Every NBA Team's Best and Worst Value Contract

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 24, 2022

Every NBA Team's Best and Worst Value Contract

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 08: Wizards Guard Bradley Beal speaks during a press conference at Capitol One Arena in Washington, DC, on July 08, 2022. (Photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
    Bradley Beal (Craig Hudson for The Washington P)ost via Getty Images

    A couple of decades ago, the amount of money NBA teams now guarantees to their players would've been unimaginable.

    This summer, Nikola Jokic signed a five-year, $264 million extension which is the biggest in league history. By the end of this deal, his career earnings will be $421.4 million through 13 seasons.

    Shaquille O'Neal made $292.2 million over 19 seasons.

    Not all the massive contracts handed out in the last few years are to two-time MVPs in their mid-20s, though.

    Plenty of deals signed since the infamous 2016 cap spike have aged horribly. A number on the books right now figures to be problems in the near future (if they aren't already).

    Team-building in the NBA is hard. The nature of the collective bargaining agreement almost forces teams to overpay in a lot of instances. The teams that are consistently successful are the ones that nail the moves on the margins.

    And every front office has its share of hits and misses.

    This slideshow is about both sides of that coin. Every team's biggest hit and biggest miss (not including first-year, rookie-scale contracts). In other words, every team's best and worst value contracts.

Atlanta Hawks

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    ATLANTA, GA - JULY 1: Dejounte Murray of the Atlanta Hawks talks to the media during the introductory draft press conference on July 1, 2022 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Dejounte Murray (two years, $34.3 million)

    The 2022-23 salary cap is set at $123.7 million, so Dejounte Murray's $16.6 million salary only takes up just over a tenth of the Atlanta Hawks' space. Next season, he's under contract for $17.7 million, and the cap should go up again (as it has in most recent seasons).

    That's absurd value for a player who just averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals, while significantly boosting the offense, defense and effective field-goal percentage of his team.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Clint Capela (three years, $61 million)

    There aren't really any bad value contracts on the Atlanta Hawks' roster, so we have to settle on the worst good one.

    Clint Capela's $18.6 million salary this season doesn't take much more space than Murray's, and his rim-running and -protecting is still valuable.

    The potential downside may come in the final year of the deal, when he'll make $22.3 million in 2024-25. Players of his archetype are heavily reliant on explosiveness, and if the injury problems that limited his availability in the two seasons prior to 2022-23 resurface, Atlanta may be looking to unload him.

Boston Celtics

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    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 12: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball while being guarded by Malcolm Brogdon #7 of the Indiana Pacers in the first quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 12, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Jayson Tatum (four years, $97.8 million)

    Having the superstar who's yet to qualify for the supermax is sort of the sweet spot for individual contracts, and that's exactly where Jayson Tatum is (though he may be on track for a supermax extension in 2024).

    Until then, having a wing who can defend multiple positions, consistently score in the mid to high 20s and create a little for teammates at Tatum's current price is a great value.


    Worst Value Contract: Malcolm Brogdon (three years, $67.6 million)

    Boston probably doesn't have any terrible contracts, but it's a little easier to go with Malcolm Brogdon than it was with Capela. Durability is the key.

    After appearing in 75 games as a rookie, Brogdon has averaged just 51.6 games per season since then.

Brooklyn Nets

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Ben Simmons attends Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics game at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 23, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
    James Devaney/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Nic Claxton (two years, $17.3 million)

    Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are contenders for this spot. When they play, they bring a ton of value. After the last few years, though, it's just hard to know how often they'll actually be on the floor.

    Instead, we'll bet on the youth, athleticism and upside of 23-year-old Nic Claxton.

    He's already a solid rim-runner, and according to Dunks and Threes' estimated plus-minus, an above-average defender.

    Being able to pay a starting 5 with room to grow less than $10 million a year is a steal.


    Worst Value Contract: Ben Simmons (three years, $113.7 million)

    Even on a team with KD and Kyrie, Ben Simmons is somehow the biggest mystery.

