A hodgepodge of news from around the NBA
Nothing was more valued going into the 2010 off-season than cap space and with good reason. Teams with financial flexibility positioned themselves for a run at a bumper crop of talented free agents capable of changing also-rans into contenders.
But some teams weren’t able to get in on the fun. They were hamstrung by cap-chewing contracts that limited the teams to midlevel exceptions and veteran minimum deals while the lucky teams with cap space were spending like a shopaholic on Black Friday.
With that in mind, here are the 10 worst contracts entering the 2010-11 season.
1. Eddy Curry, Knicks ($11.3 million): You may remember him as the out-of-shape monkey wrench in the Knicks master plan to acquire LeBron James and a few other top-tier free agents. Had he chosen to become a free agent, New York would have had enough money to make a similar pitch to what Miami offered (minus the South Beach hotties). Instead, he opted in and the Knicks were forced to sell free agents with a “wait till next year” approach. It didn’t work, and now Knicks fans will have to live with Amar’e Stoudemire and visions of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker dancing in their heads. In the meantime, Curry returns to action, or inaction, considering he’s played just 74 minutes over the last two seasons. And since he raked in $169,361.66 per minute played last season, he has truly earned the title of biggest albatross around a team’s neck.
2. Michael Redd, Bucks ($18.3 million): The former Olympian has played only 51 games in the last two seasons due to serious knee injuries. What’s worse, Milwaukee seems perfectly fine without him, with players like John Salmons and Corey Maggette able to step in at shooting guard in place of Redd and the team not misses a beat. Couple that with the fact that he was averaging just 11.9 points last season before going down — 8.4 points off his career average — and his $18 mil price tag becomes even more onerous. This is the final year of Redd’s contract, and he could very well be playing his final games as a Buck … if he plays at all.
3. Peja Stojakovic, Hornets ($14.3 million): He was once a promising youngster for Sacramento before back problems torched his career. Now 33, he has seen his production fall off dramatically. He can still shoot with the best of them when open, but his lack of mobility assures that he can do little else. New Orleans desperately needs his contract off its books to acquire the necessary talent to keep Chris Paul happy in Louisiana.
4. T.J. Ford, Pacers ($8.5 million): When Ford was drafted out of Texas, many predicted big things for the ultra-quick point guard. But after suffering a spinal cord contusion that cost him the entire 2004-05 season, he struggled to live up to the hype. Now he is third on Indiana’s depth chart behind Darren Collison and A.J. Price. The Pacers are desperate to move him since no team enjoys carrying an $8.5 million third-stringer but likely won’t get many takers until the trade deadline — unless Danny Granger is included in a package deal.
5. Erick Dampier, Bobcats ($13.1 million): The former self-proclaimed second-best center in the NBA was shipped out of Dallas for Tyson Chandler this summer. Charlotte wanted salary-cap relief and can get it by releasing Dampier before the start of the season. (His contract is fully unguaranteed.) So while he most likely will never see a cent of his $13.1 million, that number attached to someone with his stats last season (6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes) still sends shivers down the spines of NBA accountants.
6. Elton Brand, 76ers ($16 million): What was considered a steal at the time has turned into a bad joke. Brand signed a big contract with Philadelphia after missing most of the 2007-08 season with a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. Now two years later, he has failed miserably to live up to expectations. He does not have the same quickness or athleticism that made him an All Star during his time with the Clippers and has not meshed well in the Sixers up-tempo system. Philly would love to trade Brand, but his contract will prevent that from happening anytime soon.
7. Mike Dunleavy, Pacers ($10.6 million): Dunleavy failed to live up to high expectations in Golden State but has lived up to low expectations in Indiana. Frustratingly inconsistent, he has all the tools to be a 20-point player but cannot seem to convert that into production on the basketball court. He started 15 games for the Pacers last season, averaging 9.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Dunleavy is capable of exploding on any given night but is just as likely to fizzle out.
8. Kenyon Martin, Nuggets ($16.5 million): Martin is the heart of Denver’s interior defense; unfortunately, that heart is frequently missing. He played in only 58 games last season, averaging 11.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. When Martin is healthy, he can still contribute, but at a salary pushing $17 million, you expect better numbers. By comparison, Luis Scola averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in 82 starts last season while making just $3.4 million.
9. Samuel Dalembert, Kings ($13.4 million): Dalembert is a perfect example of teams willing to overpay for size. His career numbers of 8.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks do not justify giving him such a lucrative deal, especially when you compare his numbers to another defensive-minded center like Dikembe Mutombo (9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks). And don’t forget that Mount Mutombo’s numbers took a hit once he joined Houston to back up Yao Ming in 2004.
10. Rashard Lewis, Magic ($19.6 million): Lewis makes the list not due to games missed or a severe lack of production but because his contract is grossly inflated — only Kobe Bryant ($24.8 million) will make more money than Lewis this season. Lewis is a nice player but only averaged 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds on 43.5 percent shooting last season. Those numbers are comparable to another big man who likes the perimeter — Channing Frye. Frye averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds on 45.1 percent shooting last season, and at only $5.2 million is a steal by comparison. Lewis can definitely help a team, but does not deserve to be paid like the second-best player in the league.
Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz ($17.8 million);Gilbert Arenas, Wizards ($17.7 million); Troy Murphy, Nets ($12 million)
By: Eric Lorenz
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