The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

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Dissecting the Larry Hughes trade rumor

Larry Hughes to the Nets? It’s a possibility, according to

The Nets and Bulls have discussed a deal that would bring veteran shooting guard Larry Hughes to New Jersey for Bobby Simmons and Maurice Ager, league sources said. Sean Williams was offered instead of Ager, but Chicago wasn’t interested.

Both sides are considering it, although the Bulls are talking to many teams about Hughes, who is signed through next season.

The Nets are weighing whether the deal makes them that much better and if it’s financially smart. The additional salary next season would be more than $3 million.

Every time I hear a trade rumor, I ask myself the following questions…

1. What is Team A (or B) trying to accomplish?
2. What are the salary cap ramifications?
3. Is this is a good idea?

Larry Hughes is one of the most overpaid players in the league. He has another year left on his deal at the tune of $13.6 million. This season, he is an average shooting guard (PER: 14.68) which is an improvement over his performance in the two previous seasons.

Since his contract expires in 2010, this trade wouldn’t affect the Nets’ ability to woo LeBron James or any other big-name free agent that summer, so the Nets are apparently trying to get better in the short term with this deal. Bobby Simmons hasn’t been the same player since his foot injuries he suffered with the Bucks, and since it looks like Hughes has a little left in the tank, it wouldn’t be a bad move for the Nets. He plays the same position as Vince Carter, but since the league is getting smaller, Carter could play a little small forward as well. It’s possible that the Nets are giving themselves a backup plan at off guard if they decide to trade Carter away.

For the Bulls, Hughes has been complaining about his lack of minutes and has been somewhat of a distraction. It would appear that the main benefit for Chicago would be to rid itself of that headache.

So, from that point of view, it looks like a good idea for both teams. The Nets get a little better, they don’t threaten their ability to sign a free agent in 2010 and they give themselves a backup at shooting guard if they trade Carter away. The Bulls rid themselves of a headache, create a happier locker room, and save a little money.

It seems like a fair trade to me.

2008 NBA Preview: #18 Milwaukee Bucks

Offseason Movement: New GM John Hammond was busy this summer wheeling and dealing. Two starters from last season are gone. The Bucks traded Mo Williams to Cleveland in a three-way deal that brought Luke Ridnour from Seattle/OKC. Williams was more of a scorer, while Ridnour is definitely a pass-first point guard. The team also traded Yi Jianlian (and Bobby Simmons) to the Nets for Richard Jefferson. This move implies that the team is in “win now” mode, which makes sense given the roster.
Keep Your Eye On: Charlie Villanueva
Everyone thought that Charlie V would be one of the first Bucks to go once Hammond took over, but the team dealt Yi instead and they’re expecting V to take over at power forward. In the 31 games he started last season, he averaged 15/8, so if he can play enough defense to make new coach Scott Skiles happy, he could be in for a big year. The Bucks sure need him to break out, and there’s a good bet that he will, especially if he takes the ball to the hole more.
The Big Question: Can Scott Skiles whip this team into shape?
For the last several years, the Bucks have lacked a defensive mindset and toughness. There’s definitely enough talent to compete; a starting five of Ridnour, Michael Redd, Jefferson, Villanueva and Bogut makes for a good young core of skilled offensive players. If Skiles can get them to increase their effort on defense, the team should make a jump in the standings. It’s no sure thing that all the players will buy in; it’s just as likely that the Bucks will be looking at a losing record two months in and Skiles will have a revolt on his hands.
Outlook: Encouraging. The addition of Jefferson is a huge upgrade at small forward, which has been a weak spot for the last two seasons. The loss of Yi is a loss of potential only, as Villanueva should be able to produce better numbers from that position. Assuming good play from Redd and continued growth from Bogut, the Bucks are one of the darkhorses in the East. If Ridnour helps the team meld into a single cohesive unit offensively and Skiles can get them into the middle of the pack defensively, then the Bucks will be in business.

2008 NBA Preview: #27 New Jersey Nets

Offseason Movement: The team traded Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, and both players figure to play a prominent role this season. The Nets are rebuilding with an eye on the summer of 2010 when LeBron James (and a few other stars) might be hitting the free agent market. Last summer, the team elected to re-sign Vince Carter, a decision they’re certainly regretting now.
Keep Your Eye On: Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez
The team is trying to put together a young and inexpensive core that will attract a big-name free agent in the summer of 2010. Harris is no Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but he’s a great young point guard with a lot of potential. Potential is all that Jianlian has right now, though he played pretty well in spurts for the Bucks last season before injuries started to take their toll. Brook Lopez slipped to the Nets in the draft and they’re happy to have him. He’s a big body who can score in the post. If everything pans out for this trio, the Nets will have their point guard, power forward and center locked up. Now all they need is a couple of wing players and Vince Carter is signed through 2011…hmmm…
The Big Question: Does the team really have a viable chance to land LeBron?
One thing about making a long-term plan like the Nets have is that there really aren’t any pressing issues since the team isn’t really built to win right now. They want to see their youngsters develop, they want to acquire draft picks and they want to avoid spending any serious money. In an ideal situation, LeBron would join a Nets team that has a dynamic All-Star caliber point guard (Harris), a veteran off guard (Carter) an up-and-coming versatile power forward (Jianlian) and a double-double guy in the middle (Lopez). Two things need to happen: 1) the youngsters must develop and 2) LeBron must agree to play in Brooklyn. If you build it, he will come…
Outlook: Nets fans shouldn’t expect a playoff berth this season. Carter is still there to put butts in the seats, though he’s not as dynamic as he used to be. The Nets are just too young to compete with the best in the East, but the opportunity for growth is certainly there.

Check out our NBA Preview page for a look at every team. We’ll be posting three previews per business day, which will take us up to the start of the season on Tuesday, October 28th.

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