Whenever the NBA and the Players Association negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, the media – including Sheridan Hoops – goes to great lengths to understand and explain its rules, exceptions and nuances.
But since the first wave of players began making the jump from high school to the NBA in the mid-1990s, the premise of every new CBA could be summed up in six words: To save the owners from themselves.
Restraint never has been the collective strength of NBA owners. In every CBA, they have installed mechanisms that mandate restraint and prevent them from spending stupidly.
Chris Webber gets a $74 million contract before playing an NBA game? Install a rookie salary scale. Kevin Garnett gets a $126 million extension after two seasons? Make the rookie contract longer, with more team options. Michael Jordan makes $33 million in one season? Establish a maximum salary as a percentage of the salary cap.
Damon Stoudamire gets a seven-year contract at maximum salary with 10 percent raises? Shorten the contracts and lower the raises. Allan Houston suffers a career-ending injury while making maximum money? Institute the amnesty provision. Teams in big markets are outspending opponents? Establish a luxury tax, then make it even more punitive.
With all these mechanisms now in place, it has become increasingly harder for owners to spend stupidly. It also has become increasingly harder for the media to find absurd contracts and make a list out of them.
But we did anyway. Below are the 10 worst contracts NBA teams signed with players this summer. Enjoy.
10. Omri Casspi, Houston (2 years, $2 million): Not all of Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s signings were good ones. Casspi’s minutes, points and shooting percentage have been in freefall since he entered the league four years ago. Perhaps he will be rejuvenated by playing for a winner where his sole responsibility will be to stand on the arc and fire 3s, but the belief here is that he is done as an NBA player. He has never defended and has shot under 32 percent from the arc the last two seasons. Yes, he didn’t cost much, and his second year is a team option. But leaving Casspi and Reggie Williams on the market would have freed up $2 million toward retaining Carlos Delfino, a much better player.
9. Jason Maxiell, Orlando (2 years, $5 million): An absolute waste of money by GM Rob Hennigan, even with the second year at a team option. After eight years, Maxiell has maxed out; he is never going to be more than a reserve big, and even that is a stretch. The Magic signed him to be a backup to Nikola Vucevic at center, but at 6-7 Maxiell is barely a power forward, where Orlando has the physically similar Big Baby Davis and kids Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn.
8. Carl Landry, Sacramento (4 years, $26 million): When I ran this one past our editor-in-chief, he disagreed, claiming Landry was a good player and a good signing. I totally agree on the first part; Landry can play. But even if the Kings use DeMarcus Cousins and the undersized Chuck Hayes exclusively at center, the power forward spot still has a logjam of Landry, Jason Thompson ($25 million over four years left on his deal), Patrick Patterson and Luc Mbah a Moute (when they go small). There aren’t enough minutes to justify the deals for both Landry and Thompson.
7. Corey Brewer, Minnesota (3 years, $14.1 million): Brewer certainly can defend and run the floor, two skills the Timberwolves could use. But wings are supposed to be able to shoot a little bit, and Brewer can’t. For his career, he has shot less than 42 percent overall, under 30 percent from the arc and below 70 percent from the line. Additionally, his primary position is small forward, where Minnesota also re-signed Chase Budinger. Did we mention that power forward Kevin Love is expected to be healthy, which pushes Derrick Williams to small forward as well?