The Brooklyn Nets acquired D’Angelo Russell via a 2017 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal sent Russell and the mammoth contract of Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn in exchange for the 27 pick in the 2017 draft and Brook Lopez.
For the Lakers, unloading Mozgov’s debilitating $16 million per year contract was worth sacrificing the former number two overall pick. For the Nets, taking on a massive contract meant acquiring a potential star in Russell. This season, Russell is an All-Star, and with Mozgov’s contract off the books, the Lakers were able to sign LeBron James this past offseason.
While the situation worked out for both sides in the end, some wonder what could have been had the Lakers retained Russell. What if they never gave Mozgov that contract to begin with? Some teams are absolutely crippled financially by bad contracts, but which are the worst in the league?
This list doesn’t include any contracts that expire this offseason, as those decisions are in the past. Every contract on this list is active for next season at the bare minimum. The list takes into account the amount of money the player makes, the amount of time that the play, and the amount that they contribute to their team.
10. Otto Porter
Granted, Porter is 25 and could be a late bloomer, but for now, he certainly is not worth the $26 million, $27 million and $28 million he will make the next three years. He averages 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists, and while he isn’t bad as a role player, his max contract could’ve been spent elsewhere.
9. Nicolas Batum
Following a 2015-2016 season where Batum posted 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 42.6% shooting, the Hornets decided to reward Batum with a five year $120 million contract. While those are some respectable numbers, they in no way warrant $24 million per year. Since signing that deal, Batum is averaging 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists on 41.8% shooting. Batum isn’t a bad player, but his level of production is worth half of what he makes. The Hornets owe Batum $25.5 million next year, and in 2020 he has a player option for $27million, which unless he pities the Hornet’s salary cap situation, he’ll certainly accept.
8. Miami Heat
Ok, the Heat aren’t a player, though they are tied up with several large contracts. Many of these players are not bad per se, but they simply aren’t worth their massive contracts.
For instance, Hassan Whiteside averages 12.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists. These are stellar numbers but are certainly not worth over $25 million this season and $27 million the next.
Tyler Johnson is owed over $19 million each of the next two seasons for his 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
James Johnson earns $14.6 million, $15.3 million and $16 million the next three seasons for his 7.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
The Heat also must dole out roughly $12 million for the next three seasons to Kelly Olynk who averages 9.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, and a similar figure to Dion Waiters who has played 88 games over the last three seasons.
Finally, they owe Goran Dragic, who trended down this season in the 14 games he played, $18 million and $19 million the next. While the Heat have a solid squad, they aren’t true contenders for anything, and will likely continue to be mediocre until they shed all these massive contracts in 2021.
7. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets also aren’t a player, but their payroll situation is certainly concerning. This season, the salary cap is $99 million. The cap will go up next year, but the Hornets still have $85 million tied up across five players, none of whom are named Kemba Walker.
This is problematic for a team whose best player will be a highly sought-after free agent this offseason whose talents demand a max contract. While Charlotte has his bird rights and can go over the salary cap to re-sign Walker, their lack of cap space prevents them from surrounding Kemba with any meaningful talent.
Aside from the disaster that is the Nic Batum contract, Charlotte owes Bismack Biyombo $17 million, Marvin Williams $15 million, Cody Zeller $14.47 million (and then $15.4 million), and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist $13 million next season. While Biyombo, Williams and MKG all have player options, it’s strongly in their best interest to take the options, as they certainly won’t find better deals elsewhere.
6. Evan Turner
ET is making nearly $18 million this year and will make roughly $18.6 million next season. He averages 7.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists, and though he isn’t close to the worst player on this list, he is massively overpaid on a Portland team that could really use the money to acquire some quality role players.
5. Gorgui Dieng
The Timberwolves owe Dieng $15 million this year, over $16 million the next, and more than $17 million in the 2021 season. This season, Dieng averages 5.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.9 assists. His production certainly does not equate to over $48 million of value the next three seasons.
4. Ian Mahinmi
In exchange for his nearly $16 million this season, and roughly $15.5 million the next, Mahinmi is putting up 4.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists for the Wizards. For his efforts, he is compensated with more than half what their best player, Bradley Beal, is paid.
3. Ryan Anderson
Anderson is making over $20 million this year, and despite agreeing to a reduction with the Suns, will make roughly $15.6 million next season. Anderson is averaging 3.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in his 15 games this year, and there isn’t much cause for optimism surrounding his play in the 2020 season.
2. Timofey Mozgov
In 21 games for the Nets last year, Mozgov put up 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists. This year, he’s being paid $16 million by the Magic to do nothing. He makes $16.7 million next season to presumably do the same.
1. Chandler Parsons
This is easily the worst contract in the NBA for several reasons. Firstly, given the ridiculous amount of money Parsons is earning. Secondly, how little he’s seen the floor. Thirdly, for how poorly he’s performed, despite his limited playing time. The Grizzlies signed Parsons back in 2016 to a four year, $94.4 million contract. In the three seasons since signing, he’s played in just 73 games. For $69 million, Memphis received 73 games of 7.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 40.2% shooting. For the Grizzlies, the nightmare doesn’t end until 2020, when Parsons finally leaves the books and becomes a free agent.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference
Featured image courtesy of Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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