The most untradable contract on each NBA team in 2018-19

The most untradable contract on each NBA team in 2018-19

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The most untradable contract on each NBA team in 2018-19

Teams are still reeling from the summer of 2016 spending bonanza, where role players got paid like above-average starters, and guys who don’t see the floor these days earned contracts in the eight figures.

We ran the first installment of this series last year, but with how much the league’s landscape has changed, we realized it was already time to run a Part Two.

So without further ado, here’s the most untradable contract on every team’s payroll for the 2018-19 season.

ATLANTA HAWKS

MILES PLUMLEE: FOUR YEARS, $50 MILLION

Thus far this season, Atlanta Hawks big man Miles Plumlee has played 145 total minutes through 14 games, scoring 72 points and securing 35 rebounds in that playing time. What’s more, the Duke product is on Year-3 of a four-year, $50 million deal, so it’s not like the Hawks could even pitch him as an expiring contract in a potential trade, either.

Regardless, considering they’re still in the early stages of a rebuild, it’s not like Atlanta is in any rush to deal Plumlee. But even if they wanted to, it would prove mighty difficult, unless they were willing to attach an asset to a deal. (They have absolutely no reason to do that.)

BOSTON CELTICS

GORDON HAYWARD: FOUR YEARS, $127.8 MILLION

Truth be told, it may not be all that fair to count Gordon Hayward as the Boston Celtics’ most untradable contract. After all, he is coming off a horrific injury and still working his way back into form. And recently, his play has started to resemble the 2016-17 All-Star version of himself.

Even so, his overall numbers on the season – 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds nightly on paltry 42.1/32.5/88.2 shooting splits – are pretty weak, and with his contract still having three years and $98.1 million left on it, the Celtics would have trouble dealing Hayward without attaching an asset to the trade, if they decided that’s what they wanted to do.

No need for Celtics fans to fret about it, though, as Hayward still very much figures into Boston’s lofty plans, both for this year and for the future, so they don’t have to worry about him getting moved or what a potential deal would look like.

BROOKLYN NETS

ALLEN CRABBE: FOUR YEARS, $74.8 MILLION

Nets general manager Sean Marks has done an admirable job of navigating a muddled situation and brightening the outlook in Brooklyn. As such, choosing the most untradable contract on the Nets’ books is a much more difficult exercise than it would have been at this point last year.

Brooklyn already managed to move one of their worst contracts when they dealt Timofey Mozgov to Orlando. And their other two least team-friendly deals, belonging to Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll, are both one year older, meaning the Nets are almost free of those cap anchors.

At the end of the day, though, neither Crabbe nor Carroll’s contracts can be seen as anything but bad, so choosing the more untradable one wasn’t an easy exercise. But Carroll’s is at least expiring after this season, while Crabbe has a player option (worth a whopping $18.5 million) on his deal for 2019-20, making his the more immovable deal out of the two.

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

NICOLAS BATUM: FIVE YEARS, $120 MILLION

Not every player who makes this list is someone rotting at the end of a bench, getting paid not to play. Some of them are still quite serviceable, providing above-average-starter level play for their teams. Specifically, that’s the category Nicolas Batum falls under.

Batum still provides the Charlotte Hornets with solid two-way production, capable of playmaking some on offense while flashing decent moments defensively. But he’s already in his age-30 season, showing clear signs of regression (averaging merely 9.0 points nightly this year on 45.7 percent shooting) and is still only on Year-3 of a five-year, $120 million deal. Not just that, but the final year of his deal, which comes when he’ll be 32, isn’t just worth $27.1 million, it’s also got a player option on it.

We can pretty much guarantee you now that Batum won’t be opting out when the time arrives to make the decision. And that’s what’ll make this contract so hard to trade if Charlotte decides that’s what they want to do.

CHICAGO BULLS

CRISTIANO FELICIO: FOUR YEARS, $32 MILLION

There are a few things that make Cristiano Felicio’s contract… less bad. For one, his cap hit gets lower each of the next three seasons, starting at $8.5 million this year and ending at $7.5 million in 2020-21. Additionally, in the modern landscape with the salary cap increasing exponentially every year, an annual average value of $8 million isn’t that ridiculous.

At the same time, Felicio is currently averaging 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in this, his age-26 season.

