Last week's big-man trade of Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor might have seemed random when it came to the players involved.
But the deal was built around salaries.
Chandler has two more years and $24.6 million left on the contract he originally signed with the Bulls in 2005.
Okafor has five years and $62.7 million remaining, which means Charlotte shaved nearly $40 million in future salary commitments by making the deal with New Orleans.
The Hornets, meanwhile, trimmed a few million off next year's luxury-tax bill, since Okafor will make less this season. So each side saved money in some way.
Like so many industries, economics are troubling the NBA, and many observers expect another lockout in 2011 when the current collective-bargaining agreement expires.
I'd say the biggest issues the league needs to solve are keeping the games affordable and evening the playing field for small-market teams.
But the fundamental problem in the NBA right now is simply too many players who are wildly overpaid and locked into guaranteed contracts.
That's why teams make so many personnel decisions based on money.
With that in mind, let's rank the worst NBA contracts currently on the books:
1. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards (5 years, $96.3 million): Washington forgot the Grant Hill Rule - never foist a massive contract on someone who can't walk. Arenas has played in 15 games the past two seasons.
2. Elton Brand, Sixers (4 years, $66 million): This seemed like a good idea at the time, but Brand has played in just 37 games the past two years because of injuries.
3. Eddy Curry, Knicks (2 years, $21.7 million): Thanks to this contract, the former Bulls center may prevent New York's dream of chasing two major free agents in 2010.
4. Marko Jaric, Grizzlies (2 years, $14.7 million): This guy averaged 2.6 points last season. And that was before he married supermodel Adriana Lima.
5. Tracy McGrady, Rockets (1 year, $23.3 million): He will be the league's highest-paid player this season. I still laugh at how ex-Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy congratulated McGrady on TV last spring for winning his first career playoff series. Of course, T-Mac was hurt and didn't play a second.
6. Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz (2 years, $33 million): Utah might not be so eager to unload Carlos Boozer if it hadn't rushed to give Kirilenko a ridiculous deal in 2004.
7. Peja Stojakovic, Hornets (2 years, $29.5 million): This is a classic NBA mistake, bidding wildly for a free agent when there is no serious competition. Ben Gordon and the Pistons might be Exhibit B.
8. DeSagana Diop, Bobcats (4 years, $26.8 million): Dallas has a history of overpaying for mediocre big men, but the Mavs managed to unload this deal. Diop averaged 2.3 points and 3.6 rebounds last season.
9. (tie) Mike Dunleavy (2 years, $20.2 million) and Troy Murphy (2 years, $23 million), Pacers: As they finish up huge contracts, this pair has combined to play 1,048 games without ever making the playoffs.
10. Beno Udrih, Kings (4 years, $27.8 million): Might have been the league's worst starting player last season.
11. Bobby Simmons, Nets (1 year, $10.6 million): Hopefully, the former DePaul star will spend some of this money in his hometown.
12. Corey Maggette, Warriors (4 years, $39.7 million): Golden State felt it had to do something last year after losing Baron Davis unexpectedly. Signing another shoot-first perimeter player wasn't it.
13. Michael Redd, Bucks (2 years, $35.3 million): Milwaukee realized too late this is too much for a one-dimensional player.
14. Jerome James, Bulls (1 year, $6.6 million): Signing the massive center to a five-year deal in 2005 wasn't even Isiah Thomas' worst move as Knicks GM.
15. Brian Cardinal, T-Wolves (1 year, $6.8 million): A source swears the league distributed a memo last year warning teams that signing players to a full-term midlevel exception usually turns out bad. It was titled The Cardinal Rule, I'm pretty sure.
Honorable mention: Dan Gadzuric, Bucks (2 years, $14 million); Jermaine O'Neal, Heat (1 year $22.9 million), Etan Thomas, Thunder (1 year, $7.4 million), Sam Dalembert, Sixers (2 years, $23.6 million), Jason Maxiell, Pistons (4 years, $20 million).
Any contract is ludacris if its over 20 million despite how good that player is. Honestly i'm a firm believer of a 18 million dollar max contract.
Elton Brand has a pretty nasty contract. I'm not saying he is overpaid because of the injury either. Personally I just don't think he is that good. Perfect example of an overvalued player. Out of all those bad contracts his stands out the most to me. The 76ers would probably love it if they never signed him & had that money to spend elsewhere.
I agree with the elton brand comment i have always thought he was overrated yeah he gets the double double but what does he really do to earn all that money not that spectacular he reminds me of milsap except he gets a lot more money. Also the arenas signing baffeled me beacuse he was coming off an injury and they signed him to that big deal and what did he do of course he got hurt again and missed a large portion of the season.
Raef Lafrentz has the worst Contract.....He should be number 1
You could add Jared Jefferies to that list. (2 years about 14 mil) and Jason Kidd (3 years 25 mil)
If Stoudemire and Bosh receive max contracts next year then I will put them on the list too. Really good players but not max money players in my mind.
Some of these guys took one good year, one good postseason, etc to get big contracts. I think the Peja contract really blows my mind. Even though Kirilenko is being paid like a superstar, at least he is useful. Some of these guys shouldn't be in the NBA. Bobby Simmons, Dan Gadzuric, and Michael Redd show why Milwaukee has been struggling so horribly. I thought Isiah had some bad signings, but wow. Jermaine O'Neal's would be much worse if it wasn't just for one year.
I would also add the Ben Wallace contract. He was suppose to make $14.5 million this year, but I think Phoenix bought him out for ONLY $10 million. The Antwaine Jamison contract is a bad one too. He gets paid close to $10 million this year and I think he has 4 years left on it, even though he's already 33. That contract won't be horrible next year, but it should cause some issues the rest of the years after.
Randolph makes 16 mil per year that's more than
I think a lot of GM's do not know how to build a team and are scare so they overpay players and then will not move them for pieces they need. AK47 contract would not look so bad if he was on a team that would utilize him but when Utah added Boozer they added a piece that bumped heads with a piece they already had. I have been thinking that for years that 20 million for some of these players is ridiculous the only problem is that the players played worthy of these contracts before they got them. Well some of them anyway. The Arenas contract even though he was hurt, he is such a market draw that Washington felt it could not afford to lose him but they could have paid him less because no one could pay him that much. Also Orlando should not have overpaid Lewis even though I think he is a good player they were bidding against themselves. I never liked the Peja pick up and hopefully Toronto does not find out the hard way about giving some aging plays big deal like that. Philadelphia screwed themselves because Brand is a good player but he killed their chemistry and as a GM you have to look at your team first and not just think you can overpay a nice talent and everything will be good.
The thing that gets me more than anything is part of what Sheltwon mentioned. Why do teams bid against themselves? I'm not saying that you cannot overpay a guy a little bit because he has been a big part of your success or he's a big part of your chemistry (i.e., Lamar Odom). That is probably one of the few smart things the Knicks have done this year is not try to outbid themselves to resign Lee and Robinson when no one else has the money to go after them.
I agree 100% on Kirilenko. His best season from what I remember was when Boozer was injured and he was playing all of the minutes at PF. I still think he is a nice player, but I think he would be much more effective if he was playing around the basket more. He would get a lot more blocks and rebounds and he's a mismatch for slower guys at that spot.
Emeka Okafor. I mean serious, who gave him that contract?