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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2008 NBA Preview: #23 Indiana Pacers

Offseason Movement: The team traded Jermaine O’Neal to the Raptors for T.J. Ford (pictured). The team (supposedly) wants to run, and Ford is a lightning quick floor general who can make it happen. I thought the Knicks missed out on an opportunity to acquire Ford, but the Raptors probably weren’t interested in anything the Knicks had to offer. The team also unloaded Shawne Williams, who had taken up residence in Larry Bird’s doghouse after being arrested for possession of marijuana.
Keep Your Eye On: Brandon Rush, GF
The Pacers acquired Rush by sending draft pick Jerryd Bayless to Portland. He is a silky smooth wing who can shoot the ball and take it to the rack. He’s seasoned and is ready to contribute immediately. The Pacers are lacking athleticism, so he gives them some punch off the bench.
The Big Question: Is this a case of addition by subtraction?
On the surface, an O’Neal for Ford deal seems like a win for the Raptors, but the Pacers were able to rid themselves of O’Neal’s salary and at the same time replace Jamaal Tinsley, who has fallen out of favor with GM Larry Bird. The team’s talent level may have taken a hit, but its chemistry should be better.
Outlook: With Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster slated to start, the Pacers might have one of the most unathletic lineups in the league. Dunleavy is all right, but Murphy and Foster? Luckly, Ford and up-and-coming swingman Danny Granger give the starting lineup some punch, while Rush provides some juice off the bench. Drafting Roy Hibbert conflicts with the Pacers stated “run first” mentality. The ship is starting to turn around, but it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, unless the chemistry is immediate and substantial.

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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