So the Chicago Bulls are just going to have to eat this contract over the next few years, unless they’re able to include it as salary filler in a bigger deal. Other than that, it’s hard to envision Chicago being able to, or even bothering to, trade it.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

KEVIN LOVE: FOUR YEARS, $120.4 MILLION

Before going down with injury, Kevin Love was still performing at a borderline All-Star level. Averaging 19.0 points and 13.5 rebounds over four games, Love looked reinvigorated being the focal point of a team again, for the first time since his Minnesota days.

Unfortunately, he did end up going down to injury, continuing a troublesome trend of missing dozens of games every year. Heading into this season, Love had sat out 55 regular-season contests over the last two years due to a plethora of different ailments.

A player who has never been all that durable, with a ton of extra mileage on him from three straight Finals runs (Love missed most of Cleveland’s first Finals run), is cause for concern. Especially when you factor in that his max extension doesn’t even kick in until next season, when Love will be 31.

Even despite Love’s still-impressive level of play, those are a lot of troubling factors when determining the outlook of his contract. And it may be one that Cleveland eventually ends up regretting.

DALLAS MAVERICKS

HARRISON BARNES: FOUR YEARS, $94.4 MILLION

The Dallas Mavericks are actually pretty nicely set up heading into the offseason. Two of their trickier deals, Wesley Matthews’ and DeAndre Jordan’s, both expire this summer, and besides those two, the team only has one other guy making more than seven figures.

That guy would be Harrison Barnes, Dallas’ second-leading scorer. Barnes has become a pretty effective one-on-one bucket-getter, and a decent defender on the wing who can match up against multiple positions. Even so, just because his is the only big contract left on the Mavericks’ books after this offseason, we had to choose him as the team’s most untradable contract.

It’s not a bad contract per se, but the $25.1 million he’s owed next season – which is also a player option – is just a tad too rich for the level of production he provides.

DENVER NUGGETS

MASON PLUMLEE: THREE YEARS, $41.0 MILLION

Like Dallas, the Denver Nuggets are also set up well for the future. A good amount of their money for the future is tied up, sure, but at least it’s going to one of the best young cores in the league, headlined by superstar big man Nikola Jokic and the still-underrated Gary Harris. What’s more, their most questionable contract, belonging to Paul Millsap, at least contains a team option on it next season, when he’ll be owed $30 million.

So really, we were left with no choice but to choose backup center Mason Plumlee as their most difficult-to-move deal. And that’s because even though Plumlee is playing at an extremely high level off the bench for Denver (head coach Michael Malone is even making a push for him to get Sixth Man of the Year consideration), he’s still just a bench piece for them.

With Jokic around, there’s simply not enough playing time to go around for Plumlee, who is seeing the floor for merely 17.0 minutes nightly this year, the lowest amount of his career. Plumlee could merit starters minutes in a different situation, but paying him $14.0 million next year to play that briefly behind Jokic every night isn’t the soundest investment.

DETROIT PISTONS

JON LEUER: FOUR YEARS, $42 MILLION

The Detroit Pistons actually have a few contracts that could be considered not-too-team-friendly, but none of them are as questionable as Jon Leuer’s. Due to injury, Leuer missed 74 games last season. And thus far this year, he’s seen action in just nine contests, for a grand total of 72 minutes.

Leuer could be used as salary-filler in a bigger trade, but other than that, it’s hard to see the Pistons being able to move just him without attaching an asset to the deal. There’s really no reason for them to, either, since his contract expires after next season and takes up under 10 percent of their salary cap.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

ANDRE IGUODALA: THREE YEARS, $48 MILLION

It’s perfectly understandable why the Golden State Warriors re-signed Andre Iguodala to the deal they did. It was a hefty investment for a player who will strictly come off the bench (and who has averaged 7.4 points since joining the team), but it was one they had to make. Especially with their chief rivals in the West, the Rockets, trying to swipe the veteran wing in free agency a few years back.

The investment will ultimately prove worthwhile, too, with the Warriors appearing likely to win titles in at least two of the three years of the contract’s duration, and with Iguodala maintaining a strong level of two-way play, primarily when the playoffs roll around.

That doesn’t change the fact it would be a tricky contract to trade.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

CHRIS PAUL: FOUR YEARS, $159.7 MILLION

When healthy, Chris Paul is still one of the best floor generals the NBA has to offer. The problem is, as he approaches his 34th birthday, the days where Paul could maintain at least some consistent semblance of health are probably over.

Last season, Paul missed 24 regular-season games (and a few pretty important playoff contests late in the year, too). The season before that, he missed 21 regular-season contests. This season, he’s already been forced to sit out five games (though two were due to a suspension).

