During every single NBA free agency period, there are always bad contracts given out, and the upcoming periods in the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2020 will probably continue that tradition, unfortunately.
Sometimes we know right away when a team has signed a bad contract, like when the Portland Trail Blazers decided to break the bank to sign Evan Turner, or when the Washington Wizards broke out the big money to sign marginal center Ian Mahinmi. But on the other hand, there are some players who are terribly underpaid that will be looking for a big contract in the coming years; players like Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, who is arguably the most underpaid player in the entire league.
This coming summer, and possibly even the summer of 2020, could have huge implications on which team ends up owning the next decade in the NBA, as several marquee names like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard will all be unrestricted free agents come July.
So, which current NBA stars will get huge contracts in the coming years? And which deserving stars will come out with an underwhelming deal? Well, as we all know, we'll have to wait and see, but here are some predictions as to which deserving NBA players won't get a big money deal anytime soon, and which players who will get a big contract who don't exactly deserve one.
So let's go ahead and get started!
20 Big Contract - Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was one of the most versatile players in the entire league, and one could argue that he was the biggest key to their success in recent years. But this season, he has really fallen off, and if Kevin Durant leaves, Green will probably end up being the one to blame. Nevertheless, the Warriors, or possibly another team in who are desperate will offer him a max contract, hoping that he'll help them win a title or two. However, they'll be terribly disappointed in their investment, as he'll likely be more of a problem than a productive player.
19 Will Never Receive One - Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon has gotten a few big money contracts, but one could argue that at this point, he finally deserves the biggest contract of his entire career. He might not be a max level player, but he's still an incredibly effective guard who could help put a team on the fringe over the top. Of course, there's still time for him to do so with the Houston Rockets, but if the team doesn't end up re-signing him, I don't think that any team will be willing to break the bank to get him, unfortunately. He's not exactly young anymore, and he does have a long injury history, which will scare teams away, even though it shouldn't.
18 Big Contract - Jimmy Butler
Much like Joe Johnson was a few years ago, former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler is probably the most overrated stars in the entire league. He's a guy who carries himself like he's won multiple NBA titles when in reality, he's never been past the second round in the playoffs. He didn't do much in Minnesota after he was traded there, and shortly thereafter, he caused a ton of problems in the locker room. Given the rumors he has also been difficult to deal with in Philadelphia, I doubt that re-signing him to a max contract will do them much good. However, they probably will anyway.
17 Will Never Receive One - Lou Williams
There's no question that Lou Williams is the most effective sixth man in the entire league, but he's terribly underpaid, and due to the fact that he's now in his early 30s, he'll probably continue to be underpaid. Also, if the Clippers want to retain him after his contract expires, they might be limited in terms of the money they can offer him if they're hoping to lure in both Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. So, due to the star-studded free agency class coming up, Williams might end up getting a much smaller contract than he deserves.
16 Big Contract - DeMarcus Cousins
This might be a bit bold here, especially when you consider the fact that he still hasn't come back from a pretty severe injury, but I still think that someone will break the bank to sign DeMarcus Cousins. In fact, I can see the Lakers offering him a big-money deal if they strike out in free agency. Sure, Cousins has already signed a big-money deal with Sacramento, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get another lucrative deal next summer, or perhaps the following summer if he signs another one-year deal with Golden State.
15 Will Never Receive One - Tobias Harris
As good as he's been for the Los Angeles Clippers, unfortunately, there are a ton of upcoming big name free agents, and the Clips are probably going to target a few of them. Also, while he's a very good player, teams probably don't think he can make the difference between them being a top-5 team and the number one team in the entire league. But, his best course of action might be to just take a reduced contract with the Clippers if they end up signing a few big names this summer, especially if his overall goal is to win a title at some point in the near future.
14 Big Contract - Tyreke Evans
On paper, Tyreke Evans looks like he's one of the most effective players in the league. However, in reality, he's not much of a difference maker. But I could see a team, even his current team, the Indiana Pacers, will give him a long-term, big-money deal to stay around even though he's not going to make much of an impact. The Pacers are a pretty good team, and they might look to keep them together beyond this season, which may include giving the former Rookie of the Year a big money contract.
13 Will Never Receive One - Khris Middleton
Current Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton will probably be targeted by the Los Angeles Lakers if they strike out in free agency, but even if that ends up being the case, they probably won't offer him anywhere near what he's worth simply because they'd be looking to target someone else in 2020. I can't see the Bucks throwing a ton of money at him either, which is a shame, because he does fit in pretty well alongside the "Greek Freak," Giannis Antetokounmpo, in Milwaukee. But I could see him staying with the Bucks, and taking less than he's worth to play alongside a future MVP.
12 Big Contract - Terry Rozier
If Kyrie Irving ends up leaving the Boston Celtics over the summer, then the Celtics could break the bank to keep current backup point guard Terry Rozier around, because he'll probably be fielding a few big money offers from other teams. Whether he deserves it or not is another question, because it's really dangerous to pay someone based on potential instead of results, especially when it's a second-unit guy. But perhaps the teams who offer him big money will get a good return on their investment, but it's a major risk that some teams shouldn't take.
