This summer, the Washington Wizards signed Otto Porter to a max contract even though he has never made an All-Star appearance.
This is not as uncommon as one might expect. Below are the players (since 2000) who have received max deals before their first All-Star selection.
How did those contracts work for their teams?
Tracy McGrady, Orlando (2000)
McGrady made seven All-Star appearances after his max contract
The Magic gave McGrady a contract worth $67.5 million over six years. He played three seasons for Toronto before he joined Grant Hill (also on a max deal) in Orlando. It’s worth mentioning McGrady later said he regrets ever leaving the Raptors.
He only played four seasons for the Magic, two of which he led the NBA in scoring. However, Orlando finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference in 2004 and McGrady then asked to be traded.
Joe Johnson, Atlanta (2005)
Johnson made seven All-Star appearances after his max contract
Johnson played such a big role for the Suns that he believes Phoenix would have won the NBA championship had he remained healthy in 2005. After the season, however, he was included in a sign-and-trade that brought him to the Hawks.
He played seven seasons for Atlanta and had five consecutive years where he averaged more than 20 points per game. Though he was All-NBA in 2010, his subsequent contract was seen as fairly detrimental and was traded to the Nets to clear cap space.
Marc Gasol, Memphis (2011)
Gasol has made three All-Star appearances since his max contract
While it was unclear if he would become an unrestricted free agent, the Grizzlies assured Gasol they would match any deal offered by a rival team. As such, the 7-foot-1 center signed a four-year extension in December 2011 to keep him in Memphis. Since then, he has been a consistently impressive player when healthy. He has improved as a scorer and he is also a terrific passer.
James Harden, Houston (2012)
Harden has made straight five All-Star appearances since his max contract
Perhaps he was not yet an All-Star due to circumstance for the Thunder. But as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Harden was then signed to a max deal by the Rockets shortly after he was traded to the team.
He has been an All-Star every season since the deal. He led the NBA in points scored in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and also was first in assists during the 2016-17 season.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (2013)
Cousins has made three All-Star appearances since his max contract
While Cousins has since been traded away from the Kings, he received a max deal from the team before his rookie deal expired. He became the focal point of the franchise and led the NBA in usage rate during the 2015-16 season. As a constant force to be reckoned with in the paint, he is both a dominant big man and a fearless rebounder.
Gordon Hayward, Utah (2014)
Hayward has made one All-Star appearance since his max contract
Some may forget the Hornets offered Hayward a max deal, which forced Utah to match in 2014. He was coming off a season in which he averaged career-highs (at the time) in points, rebounds and assists. The Jazz didn’t offer him an extension in October 2013, which forced him to test the open market. However, the organization made it clear they would match offer sheets given to Hayward… and it was a good call.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (2015)
Leonard has made two straight All-Star appearances since his max contract
It’s hard to imagine Leonard playing anywhere in the NBA besides the Spurs. Never one for much pomp and circumstance, he signed a massive deal to remain in San Antonio, which surprised virtually no one. He seems like a perfect player for head coach Gregg Popovich and has developed immensely to become one of the best in the league.
Leonard led the league in steals and defensive rating during the 2014-15 season and was NBA Finals MVP in 2014. He is also a very accurate, effective scorer.
DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers (2015)
Jordan has made one All-Star appearance since his max contract
Even though he was originally committed to the Mavericks, Jordan flipped a switch and decided instead to re-sign with the Clippers. In fact, a contingent including Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (as well as team owner Steve Ballmer and head coach Doc Rivers) flew to Houston to help convince him to change his mind.
While Paul is no longer with the team, Jordan will become one of the faces of the organization in Los Angeles rather than playing third-wheel to Griffin and CP3.
Antawn Jamison, Golden State (2002)
Jamison made two All-Star appearances after his max contract
A No. 4 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Jamison was emerging as one of the league’s brightest young stars early in the century. During the 2000-01 season, he averaged a remarkable 24.9 points per game with 8.7 rebounds in Golden State. But most of his max contract seasons were spent elsewhere.
