NBA free agency is in full swing with over $1 billion being shelled out in just the first few days. Expectations of an increased salary cap and luxury tax due to a new TV deal have skyrocketed the salaries of players.
These contracts sparked my interest in some of the most lucrative contracts in NBA history to players that may have deserved a little less. Here are five of the most questionable and regrettable contracts that I’ve lived through at 19-years-old.
Stephon Marbury – Five years, $90 million
Marbury was a really good player for most of his career, hovering around 20 points and eight assists per game for most of it before going to the Knicks. After leaving Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas, who was the GM for the Knicks at the time, thought it was a good idea to pay Marbury $19 million per year. The first year of the Marbury’s contract featured a first round exit in the playoffs, but hopes were still high for the homegrown point guard from New York. However, Marbury’s numbers steadily declined in the remaining years of that contract, and the Knicks never made the playoffs with him again. He’s now a superstar in China, even performing in a Chinese play.
Eddy Curry – Six years, $60 million
I could probably do an entire column on terrible front office decisions by the Knicks, but this is the last one for this article, I promise. Eddy Curry was the fourth overall pick in 2001 as potentially the next dominant center in the NBA. The Bulls thought they had a great player, but instead, to no fault of Curry’s, had a guy with an irregular heartbeat. It has also been noted that Curry refused a DNA test by the Bulls. Curry tested the waters of free agency in 2005 and of course, Isaiah Thomas and Co. came sailing along to pick him up. They decided to give a middling player a star’s money who also had an unknown heart condition. Curry had one good season in New York, averaging almost 20 points and seven rebounds in 2006. He followed that season by averaging 6.2 points per game over the next three years. Curry also plays in China now.
Side Note: Amar’e Stoudamire and Jerome James could also be on this list
Rashard Lewis – Six years, $118 million
The spotlight now turns to the Orlando Magic. Lewis was a really good player for most of his career. He earned two All-Star appearances during his stint in the NBA and appeared in two NBA Finals, winning one with the Miami Heat in 2013. Rashard Lewis was not a superstar who commanded a max contract like the one he got from the Magic in 2007. Lewis had come off three consecutive seasons averaging over 20 points per game with the Seattle Supersonics and the Magic thought they were getting a guy who could be Dwight Howard’s wingman. Instead, they overpaid for a guy whose numbers steadily declined after his max deal.
Erick Dampier – Seven years, $73 million
Of all the contracts on this list, Dampier’s may be the most questionable. Dampier’s best individual accomplishment may have come on draft day when he was picked tenth by the Indiana Pacers. Dampier only averaged more than 10 points per game twice in his career over 16 years in the NBA. At best, he was a solid seventh man off the bench. Mark Cuban has done a number of crazy things, but this boggles my mind. I don’t understand how Cuban could give Dampier so much money. He should have known what he was in for, simply from the fact that Isaiah Thomas wanted him in New York before signing Eddy Curry.
Gilbert Arenas – Six years, $111 million
This is the hardest blurb for me to write because Agent Zero, as he was affectionately called, was my favorite player in the NBA for a number of years. As a kid who grew up in and around Washington D.C., Arenas was a local hero, known for his incredible range as a shooter and timely ability to hit big shots late in games. Unfortunately, Hibachi’s contract is probably the most regrettable contract in NBA history. Even Arenas has admitted that. Arenas was a three-time all-star who deserved a big pay day. The guy averaged almost 30 points per game in consecutive seasons. Then he caught the injury bug and also had a stupid altercation involving guns and Javaris Crittenton, who is in jail now for manslaughter. Arenas unfortunately never recovered, but still received every penny from that huge contract.
The lucrative contracts signed within the last few days are bound to produce some of the same results. The Knicks will probably be involved in at least one of them.