The summer of 2016 will live in NBA lore. With the league having agreed to a new television rights deal, the NBA approached the Players Association and pitched the idea of gradually rolling the influx of money into the salary cap.
The players rejected that idea. They wanted the immediate, dramatic spike. So, they got their wish—the salary cap went up by $24 million.
As a result, virtually every team suddenly had an abundance of cash, and they threw it around like a rapper at the club. Joakim Noah got four years and $72 million. Luol Deng inked the same deal. Mike Conley got the fattest contract in NBA history—five years and $153 million.
Teams are now paying the price for their spending spree. They spent as if the cap would keep going up by tens of millions annually—it hasn’t—and we’re now seeing the rebound effect. As many as 15 franchises could be obligated to pay the luxury tax next season—in a typical year, about five teams pay the tax.
Fans have long debated which players are the best in the league, but nowadays they also debate which guys are playing on the best and worst contracts. In the Moneyball era, fans have become fascinated with the analytics of everything from shooting percentages to opt-out provisions.
Though some players are fortunate to sign at the perfect time, others sign when the league is financially hamstrung (like it will be this coming summer) or when their value is at its lowest. Until last summer, two-time MVP Steph Curry was playing for only $11 million per year. It’s hard to believe, but some scrubs make more than some stars.
Which of the many terrible contracts currently floating around the league is the worst? Who was the most un-tradeable asset in the NBA this past season? These are the 10 most overpaid players in the 2017-18 NBA season.
10. Wesley Matthews
9. Harrison Barnes
8. Carmelo Anthony
7. Allen Crabbe
6. Bismack Biyombo
5. Ian Mahinmi
4. Chandler Parsons
3. Timofey Mozgov
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 salary: $15.3 million
Stats: 4.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.4 BPG
Timofey Mozgov should be paying royalties to LeBron James. With Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sidelined during the 2015 Finals, he became the Cavs’ second most reliable player. In those Finals versus Golden State, he averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Congrats to my brother Big fella Mozzie on the deal with the Lakers!! Enjoy LA. Dinner on you
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 1, 2016
The Lakers rewarded Mozgov’s performance with a four-year, $64 million deal that they almost immediately regretted, in a deal that made many belly laugh: L.A. eventually had to package DeAngelo Russell with the Russian big man to get his contract off its hands. Brooklyn is now saddled with two more years of paying top-flight figures to a below-average big man who will soon turn 32. He played in just 31 games this season.