The Absolute Worst Contract from Every NBA Team

John FrielAnalyst IJuly 28, 2011

The Absolute Worst Contract from Every NBA Team

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    Whether out of desperation or just a deal gone wrong, every NBA team has a player signed on its roster that it would probably like to give back or have a chance to do the contract over again.

    Not every team can be perfect when it comes to signing an All-Star or your average role player because you just can't judge how well they'll play once you sign them.

    They could either have sudden injury concerns, have struggles integrating with the team or just plain got overpaid for having one good season, as in the case of a player like Jerome James, who had a quality postseason one year and was then given $30 million to do relatively nothing for the rest of his career.

    It's a tough job signing the right players and giving them the right amount of money for their role on the team. Obviously the superstars will get the correct amount of money, but even they could get paid too much.

    Take, for instance, Baron Davis, who was making $16 million for a season despite never leading any of his teams past the semifinals. Organizations will get desperate when looking for a player to lead the way, as happened in the case of Davis and the Warriors, or even today with Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks.

    Constructing this article depressed me in so many ways because it made me realize just how easy making millions of dollars can be in the sporting world. There are players that are playing less than 20 minutes per game and riding the bench for the majority of the season that are making nearly $10 million a season, and it's really surprising to see just how badly some organizations just throw their money around without a care.

    Before I sadden myself even more, let's just get this started, shall we?

    You can follow John Friel on twitter @JohnFtheheatgod.

Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson

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    The contract: Five years, $107.4 million

    Let's start this off with a bang with one of the worst contracts in sporting history.

    With the hysteria surrounding the 2010 offseason, where Joe Johnson was one of many All-Stars up for grabs, the Atlanta Hawks decided they didn't want to lose out on their star player.

    Instead of convincing Johnson to sign for less and then signing a few role players to help the Hawks exceed in a tough Eastern Conference, the team decided to put all of its eggs in one basket by signing Johnson to a max deal worth $120 million over six years, making him the 10th-highest-paid player last season.

    The Hawks captured a fifth seed and advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive season. Johnson, however, had his worst statistical season since 2004-05 by averaging only 19 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field. Possibly the worst stat was his three-point shooting percentage, which dropped from 37 percent the previous season to an unheralded 30 percent, the lowest since his rookie season.

Boston Celtics: Jermaine O'Neal

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    The contract: One year, $6.2 million

    Jermaine O'Neal is being paid about $5.2 million too many. He's a veteran that deserves the veteran's minimum and nothing more.

    O'Neal had the worst season of his career since his early years as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, when he barely received playing time. He was injured for most of the season and only played in 24 games, starting in 10 when Shaquille O'Neal began suffering from nagging injuries. O'Neal hardly provided any sort of support, as he went on to average five points and four rebounds per game.

    It beats the $23 million he was paid in 2009-10.

Charlotte Bobcats: DeSagana Diop

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    The contract: Two years, $14 million

    Possibly the most mind-boggling contract in the NBA today, Kwame Brown's backup DeSagana Diop is being paid better than $6 million per year.

    He has never averaged better than three points or six rebounds in a season and has only played in 43 games over the past two seasons. He barely made any appearances this past season, as he showed up in only 16 games, played on average 11 minutes per game and averaged a solid one point and two rebounds per contest.

    It's not surprising to see this from the Bobcats considering that I actually had to decide between Diop and a few other players on who had the worst contract.

Chicago Bulls: Luol Deng

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    The contract: Three years, $39.9 million

    A solid role player, but a role player nonetheless.

    Since being signed to a lucrative contract three seasons ago, Luol Deng has performed below expectations and has yet to match the season he had in 2006-07, when he averaged a career high of 19 points per game.

    Deng has been solid over the past two seasons, averaging around 17 points, six rebounds and two assists per game, but it's certainly not worth the $11 million that he was paid last season as a third scoring option.

