be making north of $100 million. Regardless of what I think, the Charlotte Hornets feel differently and handed over a five-year deal worth $120 million to the shooting guard, good enough for the 18th highest salary in the NBA for the 2016-17 season.
The 27-year-old averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for Charlotte in 2015-16. Clearly Batum is a guy who can contribute all around on both sides of the ball, however he isn't exactly a franchise-changing player as his contract would indicate. He isn't a particularly good shooter and he doesn't offer a lot in terms of individual ability.
14 Eric Gordon
Injuries and disappointment have been the crux of Eric Gordon's career in the NBA, as the 27-year-old moved on to his third team when he and the Houston Rockets agreed to a four-year, $53 million deal.
Not only has Gordon's production dropped mightily since averaging a career-high 22.3 points per game in 2010-11 with the Los Angeles Clippers, but Gordon has also been an injury waiting to happen. The shooting guard has not played in more than 64 games in any season since his rookie campaign.
13 Luol Deng
Up first on the list of desperate moves by the Lakers is the signing of Luol Deng, who inked a four-year, $72 million deal this past offseason in Los Angeles. The normally injury-prone Deng was actually able to keep himself together long enough to play in 74 games for the Miami Heat last season.
Deng's offensive output was stifled quite a bit last season even though he was a starter. Deng averaged a career-low 12.3 points per game, while matching his career low with 1.9 assists per contest. The amount of minutes Deng logged per game were also his lowest since his rookie season.
12 Evan Turner
Evan Turner is one of the more overrated players in the league, so it comes as no surprise that some team fell for it and overpaid to get him. That team was the Portland Trail Blazers and the contract was for four years and $70 million.
The 27-year-old's career has been up and down, but now Turner has been relegated to backup duty on a full-time basis. In 2015-16, Turner started just 12 of the 81 games he played in, averaging 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. Not bad numbers for a guy coming off the bench, however the price tag is far too high.
11 Austin Rivers
When looking at Austin Rivers' new three-year, $35 million deal with the Clippers, you have to wonder just how much having his dad as the head coach helped his contract situation. Of course, the Clippers are coached by Doc Rivers, Austin's dad, and the father-son duo began working together during the 2014-15 season.
The former No. 10 overall pick isn't a good shooter, he doesn't pass well (he plays point guard) and he only averaged 8.9 points per game last season. On top of that, Rivers has struggled to play an entire season, thus bringing questions about his durability. Everything about Rivers screams mediocre at best, and that's what the Clippers will be paying over $11 million for during the next three years.
10 Bismack Biyombo
Bismack Biyombo has proven to be a solid interior defender and rebounder during his career, but I'm not sure throwing $17 million per season at him was the right thing to do—especially when it's the Orland Magic, a team flush with talent in the front court with Nikola Vucevic and Serge Ibaka on the roster.
The Magic brought Biyombo in to be the primary backup to those two, however the big man from Zaire is a pretty one-dimensional player. He will block shots and grab rebounds (he had a career-high 8.0 per game last season), but Biyombo won't contribute a lick offensively.
9 Tyler Johnson
The Heat have been depleted thanks to free agency and Chris Bosh's blood clot issue, but it was still surprising to see Pat Riley and company throw caution to the wind by signing Tyler Johnson to a four-year, $50 million deal despite how unproven he is.
Johnson doesn't do anything particularly well and he'll be tasked with replacing a Heat legend in Dwyane Wade, who moved on to play in Chicago for the next two seasons. To be fair, Johnson doesn't have anywhere near the skill-set to replace a guy like Wade, even at the veteran's deteriorated state.
8 Ryan Anderson
Another dud from The Lonestar State, the Rockets spent big money and successfully (or should I say, unsuccessfully?) brought in Ryan Anderson on a four-year, $80 million deal this offseason. Not exactly the kind of money you want to spend on a soft big man who can't do much more than shoot.
Anderson averaged 17 points and six boards per game last season for the Hornets as a bench player. Anderson has always been noted for his solid shooting, however he had his second-worst season from behind the arc last season, while playing in just 66 games.
