2010 is coming. If you have watched basketball at all the last two seasons, all that's mentioned is the future destinations of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company. While those two are dynomite and will be worth whatever amount of cash a team throws at them, players like Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer have Juwan Howard written all over them. Because teams are guaranteed to overspend, we're going to look back at the ten worst contracts of the last ten years, starting in 2000 and ending now. We'll list each player by the team he signed with, the length and amount of the contract and their statistics for the duration of their contract.
15. Gilbert Arenas, G, Washington Wizards: 6 Years, 111 Million Dollars in the 2008 offseason (27 Games, 21.4 PPG, 7.2 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG) - Some people may say that it's way too early to include Gilbert Arenas in this discussion, but why wait for the continuted, inevitable decline of the Wizards franchise? Two years into this deal, in fact as soon as the ink dried on the dotted line, fans and analysts alike knew that this was bad news for Washington. Arenas was coming off of the historically fatal microfracture knee surgery and a season which he had only played 13 regular season and 2 postseason games. Furthermore, the Wizards were coming off successive first round exits in the postseason and had resigned Antawn Jamison to a similar contract in terms of annual salary. So when they turned around and invested 111 million dollars (outbidding themselves) to retain Arenas, the Wizards had invested tons of money into a team that hadn't even won 50 games as a unit. Arenas rewarded the Wizards by having a third surgery on his knee and missed all but two games last season. He's come back and put up decent numbers this season (with a shooting percentage in the low 40's) but the Wizards are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference after being preseason favorites for a run at the postseason. With a lack of young talent, a lot of money invested in their current players and with the return being constant defeats, things look bad for the Wizards, and they're going to wish they had 111 million dollars to spend elsewhere.
14. Luol Deng, F, Chicago Bulls: 6 Years, 71 Million Dollars in the 2008 offseason (74 Games, 15.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG) - A really nice player with a really solid game, Deng was acquired as a rookie by the Chicago Bulls and contributed to some solid teams that made the postseason. He showed flashes of being a solid player, but he never seemed like a superstar. When the 2008 offseason came, the Bulls were forced with the decision of retaining either Deng or guard Ben Gordon long term; or let both of them walk. The Bulls decided to give that money to Deng and signed Gordon to a one year offer. Gordon became the leading scorer for the Bulls, led the team to an almost upset over the defending champion Boston Celtics in the 2009 postseason and turned that into a 55 million dollar with the Detroit Pistons. Deng watched the postseason from the bench in street clothes. Deng is healthy and playing solid basketball for the Bulls this season, but there's no denying that he's not worth the money that he's receiving.
13. Erick Dampier, F-C, Dallas Mavericks: 7 Years, 73 Million Dollars in the 2004 offseason (389 Games, 6.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) - Notorious for playing big in contract years and then turning that into a payday, Dampier became a 12 point, 12 rebound force in the 2003-2004 season for Golden State and was looking like a prize center in the 2004 offseason. Most critics pointed to his increase in production in a contract year being a bad sign, but Mark Cuban ignored all red flags and signed Dampier to a huge long term deal. Dampier has held down the starting center job for Dallas since being acquired, but it's mostly been by default and because of the paycheck that he's receiving. There's no denying that he dogged it his entire career only to play big in his contract year and get paid handsomely. Because he hasn't prevented the Mavericks from continuing to be a solid franchise, Dampier escapes being further up on this list.
Author's Note: Dampier is currently having the best year of his contract. One other thing that should be noted, he has the option to opt out of his contract this offseason. Coincidence?
12. Michael Redd, G, Milwaukee Bucks: 6 Years, 91 Million Dollars in the 2005 offseason (247 Games, 23.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.1 SPG) - Always a nice player, Redd had been the best player for some really mediocre Milwaukee Bucks teams in 2004 and 2005. The deadly sharpshooter was sought after by the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers, with hopes that Redd could partner up alongside a young LeBron James and become the nail in the coffin for teams that were paying too much attention to LeBron. Because of all the attention Cleveland was giving Michael Redd, fan interest forced the Bucks to engage in a bidding war with Cleveland. What followed was the contract that Milwaukee eventually gave Redd to become their franchise player. While Redd continued to be as good as he was before signing the contract, he was never a great player and is extremely one dimensional. Sometimes shooting the Bucks out of games, Redd has become a villian of sorts in Milwaukee as the team has routinely played better when he's not in the lineup. After leading the Bucks to the postseason in the first year of his contract, the Bucks have become embarassingly mediocre since and Redd is viewed as the most glaring of some bad personnel decisions in Milwaukee.
