The Worst Contract on Each NBA Team


If you’re on an NBA roster, you’re getting paid pretty substantially, whether it’s a veterans minimum contract (~$2.4M/year), or a max scale contract ($30-35M/year). Some younger players have given teams high value for a low price, others haven’t lived up to half of the money they originally signed for. In this piece, you’ll see some of the most absurd contracts on each NBA team.

Atlanta Hawks: Miles Plumlee

Contract Status: 2 years/$25M remaining

Plumlee narrowly beats Jeremy Lin out for the worst contract on the Hawks. He originally signed a four-year, $50M deal with the Bucks in 2016, but was traded the following season to Charlotte, and eventually ended up in Atlanta where he mostly rides the pine. It didn’t start out this way, but his production and minutes played have took a huge hit after signing the deal, and have never recovered. He’s set to make $12.5M this and next season, watching most of the games from the sidelines.

Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart

Contract Status: 4 years/$52M remaining

Say what you want about this one, but Boston isn’t going to want this on their books down the road. Smart signed his four-year, $52M extension this offseason, making him the fourth highest player on the team behind Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Right now, the deal isn’t that bad, but facing the decision to pay Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier hefty raises very soon will make them want to regret retaining Smart.

Brooklyn Nets: Allen Crabbe

Contract Status: 1 year/$18.5M remaining + 2019 player option ($18.5M)

The Nets are only carrying three players making north of $10 million to start the season (Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried). Crabbe’s contract isn’t obstructing the Nets from signing anyone else– he just isn’t producing enough to say he is earning his $18.5M salary. For reference, teammate DeMarre Carroll is making just over $3 million less than Crabbe ($15.4M), and is producing at a slightly higher clip of 13.5 PPG/6.6 RPG/2.0 APG/0.8 SPG to Crabbe’s 13.2 PPG/4.3 RPG/1.6 APG/0.6 SPG.

Chicago Bulls: Omer Asik

Contract Status: 1 year/$11.3M remaining, 2019 early termination option ($12M)

We’ll give Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine a chance to live up to their questionable contracts before we jump to early conclusions. Behind Parker, LaVine and Robin Lopez, Omer Asik is fourth on the Bulls payroll– and he’s done virtually nothing for the team since being acquired from New Orleans in the Nikola Mirotic deal in February. Asik was playing pretty decent basketball when he originally signed his five-year, $58 million deal with the Pelicans back in 2015 (nearly averaging a double double), but it’s been a hard downhill slope since. He appeared in only 18 games last season (14 w/ NOP, 4 w/ CHI). Just last week, the Bulls announced Asik has developed arthritis and will be out indefinitely, only adding to disappointment from the fans and front office.

Charlotte Hornets: Bismack Biyombo

Contract Status: 1 year/$17M remaining + 2019 player option ($17M)

Biyombo edges out Cody Zeller ($13.5M) for the least valuable contract on the Hornets. Acquired from Orlando in July, a change of scenery, which figures to give him an increase in playing time, may be what the 26-year old needs to fully earn his $17 million salary. He appeared in all 82 games (25 starts) last season, but averaged south of six points per contest behind starter Nikola Vucevic. With former starting center Dwight Howard now in Washington, Biyombo will have an opportunity for a larger role– he logged only 18.2 per game last season. His Charlotte homecoming will be nostalgic when his name is announced in the Spectrum Center on opening night, but fans are going to expect high production from their second highest payroll guy.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson

Contract Status: 2 years/$36M remaining

This contract was a head scratcher the second it was announced back on October 22nd, 2015. It was a five-year, $82 million deal for a guy who’s posted average numbers ever since he signed the deal. Thompson’s best season was 2012-13– two full years before he signed this extension. His production took a pretty significant hit last year, as the Cavs were constantly switching things up to try and stop their downright abysmal skid. He averaged 5.8 points and 6.6 rebounds over 20.2 minutes per game last season, and it’s unclear what the Cavs plan to do with him in the first year of the post-LeBron era.

Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Matthews

Contract Status: 1 year/$18.6M remaining

On a scale of one to ten, this contract is about a four. There is some value here, but the production has been more or less average. In March of 2015 when he was still in Portland, Matthews was victim to a torn achilles that subsequently ruled him out for the remainder of the season. He flew south to Dallas that following season, where he saw a six percent decrease in field goal percentage right away. That number has improved each season since, but the production of 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game isn’t quite what you would like to see from players making close to $20 million a season. This is a contract year for Matthews, so expect him to give it everything he has.

Denver Nuggets: Mason Plumlee

Contract Status: 2 years/$27M remaining

Mason is a better big man than his brothers, Miles and Marshall, but he presents the least value contract wise on this Denver team. He does his job as a backup to cornerstone Nikola Jokic, but his production (7.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG last season) is simply not worth what his checks read.

