With the mind-numbing changes in the NBA salary cap over the years, the number of head scratching contracts continues to climb as the owners seem more than willing to hand over money to players who haven't really done much to earn such a lucrative payout. Sure the NBA has made a boat load of money with the new television deal and endorsements, but at some point one would think that players should have to at least earn their worths.
Within the past five years and for the immediate future, Superstar level deals have and will be handed out to young players just off of their rookie contract, veterans looking for one last big payday based on their name alone and to even mid level talent who management think just need a fresh start in a new home. While it's still hard to swallow that NBA players are making more money that some small countries, at least Superstar level players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry can justify their earnings based on their production, however for the following list of player who have the top 15 worst contracts of the past five years, maybe they should consider giving some of that money back before they get arrested for highway robbery!
17 Wesley Matthews - 4 Years / $70 million
After making a name for himself in Portland during the early part of the decade, Matthews turned his breakout performance into a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks that started with a $16.4 million payday and will close out with an $18.6 million pay during a player option year for 2017-18.
While he has started all 151 of the games that he has suited up for while playing with the Mavs, his production over the past two years have been his lowest output since his rookie season. At 30 years old, Matthews still has time on his side to finish out his NBA career and chances are he'll return to the Mavericks next season, but the odds of him receiving a similar deal to the one that Mark Cuban presented to him is highly unlikely.
16 Chandler Parsons - 4 Years / $94 million
In 2012, Parsons may have surprised many casual fans by making the NBA All-Rookie Second team, but for those that followed his career at the University of Florida, Parsons' first year production wasn't a fluke. Fast forward to his sophomore and junior years in the NBA and Parsons would turn himself into one of the most sought after free agents on the market in 2014.
While his production remained relatively close to his numbers in Houston, injuries started to take a toll on his appearances and value to the Mavericks lineup. These same injuries cut Parsons 2016-17 season short and in turn delayed his debut with the Memphis Grizzlies, the team that forked over nearly $24 million a year for a player with bad knees.
15 Evan Turner - 4 Years / $70 million
Aside from his two years in Philadelphia, Turner has yet to live up to the ceiling that was set during his three years in Ohio State. However somehow despite only averaging ten points, five rebounds and five assists during his two seasons in Boston, the Portland Trail Blazers decided to throw Turner a rather large bone in 2016 to the tune of roughly $17.5 million a year.
So how did the former NCAA Player of the Year respond to the payday? Less points, less rebounds, lower shooting percentage, less minutes and fewer games played. While Turner has found a role as the Blazers sixth man, chances are he doesn't even rank in the top ten on anyone's list for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
14 Omer Asik - 5 Years / $58 million
Imagine if you could do something really well for 82 days and then somehow convert that into future earnings of nearly $60 million! If Asik was smart, he would trademark whatever it was he did back in 2012-13 and bottle it. Or better yet he could repeat it on a yearly basis and live up to the value of his contract.
After averaging a double double for the Houston Rockets in a breakout year, Asik has seen his stats, minutes, games and value take a drastic dip, but yet for some reason the New Orleans Pelicans decided that they would pair the Turkish big man with Anthony Davis, taking the pressures off of their young Superstar forward by planting a big man in the paint. Unfortunately for the Pelicans they shelled out bags of money for a player that has less on court value than an actual plant!
13 Joakim Noah - 4 Years / $72 million
For about six years, Noah was the heartbeat of the Chicago Bulls roster. Sure they had names like Rose, Butler and Gasol who offered more talent and highlight reel footage, but from a blue collar standpoint, Noah was the engine that made the Bulls move, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, although his shot form was beyond ugly, Noah managed to stay within his means through put backs or pick and roll options, not to mention his passing abilities.
Unfortunately for the Bulls and Noah, injuries diminished his value during his last two years in the Windy City. Enter Phil Jackson. For whatever reason, the Zen Master figured that adding Noah to the underachieving Knicks roster for the low low cost of $18 million a season. What New York receive in return? Half a season due to injury and suspension and let's not fail to mention only 5 PPG and 8 RPG. Not exactly the best return on a player getting paid $17 million. One has to wonder what $17.7, $18.5 and $19.2 million will bring over the next three years.
