The NBA free agency market that we see nowadays is quite tame when we compare it to the wild wild west era when teams were signing players to abhorrent deals that put them in terrible cap situations. Who can forget the New York Knicks and Isiah Thomas just wasting away space by signing Eddy Curry or the Gilbert Arenas re-up with the Washington Wizards? These contracts were terrible and inspired the failure of some NBA franchises, as well as the end to jobs for several general managers and coaches. Here are the 25 Worst Contracts in NBA History.
25. Shawn Kemp
Contract: 7 years, $107 million
The NBA lockout during the 1998-99 NBA season did worse for Shawn Kemp than it did for probably anyone else in the league. Check this out:
The Cavs listed him at 6'10", 280 pounds—a 34-pound increase from the previous season—but then-General Manager Wayne Embry later revealed in his autobiography that Kemp reported to camp at 315 pounds. “He was really very honest about it,” former Cavs coach Mike Fratello recalled. “I said, ‘Shawn, how did this happen?’ He said, ‘Coach, I didn’t think we were coming back.’”
Talk about pretty bad. Kemp was never the same after such a promising first half of his NBA career. He fell out of the league after the 2002-03 NBA season. Just watch Shawn Kemp dunk compilations on Youtube to take away the pain.
24. Adonal Foyle
23. Juwan Howard
22. Larry Hughes
21. Jermaine O'Neal
20. Peja Stojakovic
19. Elton Brand
18. Kenyon Martin
17. Jon Koncak
Contract: 6 years, $13 million
You know it's bad when people replace your actual last name with "contract." While Koncak's contract would be more than modest in today's NBA, it was a big deal back in its time. He told SI back in '89:
"Hey, I can't justify what they offered me," he says with a careful shrug. "But what was I supposed to do? Say no? The league is changing. I think maybe this is just the start."
And as far as predicting what would change, Koncak was right. Back then, he was a one of a kind overpaid player, but now every year there's some kind of free agent acquisition that is labeled as ridiculous.
16. Brian Grant
15. Ben Wallace
14. Jayson Williams
13. Amar'e Stoudemire
Contract: 5 years, $99 million
Any New York Knicks fan will tell you how great Amar'e Stoudemire was in his first year in New York. Stoudemire was averaging 25-plus points and 8-plus rebounds a game and looked spry and really played a big part in the Knicks attracting Carmelo Anthony's attention. Unfortunately, after that first season injuries and chemistry issues with Carmelo caused Stoudemire to decline. He had three knee surgeries and various other injuries from a bulging disc in his back to a self-inflicted hand wound after a fight with a fire extinguisher. Either way, former Suns general manager Steve Kerr explained it best to the Daily News when it came to the Suns not trying to re-sign STAT when he was a free agent:
“What I remember is our orthopedic surgeon Tom Carter saying that generally after six to eight years after a player has a microfracture there could be problems,” Kerr told the Daily News. “We calculated he had a couple of good years left and that the back end of the contract could be a problem. “You never know for sure but you go with your experts and in this case it was Dr. Carter.”
And now the Knicks are stuck with a $20 million a year uninsured player who can barely get off the bench now. This definitely has to be one of the worst signings in hindsight.