NBA / Jul 15, 2010 / 1:15 pm

Top 10 Worst NBA Contracts This Decade

With free agency starting to slow down, I took a look back on some of the contracts handed out to marginal NBA players this summer and was shocked. It got me to thinking, if Darko gets $5 million per year, what other contracts have been handed out over the past 10 years? After much thought, here are the 10 worst contracts handed out in the NBA since 2000:

10. Rashard Lewis – 6 years, $118 million (Orlando Magic, 2007)
Rashard Lewis is the classic case of a general manager overpaying for a need. The Magic needed a shooter and second gun to take some pressure off Dwight Howard so they vastly overpaid him to be their number two guy. Lewis played well his first two years in Orlando, and is a solid player, but he doesn’t play defense and is not a true power forward. His playoff performance, or lack thereof, is most likely a sign of things to come for Lewis who still has three years left on his deal.

9. Larry Hughes – 5 years, $70 million (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2005)
Cleveland overpaid to get Hughes to play second-fiddle to LeBron. He had a good season for the Wizards prior, but then Hughes proceeded to be maddening to both his teammates and fans. He took a lot of bad shots, and didn’t hit many of those shots. He never lived up to the potential he had, and after leaving Cleveland he discussed his frustration with how everything revolved around LeBron there, clearly not what the cavs envisioned when signing him.

8. DeSagana Diop – 6 years, $32 million (Dallas Mavericks, 2008)
While Diop was seen as a bust during the early portion of his career, he shedded that reputation to get this contract. Like Foyle, Diop is a defensive specialist who provides good interior defensive but absolutely nothing on the offensive end. Diop was yet another attempt by Mark Cuban (see: Erick Dampier) to solidify the center position, but after realizing the mistake he made Cuban somehow got Charlotte to take on Diop’s contract in 2009.

7. Samuel Dalembert – 6 years, $64 million (Philadelphia 76ers, 2005)
Billy King gave Dalembert this contract based on potential alone. Dalembert has always frustrated fans and coaches because of he has tons of talent but has been constantly riddled with inconsistency. For the past five years in Philly Dalembert has alternated between above-average center, and invisible man. The Sixers finally found a taker for him (Sacramento) after years of shopping him around, but his contract has been an albatross to Philly for throughout his time there.

6. Austin Croshere – 7 years, $51 million (Indiana Pacers, 2000)
Croshere got this contract on the heels of the 2000 NBA Finals appearance the Pacers made. They wanted to lock up one of their more promising young players, but this contract went overboard. Croshere is a hard-nosed player who does all the dirty work and also has the ability to knock down jumpers. He averaged double digit points only once during the contract, and never grabbed more than six boards per game, making him an incredibly overplayed bench guy.

5. Charlie Villanueva – 5 years, $35 million and Ben Gordon – 5 years, $55 million (Detroit Pistons, 2009)
These contracts go hand-in-hand so that’s why they are listed together. After trading Chauncey Billups mid-year in 2008 to free up cap space, Joe Dumars went all in with these two contracts. They are both good offensive players, but play no defense, and certainly aren’t worth a combined $90 million. Also, worthy of noting is that Villanueva fell out of favor with coach John Kuester and barely played down the stretch, not to mention these deals will keep the Pistons hamstrung for the next few years.

4. Brian Cardinal – 6 years, $37 million (Memphis Grizzlies, 2004)
Cardinal had a very mediocre season for Golden State in 2003 averaging 9.6 points but that got him an absurd $37 million. He was injured a lot during his time in Memphis never playing for than 58 games in a season. When he wasn’t injured, he was utterly unproductive on the court averaging just over six points per game during his time in Memphis.

3. Erick Dampier – 7 years, $73 million (Dallas Mavericks, 2004)
Dampier had one good season in Golden State after five incredibly mediocre ones, and that got him this monster contract. The Mavericks and their fans were habitually frustrated by Dampier’s softness in the paint, his lack of motivation, and unwilling to assert himself. They finally ended the Dampier era with their trade the other day sending him to Charlotte, but they still had to endure six seasons of him.

2. Brian Grant – 7 years, $86 million (Miami Heat, 2000)
Role players do not deserve contracts like this. I think Brian Grant was a great role player, a tough, energy guy that most winning teams need. However, for the Heat to pay him $86 million coming off a year when he averaged 7.5 points, and 5.5 rebounds is nothing short of absurd. While he turned out to be a solid double-double guy for Miami he never lived up to this contract.

