The most surprising max contracts in NBA history
These days its no longer shocking whenever we hear or read about an NBA player putting pen to paper on a deal that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s become almost ordinary at this point, considering how teams are now so willing to spend so much money on a single player. After all, the return of investment makes it all worth it.
Then again, this is not always the case. The NBA has had more than a few horrendous max-money deals in the past. In most instances, said max players either get injured, fail to live up to the lofty expectations, or in the worst instances, a combination of both.
These are not the type of deals we will be focusing on today, though. The list we have below are more of the “Really? He got a max deal?!” kind of variety. Below are six head-scratching instances wherein NBA teams signed players on max contracts when they probably didn’t even deserve it in the first place.
6. Chris Paul (Houston Rockets, 2018)
Max Contract: Four years, $159.7 million
Make no doubt about it: Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Nevertheless, despite the undeniable talent of the future Hall of Famer, it’s still a bit baffling why the Houston Rockets decided to pay him $159.7 million for a four-year deal at the ripe age of 33. Sure, he was still a premier point guard in the league at that time, but perhaps the Rockets could have negotiated a better deal given how Paul was already nearing the twilight of his career.
5. Enes Kanter (Oklahoma City Thunder, 2015)
Max Contract: Four years, $70 million
In the summer of 2015, Enes Kanter became a restricted free agent with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Portland Trail Blazers offered him a four-year max deal worth $70 million, which the Thunder decided to match. At that particular point in time, Kanter was a pretty reliable big man, but certainly not worth the max dollars considering the NBA’s direction when it comes to big men is headed towards the opposite direction of low post bruisers.
4. Allan Houston (New York Knicks, 2001)
Max Contract: Six years, $100 million
Allan Houston’s max deal with the New York Knicks is similar in nature to that of Chris Paul. Houston was a tremendous player for the Knicks and arguably the NBA’s elite shooter, but when he signed the max extension in 2001, he was already 30 years of age. True enough, his numbers began dropping significantly towards the second half of his bog-money deal, proving how this was not the smartest move for New York’s front office.
3. Otto Porter (Washington Wizards, 2017)
Max Contract: Four years, $106.5 million
In the summer of 2017, 6-foot-8 swingman Otto Porter was up for an extension with the Washington Wizards. At that time, the team’s front office was convinced that Porter was going to be their third star behind their cornerstone duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. So much so that they signed Porter to a massive four-year max extension worth $106.5 million.
The deal was contentious, to say the least, and the benefit of hindsight proved that it was not the best decision for the Wizards. Porter was unable to live up to his huge contract, and Washington ultimately traded him to the Chicago Bulls after just a year and a half into his new deal.
2. Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
Max Contract: Four years, $94.4 million
Harrison Barnes played a relatively significant role in the Golden State Warriors during their 2015 NBA title run, as well as the succeeding 73-9 campaign the following season. After the Dubs’ heartbreaking loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2o16 Finals, Barnes entered free agency.
The Dallas Mavericks, who were a year removed from the infamous DeAndre Jordan botched signing, were desperate for a big-name signing, and in their mind, Barnes fit the bill. This resulted in a huge four-year max deal worth $94.4 million for the former NBA champ.
At that point in time, Barnes was a good player, but he was in no way superstar-caliber material.
1. Chandler Parsons (Memphis Grizzlies, 2016)
Max Contract: Four years, $94 million
More than a few folks believe that Chandler Parsons and his expansive list of injuries during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies set back the franchise for a good three or four years (maybe even more?) during his time with the team (and beyond?).
During the 2015-16 NBA season — in what was his contract year — Parsons averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists for the Mavs. This was actually the 6-foot-9 small forward’s least productive season over the past three years, and statistically speaking, was the worst in his career (at that time) since his rookie year. He also missed 21 games that season due to injury, but despite the red flags, the Grizzlies went all-in on him.
This came out to the tune of $94 million for the next four years in what was a record-setting max deal for Memphis. We all know how Parsons absolutely failed to live up to the massive money he was earning, while also accounting for a huge chunk of the Grizzlies’ cap space for the next few years.