12 Timofey Mozgov - 4 Years / $64 million
Somehow the Lakers tried to spin the fact that they signed an NBA Champion to their roster last season. However, unless you lived under a rock, fans realized that Mozgov, although he did receive a ring, was slightly more than a pylon on the Cleveland Cavaliers bench during their playoff run for the ring in 2016.
One of two free agent signings that appear on this list, former GM Mitch Kupchak must have seen the writing on the wall when he inked Mozgov's contract. While the Russian big man wasn't horrible for the tragic scene that was the Lakers, averaging 7.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 54 games, it's certainly tough to justify making Mozgov as being the second highest paid player on the team. And here is the kicker, the team regulated their $16 million man to the bench for the last thirty or so games of the season, and he was healthy! Money well spent...not!
11 Allen Crabbe - 4 Years / $75 million
After being one of the most impressive players in the Pac12 during his three year stint in California, Crabbe has yet to live up to the standard that he set for himself once stepping into the NBA, yet the Portland Trail Blazer appear to think otherwise.
For the past four seasons, Crabbe has come off the bench for the Blazers for the first two years he hardly made a dent in the box scores. For whatever reason, although he played nearly an entire slate of games and bumped his scoring average to double digits, the Blazers felt that throwing $18.5 million towards a bench player was justifiable value. So what did they get in return for their spending? The same stats they got when Crabbe was making $950,000. Talk about highway robbery...
10 Luol Deng - 4 Years / $72 million
Not only did the LA Lakers sign an NBA Champion during the 2016 free agency period, but they also added a two-time NBA All-Star to the roster for the bargain deal of $18 million a season. Unfortunately for everyone but Deng, the money was not well spent.
As with a few of their other veteran players, the Lakers decided to bench a healthy Deng for the last 15-20 games of the season in order to play their younger talent and evaluate what they had in store for the future. While this in theory is all fine and good, why would you sign a veteran player for four years and then sit your money on the pine? Averaging only 26 minutes of action a game, Deng's stat lines proved to be some of the worst numbers he has posted throughout his career.
9 Bismack Biyombo - 4 Years / $72 million
Bismack Biyombo should be sending some sort of gratitude payments to former Toronto Raptors teammate Jonas Valanciunas. When the big man from Lithuania went down at various points due to injury during the 2015-16 season, Biyombo took advantage of the available minutes and not only contributed on the stat sheet, especially on the glass, but at the same time turned himself into a fan favorite as a result of his hustle and grit.
That same hustle and grit effort turned into a lucrative four year, $72 million free agent signing with the Orlando Magic during the summer spending spree of 2016. Considering that the Magic already had signed Serge Ibaka and also had Nikola Vucevic along with Jeff Green on their roster, the log jam for minutes in the paint didn't seem to justify the money spent.
8 Enes Kanter - 4 Years / $70 million
For three and a half years in Utah, fans could see the slow progression in the value of Kanter as the big man continued to show improvements in his game and worth to the team each season. Despite his improvements, the Jazz decided to part with the Turkish big man in a three team deal that brought them a couple of draft picks and some component pieces. Although he did average a double double during the 2014-15 season it hasn't resulted in a starting role for his new team in Oklahoma City.
Kanter is hardly a stiff though as he has put up at least 13 PPG and about 7.5 RPG since signing his four year deal in the summer of 2015, but when he's the second highest player on your payroll, something is wrong. Then again, this is the same team that has seen Serge Ibaka, James Harden and Kevin Durant switch uniforms over the years with little in return.
7 DeMarre Carroll - 4 Years / $60 million
When the Toronto Raptors handed over an average of $15 million a season to the combo forward during the summer of 2015, they figured that they had signed a player that would help get the team over the playoff finals hump and challenge the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown.
Unfortunately for Carroll and the Raps, a series of knee issues limited the sixth year pro to only 26 games and didn't really prove to be the presence that they had hoped. Enter year two and although he managed to suit up for 72 games, the production not only decreased during the regular season but was near absent during the Raptors playoff journey resulting in losing minutes to Norman Powell, PJ Tucker, Serge Ibaka and Patrick Patterson.