1. Adonal Foyle – 6 years, $42 million (Golden State Warriors, 2004)
Foyle is a guy that should play ten minutes per game for strictly defensive purposes. He has no offensive ability to speak of, as indicated by the fact that he never averaged over 4.5 points per game after his contract extension in 2004. When Don Nelson came on board to coach the Warriors there was no longer a place for Foyle and the Warriors waived him, eating the remaining 3 years, and $29 million on his deal.

What do you think?

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  • Stunnaboy09

    They payed Lewis to take pressure of Lewis. TF does that work?

  • Keith

    As a Knicks fan, I am insulted that we are not represented in this list.

  • Stunnaboy09

    And you gotta put Jermaine O’Neal here, this guy was at a point a top-5 highest payed player in the league smh.

  • Stunnaboy09


    I just realized that now, how is Isiah NOT represented. Come on not even Alan “100 Million Dollar Man) Houston?

  • RapTOr

    It’s hard to take you guys seriously when there’s a slew of grammar mistakes like that.

  • eazy yeezy

    jerome james, my friends.

  • Heckler

    @ Stnaboy09–
    Allan Houston’s contract with NY wasnt done by Isiah Thomas; Scott Layden gave Houston that contract. It was before Isiah Thomas became President of NYK.

  • Showtime

    Solid list, although Rashard Lewis should be higher. Basically all he does is shoot, no D, no rebounding, passing, …

    Villanueva and Gordon combine for 90 million and also give you nothing besides scoring but make 28 million bucks less so how are the ranked higher?

  • Daniel Marks

    Didn’t include Houston because that signing was a signing the Knicks had to make. Allan was the face of the franchise, and had at least produced as a star before the contract. These other guys had no precedent for earning anywhere close to what they did. Houston’s was a bad contract though for sure

  • Soopa

    Dont see Charlie V at 5 year $35 mill as one of the worst, not at all.

    The Knick got 3-4 contracts which are much worse.

    Oh and i know it isnt this decade, but Jim McIlvaine is #1 all-time. 7 years and $33 mill (thats 33.000.000! lol) for a guy who average 2 pts and 2 rebs… Niiiiiice!

  • Daniel Marks

    Scoop- alone it’s not one of the worst but combined with Gordon’s it’s a total disaster

  • Heckler

    what about the Jalen Rose contract from Indy (donnie walsh) in 2000/2001: 7yrs, $93 million!!

    Michael Redd in 2005: 6yrs $91 million!!

    Ben Wallace in Chicago: 4yrs $60 million!

  • Heckler

    @ Daniel Marks–

    Whats the contract totals (yrs and $$) for some of these guys:

    Gilbert Arenas
    Monta Ellis
    Elton Brand
    Eddy Curry
    Kenyon Martin
    Vince Carter
    Andrei Kirilenko
    Luol Deng

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    Stunnaboy09 says: “And you gotta put Jermaine O’Neal here, this guy was at a point a top-5 highest payed player in the league smh.”
    You do realize that he was runner up to MVP one year right?? and I hope you recognize that before the injuries he was having a hall-of-fame type career.
    If you put JO on this list then T-Mac and G.Hill could be on it.

  • Celts Fan

    Gilbert Arenas. That is all.

  • Celts Fan

    Ben Wallace needs to be on here too.

  • Daniel Marks

    Brand- 5 yrs 80 mil
    Martin- 7 yrs 90 mil
    Carter – 4 yrs 60 million with option for year 5
    Deng – 6 yrs 71 mil (with incentives up to 80 mil)
    Arenas – 6 years 124 mil
    Kirilenko – 6 yrs 86 mil
    Ellis- 6 yrs 67 mil

  • MW

    I am the only one that is thinking of Eddie Curry and Jerome James. How neither one of these made the top ten is confusing to me. And Celts Fan I am in agreement on the Areanas.

  • Mase

    Don’t forget an honorable mention for Luke Walton. Lakers have (and still are) stuck with him for what seems like an eternity…

  • nat turner wit tha burner

    Jerome James 5 years – 30 million
    Jason Maxiell 4 years – 20 million
    Luol Deng 5 years – 62 million
    Gilbert Arenas – 5 years 96 million
    Elton Brand – 5 years 82 million

  • Fab

    Rashard is #1 in my opinion.
    And #1 of next decade will be Joe Johnson.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    What about a list of underpaid players??

    One word…. “AIR”

    Outside of his two $30Mill seasons he played for less than 4Mill. I think his average salary, not counting the two $30-mill seasons was less than $3million.

  • dagwaller

    Cmon, fellow commenters – we all know that the Knicks have already gotten their own article a few times over the last couple years.

    But it’s all worth it now that they have Amar’e!

  • Stunnaboy09


    Yeah I realise that, The thing im saying is you don’t sign people to long ass contracts cuz it leads to things like paying J.O 20 mil a year to average 13 pts and 5 rebounds

    Hell he averaged 4 and 4 this post season he was the 3rd HIGHEST payed player in the league.