11 Will Never Receive One - Malcolm Brogdon
Former Rookie of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon has had a pretty good year so far, as he's effectively asserted himself into the starting lineup for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, the team probably won't break open the bank to pay him what he might deserve, and neither will other teams. Effective guards aren't exactly rare these days, which will probably hurt Brogdon, who might be considered to be a middle-of-the-road guard in today's NBA. Although, my favorite team, the Portland Trail Blazers, could probably benefit from adding someone like the ex-ROTY.
10 Big Contract - D'Angelo Russell
Former Los Angeles Lakers and current Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell hasn't exactly shown big signs of improvement during his first four seasons in the league, as he's essentially the same player he's been ever since he came into the league. But that's not going to stop the Nets, who are a major market team looking for a marquee star, from giving Russell a gigantic contract hoping that he'll become the marquee star that they need. But he hasn't shown any signs of potentially being a max contract-level player, but that won't stop the Nets' front office from breaking the bank for him.
9 Will Never Receive One - Julius Randle
New Orleans Pelicans forward/center Julius Randle is an effective big man, but unfortunately, he's not the type of big man that fits well in today's league, which means that he'll probably be offered deals similar to what he got from New Orleans over the summer. Most big men, especially traditional big men like Randle, aren't exactly a priority for teams as they try to assemble their championship contending roster, so it's hard to believe that any team will be willing to give Randle a long-term, big-money contract to be a part of their organization.
8 Big Contract - Jaylen Brown
It's probably pretty safe to say that Boston Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown has taken a step back this season. Most expected him to be an All-Star-level player alongside Jayson Tatum, but he hasn't come anywhere close to that. But that won't stop a team, most likely his team the Celtics, from giving him big money hoping that he'll return to his 2018 NBA playoff form. As of this writing, he hasn't gone back to being that player, and he hasn't shown any signs of being able to be that player at all this season. So we'll see what happens once hits free agency, but there will be a team who regrets paying Brown based on what they think his potential is instead of what his actual ceiling is.
7 Will Never Receive One - Nikola Vucevic
Longtime Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic is having the best season of his NBA career, but that probably won't mean a thing when he hits free agency. It's the first great season of his career, and he's going it on a team that won't make the playoffs, and on a team that has been largely irrelevant ever since Dwight Howard was traded. He could be a target of the Lakers or Clippers if they don't land Kawhi Leonard or any other big-name free agents. But that doesn't mean that the former USC center will get any big-money offers over the summer.
6 Big Contract - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Even though he hasn't put up big numbers this year, and even though he has been a bit injury prone ever since coming into the league, he is taking and making more three-pointers than he has in his entire career. His free throw percentage is also at a career-high. Even though he's only 6'7", the Charlotte Hornets have played him at the center position at certain points, so you could argue that he's a modern day five. If he improves his playmaking and if a team believes that he's going to become a consistent three-point shooter, they may believe that he can be the next Draymond Green and give him a big money deal.
5 Will Never Receive One - Willie Cauley-Stein
Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein is having the best season of his career, which is a great thing due to the fact that he's in a contract year. But he's not having the type of year that would warrant a big-money deal, especially when you consider the fact that he hasn't shown that he can be a consistent rim protector. But it's probably safe to assume that he will become one in time, though that doesn't mean that he's going to receive a substantial contract anytime soon. He does deserve it because he's made great strides, but that still doesn't mean that he's going to get a ton of money this summer.
4 Big Contract - Kris Dunn
Third-year point guard Kris Dunn is putting up some pretty good stats this season, but he's doing it for one of the worst teams in the league the Chicago Bulls. We just saw them give Jabari Parker a huge contract for no reason, and that same front office gave a giant contract to an injured Zach LaVine and they traded Jimmy Butler for almost nothing. So I won't be surprised if they convince themselves that Dunn is their point guard of the future despite the fact that he's not a great outside shooter, which is death for a guard in today's NBA.
3 Will Never Receive One - Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley is one of the toughest guards in the entire league, and he's been a key to success for every team he's been on, including the Los Angeles Clippers this season. But he's in that weird gray area where he's an important player, but he's not a star player. You could argue that he's been underpaid for his entire career, and that's not going to change anytime soon due to the fact that he's not exactly young anymore. However, he'd still be an effective player on a championship level team, which could warrant a bigger contract than he's going to get when he hits free agency.
2 Big Contract - Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes has already signed a pretty big money deal, but I could see the Dallas Mavericks let him go after this season (if he declines his player option) to accept an offer from a marginal team who is desperately trying to improve. Perhaps a team like the Nets or the Knicks will throw a max level contract at Barnes hoping that he can turn their fortune around when he arrives. Plus, due to the fact that the Mavs already have Luka Doncic, they probably don't need Barnes anymore.
1 Will Never Receive One - Evan Fournier
Orlando Magic guard/forward Evan Fournier is set to become a free agent at the end of this season, and he'll probably end up going to a team like the Charlotte Hornets if they can afford him, but there's no way that he stays in Orlando. He did sign a decent deal a few years ago, but unfortunately, that'll probably be the biggest money deal that he'll ever sign in his career. But the Hornets could lure him in alongside fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum and All-Star guard Kemba Walker, which would be a pretty decent trio. But he'll have to take a reduced deal in order to do so.