What makes a terrible NBA contract? Is it the player’s age? Declining skill-set? Role on the team? One-dimensionality? Let’s assume it’s all of those factors.
With that in mind, we’ve parsed through the worst and most impactful contracts in the NBA, specifically those saddled by playoff teams or non-Lottery teams with playoff aspirations. And we’ve found the five contracts that will do the most damage by limiting financial flexibility towards their team’s cap space while continuing to pay a player once they are way past their prime. The reverse-legacy contracts have been omitted, which have gained infamy for just how gruesome they were for an extended period of time (think John Wall and Russell Westbrook). But two current stars have taken their place.
With that in mind, let’s examine how late-stage capitalism has infected even the NBA, inflating
players’ worths and making lowering so desperate for relevance they are willing to mortgage future flexibility for a few measly games above .500 seasons now. So let’s get into it.
5. Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat
Unlike the other four contracts on this list, this was bad from the moment the ink dried on the paper. Duncan Robinson is a one-dimensional specialist. Even worse, his defense has been so atrocious since signing this deal that Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra has completely removed him from the rotation. He is only averaging 16.1 minutes per game, the lowest since his rookie year, while not starting a single game and only scoring 6.2 points per game. His 52.6 2-point shooting percentage and 49.8 eFG percentage are career lows. Worst of all, the very thing that got him into the NBA in the first place, his three-point shot, is only being hit on 32.7 percent, the lowest since his rookie season. He’s played in only three of the past nine games, playing less four minutes each time. To pay Robinson, a traffic cone on defense, an average of $18 million per over the next three seasons is a masterclass of ineptitude.
4. Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets
Of the players being paid “max” money, over $30 million annually, Ben Simmons is the worst deal in the NBA. He seems completely uninterested in playing professional basketball. He’s one of the most arrogant and overrated players in the league and the poster boy for the whiney, immature divas some ex-NBA players have derided the league for catering to. Simmons, who missed last season because of back and mental health issues, just cut ties with his long-time representation, Klutch Sports, citing wanting a “fresh start.’ It’s likely Simmons is eventually bought out by the Nets and will find his true worth on the buyout market. When no team reaches out with even a minimum deal, Simmons will be left with his millions of dollars and thoughts to sit alone at home with.