    If he comes back at 90 to 95 percent of the player he was a couple years ago, this deal is probably fine. But after missing an entire season with back and mental health concerns, it's impossible to know whether that happens.

Charlotte Hornets

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    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 29: Cody Martin #11 and Gordon Hayward #20 of the Charlotte Hornets celebrate in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 29, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Cody Martin (four years, $31.4 million, with $22.7 million guaranteed)

    FiveThirtyEight's player projection system pegs Cody Martin's five-year market value at $65.7 million, and the Charlotte Hornets are set to pay him less than $8 million a season (on average) through 2025-26. The last year isn't even guaranteed.

    That's excellent value for a multipositional defender who brings some point forward skills and shot 38.4 percent from three last season.


    Worst Value Contract: Gordon Hayward (two years, $61.6 million)

    If there was any confidence in Gordon Hayward being able to play 70-plus games in a season, his deal might be palatable, but he hasn't eclipsed that mark since 2018-19, when he mostly came off the bench and only averaged 25.9 minutes.

    In the three seasons since then, he's averaged 33.1 minutes per game and just 48.3 appearances per year.

    His basic numbers over that stretch (17.7 points, 3.9 assists and 1.8 threes with a 39.6 three-point percentage), while solid, are a little underwhelming for a player making over $30 million per year, too.

Chicago Bulls

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 22: Alex Caruso #6 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles the ball during Round 1 Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks on April 22, 2022 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Alex Caruso (three years, $28.4 million)

    Alex Caruso is among the game's best perimeter defenders, and that value has shown up in his on-off numbers.

    His teams have been better when he plays in all but his rookie campaign. Last season, the Chicago Bulls were plus-5.5 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor and minus-2.7 when he was off.

    And while his three-point percentage fell off from the 40.1 percent he hit in 2020-21, his playmaking took a step forward.

    If that outside shooting comes back, this is one of the better value deals in the league.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Nikola Vucevic (one year, $22 million)

    As is the case with the Hawks, there isn't really a bad contract here. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are making plenty of money, but both are scoring like bona fide No. 1 options.

    Nikola Vucevic stands out as someone who may not live up to his 2022-23 salary (if he posts another below-average true shooting percentage), but he's on an expiring contract.

    If forced to pick one, it's probably Vuc, but you can certainly defend his deal.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Jarrett Allen #31 of the Cleveland Cavaliers prepares to shoot a free throw during the game against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2022 Play-In Tournament on April 15, 2022 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Jarrett Allen (four years, $80 million)

    Jarrett Allen is a bona fide All-Star, who was a huge part of the Cleveland Cavaliers' better-than-expected 2021-22.

    His impact isn't on par with someone like Rudy Gobert, but he's in that archetype and only 24 years old.

    And yet, his 2022-23 salary ranks well outside the top 50. As the cap goes up, that mark is only going to become more manageable.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Donovan Mitchell (four years, $134.9 million, with $37.1 million as a player option in 2025-26)

    The Cavs are another team without a truly bad contract, but if we want to force it, we'll go with Donovan Mitchell.

    If they have to pay him max money for a year or two of Tier 2 play in the East before his desire to be a New York Knick resurfaces, it'll be easy to relitigate the trade that brought him to Cleveland.

Dallas Mavericks

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 10: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks high fives Davis Bertans #44 of the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Luka Doncic (five years, $215.2 million)

    There's no use overthinking this one. Luka Doncic has "best player in the world" potential. He's already a contender for that crown, and his five-year market value in FiveThirtyEight's projection system is $402.4 million.

    Even on a max, he's a bargain.


    Worst Value Contract: Dāvis Bertāns (three years, $49 million, with $38 million guaranteed)

    Dāvis Bertāns signed his big contract after a 2019-20 campaign in which he averaged 15.4 points and 3.7 threes, while shooting 42.4 percent from deep. He looked very much like he could be one of the league's best floor spacers.