7 Allen Crabbe
I know, who?! Somehow the Blazers thought it was a good idea to give this man a four-year, $75 million deal that will pay him on average nearly $19 million per season. To make matters more bizarre, the Nets once again thought that a nominal player like Allen Crabbe was worth this much.
As a backup for the Blazers last season, Crabbe posted career-highs in points, assists and rebounds per game; although that wasn't difficult considering he had nowhere to go but up. Now Crabbe is being shoveled a ton of money to remain as the team's backup, and even after the team also brought in the aforementioned Turner this offseason.
6 Chandler Parsons
Apparently the Grizzlies just love throwing boatloads of cash at guys who don't deserve it, with Parsons being the franchise's first example on this list. The Grizz paid Chandler Parsons a max (that's right, I said max) amount of money in free agency, giving him a four-year, $94.8 million deal, despite the small forward's production trending down.
Parsons' 13.7 points per game in 2015-16 were the lowest output he's had since his rookie season, and he posted career lows in both rebounds (4.7) and games played (61). Parsons' health should be a concern moving forward, as the 27-year-old has only topped 70 games twice and has missed a combined total of 37 games over the past two seasons.
5 Solomon Hill
Looking for help at small forward, the Pelicans agreed to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract with Solomon Hill. The only problem for New Orleans is that Hill won't be much help to the team in the talent department and he may need a kick or two in the rear to get himself motivated.
Now that Tyreke Evans won't be ready for the start of the season, the normally inconsistent Hill has been given an opportunity to start for the foreseeable future. Still, that doesn't mean Hill will produce and if his 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season are an indication of anything, it's that Hill won't be able to fill Evans' shoes by a long shot.
4 Joakim Noah
Knicks president Phil Jackson was looking to add some much-needed help to the team's front court after dealing center Robin Lopez during the offseason, so he threw a bunch of money at the injury-prone Joakim Noah. The New York native signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks after spending the first nine years of his career with the Bulls.
While Noah was certainly a top defender in the NBA and a big key to the Bulls' defensive success under head coach Tom Thibadeau, the 31-year-old has never been able to stay healthy. He has played in 80 games in a single season just twice, 74 games once, and other than that Noah has never played in more than 67 games.
3 Timofey Mozgov
Next up on the list of desperation moves by the Lakers was the signing of Tomofey Mozgov, who is practically stealing $64 million over four years. Well, I guess it isn't stealing after the Lakers foolishly and willingly gave it up to him.
The move to sign Mozgov was the Lakers' poor attempt to make an impact move, but it will end up being impact money spent for a guy who won't impact much. Mozgov looked primed to revive his disappointing career after joining the Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season. He posted a career-high in points with 10.6 per game and added 6.9 rebounds in 46 games (45 starts).
2 Bradley Beal
How Bradley Beal landed his five-year, $128 million deal from the Wizards is beyond anyone's comprehension. The 23-year-old is still young and has time to develop, but his injury history and average numbers are just a few red flags.
Beal has proven to be a good shooter with the Wizards and is a nice compliment to point guard John Wall on offense. The problem is that Beal's 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season don't exactly show a well-rounded player. Furthermore, Beal has never played more than 73 games in a season and has totaled 56, 63 and 55 games in each of his other three seasons.
1 Mike Conley
Mike Conley's contract is easily the most egregious from the NBA free agency period, as the Memphis Grizzlies re-signed their point guard to a five-year, $153 million contract in the offseason. The max deal was the largest total value contract in NBA history.
While Conley is a nice player for Memphis, he is nowhere near worth the biggest contract in NBA history with his average numbers. For his career Conley is only averaging 13.6 points and 5.6 assists per game, and his scoring production has steadily declined in each of the past two seasons after a career-high 17.2 in 2013-14.
The kind of contract the 29-year-old received is the likes of which a NBA superstar should receive, not an average point guard like Conley, who is outside the top-20 in player efficiency rating. To make matters worse, Conley is only getting older and only played in 56 games last season due to injury. This one has all the makings of the biggest contract gaffe in NBA history.
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