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NBA Free Agency: Each Team's Best/Worst Contracts & Their Effects on Free Agency

Jim MancariCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2016

NBA Free Agency: Each Team's Best/Worst Contracts & Their Effects on Free Agency

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    Each team in the NBA has contracts in which the deals look ingenious but also has contracts that it wishes it never made.

    Since the NBA has a stringent salary cap, every team needs to create a balance between talented players and players it can afford.

    Every player’s current contract is likely to have some impact on free agency.

    Here’s a look at each team’s best and worst contract and how free agency will be impacted by these deals.

    Special thanks to HoopsHype for each team’s salary information.

Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks' best contract right now is the five-year, $60 million deal given to Al Horford.

    Horford is an absolute beast and is worth much more than this sum. Since he’s still improving his game, the Hawks have him at a good price over the next five years.

    The worst contract on the team is Joe Johnson—not because of production, but because of cost.

    Johnson will make close to $20 million the next two years and will exceed that total the next three years.

    He’s played up to his contract in the playoffs, but the Hawks will need that kind of production all season for this contract to be worth it.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams will look to the example set by the Hawks in how they handled Horford by trying to lock up their young superstars to long-term deals that don’t necessarily break the bank.

    Also, as in Johnson’s case, a team may need to throw extra money at a talented player to keep him in town.

Boston Celtics

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    Glen Davis had the best contract this year for the Boston Celtics.

    “Big Baby” made $3.3 million but was an integral part of the Celtics bench.

    He’s a free agent this offseason and is set to cash in big, whether it is with Boston or another team that can afford him the chance to start.

    The worst contract this year was Shaquille O’Neal's, which actually wasn’t that bad of a deal.

    Shaq made $1.3 million, but the bad part of the deal is that it included a player option for next season.

    The Celtics may explore releasing the big man instead of exercising the option.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Some younger role players are ready to make it big in free agency, like Big Baby, while teams may look to the example of Shaq and avoid multi-year deals with aging stars.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    D.J. Augustin is due for a $1 million raise each of the next two seasons from his $2.5 million this year, which makes his deal the best on the Charlotte Bobcats.

    He began establishing himself as an impact player in the league, and he has the potential to get better. For under $5 million a season, the Bobcats are equipped with a budding point guard.

    DeSagana Diop is the owner of the Bobcats' worst contract.

    He will make on average $7 million the next two years, even though he averaged just 1.3 points per game this season.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Locking up young draft picks to affordable deals has become a theme in the NBA. However, teams will look at Diop’s deal and strongly consider the contracts they allot for reserve players.

Chicago Bulls

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    Derrick Rose made just $5.5 million this year, and all he did was win the league MVP award.

    Therefore, he is the easy selection for the Chicago Bulls' best contract. He’s due for a raise each of the next two seasons, which still will pay him less than what he’s worth.

    The Bulls' worst contract is Carlos Boozer.

    Boozer is productive when he’s on the court, but he was limited to just 59 games during the regular season. However, he has averaged close to a double-double per game during the playoffs.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    A team that realizes it has something special, like a Derrick Rose, would be wise to lock up that player right away.

    Meanwhile, looking to the example of Boozer, teams may be more skeptical when it comes to signing an injury-prone veteran to a lucrative multi-year deal.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Daniel Gibson has the best contract of all the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Gibson will make around $4.5 million each of the next two years, which undervalues what he means to the young Cavaliers team.

    On the other hand, Baron Davis not only has the worst contract on the Cavs, but his contract might be one of the worst in the league as well.

    He’ll make $14 million next season and close to $15 million the year after that. Here’s a guy who still has some gas left in the tank but has struggled with injuries and self-motivation.

    He at first did not even want to accept the trade that landed him with the Cavs, which is a move that calls into question his loyalty to his teammates.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Once again, teams will look to keep their young players right where they are. Based on the Baron Davis deal, teams may be reluctant to acquire high-priced talent that then hinders their spending for the next two years.

    Of course, the Cavs could try to move Davis, which would solve their problems, but finding a taker for the salary might be difficult.

Dallas Mavericks

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    There might not be a bench player that contributes more to his team than Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks.

    His energy and scoring ability off the bench make him a great value at $11 million per season. He’s played a key role in the Mavericks' run to the Western Conference Finals.

    Brendan Haywood is the team’s worst contract. He’ll make $7.6 million next season, which increases each year until his team option of $10.5 million in 2015-2016.

    Keep in mind he’s a backup center.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    A team may be willing to spend a little extra on a bench player who has the potential to control a game, like Terry.

    However, teams will also be wary of locking up backup players to long-term deals. Haywood is good insurance for Tyson Chandler, but $7.6 million is way too much.

Denver Nuggets

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    After the Carmelo Anthony trade that also included Chauncey Billups, the Denver Nuggets relied on young Ty Lawson to man the point guard.