    For $40 million over the next three seasons, the Chicago Bulls could have done a lot better.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Baron Davis

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    The contract: Two years, $27 million, including a $14.8 million player option.

    Baron Davis has had a lengthy history of being paid way too much for doing too little, and it continues with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Davis has been paid $10 million-plus over the past eight seasons yet has never gone as far as the semifinals. He was paid $13 million last year by the Los Angeles Clippers and had near career lows statistically by only averaging 13 points and seven assists per game between his time with the Clippers and Cavaliers.

    He's not going to save the Cavaliers franchise in any way and could be on the outs so that the team avoids paying Davis a few more millions.

    Davis has made $117 million in 12 years despite only making it on to two All-Star teams. How do you feel about your life at this moment?

Dallas Mavericks: Brendan Haywood

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    The contract: Five years, $45.3 million, with a $10 million team option in 2015-16.

    The Dallas Mavericks didn't make too many mistakes last season aside from their biggest signing of the 2010 offseason.

    The team gave Brendan Haywood over $50 million over six seasons and then promptly gave him backup duties behind the more apt center in Tyson Chandler.

    Haywood was the cream of the crop when it came to centers during last year's offseason, and with many teams going after him, the Mavericks wanted to make completely sure that they had some depth at the center position. They got their man but drastically overpaid for a backup who had only averaged over 10 points per game once over a 10-year career.

    Haywood averaged four points and five rebounds per game last year.

Denver Nuggets: Al Harrington

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    The contract: Four years, $27.6 million

    It certainly isn't the $10 million that he was making with the New York Knicks the previous season, but $6 million for a player of Al Harrington's caliber is still too much.

    Harrington spent the majority of his first season with the Denver Nuggets coming off the bench as a combo forward. The 22 minutes per game was his lowest since the 1999-00 season, which was also only his second year in the league. He only managed 10 points per game on 42 percent shooting, while also contributing five rebounds and an assist per contest.

    It's not too bad of a contract, but it's easily the worst on the Denver Nuggets. There's no reason for the Nuggets to play upwards of $6 million per year for a player who's set to only play 20 minutes per contest.

Detroit Pistons: Ben Gordon

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    The deal: Three years, $37.2 million, with a $13.2 million team option in 2013-14

    The Detroit Pistons might have given former Chicago Bull guard Ben Gordon a little more than he should have received, but could you really blame them?

    They were desperate for an offensive threat, and there aren't many players in the league that can score as prolifically as Gordon, who had averaged 20 PPG, converted on two three-pointers per game and connected on 41 percent of his shots from deep the season before.

    But then he started playing, and he didn't seem to be the player the Pistons signed. The team chose to have Gordon as a sixth man rather than starting him as he did in his final year with the Bulls. Gordon still averaged 28 minutes per contest in his first season with Detroit but averaged only 14 points per game on 42 percent shooting to go along with a career low of 32 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

    Gordon's numbers continued to drop last season, as he set a new career low of only 11 points per game. He only attempted nine shots per contest and converted on 44 percent of them. For $10 million plus off the bench, the Pistons need to start seeing some sort of production from their investment.

Golden State Warriors: Andris Biedrins

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    The contract: Three years, $27 million, with a $9 million team option in 2013-14

    Another investment gone wrong. The Golden State Warriors haven't made a decision this bad since giving away Robert Parish.

    At 22 years old and only in his fifth NBA season, Andris Biedrins averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. This came a year after he led the league in field-goal percentage at 63 percent, while also averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    With centers being so difficult to come by these days, the Warriors automatically assumed they had a diamond in the rough and decided to sign the Latvian product to a lucrative deal where he would earn $9 million per season.

    Turns out it hasn't worked out thus far. Biedrins has been plagued with injuries and has played in 92 games over the past two seasons, with neither being that impressive. He's averaged five points per game over the past two seasons, hasn't averaged more than eight rebounds per and recently failed to average a block per game for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

Houston Rockets: Hasheem Thabeet

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    The contract: Three years, $19.9 million, with a $6.4 million team option in 2012-13 and a $8.4 million qualifying offer in 2013-14

    He's played in 115 games over his first two years in the NBA, and Hasheem Thabeet has already somehow made nearly $10 million and could be making more in the very near future.

