A key to sustained success in the NBA is to have a general manager who doesn’t overpay average players and puts the franchise in a bad position for years to come. Here are some of the worst contracts in the NBA right now.
5. Miami Heat Core
Whenever LeBron James leaves a franchise, the organization goes downhill. For the Miami Heat, they’ve been fortunate to remain competitive in the East, but they’re overpaying not just starters but bench players, too. Next season, the Heat will pay a combined $103 million for Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Chris Bosh, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2016. While Bosh’s salary does not count against the cap, it’s worth pointing out that two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant got paid less than Bosh did last season.
4. Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson is the third-highest-paid player on the Houston Rockets despite scoring just 9.3 points per game. He’s seventh-highest scorer on the team, but next season he’ll earn $20.4 million, and in 2020 he’ll earn $21.2 million before becoming a free agent that summer. In the playoffs, it was even worse. Anderson played just eight minutes per game and averaged 1.7 points in the 11 games he played. Daryl Morey is a smart general manager, but I’d be shocked if the Rockets gave the forward another contract that resembles anything near the current one.
3. Chandler Parsons
It’s one thing to primarily sit on the bench and not contribute. But it’s another to not even play at all. Chandler Parsons has been with the Memphis Grizzlies and has played a grand total of 70 games. In both seasons he averaged roughly 19 minutes per game in both seasons. In the last two seasons, he’s earned $45 million, and the next two seasons he’ll earn $49 million. When healthy, the former Florida Gator is a productive player, but he’s been limited and has cost the Grizzlies a lot of money.
2. Joakim Noah
Speaking of not playing games, enter Joakim Noah. Well, it turns out you can’t enter Joakim Noah because he only played seven games last season despite earning $17.7 million last season. The former defensive player of the year is on the books for the New York Knicks for the next two seasons and will earn about $38 million before he’s a free agent in 2020. His initial contract was four years and $72 million, which would have been reasonable if he was the defensive force he was in Chicago. But Noah is hardly a shell of himself now, and the Knicks are literally paying for it.
1. Luol Deng
The aforementioned players either play and aren’t worth their money, or they are injured. However, Luol Deng falls under neither because he neither plays nor is he injured. The two-time all-star played a single game for the Los Angeles Lakers last season before the team shut him down for the rest of the season in order to let forwards like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma play. If he’s trying to be a veteran presence for the team, then he’s one expensive role model. Deng earned $18 million for playing 13 minutes the entire season. And he’ll earn $18.8 million before becoming a free agent in 2020.
Giving a big contract to a player is a high-risk, high-reward gamble considering multiple factors, especially injury, will determine if a player is worth his contract. Teams who have well-shaped contracts, such as the Warriors, tend to be the most successful. But teams who give big contracts can find themselves stuck for multiple years.