    A slight dip in efficiency on that front, lack of ancillary contributions and below-average defense have made the deal age horribly, though.

    As a dedicated floor spacer alongside Luka for a full season, he might get back to the level he was on in 2019-20, but he's also entering his mid- to late-prime. We may have already seen his peak.

Denver Nuggets

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    PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - SEPTEMBER 03: Nikola Jokic of Serbia   during the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 group D match between Czech Republic and Serbia at O2 Arena Prague on September 3, 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Pedja Milosavljevic/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
    Pedja Milosavljevic/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Nikola Jokic (six years, $304.5 million, with a $61.9 million player option in 2027-28)

    While Doncic has "best in the world" potential, Nikola Jokic is arguably already there. His $440.7 million five-year market value is the highest in FiveThirtyEight's system.

    And as long as his scoring, playmaking, rebounding and defense is in Denver, the Nuggets will be competitive.


    Worst Value Contract: Michael Porter Jr. (five years, $179.3 million, with $150.5 million guaranteed)

    If Michael Porter Jr. can stay healthy for the duration of this deal, it'll be a solid value for the Nuggets.

    In 2020-21, he averaged 19.0 points and 2.8 threes, while shooting 44.5 percent from three in just 31.3 minutes. That kind of shooting is a heck of a weapon for a Jokic-run team.

    The problem, of course, is that there's no way to assume decent health for MPJ. He missed most of his freshman season in college, all of what would've been his rookie season in the NBA and most of 2021-22 with back problems.

    If those persist to the same degree (or even if they're marginally better), this contract has a chance to be a disaster.

Detroit Pistons

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 29: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on March 29, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 130-123. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Alec Burks (two years, $20.5 million, with a $10.5 million team option)

    There aren't a ton of non-rookie deals to choose from here, but Alec Burks is more than just a default pick.

    After eight years of below-average play (at least according to box plus/minus), Burks has quietly become a difference-making combo guard over the last three seasons.

    Not only can he play and defend both backcourt spots, he's averaged 13.1 points, 2.7 assists and 1.9 threes, while shooting 40.1 percent from three during that span.


    Worst Value Contract: Marvin Bagley III (three years, $37.5 million)

    It's way too early render a judgment on Marvin Bagley III, but if his next three years are at the same level as the last three, this will be a bad deal.

    Over that span, Bagley has a below-replacement-level box plus/minus that ranks 339th among the 376 players with at least 1,500 minutes.

Golden State Warriors

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 5: Kevon Looney #5 and Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors looks on before the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 5, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Kevon Looney (three years, $25.5 million)

    Kevon Looney doesn't have the kind of game that pops off the screen or attracts the attention of casual fans. A career scoring average of 4.7 points is underwhelming, but he truly does everything else you'd want out of a center.

    There are only 12 players in league history who've logged at least 5,000 minutes and match or exceed all of Looney's career marks for rebounding percentage, assist percentage, block percentage and steal percentage. Four of those 12 (David Robinson, Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon and Arvydas Sabonis) are in the Hall of Fame.


    Worst Value Contract: Klay Thompson (two years, $83.8 million)

    This almost feels like basketball blasphemy.

    Klay Thompson is one of the greatest shooters of all time and will almost certainly be in the Hall of Fame whenever's he's eligible.

    But a 32-year-old with a torn ACL and ruptured Achilles in his recent injury history brings concerns similar to those detailed with MPJ.

    There's at least a chance durability becomes an issue in the next couple years.

Houston Rockets

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    DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 23: Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets on the court in the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on March 23, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
    Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Garrison Mathews (three years, $6.2 million, with zero guaranteed and a $2.2 million team option in 2024-25)

    Garrison Mathews will turn 26 in October. He just averaged 10.0 points and 2.1 threes, while shooting 36.0 percent from three. And the Houston Rockets were comfortably better when he was on the floor.