Detroit Pistons: Jon Leuer

Contract Status: 2 years/$19.5M remaining

Leuer inked a four-year, $41 million deal with the Pistons back in the summer of 2016, and they’ve only gotten half their money’s worth thus far. After appearing in 75 of 82 games in year one of his contract, Leuer only appeared in the first eight games of last season before suffering an ankle injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season. Just last month, it was announced that Leuer had surgery to repair his medial meniscus in his right knee, ruling him out indefinitely. His status for the start of the regular season is uncertain, but he may miss additional time.

Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala

Contract Status: 2 years/$33.2M remaining

The Warriors don’t have any major cap issues, which is how things should be– your top four players earn the top four payroll slots. Signing Boogie Cousins with their Mid-Level Exception shocked the NBA universe this past July. Iguodala on the other hand is fifth on the list just slightly behind Draymond Green. Now, Iguodala is a great sixth man and leader for this team. He is not, however, worth $16-17 million per season.

Houston Rockets: Chris Paul

Contract Status: 4 years/$160M remaining

Chris Paul undoubtedly earned this extension up to this point. The problem for Houston is CP3 will be due just north of $44 million during the 2021-22 season. At this point in time, he will be 36 going on 37 years old, and, unless you’re LeBron James, it’s very tough to see anyone earning a $44 million pay check at that age. This could very well turn into the Dwyane Wade-Chicago Bulls saga, a saga which ended in the Bulls buying out the remaining year of D-Wade’s contract, which was $23.5 million. The Rockets and Paul probably won’t ever get to this point, but CP3’s production is bound to take a hit as his body continues to age.

Indiana Pacers: No one

The Pacers simply don’t have any bad contracts on their roster. Victor Oladipo is rightfully atop the payroll ($21M), and the other $10M+ guys (Thaddeus Young, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison), are solid pieces behind Dipo. The only negative on Indiana’s payroll is the buyouts to Al Jefferson ($4M) and Monta Ellis ($2.25M). Jefferson’s ends this year, whereas Ellis will cash in $2.25 million every year until 2022.

Los Angeles Clippers: Danilo Gallinari

Contract Status: 2 years/$44M remaining

Gallinari is a fringe 20-point scorer..when healthy. He appeared in only 21 games last season, and as the top payroll guy, that’s just bad value. The 30-year-old has posted only two 70+ game seasons (2009-10 with New York, 2012-13 with Denver) in his 10-year career.

Los Angeles Lakers: No one

The Lakers only have two guys making north of $10 million to start the season (LeBron James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). Picking KCP for this was tempting, but he’s shown he can be a consistent shooter, so $12 million for him is fine.

Memphis Grizzlies: Chandler Parsons

Contract Status: 2 years/$49M remaining

This is easily the worst contract in the entire league. Chandler Parsons actually used to be good, but since signing his 4-year, $94 million deal with the Grizzlies, he’s been absolute trash. Several injuries likely contributed to this, but either way, his contract prevents the Grizzlies from signing anyone to help Mike Conley and Marc Gasol win basketball games. His contract appears way too pricey for any team to take a chance on him, so Memphis will unfortunately have to deal with him for the next two seasons.

Miami Heat: Tyler Johnson

Contract Status: 1 year/$19.2M remaining + 2019 player option ($19.2M)

Pat Riley confused a lot of us on this one when it first came out. The Brooklyn Nets had money to spend in 2016 and signed Johnson to a 4-year, $50 million offer sheet. It was widely assumed that Miami would let him walk, but they surprised everyone and matched Brooklyn’s deal. Now, they’re stuck with an average backup point guard making $19.2 million for the next two seasons (unless he opts out) while producing much lower than that.

Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson

Contract Status: 2 years/$21M remaining

The Bucks have several not-so-good contracts on their payroll, but John Henson has provided little value since signing his 4-year, $44 million extension back in 2015. He saw an increased role last season after the Bucks shipped Greg Monroe to Phoenix, but still only averaged 8.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest. He’s due for a minutes reduction with Brook Lopez expected to slide into the starting lineup and Thon Maker/Christian Wood giving him a run for backup time.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng

Contract Status: 3 years/$48.7M remaining

Andrew Wiggins was a close second here, but the idea of a Jimmy Butler trade in the near future could change Wiggins’s role. Dieng on the other hand is a solid rebounder, but nothing more. He’s due $15 million this season with an additional million each in the following two seasons, and as long as Taj Gibson is starting, Dieng won’t be playing very much.

