Top 10 Worst Contracts in NBA History


Top 10 Worst Contracts in League History

In the NBA, free agency is one of the most exciting parts of the off-season. Fans watch anxiously to see what new players may sign with their team, and gauge an idea of what their team will look like going into the next season. However, there are times when general managers and front offices don’t always make smart decisions when it comes to signing players. Through the years, there have been signings that were downright headscratchers, while other became evidently horrible when looking back at them. Let’s take a look at some of the worst contracts in league history.



10. Erick Dampier (7 Years, $73 Million, Dallas Mavericks 2004)

Erick Dampier may be the perfect example of a player who turned one great season into a large contract. In his last season with Golden State in 2000, he averaged 12.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 74 games as a starter. NBA teams were drooling over his ability to score, rebound, and protect the basket. Once Dampier hit the free agent market that summer, he was one of the hot commodities. He ended up with the Dallas Mavericks and immediately went back to producing the same numbers as before his contract year. Averaging 6.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for 6 seasons in Dallas, definitely not worth the price tag.


9. Ben Wallace (4 Years, $60 Million, Chicago Bulls 2006)

A defensive juggernaut, Ben Wallace was a key member of the legendary Detroit Pistons in the early 2000s. In his time there he won four Defensive Player of the Year awards to go along with an NBA Championship. The Bulls signed Wallace in the summer of 2006, they received a player who averaged 10.7 rebounds in his first year, but he was no longer the same intimidating force that he was in the vaunted Pistons team defense scheme. As for the offensive aspect of his game, it was non-existent, Wallace averaged 9 points and below per game his entire career. The following year, he lasted only 50 games before being traded to Cleveland.


8. Vin Baker (7 Years, $86 Million, Seattle Supersonics 2000)

Vin  Baker’s best years were behind him when he re-signed with the Seattle Supersonics in 2000. Under this contract, he spent two seasons with the team, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game. After being traded to Boston, he struggled with his weight, injuries, and alcohol abuse. His once magical career came spiraling down. The Sonics paid him for what he did in the past, rather than what he could do in the future.


7. Jerome James (5 Years, $30 Million,New York Knicks 2005)

Ever heard the term “flushing money down the toilet”? Well this is an understatement when it comes to ridiculous contracts. Before signing with the New York Knicks in 2005, James spent four seasons with the Seattle Supersonics where he consistently proved that he was a below average NBA player. In his final season with the Sonics he started 80 games, and averaged 16.6 minutes, 4.9 points, and 3.0 rebounds. James spent four seasons with the Knicks, a total of 90 games, including just two in each of his last two seasons.

Bleacher Report

6. Eddy Curry (6 Years, $56 Million, New York Knicks, 2005)

A seven-foot center with the ability to play defense, rebound, and score in the paint, is what General Managers in the NBA salivate over. Surprisingly, Curry was only capable of producing offensively. His lack of ability on defense and his rebounding were glaring holes for a player of his size. He was a talented scorer for the Chicago Bulls before the Knicks signed him in 2005. Curry’s first two years with New York weren’t bad, but his third year is when he began to tumble into the basketball abyss. That year, his season ended prematurely due to injury, and  a result of health problems along with personal issues, Curry ended up playing a total of ten games the following two years.


5. Jim McIlvaine – 5 Years, $33 Million (1996)

After going to the NBA Finals, the Seattle SuperSonics made a head scratching decision. Instead of giving Shawn Kemp with a well earned and much deserved raise, they turned around and threw $33 million at Jim McIlvaine who was an unproven player coming off a season where he averaged 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Kemp averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds while making $3.6 million, annually.


4. Anfernee “Penny Hardaway (7 Years, $87 Million Phoenix Suns 1999)

Penny was a guard with an amazing skill set and had the size and truly deserved a big contract with the way he had played. Unfortunately, injuries plagued him and he was a liability to those that wanted to sign him. But in 1999, the Phoenix Suns took the risk and signed him to a mega deal. However, it did not payoff, however, Penny re-injured his knee in his second season with the team and never returned back to form.

Bleacher Report

3. Grant Hill – 7 (Years, $93 Million, Orlando Magic 2000)

Grant Hill was one of the best players in the league, he was at the prime of his career, and a very durable player. But all that faded when he signed with the Orlando Magic in 2000. Hill got bit by the injury bug and wound up playing only 47 games in his first three years with the team. In his fourth year, he didn’t play at all. When he returned to the court for the 2004-2005 season and averaged 19.7 points in 67 games.


2. Allan Houston – 6 Years, $100 Million (2001)

In 2001, Knicks Guard Allan Houston signed a six $100 million dollar contract.  At the time of this resigning, it did not appear to be a bad deal. Houston averaged almost 20 PPG with the Knicks in his first few seasons, and was a large part of their playoff run in 1999. But after signing this deal he began to be plagued by injuries which ultimately forced him to retire 4 years into the deal. Although he retired, the Knicks were locked into his contract and had no choice but to pay him the remaining $40 million over the last two years. In those two years, Houston was the second highest paid player in the league.


1. Gilbert Arenas – 6 Years, $111 Million, 2008)

Agent Zero was a rising star in the league, and the Washington Wizards were eager to lock him in. But it is evident that they may have been too eager, especially since this extension came a year after Arenas played a total of 13 games. Over the next three seasons with the Wizards, Arenas played in only 55 games. A recurring leg injury and a 50 game suspension ended his career with Washington. He was traded to Orlando in 2010. Less than a year later, the Magic amnestied Arenas with about 3 years and $62 million owed, he made about $22.3 million per year up until 2016.

Honorable Mentions: Amare Stoudemire (5 years 99.7 Million, NY Knicks), Larry Hughes (5 Years, $70 Million, Cleveland Cavaliers), Rashad Lewis (6 YEARS, $118.2 Million, Orlando Magic), Darius Miles (6 Years, $48 Million, Portland Trailblazers), Elton Brand (5 Years, 80 Million, Philadelphia 76ers), Raef LaFrentz (7 Years, $70 million, Dallas Mavericks).

About Kirshner Saintil

Editor and Contributor for NBALead. FAMU Alumnus, Sports enthusiast, avid Miami sports fan. Follow me on twitter @Kirsh_TLFO.

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