    Next season, his salary will take up less than two percent of the salary cap. And that percentage is only going to go down as the salary cap goes up.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Eric Gordon (two years, $40.5 million, with $19.6 million guaranteed)

    The Rockets are another team without a legitimately bad contract.

    Eric Gordon's salary catches the eye, but the final year is fully non-guaranteed. And if he shoots like he did last season, when he hit 41.2 percent of his threes, he could get himself traded before the deadline.

Indiana Pacers

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: Buddy Hield #24 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on April 10, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Nets won 134-126. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Buddy Hield (two years, $40.5 million)

    His volume and efficiency both dipped last season, but Buddy Hield is undoubtedly one of the best high-volume floor spacers in NBA history.

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Duncan Robinson are the only players who match or exceed both of Hield's career marks for threes per game (3.0) and three-point percentage (39.8).

    Even with relatively limited contributions throughout the rest of the stat sheet, that kind of shooting would make Hield a valuable addition to any rotation.


    Worst Value Contract: Daniel Theis (three years, $27.3 million, with a $9.5 million team option in 2024-25)

    Daniel Theis has been a solid contributor for the Boston Celtics since 2017-18, but he's now in his 30s and posted some alarmingly bad numbers with the Rockets in 2021-22.

    Houston's net rating was 9.8 points worse when Theis played. He shot 46.9 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from deep there. And his once-solid defense seriously declined.

    If that was a sign of what's to come in his post-prime years, he isn't likely to be worth this contract.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 31: Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) sit on the bench during a NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls on March 31, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Everybody but the superstars

    We're going to sidestep the format for one slide, thanks to the incredibly well-balanced roster crafted by the Los Angeles Clippers' front office.

    After Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have 8-10 players who are making less than $17 million this season and could force their way into most rotations in the NBA.

    They're all playable, tradable and working for great value.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): The superstars

    If Kawhi and PG can stay healthy, their deals (both three years and $127.5 million, with player options for $48.8 million in 2024-25) are fine.

    Of course, that's a might big "if" at this point.

    Leonard and George are 31 and 32 years old, respectively, and rank 186th and 140th in total minutes played since their arrival in L.A.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 31: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during the game against the Utah Jazz on March 31, 2022 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Thomas Bryant (one year, $2.1 million)

    Going with the same approach used with Dallas and Denver would probably work here.

    LeBron James is making an awful lot of money in 2022-23 ($44.5 million), but he'll still be the driving factor behind the Los Angeles Lakers' success (or lack thereof).

    This is his age-38 season, though. And since he's joined L.A. (four years ago), he's only averaged 55.8 appearances per campaign. That trend suddenly reversing as he approaches 40 feels unlikely.

    Instead, we'll go with the team's potential starting 5 who's making less than $2 million this season. Thomas Bryant has his own health concerns (who's only played in 83 games over the last three seasons), but he's averaged 10.2 points and hit 35.0 percent of his three-point attempts for his career.


    Worst Value Contract: Russell Westbrook (one year, $47.1 million)

    Russell Westbrook's contract may expire after this season, but the market appears to be telling the Lakers that his deal is bad enough that a team would need to attach draft capital to unload him.

    "In conversations with executives from rival teams in both conferences, it’s clear what the cost for any deal is going to be," Dan Woike wrote for The Los Angeles Times. "It’ll take at least one first-round pick to park Westbrook somewhere and a second first-round pick to bring back multiple rotation pieces, sources with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly said. Those prices could rise (possibly with pick swaps) or lower (bad contracts coming back to the Lakers) depending on variables."

    Bad shooting, disappearing defense and what often looks like a "my way or the highway" approach have made it hard to imagine an aging Westbrook turning things around anywhere.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - APRIL 19: Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies and Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies during Game Two of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum on April 19, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Ja Morant (six years, $206.4 million)

    Getting the foundational, All-NBA talent is the hardest part of team building, and the Memphis Grizzlies have checked that box with Ja Morant.

    His dynamic, explosive athleticism merged with better decision-making and defense in his third season, and he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting.

