Not all NBA stars get the big contracts and not everyone that is paid a big sum turns out to be an All-Star. Tracy McGrady once said that he’ll take the money over the chance to be in a contender anytime.
He indicated in an interview that when you’re 50 hanging out in your yacht, you would much appreciate the $100m than the chance to be in a contender.
The not all the players here had the chance to reject a big payday. Some were expectant of it, given their season, but never even received an offer.
6. Latrell Sprewell – $21m/3 yrs
He was the infamous player that chocked his own coach, PJ Carlisimo, when he played for the Golden State Warriors in 1997. His play mostly received notice when he was traded to the New York Knicks in 1999 and helped the Knicks reach the NBA finals. By the 03-04 season, he was part of the big 3 in Minnesota Timberwolves led by Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassel as the #1 team in the west. In 05, his production took at dip to 12.7 pts per game. The Timberwolves offered him a $21m/3 yr deal even if he was going to be 35 when the contract kicks in.
Sprewell felt he deserved more than that. No other team made any offers. He opted to retire instead.
5. Bonzi Wells – $38.5m/5 yrs
He was drafted 11th overall by the Detroit Pistons but his rights were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, which was later branded as the JailBlazers. He was definitely an impact guy and his best year was in the 2001-02 where he averaged 17 points per game. In the 05-06 season, he helped a Sacramento team reach the playoffs. The Kings extended an offer of $38.5m for 5 years, through his agent. Without consulting Bonzi, his agent declined on the offer. The Kings then stuck with John Salmons. Wells played two more seasons in the NBA averaging $2m per year.
4. Nerlens Noel – $70m/4 yrs
He was the #1 prospect in High School in 2012. He was expected to be the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft but slid all the way to the 6th due to his ACL injury concerns and was traded to the Sixers that night. While he was in the “process,” the Sixers were not in a win now mode and his skills neither matched Joel Embid or Jahlil Okafor’s game.
He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks from 2016-2018. In 2017, the Mavs offered him $70m/4 years but he declined, and instead signed a $4m qualifying offer that allowed him to be an unrestricted agent by 2018 and get a bigger payday.
As of 2019, the OKC Thunder is paying $1.9m for the year with no deals after that.
3. Joe Smith – $80m/6 yrs
He was selected 1st overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1995 NBA draft. In 1998, though he was hot commodity, a lot of eyebrows were raised when he signed for a minimal $1.7 1 year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 1999, it was discovered that he had an underground deal with the Timberwolves, where he would sign 3 1-year deals for a small price, to allow the wolves to sign other players without going over the cap, which in turn, they can sign him using bird rights after his 3rd year without going over the cap. The league slapped sanctions on the Timberwolves. Joe could have signed for a $80/6 year deal.
He didn’t do too bad as he’s earned roughly $5m per year until 2011 but he could have done much better.
2. Isaiah Thomas – $100m
Words to describe his salary: MAJOR DISCOUNT
As the 60th pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2011 draft, Isaiah Thomas made a lot of rookies look bad as he finished 7th in NBA Rookie of the Year voting. However, as the 60th pick, his salary barely reached $500,000 for that year and only went as high as $884k on the final year of his rookie contract.
His biggest contract was $27m for 4 years. Former teammate, Evan Turner, was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers for 4 year, $70m, while teammate Al Horford had a 4 year, $113m contract. In the 2016-2017 season, Thomas finished 5th in the 2017 MVP race. That year, even Harrison Barnes was paid $94m for 4 years by the Mavericks. When Thomas was asked about his pending 2018 free agency, he was quoted by saying, “bring out the brinks truck.”
He was traded that summer to the Cleveland Cavaliers, then to the Lakers that same season. He has since averaged $2m per season in Denver and Washington.
1. Derrick Rose $150m/5 yrs
Everyone knows and loves Drose. He definitely got paid in 2011 when he signed a 5 year, $94.8m extension with Chicago Bulls. However, the injury bug just kept hitting rose during his career. He was barely able to play a season without missing time.
In 2016, NBA contracts exploded. 2009 draftee, Steph Curry finally got a deserving 5-year $200m deal with the Golden State Warriors. Jrue Holiday even received $125m for 5 years with the Pelicans. Derrick Rose could have easily been a $150m player should have remained healthy. Instead, he signed for small 1-2 year deals such as $400k with the Timberwolves in 2017-2018, where he carried them. In 2019, he signed a $15m, 2 year contract with the Detroit Pistons. That’s not bad for most of us but not for someone of his caliber.