The most difficult contracts to trade in the NBA

The most difficult contracts to trade in the NBA


The most difficult contracts to trade in the NBA

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Every year there are new contracts negotiated that turn out to be negative values. While it’s debatable if there is any contract that is truly “untradeable”, there are certainly few that will be very hard to move. Here are some players who fit that mold:

John Wall (Houston)

John Wall, Houston Rockets

Owed salary: $91,677,600 through 2022-23 (age 32 season)

John Wall ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

John Wall ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

John Wall tops this list for the second year in a row. Availability has been his biggest issue as he has appeared in just 40 games so far in his supermax deal. Although Wall is very productive, he is still performing far below the value of his contract. This one could be headed for a buyout in the near future.

Rudy Gobert (Utah)

Owed salary: $205,000,000 through 2025-26 (age 33 season)

Rudy Gobert ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Rudy Gobert ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

It’s not debatable that Rudy Gobert is a generational defensive player who can single-handedly be the foundation for a team’s defense. With that said, it’s questionable if what Gobert is giving the Jazz now is worth $41 million annually, and it seems unlikely the eight-year veteran will get significantly better than he is now.

Kevin Love (Cleveland)

Owed salary: $60,201,086 through 2022-23 (age 34 season)

Kevin Love may be in buyout negotiations with the Cavaliers despite reportedly not being interested in getting one. He has outgrown his fit there with the organization focusing completely on their young players. Oklahoma City could generate enough cap space to absorb him outright in a trade but it could cost Cleveland a lot of draft equity. A buyout could come down to the amount of money he is willing to give back.

Jimmy Butler (Miami)

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Owed salary: $215,362,800 through 2025-26 (age 36 season)

Jimmy Butler has proven he’s worth the maximum contract he’s currently on. He added an additional three years projected at $142 million that would pay him $51 million in his age 36 season. There’s a case for players like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant who are also set to earn $50 million on their extensions to be on this list but Butler’s trajectory into his thirties may not be as favorable as theirs.

Tobias Harris (Philadelphia)

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

Owed salary: $112,899,150 through 2023-24 (age 31 season)

Tobias Harris ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Tobias Harris ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Tobias Harris has remained extremely consistent over the years and just had another strong season worthy of All-Star consideration. Teams would love to trade for him but he’s being paid close to a maximum salary and is earning more than several All-Stars. According to ProFitX, he underperformed his 2020-21 salary by almost $5 million. If he was earning that much less annually, more teams would be bargaining for him.

Jarrett Allen (Cleveland)

Cleveland Cavaliers' Jarrett Allen looks to pass in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Cleveland.

Owed salary: $100,000,000 through 2025-26 (age 28 season)

The Cavaliers put themselves in a position to pay Jarrett Allen $100 million as soon as they traded for him. Allen is now one of the highest-paid centers in the league, earning more than big men such as Clint Capela and Domantas Sabonis. It’s unclear who Cleveland was bidding against, especially since no team with cap space needing a center had enough cap space to match $20 million annually.

Klay Thompson (Golden State)

Owed salary: $121,800,240 through 2023-24 (age 34 season)

Klay Thompson has yet to play a single game on his maximum deal and might not be cleared to return until Christmas. Consecutive ACL and Achilles injuries make it unclear just how much of ‘Klay Thompson’ will actually return. There should still be teams interested in him, but the Warriors could be stuck if he can’t give them enough on the court.

Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers)

Owed salary: $91,274,624 through 2022-23 (age 34 season)

Russell Westbrook being traded three times in consecutive years proves he still has interested suitors in the league, but those suitors may be running out. If things don’t work out in Los Angeles and they want to go in a different direction, it’s tough to identify a team that makes sense to trade for him. It seems likely that Westbrook will finish out his contract with the Lakers.

Gordon Hayward (Charlotte)

Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets

Owed salary: $91,500,000 through 2023-24 (age 34 season)

This dollar value is fine but the years on this deal make it risky on the latter half of it. Gordon Hayward played really well last year but missed the end of the season and the play-in due to yet another injury. Selling high on him is definitely worth considering if there’s a market for him even if it hurts their playoff chances this year.

Davis Bertans (Washington)

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards

Owed salary: $65,000,000 through 2024-25 (age 32 season)

Between players such as Duncan Robinson and Joe Harris getting similarly paid, Davis Bertans so far seems like the most negative value of that group. There’s still a lot of upside for him to hit value on his contract if he can get his shot falling consistently again.

DeMar DeRozan (Chicago)

Owed salary: $81,900,000 through 2023-24 (age 34 season)

It really felt like the market was caving in on DeMar DeRozan, which calls to question who exactly Chicago was bidding against when they gave him $82 million. His skill set is a little redundant with the Bulls so it wouldn’t be surprising if they look to move him later.

Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas)

Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

Owed salary: $101,500,200 through 2023-24 (age 28 season)

Kristaps Porzingis ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Kristaps Porzingis ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Availability has been Kristaps Porzingis biggest obstacle so far in his time in Dallas. Still, he hasn’t quite produced like a maximum player when on the court. This combined with his injury history makes him a huge risk for other teams to acquire him.

Chris Paul (Phoenix)

Owed salary: $75 million through 2023-24 (age 39 season)

Chris Paul netted an additional $31 million by getting the Suns to the Finals and declining his $44 million player option for a four-year deal worth $120 million. Only the first two years are fully guaranteed with the third year guaranteed for $15.8 million. His age poses an immediate risk for the guaranteed portion of the contract despite Phoenix having an early out on the deal.

Paul George (LA Clippers)

nba rumors rankings best small forwards 2021-22 doncic kawhi durant lebron james jimmy butler jayson tatum

Owed salary: $176,265,152 through 2024-25 (age 35 season)

The way Paul George played in the playoffs gives plenty of confidence this will be a positive value extension but there’s some real downside on the tail-end of it. Both he and Kawhi Leonard are set to earn $49 million in 2024-25, and it’s very possible both players add more years on top of their current deals via extensions. Like with Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler, this is very much a contract the Clippers will likely be married to until the very end.

Andrew Wiggins (Golden State)

Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors

Owed salary: $121,800,240 through 2023-24 (age 28 season)

Andrew Wiggins ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Andrew Wiggins ProFitX 2021-22 Projection

Andrew Wiggins has come a long way down this list thanks to his solid contributions to the Warriors. Despite his improvements, he is still overpaid by a good margin, according to ProFitX. While there could be teams interested in his services, his contract makes him a neutral value at best. Wiggins is Golden State’s logical salary filler in a potential consolidation trade.

Eric Gordon (Houston)

Eric Gordon

Owed salary: $37,787,178 through 2022-23 (age 34 season)

Eric Gordon’s extension doesn’t look so bad considering that his $20.9 million salary for 2023-24 is non-guaranteed. It becomes guaranteed if the team Gordon is on wins the championship, which causes a bit of a conundrum for interested teams. Ideally, a contender would like to trade for him, but doing so and winning a championship guarantees the last year of his deal. Gordon could seriously elevate the ceiling of a contender.

Note: ProFitX is a dynamic financial and performance index powered by Artificial Intelligence with front-office optics displaying 17 visual and time-series models for 480-plus NBA athletes. The Athledex models historical, dynamic and future performance data to monitor and project insights on contracts, performance, injuries, team fit, development, and potential.

Picture: Coley Cleary / USA TODAY Sports Media Group illustration

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