Ranking the 10 team-friendliest contracts in the NBA
Money's been spent at a preposterous pace across the NBA over the past three summers.
The league's $24-billion TV deal, signed in 2014, came into effect in 2016, sending the salary cap skyrocketing by $24.1 million that summer. Players like Bismack Biyombo (four years, $72 million), Luol Deng (four years, $72 million), and Evan Turner (four years, $70 million) got paid. Basketball teams, like people, have regrets.
But enough about the bad deals. After putting together a list of the Association's 20 worst contracts, below you'll find 10 players on the league's team-friendliest deals.
Before we get into it, here are the contracts that don't qualify for consideration:
- No one-year deals
- No player option for 2019-20
- No rookie-scale deals
- No max deals since cap spike
10. Jonathon Simmons - Orlando Magic
Signed 3-year, $20M deal in 2017
Simmons was a late bloomer, entering the league at 26 and quickly becoming a fan favorite in San Antonio after some playoff heroics in his sophomore season. In a surprise move, the Spurs withdrew their qualifying offer to Simmons last summer, making him a free agent, and he eventually settled on a three-year, $20-million contract with the Magic.
The forward averaged 13.9 points and 3.5 boards despite making a measly $6.3 million. Even better for Orlando, the deal's final year isn't fully guaranteed.
9) Andre Roberson - Oklahoma City Thunder
Signed 3-year, $30M deal in 2017
The Thunder were a mess offensively for much of last season, struggling to resolve the roles of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. What kept them afloat was Roberson's elite defensive presence - he was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year before rupturing his patellar tendon, causing him to miss the second half of the season.
If Roberson gets back to form, just under $21 million over two years is a small price to pay for the league's premier perimeter defender, regardless of his offensive deficiencies.
8) Robert Covington - Philadelphia 76ers
Signed 5-year, $63M deal in 2017
The 76ers gave Covington a four-year extension to ensure their 3-and-D stud will continue spacing the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He made the All-Defensive Team last season while averaging 12.6 points (on 37 percent shooting from deep) and 5.4 boards.
7) Josh Richardson - Miami Heat
Signed 4-year, $42M deal in 2017
Inconsistency plagued Richardson's first two seasons with the Heat, but he's slowly found his role as a slasher and 3-point weapon on offense. He's also a ferocious defender, despite being undersized at small forward (6-foot-6). His contract could top this list if the 24-year-old takes another leap.
6) P.J. Tucker - Houston Rockets
Signed 4-year, $32M deal in 2017
He may be getting up there in age, but after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, Tucker's the de facto defensive specialist on an oddly structured Rockets team. While the Biyombos of the world are being paid big money despite clear deficiencies, Tucker's on a relatively cheap deal for someone Houston plugged in as an undersized center during its efforts to topple the Golden State Warriors.
5) Joe Ingles - Utah Jazz
Signed 4-year, $52M deal in 2017
Utah paid Ingles to take over at small forward upon Gordon Hayward's departure to Boston, and the Aussie helped Jazz fans forget about their former franchise player after going toe to toe with Paul George in the Jazz's Round 1 win over OKC last season. Ingles fits in seamlessly between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, hitting 3-pointers at an elite level (44 percent on 5.7 attempts per game).
4) Eric Gordon - Houston Rockets
Signed 4-year, $53M deal in 2016
The nagging injuries that almost derailed Gordon's career are in the past, and the four-year contract he signed two years ago has become an absolute steal. Gordon topped his Sixth Man of the Year performance in 2016-17 by averaging 18 points a night during Houston's 65-win 2017-18 season.
3) Victor Oladipo - Indiana Pacers
Signed 4-year, $84M deal in 2016
Paying most players $21 million per year isn't a bargain. But it's a different story in Oladipo's case. He's quickly become the face of the Pacers after averaging career highs in points (23.1), rebounds (5.2), assists (4.3), and steals (2.4) last season.
2) Draymond Green - Golden State Warriors
Signed 5-year, $82M deal in 2015
Green is a master of defensive versatility and can expect a massive raise when he's a free agent in 2020. The heart and soul of the two-time defending champs has played in three straight All-Star Games and was named 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.
He's averaged at least 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, one block, and one steal in the first three seasons of his contract.
1) Lou Williams - Los Angeles Clippers
Signed 3-year, $24M deal in 2018
* $1.5M guaranteed
Williams played at the highest level of his career last season, averaging 22.6 points and 5.3 assists, and narrowly missed making the All-Star Game. He turned heads when he agreed to a cheap deal in the midst of his best season. It's almost criminal that the Clippers locked up the Sixth Man of the Year for only $24 million over three seasons - with a partially guaranteed final year.