All in all, as of today, Paul is still elite, but the idea of paying him $44.2 million in 2021-22, his age-36 season, is downright scary.

INDIANA PACERS

DOUG MCDERMOTT: THREE YEARS, $22 MILLION

Overall, the Indiana Pacers’ books are pretty clean. Two of their bigger deals to aging players, Thaddeus Young and Darren Collison, both expire this season, and besides that, the rest of their long-term money is owed to the right types of players (the young and talented type).

But even though none of their players making eight figures are really being overpaid, that doesn’t mean none of their lesser-paid role players aren’t earning too much. And that’s how we arrive at Doug McDermott. The sharpshooting wing is merely owed $22 million over three years, one of the lowest amounts of any player who made this list, but considering he really serves just one purpose on either end of the floor, that may be a bit rich for what his level of production dictates.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

DANILO GALLINARI: THREE YEARS, $64.8 MILLION

Depending on what they do with impending free agent Tobias Harris, the Los Angeles Clippers are set up to have room for multiple max contracts this summer. Because of that, it’s difficult to find a truly troublesome contract on the roster, which forced us to settle on Danilo Gallinari for the second year running.

The Italian swingman is playing fantastic basketball this season, averaging 19.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest, and staying mostly healthy, something he’s had trouble with for his entire career. Regardless, he’s owed $21.6 million this season, and $22.6 million next year. His play certainly warrants a healthy deal, but if he gets injured again, the contract will immediately go back to looking like an albatross. Here’s hoping Gallinari can stay healthy going forward, as he’s one of the most efficient wings in the league when he’s not forced to miss action.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE: ONE YEAR, $12 MILLION

Like their cohabitants in L.A., the Lakers are also set up wonderfully heading into the summer of 2019. Apart from LeBron James, who, obviously, is worth every penny and then some, only one other player on the roster is making more than seven figures this season. And that’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Unfortunately, his play in 2018-19 hasn’t warranted his price tag. The 3-and-D 2-guard is averaging a meager 7.9 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting a paltry 32.5 percent from three. So even though Caldwell-Pope’s contract is expiring, it’s still the most questionable deal on the Lakers’ payroll. Trading it wouldn’t be all that difficult, but when compared to L.A.’s other team-friendly deals, it would probably be the hardest to trade.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

CHANDLER PARSONS: FOUR YEARS, $94.4 MILLION

Chandler Parsons has only played in three games this season for a total of 46 minutes. As has been the norm since he signed with Memphis, the 30-year-old has struggled to stay healthy due to continued knee troubles.

It’s especially unfortunate because when healthy, Parsons is a very solid player – a playmaking wing capable of scoring, rebounding and distributing the basketball at above-average rates. He’s the exact type of perimeter player who would have meshed perfectly with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, too.

Parsons has two years and $49.2 million left on his deal, and at this point, Memphis is just going to have to ride it out, because unless they’re willing to give up a premium asset, no rival team is going to be willing to take it on.

MIAMI HEAT

DION WAITERS: FOUR YEARS, $52 MILLION

Miami Heat 2-guard Dion Waiters has yet to play this season due to a slow recovery from ankle surgery he underwent almost a year ago. In 2017-18, he only played 30 games before the ankle troubles became too much to bear. In those 30 games, Waiters averaged 14.3 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 39.8 percent from the floor, and 30.6 percent from three.

Basically, last season, Waiters looked more like the player he’s always been, and less like the guy who excelled and played the best ball of his career with Miami in 2016-17. Whether that was due to the problematic ankle or not, it’s hard to say, but the fact he’s got two years and $24.8 million left on his deal after this season is troublesome for the Heat’s outlook.

Miami is better off holding on to Waiters and hoping he can get healthy, because trading him at this point would cost them a plus asset to convince another team to take him on.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: FOUR YEARS, $38.4 MILLION

Since joining the Milwaukee Bucks, Matthew Dellavedova has averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 assists per contest, and shot 38.3 percent from the floor overall. The Australian guard isn’t making some astronomical amount of money, but for his amount of nightly production, it might as well be.

Luckily for Milwaukee, Dellavedova’s contract expires after next season, because moving it would prove quite difficult.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

ANDREW WIGGINS: FOUR YEARS, $147.7 MILLION

We could have gone in one of two directions with this one, which might not be what you want to hear if you’re a Timberwolves fan. But both Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins are on monster deals without the numbers to back up the money they’re making.