Author's Note: Look for Andre Iguodala to become a Michael Redd-type bad contract in Philadelphia.
11. Larry Hughes, G, Cleveland Cavaliers: 5 Years, 70 Million Dollars in the 2005 offseason (251 Games, 13.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.4 SPG) - The Cavaliers were jilted at the altar by Michael Redd, so with all of the free cap space they had, they went after a different shooting guard to become the Scottie Pippen to LeBron's Michael Jordan. The money they had was given to Larry Hughes. Always a player with a ton of untapped potential, Hughes became a solid force for some surprisingly successful Washington franchises before his contract went up and looked to have finally reached the level of play he was capable of by the time Cleveland signed him. However, Hughes never justified the contract that Cleveland gave him. Cleveland tried him at point guard, shooting guard, sixth man and defensive stopper before growing tired of his inconsistency and knack for injuries. They shipped him off to Chicago and from there he was shipped to New York where he currently plays. Hughes and his contract have been heavily criticized and extremely disliked everywhere he's been (and fans have let him know about that) but the Knicks are holding onto his contract for the free cap space it will create this offseason.
10. Samuel Dalembert, C, Philadelphia 76ers: 6 Years, 63 Million Dollars in the 2005 offseason (339 Games, 8.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.1 BPG) - A freakishly long and tall player with a lot of shot blocking potential, Dalembert, because of his size and difficult to pronounce name, drew a lot of comparisons to Dikembe Mutombo and was viewed as a solid player on the rise by the time Philadelphia gave him his contract. Even though he had the ideal body and athleticism to become a dominat rebounder and shot blocker, Dalembert never materialized as anything more than mediocre. Even though he's held down the starting center position for Philadelphia for the duration of his contract, he's a classic case of someone with all of the potential in the world who just never developed. Every offseason becomes "maybe this is the year" for Dalembert, and every year he puts up maddingly inconsistent numbers and dissapoints both Philadelphia coaches and fans.
9. Allan Houston, G, New York Knicks: 6 Years, 100 Million Dollars in the 2001 offseason (229 Games, 20.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.4 APG) - At the time of his signing, Houston a Knick favorite and had led the team to the NBA Finals just a couple years prior in 1999. Two years later, the Knicks had declined sharply and were outsted in the first round in 2001, the same year that Houston's contract expired. The Knicks, even though they were financially strapped and largely medicore, gave Houston a 20.7 million dollar per year contract that prevented the team from making any free agent moves. The next two years, the Knicks would miss the postseason and would turn to Isiah Thomas to save the franchise (and we'll see how he did later in this list). After two seasons, Houston would start to have problems with his knee and would miss a large portion of the third and fourth years of his contract. The injury eventually forced Houston to retire in 2005. The contract destroyed the Knicks so badly that the NBA adopted an "Allan Houston Rule" which granted NBA teams the option of releasing one player to not count against the luxury tax.
Author's Note: Look for Kevin Martin to be this generation's version of Allan Houston
8. Kenyon Martin, F, Denver Nuggets: 7 Years, 92.5 Million Dollars in the 2004 offseason (290 Games, 12.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG) - At the time of this signing, Kenyon Martin was a fine player who had played on two Eastern Conference Championship teams with the New Jersey Nets. Once the number one pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, Martin blossomed once the Nets acquired Jason Kidd and became a fan favorite for the ferocity with which he would slam the basketball. Elsewhere in the NBA, the Nuggets, fresh off of drafting Carmelo Anthony, were viewed as a team on the rise that was one big man away from taking the next step. It seemed like a match made in heaven. Only problem is, Kenyon Martin had zero post moves, had Andre Miller to give him the ball instead of Jason Kidd and joined a frontcourt of Nene and Marcus Camby, who were basically the same players as Martin. Martin struggled to fit into the Nuggets rotation and the team continued to lose in the first round, never taking that next step with Martin on the roster. Microfracture knee surgeries, being sent home from the team in the postseason by head coach George Karl, and frequently clashing with fans followed and Martin's contract looks worse by the day. He's rebounded well the last couple of seasons to stay healthy and has emerged as a great defensive power forward, but he'll never be worth every penny the Nuggets gave him.