6 Nikola Pekovic - 5 Years / $60 million
During the summer of 2013, the Minnesota Timberwolves thought highly enough of the big man from Yugoslavia that they signed him to a multi-million dollar deal. Four years and 97 (of a possible 328) games later, Pek would find himself waived and most likely out of the league.
To be fair to the big bear, the work that he put in to improve his numbers from his rookie season until payday was measurable as he provided the T-Wolves with a second front court presence with 17 points and nearly nine boards. Unfortunately the next two seasons were a slow lead up to Pekovic's recent release as he played limited games due to an ongoing ankle injury and lack of similar production certainly did not warrant the lofty pay day.
5 Tyson Chandler - 4 Years / $42 million
There was once a time in which Chandler ranked among the elite big men in the NBA, tallying a double double on a nightly basis and providing rim protection on the side, seems like those days are a longstadning thing of the past.
After having his struggles in Chicago during his early years in the league as a high school rookie, Chandler found his way in New Orleans and eventually became one of the most feared defenders in the league. So why's Chandler on this list? Well, all those honors came before the list of injuries that many of the leagues big men tend to suffer. At 32 years old, the Suns players has been riddled with injuries making this deal a lackluster one despite his former skill level.
4 Brandon Knight - 5 Years / $70 million
For a guy who has yet to suit up for a complete season, the Phoenix Suns must have had high hopes that Knight would team up with Eric Bledsoe and be their backcourt of the future. Coming over from Milwaukee as part of a three team trade, Knight struggled in his first year with his new club, suiting up for only 11 games. However in his second season, after the ink dried on his new and improved contract, the former Kentucky Wildcat posted his best stat line of his young career with 19 PPG, 5.1 APG and started 50 of the 52 games that he participated in.
This season, the Suns coaching staff decided to bring Knight off the bench, which resulted in his worst season to date and a lengthy list of DNPs to close out the season despite being healthy. Due to earn $13.6, $14.6 and $15.6 million in each of the next three seasons, it is hard to figure out where Knight will actually suit up to finish out his contract.
3 Miles Plumlee - 4 Years / $52 million
The Milwaukee Bucks must have thought they were signing brother Mason when they handed over a pen and asked the eldest of the three Plumlee brothers to sign on the dotted line. Considering that Miles best season came three years earlier during his sophomore year in Phoenix, the reasoning behind the deal is completely unknown as 5.1 PPG and 3.8 RPG by the 6'11" former Duke Blue Devil does not justify a $10 million increase in pay.
Half a season later, the Bucks must have realized their error and managed to sucker the Charlotte Hornets into taking the balloon payment (though the Bucks did take on Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert). What's even funnier is that half a season after that deal, the Hornets waved goodbye to Plumlee as they shipped him off to Atlanta for Dwight Howard. Sure Howard is owed $46 million over the next two years, but even with the drama that is D12, he still provides teams with a double double. Plumlee, not so much.
2 Mike Conley - 5 Years / $153 million
Yes Conley is the focal point of the Memphis Grizzlies offense, but what has he done do justify a $30 million paycheck? This season the point guard was on the same pay scale as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. He was paid more than Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard all three of which are either All-Stars, All-NBA, or NBA Champions.
Since joining the team in 2007, the furthest the Grizzlies have advanced in the post season was a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Now is that all Conley's fault, certainly not, however something has to be said for being one of the highest paid players in the league and the expectations that go along with it. We're not saying he's been bad but certainly, not merited of such a deal.
1 Tristan Thompson - 5 Years / $82 million
Call it the Kardashian curse. First it was Kim with Reggie and Kris, then it was Khloe's turn with Lamar and Tristan (James Harden you lucky dawg). Last summer Thompson turned a strong playoff run, capped with a championship ring into a standoff with the Cavaliers management as to what he felt he was worth.
In the end, LeBron James said he was worth the $16.5 million a year average contract that was signed after the preseason schedule. Although his numbers actually increased across the board during the regular season and throughout the 18 games of the Cavs playoff journey, it was the disappearing act during the NBA Finals that placed Thompson on this list. Is it fair to judge someone based on a five game effort, maybe not, but at the same time Thompson made his money based on his playoff stats last year so it has to be a two way street.