    With a qualifying offer worth over $8 million, the former No. 2 pick could be in for a lucrative deal as soon as 2013 or even sooner with the team option worth $6 million set to be offered next season. The Houston Rockets are a desperate team too considering that they just lost Yao Ming to retirement and now have no centers that they can truly rely on.

    Thabeet hasn't exactly proven that he was worth a No. 2 pick either, as he has spent just as much time on the bench and in the D-League as actually playing NBA basketball. With the Rockets set to start Thabeet as soon as next season, perhaps there is a chance that he could be a quality defensive center.

    After all, he did average a block per game in only 13 minutes per in his rookie season.

Indiana Pacers: James Posey

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    The contract: One year, $6.9 million

    I wish my parents forced me to play the game of basketball at an early age. Apparently you can average 17 minutes per game and still make $7 million per season.

    Indiana Pacers forward James Posey basically watched basketball for over half an hour 82 times and got paid upwards of $7 million for it. He only played in 49 games last season and barely made any sort of positive impact when he was on the floor, considering that he averaged a career-low five points per game and even hit it lower when he shot an embarrassing 34 percent from the field overall to go along with 32 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

    But don't worry, Pacer fans—you still have this gem signed for another season.

Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Kaman

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    The contract: One year, $12.2 million

    In 2009-10, Chris Kaman averaged 19 points and nine rebounds per game while making a little more than $10 million and playing in 76 games.

    Now Kaman could be on the way out after another injury-plagued season where former backup DeAndre Jordan proved to be a more reliable and healthy option at the 5 spot.

    The 2003 lottery pick by the Los Angeles Clippers only played in 32 games last season and saw his numbers drop to 12 points and seven rebounds per game. Even with Kaman being one of the league's better offensive producers at center, it seems that he might not be worth it to a Clippers team that's building on young talent.

    This is the third time in four seasons that Kaman has struggled with injuries. He only played in 56 games in 2007-08, 31 the next season and only 32 this most recent year. With Kaman set to make upwards of $12 million next season, the Clippers are either going to hope that he comes back stronger than ever or find a team that is desperate enough to trade for him.

Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum

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    The contract: Two years, $31 million, including a team option in 2012-13 worth $16 million

    I can't be the only one to think this, but I just can't see Andrew Bynum being the type of player that Dwight Howard is even though he's being paid Dwight Howard money.

    The Los Angeles Lakers have invested a lot of time and money in Bynum and haven't seen many results aside from a few headaches and a number of injury-plagued seasons. In five of his first six seasons at the professional level, Bynum has failed to play in more than 65 games, and he is recently coming off a season where he only played in 54 games after missing the majority of the first half of the season.

    Bynum's numbers took a severe drop as well, as he only averaged 11 points and nine rebounds per game.

    I'm still not convinced that Bynum is the center of the future, even though I rated him the second-best center in the NBA by default, but there's obviously something I don't know that the Lakers organization has seen in the 23-year-old.

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Jr.

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    The contract: Five years, $40.1 million

    In time, perhaps Mike Conley Jr. can start living up to the $8 million he's making every season, but for now he's just another overpaid point guard.

    The Memphis Grizzlies have invested a lot in their point guard, and they have seen improvement year after year from him. From only starting at nine points and four assists per game in his rookie season, he most recently averaged 14 points and seven assists per while displaying the reason why he was taken with the fourth pick in 2007.

    He's a sound player who doesn't make too many mistakes, but he's average compared to the number of quality point guards that nearly every team in the league seems to have today.

Miami Heat: Joel Anthony

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    The contract: Four years, $13 million

    I don't care how many MVP chants Joel Anthony gets—he's nowhere near worth the amount of money that he is currently being paid.