    Reaching that height at age 22 is more than encouraging. It suggests he's among those rare players who'll truly live up to a max deal.


    Worst Value Contract: Jaren Jackson Jr. (four years, $104.7 million)

    The analysis here will read about the same as the MPJ blurb. If Jaren Jackson Jr. is healthy, he'll likely live up to this deal (which has the benefit of a declining salary from year to year).

    But JJJ averaged just 42 appearances per season over his first three years (before managing 78 in 2021-22), and he underwent surgery on his foot this offseason.

    If the injury woes persist, this deal could age poorly.

Miami Heat

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    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 17: Max Strus #31 and Kyle Lowry #7 of the Miami Heat embrace during Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Max Strus (one year, $1.8 million)

    After starting all 18 of the Miami Heat's 2022 playoff games, Max Strus appears to have the inside track on that role for this season.

    In 2021-22, he averaged 10.6 points and 2.7 threes, while shooting 41.0 percent from deep. It was clear he can put up shooting numbers similar to Duncan Robinson's, without being quite as glaring a target on the other end.

    Getting that out of someone who's taking up just over one percent of the cap is a massive win.


    Worst Value Contract: Kyle Lowry (two years, $58 million)

    Kyle Lowry is entering his age-36 season with an average of fewer than 60 appearances per year over the last four.

    Last season, he posted an above-average three-point percentage and 7.5 assists per game, but it's fair to wonder how available he'll be going forward.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 17: Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates with Bobby Portis #9 during the first half in Game Five of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on July 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Bobby Portis (four years, $48.6 million, with a $13.4 million player option in 2025-26)

    Bobby Portis has proven to be a nearly ideal stretch 5 alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.

    During his two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, the team is plus-10.6 points per 100 possessions Portis and Giannis share the floor and plus-7.1 when Giannis plays without Portis.

    Over the same stretch, Portis is averaging 13 points while shooting 43.2 percent from three.

    Getting that kind of outside shooting from any center is a big deal, but it's especially helpful if your leading scorer does most of his damage inside the three-point line.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Brook Lopez (one year, $13.9 million)

    Brook Lopez taking up around a tenth of the salary cap and being on an expiring contract means this deal isn't too difficult to handle. There just aren't any bad ones here.

    If back problems resurface, though, it certainly wouldn't be ideal to have his $13.9 occupying a spot on the bench.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 29: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first quarter of the game during Game Six of the Western Conference First Round at Target Center on April 29, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Grizzlies defeated the Timberwolves 114-106 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
    David Berding/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Kyle Anderson (two years, $18 million)

    His advanced numbers took a bit of a dip last season, but Kyle Anderson remains one of the game's unique and effective point forwards.

    Despite aptly being named "Slo Mo," Anderson is a high-end, multipositional defender who makes up for a lack of speed with size and know-how.

    And his background as a point guard at UCLA adds a playmaking dimension to lineups that might feature shoot-first guards.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): D'Angelo Russell (one year, $31.4 million)

    As is the case with Lopez, D'Angelo Russell's contract loses a lot of its potential sting because it's expiring.

    Despite some bad shooting numbers, the Minnesota Timberwolves were also better when he was on the floor in 2021-22.

    That doesn't mean a long-term track record of inefficient scoring and a negative impact on point differential can't rear its head in 2022-23.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 28: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans smiles before Round 1 Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2022 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Jonas Valanciunas (two years, $30.1 million)

    With a bruising, old-school post game, Jonas Valanciunas is the kind of center who can be productive, with or without a top-flight point guard to create open layups for him.

    Over the last five seasons, JV is tied for 42nd in the league in wins over replacement players, with averages of 21.6 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks per 75 possessions.


    Worst Value Contract: Zion Williamson (six years, $207.8 million)

    We've never seen a player who combined Zion Williamson's body type with the Zion Williamson's athleticism before, well, Zion Williamson.