    And yes you could add G-Hill and T-Mac there forgot about those.

  • Chunky Gurs

    Stevie Franchise- Traded for T-Mac, then sent packing to NYC, which in turn shipped him to the Jailblazers where even they felt he would be a terrible influence inthe locker room and paid him $30M to get as far away from teh team as humanly possible. Now-a-days, Stevie Franchise chills at his clothing store in Houston while talking about playing ball in China…if the money was right. Clearly, this guy just doesn’t get it. Stephon Marbury Version 2.0. Its also a pretty big coincidence that these two guys were born exactly 1 day apart. Brother from another mother?

  • Stunnaboy09

    Also you can’t put MJ in underpaid. You even said it, he signed for THIRTY million. Like HOLY CRAP that’s alot of money.

    To me underpaid would be filled with stars on there rookie deals so its more fun to make overpaid

  • Cuttino

    Steve. Francis.

  • James Dolan

    Steve Francis?

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    The article is obviously talking about how the players were when they signed the contract. All of them were not deserving of those contracts at the time they were offered them. It’s easy to point out the JO, TMac and GHill contract were bad in hindsight but at the time they deserved it. 7 yr-contracts were the norm for high level players.

    One player who could be on that list is Bryant Reeves.

  • Cuttino

    Two Words: Steve Francis.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    MJ made two-thirds of his NBA salary in those two years. For MJ, who played 15 years and is the GOAT, to earn two-thirds of his entire career earning in 2 season is underpaid. It’s not like he was dominant in just those two years.

    You can call JO’s contract “bad” in hindsight but I can’t call MJ underpaid for earning less than $3-mill average over 13 seasons?? Riiiiiiiight.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    MJ, the Greatest of all Time, was making just over 3-Mill when he went back-to-back-to-back the first time.

    $30-Mill wasn’t even in the picture.

    Underpaid like a motherf*cker

  • honus

    Elton Brand.

  • Rudy T

    Steve Francis

  • Jesse

    You’re forgetting Marcus Banks. At least the guys you’ve listed sometimes see the court.

  • jryu


    you got an email address at dime?

  • Daniel Marks


    You are right this article was designed to point out guys who were totally undeserving of these massive contracts when they got it. Reeves had 6 yr 66 mil deal but that was in the 90’s

  • Souja Boy Tell’em

    Slim Thug and ESG- Someone tell Kelvin Cato, I want my money back! This is for my gangsta, this one’s for my thugsta….

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    I realized that after I posted it but my co-worker came to my cubicle to discuss work this….. work is always getting in the way of more important shit. Selfish basturds.

  • Celts Fan

    @Jay – GOAT took waaay less so the Bulls could pay the guys on the squad that actually needed it. he was making tens of millions of dollars a year from Nike for so long that it didn’t matter. And $3M per was GREAT money in the late 80s/early 90s. The league didn’t completely explode to the point they were tossing around $50M deals to anyone with a pulse til the mid-90s, and by that point, MJ was already Scrooge-McDuck rich from his Nike/Jordan/Space Jam ish. He took less so there’d be some caproom so the guys that weren’t global icons and needed to make all their $$$ through ball actually could.

  • http://dime dime

    Just want to point out the even worse Owners,GM’s,Scouts,Coaches that make money for doing the least amount of work. HIlarious how all the players are made out to be the bad ones. How can we say how much someone deserves. It’s always seems like someone who makes more than most is overpaid. I think some jobs people do are useless. Sports & Music are a part & way of life. It wouldn’t be such a problem if something was different. Oh well. Sucks. The top players in the league are underpaid with the amount of money & interest overall they generate. From Jerseys,College,TV deals etc. They don’t get a percentage of that. They make tons of people rich beyond their years. They give this site life. They give people life like me & most of everybody that comments on this site. WE all wish we could do & be like the people we see make something so hard look so EASY.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    @Celts fan…
    I get that MJ was geting paid elsewhere. I understand endorsement deals and all that shit. That’s why I stated “NBA salary” in my original post. That’s what we’re talking about right?? Nba salaries.

    And I understand that today’s contracts are super bloated. Compare his salary to the other guys in his era. Total income he was raking it in. NBA salary alone, he was still underpaid. Google what Ewing made.

  • KT

    Why is Eddy Curry and his Dunkin Donut contract not included on this list?

  • the cynic

    is this list supposed to be the 10 worst contracts not involving Isiah

  • http://www.dimemag.com Celts Fan

    @Jay – my point is that $3M was solid in his early years amd then HE CHOSE to take less to let the Bulls have a better squad. that’s different than getting F’d by the system and stuck working for less than you should. Just saying that when you choose to mnake less it’s not the same (though it’s admirable. Dude wanted to win that bad. I don’t doubt that Kobe’d do the same thing if it came to it…).