In his only season with the Mavericks, he was named the Sixth Man of the Year during the 2003-04 season when he was one of the most accurate shooters in the league. The next year, then on the Wizards, he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.
Rudy Gay, Memphis (2010)
Aside from the Grizzlies, other teams around the league including the Nets and Timberwolves showed interest in Gay during Free Agency 2010. After his rookie campaign, Gay has averaged at least 17 points per game in each season – that’s nine consecutive years. While he has changed teams, he remains a consistent scoring threat… even though he never became a full-blown NBA star.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn (2012)
Lopez has made one All-Star appearance after signing his max contract
The Brooklyn big man became the focal point of a lowly Nets franchise after he was rumored to be involved in a trade to land Dwight Howard. One year after his contract extension, Lopez finished Top 10 in points per game. Until this offseason, he was one of the longest-tenured players on one team in the NBA but will join the Lakers after a move for Brooklyn to land D’Angelo Russell.
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City (2015)
The Thunder were not insane to offer Kanter a big contract considering he averaged 18.7 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game when he was first traded to the team. But he was playing 31.0 minutes per game at the time and has since seen a decrease to around 21.0 minutes. With less time on the court, his counting stats have dropped.
However, his average per 36 minutes is now better than it was even when he was most impressive. During 2015-16, his player efficiency rating was Top 10 in the NBA. Kanter also had the fourth-best total rebounding percentage and the fourth-best offensive rating as well as the sixth-best effective shooting field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
Jury is still out
Mike Conley, Memphis (2016)
The Western Conference is stacked with stellar point guards and Memphis made a move to stay in competition when they re-signed Conley. At the time, his deal made him the highest-paid player in NBA history. After the deal, he had a career-high 20.5 points per game while also shooting a career-high 46 percent from the field. He’s also effective on defense and led the league in steals during the 2012-13 season.
Bradley Beal, Washington (2016)
The sharp-shooting guard likely would have received a similar deal from a different team if the Wizards did not offer him a max contract.
Beal shot 40.9 percent from long distance during the 2014-15 season, which was among the best in the NBA. Last season, he had a career-high 23.1 points per game. He could become an All-Star soon if he keeps at this pace.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans (2012)
Once included in a trade to help the Clippers land Chris Paul, Gordon has seen a decrease in his minutes played and usage rate. Last season, he was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the Rockets. But this is not what New Orleans had in mind when they offered him a max contract in 2012. He nearly signed with the Suns until the Pelicans matched the offer sheet, which turned his deal into one of the league’s worst. As a cheaper player, he is now a much better fit in Houston.
Wesley Matthews, Dallas (2015)
When he was on the Trail Blazers, he was a solid scoring option. Since he signed with the Mavericks, he has struggled to impress following a serious injury. In his final two years with Portland, his Win shares per 48 minutes were .142 and .147 – in his recent two seasons, those numbers have fallen to .067 and .060 for Dallas. Meanwhile, his value over replacement player has cut in half as well. It’s unlikely Matthews ever makes an All-Star team considering he plays in the crowded Western Conference.
Greg Monroe, Milwaukee (2015)
After the Pistons chose not to offer Monroe a max contract, he landed with the Bucks. While he performed well once Josh Smith left Detroit and he saw an increase in usage, he has since seen a decreased role on his team.
In fact, he’s become a trade candidate after opting into the final year of his deal. Last year, he had a career-worst 6.6 rebounds per game as well as a career-worst 0.5 blocks per game.
Chandler Parsons, Memphis (2016)
It’s relatively unclear why the Grizzlies decided to offer Parsons so much money. His scoring, rebounding and steals had decreased three seasons in a row before he signed with Memphis. Last season, however, was something Parsons needs to immediately put behind him. While he says he would have re-signed with Dallas for less than the max, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban disputes this report. He has had three-straight season-ending knee surgeries, which is terrible news for the Memphis front office.
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