    Pat Riley and the Heat organization did everything right last summer besides signing Anthony to a deal much less than the $15 million that they are set to give away over five years.

    Joel is a terrific defensive player and is averaging two blocks per game per 36 minutes, but he's quite possibly the worst offensive player to ever step onto an NBA court. He's inept near the paint, and the team is lucky enough to actually see Joel catch the ball without him turning it over.

    For $16 million, the Heat could have either signed Anthony for less or signed a more competent player that could play offense as well as defense.

Milwaukee Bucks: Drew Gooden

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    The contract: Four years, $26.3 million

    Drew Gooden is now on his ninth team in only eight seasons, and I can bet that the Milwaukee Bucks won't be a team that he'll spend a lengthy tenure with, so offering him a four-year deal will probably be a mistake that the Bucks will regret later on—especially when they see Gooden's numbers after one year with the team.

    He only played in 35 games, starting in 18 of them, and played near his average by scoring 11 points per game to go with seven rebounds per. Gooden has always been recognized as a solid role player as the Bucks now get a piece of him.

    Only six more teams and Gooden will have been on half of the teams in the league.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Martell Webster

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    The contract: Two years, $11 million, including a team option in 2012-13 worth $5.7 million

    Leave it to the Minnesota Timberwolves to offer a player nearly $5 million per year that doesn't exactly deserve it.

    It's not too horrid of a contract considering Webster actually did pretty well last year, averaging 10 points per game and hitting 42 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, but it still doesn't exactly mean that we're going to continue seeing production like this from the 24-year-old. He played in 46 games last season and was utilized as a defensive presence that could shoot from anywhere on the court as well.

    As soon as he begins putting up 10 points per game, I can guarantee that the Wolves offer him an even worse deal.

New Jersey Nets: Travis Outlaw

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    The contract: Three years, $21 million

    The deal that Travis Outlaw currently has with the New Jersey Nets is the exact result of a team getting desperate. After striking out with most of the top-tier free agents in the summer of 2010, the Nets got desperate and needed to make some sort of big splash. Their biggest signing of the summer turned out to be Outlaw, who the team decided to give $7 million to every year for four seasons.

    Outlaw was only making $4 million with the Los Angeles Clippers the previous season.

    He had a few solid years with the Portland Trail Blazers, when he averaged 13 points per game for two consecutive seasons, but has struggled over the two years since then, including his first season with the Nets. Outlaw only managed nine points per game on an abysmal 38 percent from the field, while also hitting only 30 percent of his three-point attempts despite receiving the most minutes he's ever been given as a player in the league.

New York Knicks: Ronny Turiaf

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    The contract: One year, $4.3 million

    It's not much of a deal, but it's still well more than what Ronny Turiaf should be making considering that the New York Knicks start him and then quickly send him to the bench.

    Blame it on the Golden State Warriors for giving him the deal in the first place. Turiaf's career high remains at seven points and five rebounds per game, and he recently had career lows in just about every category in his first season with the Knicks. Turiaf only averaged four points and three rebounds per game while playing on average 18 minutes a night.

    In a league where a quality center is hard to come by, teams tend to get desperate, and this is a perfect example of it.

New Orleans Hornets: Emeka Okafor

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    The contract: Three years, $40 million

    Emeka Okafor is a solid center and not much else, so the New Orleans Hornets seemed to have gotten a little too hasty when signing him to a five-year deal worth over $60 million.

    It makes it even worse considering that Okafor has had his two worst statistical seasons as a member of the Hornets. Unlike Charlotte, where he averaged a double-double all four years of playing there, Okafor has failed to average anything more than 11 points or 10 rebounds per game.

    His offensive role on the team has greatly diminished, as Okafor only becomes recognized as a third scoring option in the starting lineup behind David West and Chris Paul.

