The NBA is one of the most fun, entertaining, and thrilling professional sports endeavors on the planet. Above all else, however, the association is a business — one governed by a salary cap and strict financial rules.
Every roster decision matters in basketball. When a front office makes a mistake, particularly on a big name player commanding a huge salary, the effects can be felt for years to come.
So here is every NBA team's current worst contract, ranked from the acceptable to those that will sink their respective franchises. Enjoy.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, PG
Remaining contract: 2016-17 — $12.1 million
Of course, there's nothing intrinsically bad about Curry's deal — except the fact that it's expiring.
Curry's contract was the best in the league, since he initially signed a four-year, $44-million deal when there were still concerns about his ankle injuries. Now, the Warriors are going to have to cough up a max deal. They can afford it, but paying the MVP will mean drastic changes for Golden State's salary cap situation.
Other than that, the Warriors don't have a bad deal on the books.
Another team without any significantly onerous deals, the Hornets did pay a tidy sum for Williams' services. He's a versatile player to have, though, so I don't particularly mind this deal in context.
Jeremy BrevardUSA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics: Tyler Zeller, PF
Remaining contract: 2016-17 — $8.0 million; '17-18 — $8.0 million
The Celtics are square in that group of teams that don't really have any bad contracts, so we have to pick on poor Tyler Zeller here. He's a solid big man making a solid wage. There's not much else to say.
Robert MayerUSA TODAY Sports
Utah Jazz: George Hill, PG
Remaining contract: 2016-17 — $8.0 million
The Jazz have zero bad contracts on the books, other than maybe Alec Burks' three remaining years, so all we can do is criticize the Jazz for acquiring Hill without an extension. Given that he's due for a big raise, though, even that criticism comes up empty.
There aren't a lot of options in Denver, as Faried is one of only two Nuggets players with contracts beyond next season. His current deal is right about what you'd pay a rebounding big man who thrives on motor and outsmarting his opponents. It's the next one that could be a problem.
The Spurs don't do bad contracts, of course, but Aldridge continues to feel like an odd fit in San Antonio. I'd be surprised if the Spurs try to keep him once his current deal expires — and that's as close to a mistake as this team will get.
Like Parsons and the Grizzlies, injuries are the concern for Beal (left) and the Wizards. This deal looks fine for now, and there's some upside for the 23-year-old. But if he doesn't develop into one of the game's elite wing players, the Wizards are in trouble given the length of the deal and the hefty raises from year to year.
I love Anderson and his skill set, but this is just too much money to pay a tall man who shoots 3s and doesn't do much else. Still, get that money, Ryno. I'm all for players getting paid as much and as often as possible.
The Associated Press.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Nikola Pekovic, C
Remaining contract: 2016-17 — $12.1 million; '17-18 — $11.6 million
Realistically, Pek probably should be higher (lower?) on this list. His foot injuries makes his contract essentially worthless, although the Wolves do save some money thanks to insurance.
I just can't bring myself to pile on the big guy. He already has enough going on.
Kanter is literally a big part of the Thunder's current rotation, but he's being paid starter's money to come off the bench. While the salary cap continues to increase, Oklahoma City knows better than any team that every dollar matters when you're trying to keep your stars.
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Philadelphia 76ers: Bryan Colangelo, GM
Remaining contract: N/A
The Sixers haven't invested enough salary in any of their players to have an egregious player contract. Instead, this one goes out to all those people who trusted in The Process and are watching Joel Embiid grow into one of the most promising young players in the game. Bring back Sam Hinkie!
The Magic paid Fournier for a career season in 2015-16, yet there's no real indication he can be the go-to scorer on a playoff team. The best-case scenario here is Orlando manages to add a star either through the draft or free agency, allowing Fournier to slide into a lesser role on offense.
Unlike some of the guys on this list, Dragic is a fine, All-Star-caliber player. He doesn't want to be in Miami, though, and he cost the Heat valuable draft picks when they first traded for him. The downside to this contract is the potential for drama.
I still firmly believe that Mozgov is the best player on the Lakers this year, taking potential and everything else out of the equation. With that said, there's no way I'd want to pay the man $64 million over four seasons. That's crazy talk, Los Angeles.
The Pelicans can take some solace in the recent astronomical increases in the salary cap, which make Asik's contract look slightly better than it actually is. In terms of cost per unit of production, it's tough to top this one.
If Wade can guide the Bulls back to the postseason, maybe you can make an argument that this contract works out from a strict capital investment perspective. More than any deal on this list, though, Wade's big payday from Chicago represents a team's decision to throw good money after bad.
The Bulls needed to start their rebuild. Instead, they threw millions at an over-the-hill All-Star and hoped for the best.
You won't fool me with a handful of 30-point games, Mr. Barnes. Someone has to score points for the Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki battling injuries, and you're as good a candidate as anyone. In high-leverage situations, however, counting on Barnes is asking for defeat, no matter what the early results might say.
The odds of Noah playing out the remainder of this contract are about as good as the chances that I could win an election for President of the United States. Noah might not even make it through next season, yet the Knicks still would be on the hook for nearly $40 million after that.
Honestly, the best thing I can say about the NBA's worst contract is that at least it wasn't handed out by Isiah Thomas.