Top 5 Worst NBA Contracts: Which Franchises Committed A Massive Mistake?

I just reviewed the top five best contracts in the NBA, and a common theme was general manager’s wisely extending early and projecting talent extremely well. However, the opposite also happens, as general managers often overvalue potential or one great season in their haste to create a dynamic championship core. Therefore, mistakes run rampant throughout the league. A common theme for worst contracts? Don’t pay players who only shoot three-pointers and do nothing else. 

Factors that went into the rankings included remaining years, remaining salary, immediate talent, potential talent, injury risk, fit with the franchise direction, and how easy the contract is to trade. It doesn’t consider the past, so a player on an expiring terrible contract won’t be penalized for the previous years, just this current one. Essentially, view his contract as starting this season. I tried to picture it as value per dollar to standardize across the wide variety of contract sizes. Also, rookie contracts are ineligible for the rankings. 

*top five best contracts article can be found here

*all contract information from spotrac 

5. Davis Bertans | Dallas Mavericks

SeasonCap Hit
2024-25 (Player Option)$16,000,000

Bertans is at 4.4 PPG in 9.8 MPG, and the only value he provides is three-point shooting. His defense, ball handling and playmaking are poor, which makes it difficult to justify minutes for him. I don’t expect Bertans to see any meaningful playoff minutes, and his lack of opportunities means the Mavericks cannot try to showcase him for a trade. 

Even if he played well, no franchise would realistically view his contract as anything but a salary cap blemish. Bertans is at $16,000,000 this season, and he’s owed $33,000,000 over the next two seasons. The last year is a player option, but it would be utterly shocking if Bertans opted out considering he won’t approach anything near that number for his next contract. While it’s not a devastating amount, $16,000,000 could acquire a good starter or great role player – Bruce Brown just signed for about $6,600,000 per year last off-season. With Luka’s enormous contract absorbing cap space, this space could have been exceptionally useful towards improving the roster. 

4. Zach LaVine | Chicago Bulls

SeasonCap Hit
2026-27 (Player Option)$48,967,380

With averages of 22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 4.3 APG on a 45/38/83 shooting split, LaVine is a fringe All-Star. He spaces the floor, can create off the dribble, and plays average defense when engaged. However, I believe LaVine has hit his ceiling as a player and is best suited as a third option on a championship team. The bright side for LaVine is that his skills are in demand, and he remains just 27-years-old. His contract is another story though.

LaVine is set to make $37,096,500 this season and a massive $178,063,200 across the next four seasons (an average annual salary of $44,515,800). He owns a player option for the last season, but it’s highly unlikely LaVine opts out of $48,967,380. That’s superstar money for a player who isn’t close to an All-NBA berth. While there is no denying his skill, it’s just far too much and poses a headache for salary cap maneuvering. 

3. Rudy Gobert | Minnesota Timberwolves

SeasonCap Hit
2025-26 (Player Option)$46,655,173

Gobert can be classified as a polarizing player. He is routinely hunted on the perimeter during the playoffs, and his complete lack of aggression and inability to punish mismatches deems him a mediocre to average offensive player. However, Gobert remains a dominant interior defender and rebounder. He assuredly adds value in a vacuum, but context is vital here. The Towns-Gobert experiment isn’t working in the slightest because what made Towns dangerous was his unique skill set for a center. As a power forward, he’s essentially a taller, less mobile forward, which saps the offensive advantage he provided. In addition, Gobert being anchored in the paint means Edwards is struggling with slashing to the basket. The fact that Gobert diminishes Minnesota’s two star players constitutes a major red flag. 

His contract is also untradeable. Gobert will make $38,172,414 this season and $131,482,760 over the next three seasons (an average annual salary of $43,827,586.70). He has a player option for the final year, but there is no scenario where Gobert turns down the $46,655,173. Essentially, Minnesota will pay Gobert superstar money despite him not even being a fringe All-NBA caliber player. As a result, their cap space is completely tied down and removes any option of improving the roster outside of trading Towns, Edwards, or McDaniels. 

2. Duncan Robinson | Miami Heat

SeasonCap Hit
2025-26 (Player Option)$19,888,000

Much like Bertans, the only value Robinson provides is three-point shooting. He can’t defend well, and he doesn’t offer any shot creation. Given that he’s plummeted to a 33.1 3PT% this season, the Heat are only playing him 17.9 MPG compared to 31.4 MPG two seasons ago. If his shot continues to struggle, he will be unplayable in the playoffs because he doesn’t offset his many negatives. 

The Heat are also stuck with his atrocious contract, as no team is even remotely interested. Robinson is making $16,902,200 this season and $57,448,000 over the next three seasons. The last season is a player option, but there’s no chance Robinson opts out of $19,888,000. Therefore, Miami must essentially attempt to build a championship roster with 20 million less in cap space than other franchises. That’s a significant portion – Jalen Brunson just signed for about 25 million per year last off-season. 

1. Bradley Beal | Washington Wizards

SeasonCap Hit
2026-27 (Player Option)$57,128,610

This ranking pains me, as I’m higher on Beal than most. He remains a dynamic scorer who can seamlessly play on or off-ball, space the floor, facilitate, and draw free throws. Beal recently scored 30 PPG in back to back seasons, and he’s only at 22.9 PPG this season because of a reduction in volume, not efficiency. In fact, Beal is currently at a career high 52.5 FG%. 

That contract though…wow. He’s due $43,279,250 this season and a startling $207,740,400 over the next four seasons (an average annual value of $51,935,100). It’s unfathomable that Beal exercises his player option for the last year considering he is set to make nearly 60 million then. That’s Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic territory, not Beal territory. The contract also runs through his age 29-33 seasons, so it’s possible the Wizards are paying for a diminished product by the end. I’m not a fan of what the contract indicates too; by signing, Washington is settling for mediocrity for the next four years. I could still see the Mavericks, Lakers, or Knicks trading for Beal, but the amount of money and injury risk for a high-end third option ranks Beal as the worst contract in the NBA. 

Honorable Mentions

  • Terry Rozier
  • Evan Fournier
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Ben Simmons
  • Tobias Harris
Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2021-22 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs about analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions and NBA Analysis Network.

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