    Okafor did manage to have a career high in shooting percentage last season at 57 percent. The Hornets could still find better to do with $12 million per year than to just give it all to Okafor.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Kendrick Perkins

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    The contract: Four years, $32.6 million

    Just another example of a center signing gone wrong, Kendrick Perkins will soon be making better than $7 million per game just for playing defense and the occasional offensive outburst.

    Perkins is coming off an injury-plagued season where he split 29 games between the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder while struggling with both teams. Perkins was given the immediate start with the Thunder but failed to make any sort of significant impact, as he went on to average five points and eight rebounds per game.

    He's a quality big man to have in the middle, and he's known to frustrate and keep players out of the paint, but it's not worth the $7 million-plus he'll be getting paid over the next four seasons.

    Perkins rounds out one of the top starting lineups in the NBA, but he finds himself the second-highest-paid player on the team only behind Kevin Durant.

Orlando Magic: Gilbert Arenas

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    The contract: Three years, $62.3 million, with a team option in 2012-13 worth $20.8 million

    There were so many bad contracts on this team that I didn't know where to start. I could have gone with Hedo Turkoglu and his $10 million per year or J.J. Redick and his $6 million per, but I decided to go with the most obvious choice in Gilbert Arenas.

    The fifth-highest-paid player in basketball, Arenas hasn't been the same since injury and legal troubles prevented him from playing. For a three-year stretch between 2007 and 2010, Arenas only played in 47 games, and he is just now getting back into playing shape.

    He played in 49 games for the Magic last season as a bench player and was extremely disappointing, averaging eight points per game on 34 percent overall shooting and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

    Apparently Arenas isn't being utilized correctly since he can't get into any sort of flow in such a short amount of time, but he could probably average 25 or 30 points per game and still not live up to that contract.

Philadelphia 76ers: Andres Nocioni

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    The contract: Two years, $14.1 million including a team option in 2012-13 worth $7.5 million

    An embarrassment of a contract that Andres Nocioni currently possesses with a team that absolutely refused to play him by the end of the season.

    The Sixers recently signed Nocioni to a deal where he would be making around $7 million per year so that they could get some depth on an already deep bench. It wasn't too bad of an idea either, considering that Nocioni had gone four consecutive seasons averaging over 11 points per game in stints on and off the bench.

    Since those days, however, he has greatly struggled with his shot and hasn't nearly made the same impact as when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls.

    This past season, Nocioni only averaged 17 minutes per contest and went on to score six points per to go along with three rebounds per contest. He also shot 43 percent from the field overall and converted on 36 percent of his three-point attempts.

Phoenix Suns: Josh Childress

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    The contract: Four years, $27 million, including a player option in 2014-15 worth $7.3 million

    Not exactly sure why the Phoenix Suns are giving up over $6 million per year to a player who doesn't fit in their system, but they made their bed, and they now have to lie in it and give it millions upon millions of dollars for another four years.

    After a short stint in Europe, Childress made his triumphant return to the States. While he played here prior to leaving for Greece, Josh was a solid role player on a few bad Atlanta Hawk teams, where he had averaged at least 10 points per game for the four years that he did play there.

    His first year with the Phoenix Suns would be one that he and the Suns organization would like to forget.

    Only receiving 17 minutes per game off the bench, Childress averaged a grotesque five points and three rebounds per game. His stats all took significant shots, including his free-throw percentage, which somehow dropped from 81 percent the last time he played in the NBA to 49 percent.

Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy

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    The contract: Four years, $68.3 million, including a player option in 2013-14 worth $17.8 million and a team option in 2014-15 worth $19.2 million

    Tough to blame the Portland Trail Blazers on this one since it did appear that Brandon Roy was set to be the NBA's next elite player. It's one of the league's greatest disappointments, and now the Blazers must deal with giving an injured player over $13 million for another three seasons.

    Prior to the injury that limited him to only 47 games last year, Roy was having terrific statistical seasons with the Blazers, as he set career highs and consistently led the team to the postseason. He was averaging over 21 points per game, shooting above 47 percent and hitting some of the most clutch shots anyone had ever seen.