    Lawson made only $1.5 million, which turned out to be the team’s best contract. What’s better is that Lawson is locked up for the next three years.

    Al Harrington is the team’s worst contract. He’ll make upwards of $7 million at the apex of his contract. The Nuggets tried to include him in a possible Melo deal, but no other team would budge.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Locking up youngsters is the key to building a successful franchise, but teams will look at a deal like Harrington’s and balk when basically unproven players ask for multiple years.

Detroit Pistons

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    Austin Daye is locked up for the next few years, which is a great sign since he showed the makings of being a productive NBA player.

    With Tayshaun Prince a candidate to leave via free agency, Daye’s role as a scorer will likely increase. At the price tag of under $2 million, the Detroit Pistons will get plenty of value out of Daye.

    The team’s worst contrast is Richard Hamilton. The former All-Star and NBA champion was relegated to a bench role this season and even went through stretches of multiple games where he didn’t play at all. He might get traded this offseason, but a team would have to take on his $12.65 million salary.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Austin Daye is a great example of being patient with draft picks and signing them to manageable multi-year deals. Free agency is also a time where a team may attempt to move a bad contract—like Hamilton’s—as it tries to rebuild.

Golden State Warriors

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    Stephen Curry’s contract is looking like a good one so far for the Golden State Warriors.

    Curry has $1 million raises each of the next three years that still won’t bring his salary above $5.5 million. Curry is a budding leader that the Warriors would love to keep their hands on long-term.

    Vladimir Radmanovic has the team’s worst contract.

    Is a player who averaged 15.8 minutes per game really worth $6.8 million? No way.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Curry joins the long list of draft picks that were locked up by their current teams to deals that give the team some flexibility. However, that flexibility must be used more wisely than on a player like Radmanovic.

Houston Rockets

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    Kyle Lowry began to come into his own this season, thus making him the Houston Rockets' best contract.

    Lowry will earn close to $6 million per season each of the next three years, which is a good price for a player that plays with such passion and energy.

    If it wasn’t for his injury troubles, Yao Ming would have a good contract, but since he was limited to just five games this year, Yao’s contract looks terrible.

    He’s a free agent, so it will be interesting to see what the Rockets do.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Sometimes, taking a chance on a role player pays off in finding a guy who can eventually start, as in the case of Lowry. Yao, meanwhile, has spent his entire career in Houston. His injury is expected to sideline him for some of next season as well, so where will the Rockets draw the line with their big center?

Indiana Pacers

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    Darren Collison emerged as an impact player down the stretch of the season for the Indiana Pacers, which helped them secure the final spot in the playoffs.

    The young energetic guard will be in line for $1 million increases the next three years. Still, he’ll be a great value for under $3.5 million.

    James Posey is the team’s worst contract. Posey isn’t the big-shot threat he once was, though he did provide good leadership to a young Pacers team.

    A contract of over $6 million seems a little high for the one-time sharpshooter.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    While depth is important, teams may look to better options than an aging player like Posey.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Blake Griffin has by far the best contract on the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Rookie of the Year was a human highlight reel all season, and for just $5.3 million. He’s due for raises the next three years but will still be a great value based on his production.

    The Clippers' worst contract is Chris Kaman.

    Kaman’s name has already been whispered in possible trade rumors as Los Angeles attempts to rid itself of the $12.2 million left on his contract.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Rather than gamble on this year’s free agent class at power forward/center, a team may opt to trade for Kaman, who is a productive player when healthy. The Clippers could fill multiple holes if Kaman’s salary is off the books.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Derek Fisher’s career might be winding down, but he’s still the Los Angeles Lakers' best value at $3.4 million the next two years.

    Though he’s overshadowed by the Lakers' other offensive weapons, he is still a leader on the court.

    Luke Walton is easily the Lakers' worst contract. Basically, the Lakers will pay $6 million the next two seasons so Bill Walton’s son can average 1.7 points per game.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Leadership is never overrated, which is why guys like Fisher will still have jobs. As for underachieving players like Walton, teams can find much cheaper options for the final few bench spots.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Defensive specialist Tony Allen is the best contract on the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Allen will make close to $3 million the next two seasons as the Grizzlies attempt to keep improving.

    Though an extremely productive player when healthy, Rudy Gay currently owns the Grizzlies' worst contract.

    He’s locked up for the next four years at over $15 million per year. However, if he fails to be the same player he was before his injury troubles, this deal will be a bust.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    There’s really no maximum price for good defense, and the Grizzlies got a steal in Allen.

    A situation like Gay’s is unfortunate both for him and the team, but more so for the team, who invested a ton of money in a player who at the time deserved the contract.

Miami Heat

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    The Miami Heat spent a tremendous sum of money to bring re-sign Dwyane Wade and sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

    Though the team had its ups and downs during the regular season, the playoffs have shown just how good these players can be together.

