No matter how passionate NBA players are to the game of basketball, a huge part of their business decisions still boils down to money. Washington Wizards‘ David Bertans, who was projected to garner a lucrative contract before this offseason, sat out the entirety of the Orlando bubble to avoid injuries. It certainly paid off as the Latvian stretch power forward inked a five-year, $80 million contract with the Wizards.
But there is always the risk of handing out expensive contracts. There are some stars who get riddled with consecutive injuries, while there are others who just don’t pan out with their respective teams. With that said, let’s take a look at the five worst contracts heading into the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season.
5. Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris, a multi-faceted scoring forward, signed a five-year, $180 million max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers last summer. From an unheralded rookie year with the Milwaukee Bucks, Harris definitely earned his way towards a lucrative payday.
While this is not entirely a bad signing, the Sixers could have gone the other way and put in an all-in pursuit of Jimmy Butler, who was also a free agent last offseason. It also didn’t help that Harris had a disappointing performance in the team’s first-round exit in the 2020 playoffs, considering that he was looked upon as a key cog in lieu of the injured Ben Simmons.
4. Blake Griffin
There’s just no other way to put it. Blake Griffin is coming off a horrendous season for a player of his caliber. He averaged a lowly 35% clip from the field, including a horrible 24% of the 6.2 three-point attempts that he put up per game. On top of that, Griffin also produced career-lows in points and rebounds.
The six-time All-Star will be earning $36 million this season, and he will have a player option of $38 million the following year. It remains to be seen if he can return to a hundred percent health, but there’s no doubt that Griffin’s best days are already past him.
3. Al Horford
We don’t know how exactly Al Horford fits into the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s plans. The 76ers did a tremendous job of shipping him and getting the role players that they need to complement Simmons and Joel Embiid. When Philly signed Horford last summer, they envisioned him displaying his elite versatility on both ends of the floor. Obviously, that didn’t work out and the process exposed Horford’s weaknesses at this point of his career.
The five-time All-Star is set to earn $27 million in each of the remaining three years in his contract. He will be 36 years of age during the 2022-23 season, the final term of that contract. Horford could still be a valuable cog in a rotation, but he is already far from a $27-million-worth player in the NBA.
2. John Wall
John Wall received a huge payday of $38 million during the 2019-20 season, while not playing in a single game for the Wizards. To be fair to the Wizards front office, Wall was riding five-straight All-Star appearances when they re-signed him to a max extension. But the explosive point guard suffered consecutive major injuries, and now he will be donning new threads with the Houston Rockets.
It’s still exciting to see how Wall will bounce back this season. He needs to really put in the numbers if he wants to justify the $41-million-plus salary he will be getting for the next three long years.
1. Gordon Hayward
It’s unfortunate that Gordon Hayward‘s tenure with the Celtics would end this way, especially with how promising his arrival was in Boston in 2017. Injuries robbed him of his All-Star caliber production in the past couple of seasons, a reason to believe that the 30-year old forward is now past his prime.
However, the Charlotte Hornets, who signed Hayward to a four-year, $120 million deal, obviously sees it the other way. That’s a lot of money for the next four years, and Hayward’s presence could eat up on the minutes of young budding forwards Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, which could slow down their development.