Dieng has three years left on a four-year, $62.8 million contract, while putting up 5.2 points and 4.0 boards per game on 44.9 percent shooting… as a big man. Regardless, we went with Wiggins due to the fact his contract is still on Year-1 out of four, and his play is somehow regressing as opposed to improving with experience. Wiggins is averaging 15.1 points nightly while hitting just 37.7 percent of his field-goal attempts, the worst mark of his career.

Now in his age-23 season, it’s time for Wiggins to start realizing his potential, because if he doesn’t, his enormous contract is only going to look worse and worse as time goes on.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

SOLOMON HILL: FOUR YEARS, $48 MILLION

The Pelicans signed Solomon Hill back in 2016, when it became the one-year norm for role players to sign big-time contracts, all far too rich for the level of players that were signing them.

One such player was Hill. Despite being a decent (at best) role player during his time with the Pacers, Hill landed a deal with New Orleans that paid him the annual amount that most starters were making at the time.

And how did Hill reward them for the deal? By averaging 6.0 points and shooting 33.1 percent from three-point range since joining the team, as a supposed 3-and-D specialist.

The one saving grace for the Pelicans is that there’s just one year left on the deal after this season passes, so at least they won’t have that bad money on their books for much longer.

NEW YORK KNICKS

TIM HARDAWAY JR: FOUR YEARS, $71.0 MILLION

Like the two teams in L.A., the New York Knicks are also set up very nicely heading into the 2019 offseason, meaning ] there aren’t many bad deals on their books at the moment.

The most questionable one, if we could even call it that, would be Tim Hardaway Jr.’s, who has three years and $54.5 million left on his contract. It should be noted, though, that at least Hardaway is producing while on his relatively hefty deal. The Miami native is putting up a career-high 22.1 points per game while knocking down a healthy 36.0 percent of his three-point looks.

Hardaway may be getting paid like an above-average starter, but his play, for the most part, matches the paycheck.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

ANDRE ROBERSON: THREE YEARS, $30 MILLION

It’s not his fault, but Andre Roberson hasn’t been able to live up to the contract he signed in the summer of 2017. It’s a shame, too, because paying a defender of Roberson’s caliber just $10 million per year would have been a steal for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And early on last season, Roberson’s contract did look like a steal. Even though he was averaging just 5.0 points per game, the Thunder had a +9.9 swing rating with him on the floor, proving just how invaluable his defense was to the lineup.

Unfortunately, Roberson suffered a ruptured patella tendon 10 months ago that he still hasn’t been able to bounce back from. After a series of setbacks, we still have yet to see Roberson hit the floor in 2018-19.

Hopefully he’s able to suit up again at some point this season, because Oklahoma City, as has been proven since Roberson was drafted, is a better team when he’s in the rotation.

ORLANDO MAGIC

TIMOFEY MOZGOV: FOUR YEARS, $64 MILLION

It’s kind of ironic to call someone who’s been traded twice in the last year “untradable”, but that’s how bad Mozgov contract is. With two years and $32.7 million left on it, it’s likelier that Mozgov gets bought out by Orlando than him getting traded again, though never say never.

Mozgov had yet to see the floor for a minute of action this season.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

MARKELLE FULTZ: THREE YEARS, $25.1 MILLION

It was nearly impossible to pick an untradable contract on the Philadelphia 76ers, as the team’s highest-paid stars, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler, have been worth every single penny. What’s more, their shakiest deal, Wilson Chandler’s, is expiring at the culmination of this season. Besides him, no one else on the team is really getting overpaid.

Which brings us to Markelle Fultz.

His injury issues have been well-documented, so we don’t need to rehash them. But a guard who can’t shoot a basketball (and doesn’t have Ben Simmons’ otherworldly tools) is one who will struggle for playing time in the modern NBA.

If the Sixers did try to move on from Fultz, the return they would get wouldn’t be anywhere near as rich as it would have been even before this very season. It’s simply not the moment for other teams to bet anything on him, which would make him difficult to move for Philadelphia.

PHOENIX SUNS

RYAN ANDERSON: FOUR YEARS, $80 MILLION

Phoenix Suns stretch-4 Ryan Anderson was acquired, via trade, by Phoenix last summer, so, admittedly, it’s unfair to label him as untradable. But, like Mozgov, the odds of Anderson getting traded again are quite slim. Even despite the fact his contract is guaranteed for just $15.6 million nest season.