    All three of these contracts are the team’s best, especially if the Heat can win the NBA Finals.

    Mike Miller is the team’s worst contract, though he’s been hampered with injuries.

    Miller has four years and just under $16 million left on his deal.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams may look to the example of the “new big three” and try their best to assemble similar rosters, if they can remain within the confines of the salary cap.

    However, these type of teams may not be able to add bench players worth over $6 million, like the Heat have been able to do.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Carlos Delfino was deadly from downtown for the Milwaukee Bucks this season.

    For just $3.5 million, the Bucks will have a reliable bench scorer to give the team depth.

    Michael Redd was at one time one of the most underrated players in the NBA, but now he holds the title of the Bucks' worst contract.

    Redd made $18.3 million this year but only appeared in 10 games. He is scheduled to be a free agent, so the Bucks are likely prepared to let him walk.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams are always in search of diamonds in the rough like Delfino. Redd, on the other hand, will likely be looking elsewhere for work, and most likely on just a one-year deal at that.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Kevin Love is the obvious choice for the Minnesota Timberwolves' best contract.

    He will make $5 million and $6 million, respectively, each of the next two years, which is way less than what a player who recorded 53 straight double-doubles should be making.

    While Love’s contract is by far the best, Eddy Curry’s deal is by far the worst. The New York Knicks moved the $11 million left on the deal to make room for Carmelo Anthony’s salary.

    Luckily for the Timberwolves, Curry’s contract expired after this year, which is why they traded for him in the first place.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Smart drafting can lead to a player like Love. In addition, teams looking to shed payroll—like the Timberwolves with Curry—may have some room to work with.

New Jersey Nets

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    Brook Lopez currently has the best contract on the New Jersey Nets.

    He enjoyed his most successful season this year and earned just $2.4 million. Though the Nets may pursue Dwight Howard, Lopez is still a great option down low.

    Travis Outlaw signed a five-year, $35 million deal before last season, which has turned out to be the team’s worst contract.

    Outlaw struggled in a starter’s capacity but did have some big games off the bench for New Jersey.

    He will be very tough for the Nets to trade, so the team may have to just live with having an overpriced bench player.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams have to think twice before handing out multi-year deals to players like Outlaw who have been reserve players their whole careers.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Marco Belinelli had the best contract of all the New Orleans Hornets this year and is in line to make $3.3 million next year.

    With Chris Paul’s future uncertain, Belinelli will be a fixture in New Orleans for at least the next few seasons.

    The Hornets' worst contract was David West.

    Injury troubles cut West’s season short, which forced the Hornets to trade for Carl Landry to fill in at power forward.

    West has a $7.5 million player option on the table and will likely exercise it if he can’t find another home.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Though teams can’t really hold out for their reserve players to become major scoring options, Belinelli was the hybrid.

    Injuries are part of the game, so no one could have foreseen West’s injury before handing him the player option. The same will go for other teams wanting to add the option onto a new contract.

New York Knicks

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    Though Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were productive players, Toney Douglas has the best contract on the New York Knicks.

    For just over $1 million, the Knicks found themselves a go-to three-point threat. Douglas is due to earn a $1 million raise the next two years, and the Knicks may view him as a possible successor to Chauncey Billups if the team fails to lure Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

    Ronny Turiaf was the team’s worst contract towards the end of the season. However, Eddy Curry was the worst contract throughout the entire season.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Even teams with strong starting lineups—like the Knicks—must add solid bench players to create a balance that wins games.

    In Turiaf’s case, a team that makes a blockbuster deal will usually rely on one of its bench players to assume a starting role. Turiaf has a $4.3 million player option on the table that he is likely to exercise.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The best contract on the Oklahoma City Thunder is that of Serge Ibaka.

    Though he’s due for a raise the next three years, Ibaka has provided a defensive prowess matched by very few players.

    The worst contract on the Thunder is Nick Collison.

    Collison earned the most money of any player on the team, though he averaged less than five points a game during the regular season.

    His salary will actually decrease substantially, but he still will be overpaid.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Defensive players are a must for any contending team. If a team inherits a player with a ridiculous contract—like Collison—that team may opt to renegotiate the deal before the player hits free agency.

Orlando Magic

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    While Dwight Howard is the superstar face for the Orlando Magic, Brandon Bass owns the best contract.

    Bass averaged 11.2 points this season and served as a valuable role player for the Magic. He’ll make $4 million the next two seasons.

    Gilbert Arenas owns the worst Magic contract by leaps and bounds.

    He’ll earn upwards of $22 million once his contract expires.

    As a result, the Magic may look to trade Arenas in any deal involving Howard.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Role players are always very important to a team and can be had through free agency.

    Arenas’ contract is the type of deal that hinders a team from making any substantial acquisitions. Orlando will really have to search hard to find a taker.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Thaddeus Young is an exciting player when the ball is in his hands, making him the choice for the best contract on the Philadelphia 76ers.