    The kind of torque and explosiveness that he can generate at nearly 300 pounds is almost alarming. And after playing just 85 games through his first three years in the league, it's fair to wonder how often he'll be healthy.

    When he's on the floor, he's undoubtedly one of the most dominant scorers in the world. It's just hard to have any confidence in him being on the floor.

New York Knicks

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks in action against the Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Charlotte Hornets defeated the New York Knicks 125-114. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Isaiah Hartenstein (two years, $16 million)

    If Isaiah Hartenstein can recreate last season's success, he'll be one of the biggest bargains of this offseason.

    Far from simply a rim-runner, Hartenstein averaged 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.5 steals per 75 possessions, with a 66.4 true shooting percentage.


    Worst Value Contract: Julius Randle (four years, $106.4 million, with a $29.5 million player option in 2025-26)

    Julius Randle's All-NBA nod in 2020-21 was far from surprising. He put up a Larry Bird-like line of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

    But his 41.1 three-point percentage, which is what truly elevated him that season, should've come with a flashing neon sign that read "outlier."

    Take that season's three-point attempts out of the equation, and Randle is shooting 33.2 percent from three for his career.

    That didn't stop him from taking over five per game in 2021-22. And the plummet in efficiency led to a thoroughly negative impact on the New York Knicks' point differential.

    If he keeps launching bricks throughout this contract, New York is going to continue to struggle when he's on the floor.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 4: Kenrich Williams #34 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on February 4, 2022 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Kenrich Williams (five years, $29.2 million, with a $7.2 million team option in 2026-27)

    Kenrich Williams hasn't put up big numbers during his four-year career. His sporadic three-point percentages have ranged from 25.8 to 44.4.

    But there's a reason the Oklahoma City Thunder have been significantly better when Williams is on the floor.

    He has that cliched, do-everything-that-doesn't-show-up-in-the-box-score game that any team can use. And getting that for under $10 million per year is a great value.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Derrick Favors (one year, $10.2 million)

    OKC's books are about as clean as any team's can be. They have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a long-term, big-money deal, but he looks like he'll absolutely be worth it.

    So, we're forced to go with another "by default" selection, and Derrick Favors gets the nod.

    Being on an expiring contract means his salary won't be a burden beyond this season (assuming he even survives the trade deadline), but Favors is entering his age-31 season and just posted a below-replacement-level box plus/minus.

Orlando Magic

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    CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 28: Wendell Carter Jr. #34 of the Orlando Magic runs down court during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 28, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Magic 107-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Wendell Carter Jr. (four years, $50 million)

    Few could've imagined that Wendell Carter Jr. would be better than Nikola Vucevic just one full season after they were traded for each other, but it appears that's where we are.

    That the Orlando Magic have WCJ for the next four years at just over $12 million per year (on average) only makes the deal even more of a win.

    Carter can score inside, create a little for others and anchor a defense. He even dabbled in three-point shooting last season.

    And the fact that he's 23 years old means there's still plenty of time for further development.


    Worst Value Contract: Jonathan Isaac (three years, $52.2 million, with $23.4 million guaranteed)

    Jonathan Isaac will be 25 in October, and he just missed two full seasons for an ACL recovery. In the three seasons prior to that, he only averaged 45.3 games per year.

    With his health history, there's simply no way to predict decent availability going forward.

    Orlando's pretty well-protected against the possibility of another extended absence (as evidenced by all the non-guaranteed money), but this deal could still become an albatross (if it isn't already).

Philadelphia 76ers

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    MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 02: James Harden #1 and Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers look on against the Miami Heat during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at FTX Arena on May 02, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: James Harden (two years, $68.6 million, with a $35.6 million player option)

    The fact that James Harden agreed to a $15 million pay cut this summer made him a natural candidate for this spot, but this argument isn't just about salary cap minutiae.

    Despite possibly being a step slower than he was at his Rockets peak, Harden remains one of the game's most dynamic and unselfish playmakers.

    Last season, he averaged 22.0 points, 10.3 assists and 2.3 threes.

