The NBA has seen quite a few incredible contract busts in its long history. In sport, a number of reasons can kickstart, or even halt a player’s development suddenly. Quite a few NBA players have seen their careers cut short due to niggling and long-term injuries, leading to financial issues for their teams.
Sometimes, the NBA teams in question might end up making terrible decisions with contract negotiations. The league has seen its fair share of humungous contract busts, with players returning mere fractions of the investment that teams initially made.
5 of the biggest contract busts in NBA history
#5 Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
We begin with a player who had already provided warning signs for his team. Back in 2007-08, Gilbert Arenas started just 8 NBA matches due to a knee injury. Yet the Wizards were tempted to keep him due to back-to-back seasons in which Arenas had averaged close to 30 points per game.
As a result, the Washington Wizards offered him a whopping six-year, $111 million deal, with hugely catastrophic results. For the next three years, he wasn’t half the player he used to be, and was famously involved in an armed standoff with teammate Javaris Crittenton. Arenas moved on to Orlando Magic in December 2010.
#4 Chandler Parsons – Memphis Grizzlies
Chandler Parsons arguably played his best basketball for the Houston Rockets. He signed a $46 million, three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, where he spent two injury-affected seasons. Parsons, who was never a prolific scorer, was largely inconsistent with his shooting and saw a continuous decline in the coming years.
As it turned out, the fact that his Mavericks contract was signed at a strip-club was not the most bizarre contract-related situation he was involved in. Parsons was offered a three-year, $94 million deal by the Memphis Grizzlies despite his constant injuries. What followed were three seasons in which he started a grand total of 45 NBA matches for his team, averaging less than 10 points per game.
#3 Allan Houston – New York Knicks
The New York Knicks can possibly be forgiven for splurging $100 million in a six-year deal for Allan Houston, albeit he was 30 years old. Houston finished his second consecutive All-Star season and averaged close to 20 points per game. Once the $100 million deal was signed in 2001, Allan Houston improved upon his previous seasons, and was well over the 20-point mark.
His 3-point shooting always hovered around the 40% mark, although constant niggling injuries and age saw to a quick decline. Houston spent two more years at the New York Knicks, had multiple knee injuries and was never the player he once was. The 6-year contract led to the creation of the Allan Houston rule, with teams now allowed to waive a player without paying any luxury tax regardless of the contract stipulations.
#2 Omer Asik – New Orleans Pelicans
Turkish center Omer Asik was traded by the Houston Rockets to the New Orleans Pelicans back in July 2014. Never a prolific scorer, he spent four seasons with the Rockets, with three of those plighted by multiple injuries.
What followed was more bizarre. The New Orleans Pelicans saw it fit to offer him a four year contract worth $44 million. The deal had an option of a fifth year, taking the overall value to a whopping $60 million. He was a tidy defensive rebounder but had only one season in which he scored in double digits. For the Pelicans, he started 159 NBA games in five seasons, averaging less than 3 points during the final 3.
#1 Jerome James – New York Knicks
In what is widely accepted to be the biggest contract bust of all time, Jerome James was offered a $30 million NBA contract by the New York Knicks back in 2005. He spent five seasons with the Seattle Supersonics without ever averaging more than 5 points per game in a season, but had impressed during the 2005 NBA playoffs.
Following this, the then 29-year old arrived at the Knicks’ training camp with poor fitness and never regained it. His point tally was less than 4 per game throughout, as he started 20 NBA matches over the next two seasons. He was contracted for another three years, but did not start a single game, and featured in a total of just 4 NBA matches.