7. Andrei Kirilenko, F, Utah Jazz: 6 Years, 86 Million Dollars in the 2004 offseason (299 Games, 11.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.2 SPG) - In the wake of the departures of Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz franchise shocked everyone during the 2003-2004 season when they narrowly missed making the postseason. They were led that year by Andrei Kirilenko, known as AK47 because of his initials, number and because he and the gun shared the same birthplace (Russia). Kirilenko was a multi talented player who filled every stat you could think of and could play multiple positions on the floor. So after that surprise year, the Jazz signed Kirilenko to this contract extension. While the team experienced a surge of sorts in the years to follow, the addition of Carlos Boozer and subsequent move to small forward for Kirilenko proved to be fatal for his career. For whatever reason, Kirilenko's numbers dipped dramatically in the 2006-2007 season and clashed with coach Jerry Sloan on numerous occasions. Probably most famous for crying over his playing time in the Jazz's 2007 postseason run, Kirilenko has long since noted his desire to leave the NBA. Even once flirting with retirement, Kirilenko has since promised to play professionally in Russia once this contract goes up in Utah. Jazz fans can't wait for that day, either.
6. Eddy Curry, C, New York Knicks: 6 Years, 60 Million Dollars in the 2005 offseason (222 Games, 15.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG) - Once viewed, along with Tyson Chandler (someone else who narrowly avoided this list), as the future cornerstones of the Chicago Bulls franchise, Curry frequently dissapointed and lost in Chicago. In a contract year with the Bulls, Curry proved to be the team's go to man in the paint and turned out a solid season, although he missed the end of the regular season and all of the postseason due to a heart problem (no jokes necessary). Still in his early 20's by the time that contract expired, Isiah Thomas saw Curry as a center his team could build around and quickly signed Curry to a long term deal. What ensued was frequent losses by the Knicks, public humiliation veered towards Curry's weight and injury problems, and Curry becoming the butt of every joke amongst NBA fans and analysts alike. Curry has suffered a lot of personal tragedy as well and has tried to make it back on the court to play for Mike D'Antoni's Knicks, but he's still a guy that nobody will take on their team and that the Knicks would love to get off of their's.
5. Stephon Marbury, G, Phoenix Suns: 4 Years, 76 Million Dollars in the 2003 offseason (240 Games, 18.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - Now one of the most notorious players in the history of the NBA, Marbury, without an agent, signed a humongous contract extension with the Phoenix Suns following their first round playoff exit in 2003. Known as a flashy scorer, team success had always alluded Marbury. Three months after he signed the extension, Marbury was traded to his hometown New York Knicks to be the franchise player for Isiah Thomas' vision of what the Knicks should be and actually led New York to the 2004 playoffs. However, that was it. By the time the extension kicked in in the offseason, Marbury's numbers sharply declined and he would clash with Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas (following trends he started in Minnesota and New Jersey) before, last year, being famously paid to stay away from the Knicks franchise. Mike D'Antoni and company were able to finally agree to a buyout with Marbury and he would sign with the Boston Celtics, where he looked awful on the court. Also involved in a sexual harrasment lawsuit filed against the New York Knicks, Marbury famously threatened Isiah Thomas, stating that he "had things on him" that could prove to be detrimental to Isiah. Those "things" never came out, but what was revealed was how bad of a blunder Marbury's contract extension and stay in New York had been.