New Orleans Pelicans: Solomon Hill

Contract Status: 2 years/$25M remaining

Solomon Hill rakes in the fourth highest payroll on the team behind Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic. He missed 70 games last season due to injury, but even in the first year of his contract (2016-17), he averaged a measly seven points and under four rebounds per game. He may be fully healthy now, but who knows what he will really produce this season.

New York Knicks: Joakim Noah

Contract Status: 2 years/$37.8M remaining

This may change in the coming days, as Noah and the Knicks reportedly plan to part ways, but either way, this was a downright awful signing by the Knicks back in the summer of 2016. He appeared in only seven games last season, and reportedly had issues with then-Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. Enes Kanter will be the starting center on opening night, and because he hasn’t played a full season of basketball since 2015, will likely need to take a hefty pay cut on his next squad.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook

Contract Status: 5 years/$158.7M remaining

This is similar to the argument against Chris Paul‘s hefty contract; Russ simply won’t be worth $46.6 million come 2022. Russ is in his prime right now, but he’ll add $3 million to his contract every year until he reaches that insane $46.6 million in 2022-23. The Thunder will be conference contenders this year, but 2022 may be a very different story.

Orlando Magic: Timofey Mozgov

Contract Status: 2 years/$32.7 million remaining

Mozgov was a nice piece on the Cavaliers playoff roster from 2014-16, but he has since fallen off the map. In Brooklyn last season, he averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in mostly garbage minutes (11.6 per game). He’s been traded three times (Brooklyn, Charlotte, and now Orlando), and looks as if he’ll ride the pine again this season barring any injuries to Nikola Vucevic or Mo Bamba. He may offer veteran leadership, but that really isn’t worth $16+ million/year.

Philadelphia 76ers: Jerryd Bayless

Contract Status: 1 year/$8.6 million remaining

Had JJ Redick signed another ludicrous $23 million deal again this summer, he would claim Philly’s worst contract hands down, but he signed for about half this time, so we’ll let him off the hook. This leaves the reigns to Jerryd Bayless, who hasn’t really seen much regular playing time since leaving Milwaukee for Philly in the summer of 2016. He arguably worked for his contract at the time, hitting 44% of his triples with the Bucks in 2015-16. Wrist and knee injuries likely contributed to him falling out of the rotation (he’s appeared in just 42 games over two seasons), however, but the unquestioned focus for Philly now will be developing Markelle Fultz.

Phoenix Suns: Ryan Anderson

Contract Status: 2 years/$36M remaining

This season, Ryan Anderson will be atop the Suns’ payroll, as Devin Booker‘s extension doesn’t kick in until next season. Anderson fell out of Mike D’Antoni‘s rotation last season, which prompted the trade, but Anderson will have a chance for resurgence on a Phoenix team that manifests endless questions.

Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard

Contract Status: 2 years/$21.8 million remaining

Meyers Leonard has had quite the roller coaster ride in his six year journey with the Blazers. He went from rotational minutes achiever to garbage time getter, to rotational minutes achiever to garbage time getter. In his contract year back in 2016, he was averaging just under 22 minutes per game while hitting 38% of his deep ones, prompting the pay raise. Since the, however, he’s fallen out of Terry Stotts‘s rotation and won’t be seeing much court time any time soon.

Sacramento Kings: No one

Outside of Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert making $11 million a piece, everyone else is under $10 million. The Kings have A LOT of cap space to eat up over the course of the season, and even though the focus will be on the young core, ZBo and Shump should receive plenty of tick.

Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka

Contract Status: 2 years/$45 million remaining

Serge Ibaka is Toronto’s starting power forward, but no way in hell is he worth $21.7 million this year and $23.2 million next year. His 12.6 point/6.3 rebounding averages are decent for a starter, but $20+ million players should be producing star/superstar output.

Utah Jazz: Alec Burks

Contract Status: 1 year/$11.5 million remaining

Alec Burks hasn’t logged more than 70 games since the 2013-14 season, which happens to be his only season of 70+ game basketball. He was poised to be a superb three-point threat, but injuries have been a grand detriment to for the 27-year-old’s potential success. The emergence of Donovan Mitchell sent Burks to a bench role, averaging a mere 16.5 minutes per contest last season which saw him average only 7.7 points per game.

Washington Wizards: Ian Mahinmi

Contract Status: 2 years/$31.4 million remaining

Mahinmi served strictly as a backup for Marcin Gortat last season, and will likely do the same for Dwight Howard this season. Like so many other 2016 free agents, Mahinmi produced for the Pacers, starting all 71 games he appeared in, averaging 9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 25.6 minutes per contest. That production has yet-to-be seen in Washington, and it may take a miracle or a Dwight Howard injury to see if Mahinmi is truly worth $15 million per year.

All contract information retrieved from basketball-reference.com

About Eric Peterson

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