  • shiptar

    a lot of this year’s contracts are gonna be on that list..

  • marzetas

    Marko Jaric latest contract was horrific…

  • http://www.dimemag.com Celts Fan

    Doubt it shiptar. the worst one’s amir johnson’s. There’s no “$10M+ per year for an utterly average guy” kinda deals. Lots of bad contracts, but nothing that’s franchise-cripplingly bad.


    Jerome “one playoff series” James and Eddy “Heart Problem” Curry should be up there.
    Tyson Chandler and Ben Wallace both got overpaid by Chicago and Kwame Brown was on 10 mill a year at some point.
    So many big men bin paid off a mix of potential and being tall, its a joke and GMs never learn, Brendan Haywood has just locked up a SIX year 55 mill contract, hes gonna be 36 years old, making 10 million, and hes never even averaged a double double.

  • Octopus Jonny

    @ Celts… Joe Johnson. I just see Michael Redd written all over that situation. You just don’t sign the Michael Redd’s and Joe Johnson’s to those kind of deals.

  • Gar Lick


  • Stunnaboy09

    The funniest thing about this offseason is Joe Motherfucking Johnson walked away with the biggest contract of the offseason.

    Atlanta must like second round exits

  • Harry

    I know that other Knicks fans reading this surely feel as slighted as I do. Eddy Curry and Steve Francis must be on this list.

  • Armand

    Guys that doesn’t make over 10m per year shouldn’t even be on the list.

    No Eddy Curry? No Gilbert Arenas?

  • Guitar Hero

    Jerome James.
    And Vin Baker…yeah, he was good back in the day, but he drank his career away. Oh, but that must have been before 2000, right?

  • Mark

    Dan Gadzuric!! Im not suprised no one on here has mentioned him, if you dont live in Milwaukee you wouldnt even know he was a player in this league! 6yrs 36M!! hes averaged 5pts and 4reb since signing…shocking

  • Tom

    What about Eddy Curry? 60 M for nothing?

  • Swirsky’s Soldier

    Gotta agree with the responders here:

    Eddi Curry and Stephon Marbury. Jermaine O’neal and Gilber Arenas. Kwamne Brown? Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard.

    There are a slew of contracts much worse than all 10 listed here. There are bad contracts (1 threw 10 here) and then there are attrocious, team destroying, future killing contracts…. none of these fit that bill.

  • Mikeyho

    I could list 10 or more contracts worse than Lewis’. We’re talking about Orlando’s original floor spacer that’s scored a ton of points for them. There’s probably ten current contracts or more worse than his.

    I think this whole list kinda sucks. The fans posts seem much more accurate.

  • Thunder D


  • DVS

    CV and Gordon are overpaid, but Amir Johnson, Channing Frye, Drew Gooden and Travis Outlaw all have ridiculous contracts.
    this summer has seen some mind boggling contracts being handed. CV and Gordon shouldn’t be on this list, especially since both had injuries in their first year.

  • DVS

    Brand, Arenas, Posey, Okafor, Sideshow Bob all have worse contracts….

  • nolerhett

    Rashard Lewis has the worst contract among active players right now. He is due to make over 60 million during the next 3 years coming off his worst season since he was in year 3. His stats have been getting progressively worse and he was caught taking performance enhancing drugs last off season. He can shoot from deep and make a turn around baseline jumper but he can’t finish at the rim and he doesn’t make good entry passes to Dwight. Rashard averaged 14 pts and 4.4 rbs last yr. B/c Orlando has so many offensive weapons the low point avg is not huge, but the rebound #’s are just terrible for a 6’10” pf.

  • Chaz Turner

    Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, & Michael Redd?

  • Jon

    How in the world is charlie villanueva for 7 mil a year on here when Amir Johnson just got the same? Drew Gooden just got 6.3 mil a year and Joe Johnson is getting max contract? Ben Gordon for 11 mil a year is not bad at all compared to any of these either. Both Charlie V and Gordon were hurt last year but look at their numbers the first 20 games of the season pre-injury. I hate when writers don’t do research. I guarantee you if Gordon and Villanueva were healthy last year and put up their normal career numbers then neither would be on the list

  • AN

    Jerome James makes Diop look like Dwight Howard, with 5 years for $30M against Diop’s 6 for $32. Diop’s game may not be pretty, but at least he shows up every day and has an identifyable NBA skill.

    $30 mil for a role player beats the heck out of $30 mil for wearing a suit and sitting around texting.