Last summer, the NBA’s salary cap spiked upward in a way we had never seen before. The result was a bevy of contracts that, by previous standards, were enormous. Most look fine now, in accordance with the cap spike, but the bad contracts look much worse than normal.
Instead of Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner being minor annoyances to the Portland Trail Blazers’ cap space, the two will keep the team from making any moves in free agency this year and vault them into the luxury tax. If the Los Angeles Lakers want to go after Paul George this summer, they have to move Timofey Mozgov or Luol Deng first.
Entering last summer, there were different theories among teams as to how the cap spike would affect player value. Since it had never gone up by that much, nobody knew what would happen. This list looks at the nine worst contracts of last summer. Players like Mozgov and Deng signed contracts worth more than the career earnings of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, combined.
There are three repeat offenders on this list: the Lakers, Blazers, and Orlando Magic. Those teams anticipated player value to jump significantly more than it actually did. Thus, the Lakers were trying to sign Mozgov to a $64 million deal at 12:01 on July 1, while the rest of the league sat by idly and laughed.
Last summer was unique. We’ll probably never see an NBA free agent summer as hectic with as few superstars on the move. The league was like the stock market, circa 1928, and some were overpaid worse than others.