In putting together a list of NBA contracts you won’t believe, the following occurred to me: Every single contract is courtesy of the New York Knicks!
Not really. But Spike Lee’s favorite team has signed its fair share of raw deals in recent years.
As incredible as it is that, say, Joakim Noah and Tony Parker are compensated the amounts they are for their services, it’s significantly more mind-boggling that certain NBAers have such ludicrous sums funnelled into their bank accounts, which brings us to the unfortunate goat in all of this: the Knicks (and really, the Nets aren’t far behind).
Amare Stoudemire andAndrea Bargnani are being paid a total of $33.4 million for their services during the 2013-2014 season. Combined, they’ve averaging 23.1 points per game. There are six players in the league who are averaging more than that number on their own.
Indeed, from the people who brought you the atrocious overpayment of Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, and Allan Houston, we have thrilling new tales of big money for for little results in this list of NBA contracts you won’t believe.
Unfortunately, we’ll only be looking at current contracts. Thus, the Gilbert Arenases and Tyrus Thomases of the world are excluded from our ranking. However, that doesn’t make their contracts any less unbelievable.
On the other end of the spectrum are the guys whose salaries you can’t believe for the opposite reason: they’re being so comically underpaid for the relative value of their services.
No player is a more glaring example of this type of unbelievable contract than the first entry on our list.
7 Chandler Parsons, Small Forward, Houston Rockets: 4 years/$3.7 million
Simply put, Chandler Parsons is one of the ten-best small forwards in the NBA right now. For the 2013-2014 season, he is the 68th-highest-paid small forward in the league. Without even touching on his stellar performance thus far this season, let’s look at Parsons’ numbers from the 2012-2013 campaign: 15.5 PPG and 5.5 rebounds. For his efforts, Parsons isn’t even making a million bucks per year. The Florida alum’s 2013-2014 salary? $926,500.
Compare this to say, Richard Jefferson, who is averaging 10.1 points per game (Parsons is averaging better than 17). The Utah Jazz’s small forward is pulling down $11 million. If you’re following along at home, that’s more than $10 million more than Parsons.
6 Jared Sullinger, Power Forward, Boston Celtics: 3 years/$4.0 million
76. That’s the number of power forwards in the NBA who make more money than Jared Sullinger.
5. That’s the number of power forwards who are scoring more points per game than Sullinger this year. True, the player signed a three-year deal as a rookie. Nevertheless, GM Danny Ainge is getting tremendous value from the Ohio State alum this year.
Sullinger is averaging 13.4 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game during the 2013-2014 season. Further, he’s only earning $1.36 million for his services. Ainge’s caution looked like the right move when Sullinger missed nearly half of 2013 with a back injury that required surgery. The team exercised a $1.42 million option for Sullinger in October and will be paying him that paltry sum for the 2014-2015 season. Thus, where Sullinger is concerned, Ainge looks like a genius.
5 Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Point Guard: 4 years/$44 million
In 2014 thus far, Stephen Curry is the leading scorer among point guards, pouring in an average of 24.6 points per game (3 PPG on average more than the No. 2 point guard). Further, Curry is fifth in the league in scoring presently. He’s the ninth-highest-paid point guard in the league and the 59th-highest-paid player overall.
As shocking as those numbers are, this one is even more so: Stephen Curry, who is currently averaging 24.6 points, 9.1 assists, and 4.4. rebounds per game, is only the fourth-highest-paid player on the Golden State Warriors. Curry’s $10.6 million contract is bargain bin low for a player of his caliber. Further, he’s signed through the 2016-2017 season.
4 Gerald Wallace, Boston Celtics, Small Forward: 4 years/$40 million
As D.J. Foster of Bleacher Report so aptly wrote, “There are bigger contracts. There are longer contracts. There are less productive players. But there is no one in the league on a bigger, longer contract who is less productive than Wallace.”
The Celtics are paying Wallace $10.1 million for his services during the 2013-2014 NBA season. In 51 games played, he’s averaging a mere 4.7 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game. He’s the 13th-highest-paid small forward in the NBA, while he sits 36th in scoring among small forwards. Here, Danny Ainge isn't looking quite so MENSA smart.
3 Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans, Shooting Guard: 4 years/$58 million
Eric Gordon isn’t a bad basketball player, per se. He does not, however, deserve to be to fourth-highest-paid shooting guard in the NBA. Averaging just 15.8 points per game for the 2013-2014 season, Gordon is 11th in scoring among shooting guards, and his Player Efficiency Rating places him 20th on that list.
The fact that Gordon, whose career average is 17.6 points per game, is paid more than James Harden, Ben Gordon, DeMar DeRozan, and Monta Ellis is ridiculous. Further, he hasn’t played a full season in his NBA career and suited up just 42 times last year.
2 Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets, Shooting Guard: 6 years/$123.6 million
Unreal, in the worst possible sense of the word. That’s the only way to describe first the Atlanta Hawks' decision to pay Joe Johnson such a ludicrous sum, and then the Brooklyn Nets' decision to trade for Johnson so that they might continue to comically overpay him for his work.
Johnson is the fourth-highest-paid player in the NBA and the second-highest-paid shooting guard. Not that these things have to track directly, but is he the fourth-best player in the league? The second-best shooting guard?
He’s 12th in the league in scoring...among shooting guards. He’s not even in the top 50 in scoring overall: Johnson is averaging 15.3 points per game during the 2013-2014 season, along with 2.7 assists and 3.3 points per game.
For comparison, the fifth-highest-paid shooting guard in the league for the 2013-2014 season is James Harden. Harden, who is making $13.7 million (compared to Johnson’s $21.4 million) is averaging 23.7 points per game, as well as 5.3 assists.
1 Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks, Power Forward: 5 years/$99.7 million
Amare Stoudemire is the highest-paid power forward in the NBA and he’s playing limited minutes, and it's not because of injury. Chew on that for a second.
Stoudemire hasn’t played close to a full season since 2010, and he’s averaging just 9.8 points per game for 2013-2014. Stoudemire isn’t even in the top 25 in scoring...among power forwards.
To be fair, Stoudemire signed his five-year, $99.7 million sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns (ostensibly the New York Knicks) in 2010. During the 2009-10 season, the power forward averaged 23.1 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game while averaging 34.6 minutes on the court. Thus, Knicks didn’t seem to be grossly overpaying in 2010 when they funnelled $16.4 million Amare’s way.
But a five-year deal? Really? Further, Stoudemire is due to earn $21.6 million this year. That’s insane. The top-scoring power forwards are younger players like Blake Griffin ($16.4 million) and Kevin Love ($14.6 million). Veterans in the top 10, such as Dirk Nowitzki ($22 million) and Zach Randolph ($18.2 million) actually play minutes and score points—Nowitzki: 32.3 MPG/21.9 PPG, Randolph: 34.5 MPG/17.5 PPG. Amare’s numbers in 2013-2014 (just to refresh your memory): 19.2 MPG/9.8 PPG. He’s playing roughly ⅔ of the minutes of premier veteran power forwards and scoring about half as many points—all while being paid more than any other power forward (save for Nowitzki).
But hey, if a team doesn’t care about paying the luxury tax, there’s no need to be discriminate in their spending. And players like Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson will happily mop up.