Maybe if he were playing better, the Suns could find a contender in need of shooting to swing a deal for him – but that’s simply not the case. Through 14 games, Anderson is averaging 4.0 points nightly while shooting 20.6 percent from three-point range.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

MEYERS LEONARD: FOUR YEARS, $41 MILLION

After a rough 2017-18, Meyers Leonard has bounced back nicely thus far this year, earning his way back into head coach Terry Stotts’ rotation. But even with that being the case, Leonard’s contract is still pretty brutal.

A backup big man who plays just 13.2 minutes a night (up from 7.7 minutes per game last year, at least), Leonard is earning the equivalent of what some starting centers get paid (the center is owed $10.6 million this year and $11.3 million next) through 2019-20. Even with his improved play, there’s no getting around what a negative asset that contract is.

SACRAMENTO KINGS

ZACH RANDOLPH: TWO YEARS, $24 MILLION

The majority of the Sacramento Kings’ roster is either on their rookie-scale deal, or earning seven figures. Only two guys on the team don’t fall under that umbrella: Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert – and they’re both on expiring deals, so neither contract can be seen as that bad.

Nevertheless, we went with Randolph as the more untradable deal because at least Shumpert is getting playing time (and performing decently well with it, actually). Randolph, on the other hand has yet to see the floor thus far this season. His deal will be off the books by the summer, but at the moment, it likely isn’t going anywhere, barring a promise of playing time elsewhere and a buyout.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

PATRICK MILLS: FOUR YEARS, $49.7 MILLION

When we ran this series last year, we chose Pau Gasol as the San Antonio Spurs’ most untradable deal. But because he’s only got one year left on his contract after this one, and since it’s only guaranteed for roughly $6.7 million, we decided to change it up this year.

So we went with Patty Mills.

It’s not that Mills isn’t performing (the Australian guard is averaging a solid 10.0 points per game while shooting a tidy 40.0 percent from three), it’s that he’s making starter money as a career bench player.

At an annual average value of $12.4 million, Mills’ contract is just too rich for the level of player he is. In two years, he’ll be in his age-32 season and the Spurs will be paying him $13.3 million.

Even with the expanding cap, that’s not great.

TORONTO RAPTORS

NORMAN POWELL: FOUR YEARS, $42.0 MILLION

At the time the contract was agreed upon, Norman Powell’s extension with the Toronto Raptors looked like it came at a very team-friendly price. Now, just one year later, that no longer appears to be the case.

Over the past two seasons, Powell has averaged just 5.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in 15.1 minutes of action. To his credit, at least he’s knocking down 40.9 percent of his threes this year after that clip plummeted to 28.5 percent last season, but overall, his production has nosedived, making his contract the most immovable on the Raptors’ books.

UTAH JAZZ

DANTE EXUM: THREE YEARS, $33 MILLION

When the Utah Jazz re-signed Dante Exum this past summer, it was at a price that had the future in mind. If the Australian swingman can reach his full potential, paying him an annual average value of $11 million will look like a steal.

The thing is, thus far this season, it doesn’t look like he’ll be reaching his potential anytime soon. Exum is averaging 6.4 points and shooting 37.1 percent from the floor overall, and the Jazz are getting outscored when he’s on the court.

Still, Exum is just 23 years old, so although the early return on investment isn’t great, there’s plenty of time for that to change. Plus, even if it doesn’t, at least the third year of his deal is non-guaranteed, so Utah can get out of the contract without paying the full $33 million.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

IAN MAHINMI: FOUR YEARS, $64 MILLION

With the way the Washington Wizards’ season has gone, and with how their books are set up, we could have gone in a multitude of directions here. Both John Wall and Otto Porter, the team’s first- and third-highest paid players, aren’t exactly living up to their deals. Some have even gone as far as to suggest Wall, whose super-max extension (worth four years and $169.4 million) will kick in next year, would be extremely difficult to trade, at least without Washington attaching an asset to the deal.

At the end of the day, though, it’s hard for one to even wrap their mind around paying Ian Mahinmi, a career 5.1-point, 4.3-rebound player, $16 million per year. The Wizards still owe Mahimni the final two years of his contract, without any sort of team protection on it, so for the second year running, we had to go with Mahimni as the Wizards’ worst deal.

Maybe that’ll change next year once Wall’s massive contract extension kicks in, but for now, it’s the third-string center being paid like an above-average starter who we think is the team’s hardest-to-trade deal.

You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.

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