Skip to main content

As captivating as the NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors was, many fans and media members couldn’t wait to look ahead to the 2019 free agency period. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are both unrestricted free agents, and the decisions of both players will alter the NBA landscape for the foreseeable future. Both players could receive max contracts, but not every max deal is good. Players can underperform, succumb to injuries, or not fit in with the new coaching staff. Today we will look at the five worst NBA max contracts we’ve ever seen (in no particular order).

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway: Seven years, $87 million

The deal Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway signed with Phoenix remains one of the worst max contracts in NBA history.
The deal Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway signed with Phoenix remains one of the worst max contracts in NBA history. | Jeff Gross/Getty Images
  • Phoenix Suns

Penny Hardaway was an incredible playmaker during his time with the Orlando Magic, helping lead them to an NBA Finals appearance. Phoenix already had one of the games best playmakers in Jason Kidd, so teaming him up with Hardaway seemed like an excellent fit for the franchise.

Hardaway averaged 16-5-5 in his first season with the Suns in 1999-2000, and looked like the injuries he dealt with in Orlando were behind him. However, that wasn’t the case. He had microfracture surgery the following year, his game never recovered, and the injuries cut his career short.

Allan Houston: Six years, $100 million

  • New York Knicks

The New York Knicks signed a 30-year-old Allan Houston to a max deal in 2001-02. They hoped he could replicate his 18.7 points per game from the 2000-01 season, but instead all they got was one of the worst max contracts sever. Houston was a solid performer, but he didn’t live up to expectations at all, and chronic knee pain limited him to just 70 games in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. He retired at the end of the 2005 season.

John Wall: Four years, $170 million

  • Washington Wizards

John Wall’s contract might be the worst in the NBA in 2019, and it has to be one of the worst max contracts ever. The deal starts next season, but after tearing his Achilles earlier this season, Wall may not even suit up in 2019. Given his injury history, the Wizards may be looking at a future with a severely diminished Wall in the lineup, or not in the lineup at all.

The first year of the deal is worth $38 million, and it tops out at $47 million when Wall turns 32. The worst part about the contract? There’s a 15% increase in the contract if they trade Wall. Washington would probably love to blow up the current team and start over, but with the size of his contract, don’t look for Wall to be moved anytime soon.

Chandler Parsons: Four years, $94 million

  • Memphis Grizzlies

After stops in Houston and Dallas, Parsons looked to help the Memphis Grizzlies with the one spot in their starting five that was a considerable weakness — small forward. During the salary cap spike of 2016, the Grizzlies threw a massive deal to a player who averaged just 14 points and five rebounds per game.

Parsons entered the contract coming off of two knee surgeries in two years, and he played in just 95 games in three seasons for Memphis. The worst part? When he sees action on the floor, he is putting up just seven points per game! Parsons’ deal is easily one of the worst max contracts an NBA team ever offered.

Nicolas Batum: Five years, $120 million

  • Charlotte Hornets

When the Hornets acquired Batum in a trade with the Trail Blazers, they thought they were getting an excellent two-way player that could help them grow into a threat in the Eastern Conference. Sadly, he hasn’t lived up to the billing and has been an average player at best.

Batum’s deal is one of the worst max contracts for two reasons. First, he’s put up just 12 points and five rebounds per game during his time with Charlotte (including nine ppg his season), so he is nowhere near justifying the amount of the contract. Second, there are two years and $52 million left on the contract over the next two seasons.