    He’ll earn $4 million next year, which is a fair price to pay for the budding young talent.

    Andre Iguodala owns the worst contract, priced at close to $14 million next year and scheduled to increase.

    Iguodala may be a trade candidate, which would clear up some space for Philadelphia to explore other options with its roster.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams can never underestimate how crucial role players like Young are to success.

    Also, teams trying to make a splash in free agency will first have to move unwanted salaries before anything can get done.

Phoenix Suns

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    Channing Frye is quickly developing into one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA.

    He shoots exceptionally well for a big man and can even hit from beyond the arc.

    A price tag of $5.6 million next year is a steal for the Phoenix Suns.

    Josh Childress, however, has underperformed after signing a contract that will keep him in a Suns uniform through 2015.

    He averaged just 5.0 points per game this season.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Clutch shooters that come at a bargain price are few and far between.

    Childress had a few good years in Atlanta, but was it worth the length of the deal he signed with Phoenix?

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Nicolas Batum was well worth the price tag this season.

    Batum established himself as a starting-caliber player and even showed his versatility by coming off the bench.

    At just $2 million, Batum is a bargain.

    Marcus Camby holds the Portland Trail Blazers' worst contract.

    He’s due to earn $9.2 million next year, even though his production has slipped big time.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    It might be time for teams to stay away from the aging stars like Camby and develop their young studs like Batum.

Sacramento Kings

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    Tyreke Evans has a chance to be something special.

    With a salary increase scheduled each of the next three seasons, Evans is still paid way under what he’s worth to the Sacramento Kings.

    While Beno Udrih had a solid season, it wasn’t so great that it deserved $6.6 million.

    He’s also due to make $7.2 million next year—making this deal the team’s worst contract.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Talents like Evans don’t come around too often, so teams must be sure to lock up these players.

    Teams should stay away from unproven players when handing out multi-year contracts.

San Antonio Spurs

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    DeJuan Blair is a candidate for the best contract in the game.

    The San Antonio Spurs paid him less than $1 million this season to average 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

    He provided great minutes as a starter and physical presence that wore down opponents.

    Richard Jefferson has the team’s worst contract. Jefferson used to be the star in New Jersey and Milwaukee but has found himself as more of a role player in San Antonio.

    He’s adjusted well, but his salary of close to $10 million still mirrors that of a major force.

    With Tim Duncan’s career winding down, the Spurs may rely more on Jefferson offensively.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Sometimes a team can catch lightning in a bottle, so it might have to take risks, like a DeJuan Blair.

    As a player’s age increases, he’s relied on less and less as a team’s major scoring option in most cases. Such has been the story with Jefferson.

Toronto Raptors

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    DeMar DeRozan is the Toronto Raptors' best contract. The high-flying slam dunker is a high-energy player who will earn around $3 million the next few years.

    The Raptors will attempt to rebuild around him and Andrea Bargnani.

    Though Jose Calderon averaged near a double-double, there’s no way he’s worth almost $10 million per season.

    He would be a nice complementary player on a better team but has been forced into a major role with the Raptors.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Calderon did not have much of a track record, so teams may look to this example and be skeptical about handing out lucrative deals to unproven players.

Utah Jazz

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    Paul Millsap’s deal is looking like the best contract on the Utah Jazz.

    He will be looked at the leader of the team now that Deron Williams plays for the Nets. For $6-7 million the next two years, that is a steal for this impact player.

    The worst contract is that of Derrick Favors.

    Favors came over from the Nets in the Williams deal. He is scheduled for some hefty salary increases over the next few years.

    If he plays like he’s capable, then the contract will not be a bust. However, that’s a lot of money to be paying a backup power forward.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    Teams always try to lock up a top-five draft pick to a long-term deal right away. The Nets did so with Favors, but now it’s Utah’s problem.

Washington Wizards

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    JaVale McGee is going to be a solid NBA player. He’s already shown signs of greatness in his young career and has a bright future ahead.

    He will make $2.4 million and $3.4 million the next two seasons, and if he keeps up his pace of development, the Wizards will have a bargain on their hands.

    On the other hand, Rashard Lewis owns one of the worst contracts in the NBA.

    He made almost four times the salary of any other Wizard this year. Granted, he was part of the trade that sent another bad contract—Gilbert Arenas—to the Magic.

    The kicker with Lewis is that he will make $22 million next year. That’s a huge sum of money for 11.7 points per game.


    How It’ll Impact Free Agency

    The Wizards may look to explore a trade for Lewis. It won’t be easy, but freeing up that amount of money could do wonders for a Washington team that is rebuilding.

    The team could easily sign two or three quality players with the money owed to Lewis. However, it also might have to eat some of Lewis’ contract to get a deal done.

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