    Now suffering from serious injuries that could limit his performance for the rest of his career, Roy doesn't seem to have the same game that he had prior to last season. He only averaged 12 points per game on 40 percent shooting to go along with only three rebounds and three assists per. It's a tough blow for the Blazers to lose a player like Roy after dealing with the injury troubles of another would-be star in Greg Oden.

Sacramento Kings: Francisco Garcia

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    The contract: Three years, $18.3 million, including a team option in 2013-14 worth $6.4 million

    Not really sure what the Sacramento Kings were thinking here, but it's contracts like this that are causing the team to move out of its current location.

    After one impressive season where he averaged a career high of 13 points per game, the Kings decided to give Francisco Garcia a little more than $5 million per year. Garcia then responded by getting injured and only playing in 25 games the next year and 58 this most previous year.

    He struggled all year long with his shot, as he only managed to score 10 points per game on 43 percent shooting to go along with two rebounds and an assist per.

    This was not one of the Kings' smartest investments, as they currently see $6 million go to a player that can't play defense and can't score over 10 points per game.

San Antonio Spurs: Richard Jefferson

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    The contract: Three years, $30.5 million, including a player option in 2013-14 worth $11 million

    The San Antonio Spurs weren't too big on making mistakes when it came to signing players until they came across Richard Jefferson. Maybe it was something Jefferson said, because the Spurs responded by giving nearly $10 million a year to a player who was going to be 30 the season after they re-signed him.

    The $10 million might have been a good deal for a player that actually causes some sort of major impact in a game, but not for a role player like Jefferson, who is a third or fourth scoring option for most of the time he's on the floor. This past year, he averaged a near career low of 11 points per game to go along with four rebounds and only one assist per.

    Jefferson also only attempted eight shots per game last season, the fewest shots he's taken since his rookie year.

Toronto Raptors: Amir Johnson

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    The contract: Four years, $25 million

    He's not exactly Chris Bosh, and he probably won't be, but the Toronto Raptors still signed Amir Johnson to a deal where he nearly gets Chris Bosh type of money.

    After five seasons where he failed to average anything more than seven points or five rebounds per game, the Raptors decided to invest in their power forward of the future by giving him well more than $5 million per year.

    He was even given the start for most of the season and responded by averaging a little less than 10 points and six rebounds per game. He's a quality post player, but not much else, as it seems that the Raptors might have overspent on Johnson.

    Not to mention that the Raptors are currently considering starting Ed Davis at power forward and not Johnson.

Utah Jazz: Mehmet Okur

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    The contract: One year, $10.9 million

    The Utah Jazz can finally breathe a sign of relief now that they don't have to pay Mehmet Okur another $10 million for another mediocre season.

    Last season, Okur was paid $9.9 million to ride the bench and play in only 13 games after dealing with nagging injuries. In the 13 games that he did play, Okur didn't do much to live up to the lucrative deal after only averaging five points on 35 percent shooting to go along with two rebounds. The 31 percent shooting from beyond the arc was nearly a career low as well.

    We're not sure why Okur got this money in the first place considering that he will be entering the sixth year of a deal that has been giving him at least $7.5 million since he signed there prior to the start of the 2004-05 campaign.

Washington Wizards: Rashard Lewis

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    The contract: Two years, $45.8 million

    Saving the best for last, Rashard Lewis easily has the worst contract in NBA history.

    A quality three-point shooter and not much else, Lewis will be making better than $20 million for each of the next two seasons and will most likely fail to average 15 points and five rebounds per game.

    After giving Lewis a deal where he would be making better than $15 million every year for six seasons, the Orlando Magic decided that they had enough of his contract and his mediocre play and gave him away to the Washington Wizards.

    Lewis played in just 32 games with the Wizards last season and only averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game. His three-point shooting percentage also dropped to 35 percent, as he had his worst statistical seasons since his second year in the league in 2000.