We knew this NBA offseason would have a lot of buzz since many top players would hit free agency on July 1st and the fact that the salary cap will hit a historic high of $94.143 million for the 2016-17 season.
Even though we expected a lot of money to be thrown around, it just didn’t really sink in until we saw the quality of players getting such huge contracts.
This list isn’t an indictment on the players getting literally a ton of cash, but an indictment on the owners spending frivolously. I guarantee their actions during the first few days of the 2016 NBA offseason will make them cry poor when this labor agreement expires. I have a feeling they may need another amnesty clause if spending continues this recklessly.
1. Solomon Hill (4 years/$48 million) – New Orleans Pelicans – The Indiana Pacers declined the team option on Solomon Hill before the start of last season. The option would have only paid Hill $2.3 million for the 2016-17 season. Hill languished on the bench all last season for the Pacers. He never really got much action until the postseason. The Pelicans still wanted to spend $12 million a season for a player that can’t dribble, rebound or shoot consistently.
2. Bismack Biyombo (4 years/$72 million) – Orlando Magic – Biyombo has been compared to Serge Ibaka since he was drafted in 2011. Well, he will finally gets to play next to him this season in Orlando. Biyombo is another player that got paid from his short playoff performance. I’m not a fan of paying up for a small window of high-quality play. It’s too much of a risk. I really dislike this contract for Orlando.
3. Evan Turner (4 years/$70 milion) – Portland Trail Blazers – I almost put Turner #1 on this list, but I decided that Hill and Biyombo just slightly deserved to be ranked higher. Why would anyone pay Turner this much money to play basketball? He did have his best overall shooting season of his career, but his game has way too many holes to be getting paid this much money. Portland rarely makes many mistakes in free agency, so this signing still confuses me.
4. Tyler Johnson (4 years/$50 million) – Brooklyn Nets – First off, Johnson is a great NBA story. He worked hard after going undrafted and after two seasons of part-time success, he is getting a huge payday. Johnson has only started seven NBA games in his career and has only appeared in 68 games total. Even if NBA scouts love his tools, ‘prospects’ don’t get paid this kind of money. (At the time of this post, the Nets have just signed Johnson to an offer sheet. The Miami Heat can match, but the offer has a poison pill in it, so I doubt they can afford to match).
5. Austin Rivers (3 years/$35 million) – Los Angeles Clippers – Austin Rivers is awful. He only got this payday because his daddy is in control of the roster. Rivers wouldn’t even sniff the rotation on any team other than the Brooklyn Nets and Clippers.
6. Harrison Barnes (4 years/$94 million) – Dallas Mavericks – It’s easy to look good when you’re playing on a super stacked team. Barnes only looked good in about half the games he played for Golden State last season. He was beyond awful in the NBA Finals. This signing won’t get Dirk another ring in Dallas.
7. Hassan Whiteside (4 years/$98 million) – Miami Heat – Whiteside bounced around the world after being drafted by the Kings years ago and getting cut. His defense is what brought him back into the league. He has done really well in his short time with the Heat. He’s not worth this type of cap hit. Teams are playing smaller and starting Whiteside may not be beneficial against a handful of NBA teams. You need to be effective against every team in the league if you’re making nearly $25 million a season.
8. Matthew Dellavedova (4 years/$38 million) – Milwaukee Bucks – Dellavedova made a name for himself during the 2015 NBA Playoffs. There were high hopes for him heading into last season, but he didn’t live up to his play in the previous year’s postseason. He was barely in the rotation near the end of this year’s championship run. He’s a ‘three and D’ player and I don’t know about paying a guy like that nearly $10 million a season.
9. Luol Deng (4 years/$72 million) – Los Angeles Lakers – Deng’s numbers have declined in nearly every season since he was traded from the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers do need veteran leadership and Deng will bring it…but at a steep premium.
10. Mike Conley (5 years/$153 million) – Memphis Grizzlies – I don’t hate, hate this signing like I do the others, but since this is the biggest contract in NBA history…and it was given to Mike Conley, means it’s automatically in the top ten. Conley turned out to be a much better pro than I thought he’d be when he left school a year or two too early. Unless you’re a top ten player in the league, I don’t condone spending 1/3 of your salary cap on said player.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.