    Getting a former MVP who's barely post-prime and still averaging a double-double for this far under the max is a bargain.


    Worst Value Contract: Tobias Harris (two years, $76.9 million)

    Even understanding that a new extension for Joel Embiid kicks in 2023-24, it's pretty wild to think that Tobias Harris is the highest-paid player on a team featuring Embiid and Harden.

    Last season, he posted a 0.0 box plus/minus that suggests he was exactly average. This season, even if he bounces back a bit, he figures to be the fourth-best player on the team (behind the aforementioned superstars and Tyrese Maxey).

    Paying nearly $40 million for the No. 4 man in the pecking order can make the rest of the team-building question tricky (unless you have a superstar who takes a multimillion-dollar pay cut).

Phoenix Suns

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26: Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns talk to the media after Round 1 Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Mikal Bridges (four years, $90 million)

    Mikal Bridges isn't just a three-and-D player. He might be the prototype right now.

    He just made his first All-Defense team, and he's hit 38.5 percent from three over the last three seasons.

    Over the same stretch, the Phoenix Suns are plus-7.4 points per 100 possessions with Bridges on the floor and plus-0.4 with him off.

    Having someone who you can rely on to bother the opposition's best wing or guard is a big deal. Having a high-end floor spacer is another. Having both in one player can lead to the kind of dominant regular seasons the Suns have had recently.


    Worst Value Contract: Deandre Ayton (four years, $132.9 million)

    Deandre Ayton is another player who certainly isn't here because he's bad. The No. 1 pick in 2018 could certainly live up to this contract.

    It's just that this kind of money for centers that aren't Jokic or Embiid is inherently risky.

    Elite creators like Chris Paul can raise the level of most bigs. Last season, the numbers of Ayton, JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo were strikingly similar when each shared the floor with CP3.

    So, if Phoenix can get a decent chunk of what Ayton provides for a fraction of the cost, why max him out?

    His upside is certainly higher than that of the other centers on Phoenix's roster, but there's no guarantee he hits it.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 28: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers watches play during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Moda Center on March 28, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Gary Payton II (three years, $26.1 million, with a $9.1 million player option in 2024-25)

    Gary Payton II is one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball, and he added a right-around-average three-point shot in 2021-22.

    He's also an elite cutter with a knack for knowing when to fly to the rim or trail a driver.

    Playing off of and supporting Damian Lillard the way he did Stephen Curry last season, GPII should more than live up to his sub-$10 million salary.


    Worst Value Contract: Damian Lillard (five years, $258.7 million, with a $63.2 million player option in 2026-27)

    Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers committing to each other for this long, in an era largely defined by player movement, is admirable.

    And in the short term, his massive salary is probably worth it. But $63.2 million for a player in his age-36 season is almost certainly going to be a burden (even if we experience another 2016-like cap spike).

Sacramento Kings

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 9: De'Aaron Fox #5 and Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings high five during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 9, 2022 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Domantas Sabonis (two years, $37.9 million)

    Over the last three seasons, Domantas Sabonis has averaged 19.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists.

    The only other players in league history who averaged at least 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists over a three-year stretch are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham and Kevin Garnett.

    Getting that kind of production for around 15 percent of next season's salary cap is a steal.


    Worst Value Contract: De'Aaron Fox (four years, $134.9 million)

    De'Aaron Fox certainly can live up to this deal. He's only 24 years old and has eclipsed 20 points per game in each of his last three seasons.

    Bad defense and way-below-average shooting make it easy to see why FiveThirtyEight's projection system pegs his five-year market value at 76.8 million, though.

San Antonio Spurs

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 13: Keldon Johnson #3 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 13, 2022 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
    Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Keldon Johnson (five years, $77.9 million)

    Keldon Johnson just averaged 17.0 points, 2.1 assists and 2.1 threes, with a 39.8 three-point percentage as a 22-year old.