4. Raef LaFrentz, F-C, Dallas Mavericks: 7 Years, 70 Million Dollars in the 2002 offseason (314 Games, 7.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG) - A shot blocking force in Denver, 7'0" Raef LaFrentz could be a force in the paint and could shoot long range jumpers by the time he was traded to Dallas. After being traded to Dallas, LaFrentz would sign a huge contract in the offseason to be Dallas' center of the future next to big man Dirk Nowitzki. LaFrentz lasted one year. One of many Mark Cuban overpaid blunders (Erick Dampier, Michael Finley, DeSagana Diop, etc.), LaFrentz shines above all of those mentioned because he simply did absolutely nothing after signing the contract. He was traded to Boston, then to Portland, and did not play at all last season due to reoccuring knee injuries. LaFrentz is now out of the league but Portland used his expiring salary to sign Andre Miller and resign Brandon Roy. So he lives in spirit.
3. Jermaine O'Neal, F-C, Indiana Pacers: 7 Years, 126.6 Million Dollars in the 2003 offseason (374 Games, 18.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 2.1 APG) - Long viewed as a dissapointment after being drafted out of high school in Portland, O'Neal was traded to Indiana where he received an increase in playing time and rewarded Indiana with an increase in production. After winning the 2002 Most Improved Player of the Year award, O'Neal followed the season up with another 20 point, 10 rebound season and was a hugely sought after free agent in the 2003 offseason. Flirting with the San Antonio Spurs, O'Neal was offered the contract by Indiana and quickly signed it, becoming the Pacers' franchise player. While Indiana was successful during O'Neal's peak years in 2002, 2003 and 2004, O'Neal's injuries and contract contributed (along with the infamous Malice at the Palace) to the downfall of the Indiana Pacers franchise. Viewed as a symbol for Indiana's failures, Pacers fans turned on O'Neal and he was traded to Toronto. After a failed stint there, he was traded to Miami where he is now the starting center for the Heat. Injuries were a big reason why this contract simply did not work out, but at that much money and for that many years, there's no pardon for Jermaine O'Neal.
2. Peja Stojakovic, F, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: 5 Years, 65 Million Dollars in the 2006 offseason (175 Games, 14.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.2 APG) - Once an intregal part of some terrific Sacramento Kings teams, Stojakovic entered the 2006 offseason coming off an injury riddled second half stint with the Indiana Pacers. One very young team that was willing to take a chance on the 6'10" sharpshooter was the young Hornets. With young players like Chris Paul and David West on the roster, the Hornets were looking for Stojakovic to be the efficient veteran to turn to in the clutch to help teach the younger players how to win. Given a maximum deal and making the first big splash of free agency, Stojakovic signed with the Hornets and immediately dissapointed. Only playing 13 games his first season, Stojakovic had a strong second season: playing in 77 games and shooting over 44 percent from behind the arc. But his shooting percentage and overall production declined sharply the very next season and he was subsequently benched this offseason. Stojakovic has found his way back into the starting lineup and remains a bittersweet fan favorite in New Orleans, but his contract has single handedly halted the development and progression of a young and promising unit.
1. Ben Wallace, F-C, Chicago Bulls: 4 Years, 60 Million Dollars in the 2006 offseason (205 Games, 4.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 SPG) - A four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner and even the reigning 2 time DPOY, Ben Wallace entered the 2006 offseason as the prize of a very weak free agent class. A defensive specialist who was always known to give max effort at the center position, the Bulls, looking for a player to hold down the center position and take the team to the next level, gave all of their free cap space to Ben Wallace to lure him away from the Detroit Pistons. Outside of his comfort zone in Chicago, and playing on a team that didn't preach defense like the teams in Detroit did, Ben Wallace severely struggled in Chicago. His numbers went down across the board, his defense slipped and he was exposed big time. Facing expectations for the first time his career, Ben Wallace crumbled under pressure. He was eventually shipped to Cleveland where he started on some successful Cavaliers teams but was never the player he used to be, and the player he used to be had no business making that kind of money. He was eventually traded to Phoenix last offseason and after being bought out by the Suns considered retirement, but Ben has rejoined the Pistons and has found some of his old youth in Detroit. But Ben Wallace still tops the list of the ten worst contracts of the last ten years.