    With his frame (6'5" with a 6'9" wingspan) and the tutelage of Gregg Popovich, he's likely to add plus defense to his already solid offensive game.

    And as an added bonus, his salary actually declines over the course of his contract, while his game will presumably improve.


    Worst Value Contract: Doug McDermott (two years, $27.5 million)

    At $13.8 million, Doug McDermott is set to be the highest-paid player on the San Antonio Spurs (Johnson's extension doesn't kick in till next season), while ranking outside the top 100 leaguewide.

    Calling this deal bad would be a stretch, but it's also not great.

    McDermott is one of the best shooters in basketball. He's averaged 11.8 points and hit 41.5 percent of his threes over the last three seasons, but his marks all over the rest of the stat sheet are almost invisible (an adjective that might actually be too nice for his defense).

Toronto Raptors

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 10: Otto Porter Jr. #32 of the Golden State Warriors shoots a free throw against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 10, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Otto Porter Jr. (two years, $12.3 million, with a $6.3 million player option in 2023-24)

    Otto Porter Jr. had a renaissance season with the 2021-22 Warriors.

    He shot 37.0 percent from three and had a comfortably positive impact on the team's point differential.

    He'll likely fill a similar role for the Toronto Raptors and will almost certainly outplay a salary that accounts for less than five percent of the salary cap.


    Worst Value Contract (By Default): Pascal Siakam (two years, $73.3 million)

    The Raptors are another team without a bad contract, so we'll default to their highest-paid player.

    Pascal Siakam's salary is in the top 25 for 2022-23, and being 28th in wins over replacement player over the last three seasons suggests he's probably worth it.

    We're just getting nitpicky here, and if you're paying a lead scorer well over $30 million per year, it'd be nice for him to score with above-average efficiency. Siakam's mark has been below that line in each of the last three seasons.

Utah Jazz

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN -  MARCH 23: Jarred Vanderbilt #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves rebounds the ball during the game against the Phoenix Suns on March 23, 2022 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
    David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Jarred Vanderbilt (two years, $9.1 million)

    Jarred Vanderbilt is just 23 years old, and he's already one of the best hustle guys in the NBA.

    Last season, he was 20th in the NBA in rebounding percentage, ninth in steal percentage and tied for 10th in deflections per minute (among players with at least 500 minutes).

    FiveThirtyEight pegs his five-year market value at $94.0 million, well in excess of his current average salary.


    Worst Value Contract: Mike Conley (two years, $47 million, with $37 million guaranteed)

    Mike Conley probably still has something left in the tank. He's averaged 14.8 points, 5.2 assists and 2.4 threes, while shooting 40.1 percent from deep over the last three seasons.

    But he is entering his age-35 season and coming off a six-game postseason run in which he looked woefully outmatched by Jalen Brunson.

    If he's closer to that version of himself next season, the Utah Jazz may struggle to finder a trade partner for him.

Washington Wizards

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    DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 24: Monte Morris #11 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter during Game Four of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena on April 24, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Best Value Contract: Monte Morris (two years, $18.9 million)

    Monte Morris is about as steady-handed as point guards get. Over the course of his career, among players with at least as many assists, only Tyus Jones has a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Morris' 4.8.

    He's also one of the game's more reliable three-point and mid-range shooters, and the Nuggets have generally been better when he's on the field.

    None of his numbers will really blow you away (his career highs for points and assists are 24 and 10), but his gap-filling and mostly mistake-free game is worth more than his bargain of a deal.


    Worst Value Contract: Bradley Beal (five years, $251 million, with a $57.1 million player option in 2026-27)

    After a supermax extension, what's left of Bradley Beal's contract will pay him about five times what FiveThirtyEight's projection system thinks he's worth.

    Of course, Beal is one of the better high-volume scorers in the league. He's one of just 18 players in NBA history who averaged 30-plus points in two different seasons.

    But his age (29 right now and 34 by the end of this deal), uninterested defense and below-average shooting from the field over the last three seasons makes that projection understandable.

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