Mostly every team in the NBA contains a player with a large contract that is not living up to it. There are three main causes for why this may be. Players are not living up to the hype surrounding them, injuries are taking a toll on their body physically and mentally, and aging players find themselves amidst a rebuild. This is not a trade rumor article. This is more of an in-depth analysis of certain players’ contracts that teams might wish they didn’t have. Many of the players about to be named in this set of articles will not and cannot be moved due to their contracts. This does not pertain to every player as there is a good chance that some of them will be donning new jerseys by seasons end. This article is my purely my opinion.
*stats are from ESPN.com. Advanced Statistics are from basketball-reference.com. Contract information was taken from spotrac.com*
I felt like it would be too easy to list either Nikola Mirotic or Robin Lopez on this list. Mirotic will likely be moved before the trade deadline and even if Lopez does not get moved, he will continue to contribute on the court and as a positive locker room influence. This leads to the focus of this paragraph: Cristiano Felicio. The Chicago Bulls quickly re-signed him over the offseason, without an opposition. Many feel like he is overpaid. At only 25, Felicio is still young but he showed only minor decent flashes of talent in the 66 games he played last season. He averaged 4.8ppg and 4.7rpg while shooting .579% from the field and .645% from the free throw line. He was signed to a contract paying him $7,843,500 this season, $8,470,980 next season, $8,156,500 during the 2019-2020 season, and $7,529,000 during the 2020-2021 season. Felicio has played in 27 of the 50 Bulls games and seen his minutes decrease from 15.8 to 12.7mpg. He is only averaging 3.6ppg and 2.6rpg while shooting .606% from the field and .607% from the free throw line. His advanced statistics show a -3.2 Box Plus/Minus: -2.9 Offensive Box Plus/Minus and a -0.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus. With a frontcourt that features Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, and Bobby Portis, minutes are going to be hard to come by for Felicio, warranting a questionable status for why they paid so much to resign him.
*update: Nikola Mirotic has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans*
He’s on the trading block. The Cavaliers would send him elsewhere with a smile. Last season for the Cavs, he averaged 8.1ppg, 9.2rpg, and 1.1bpg shooting .600% from the field and .498% from the free throw line. He started and played in 78 of the Cavs 82 games. This season has been a different story. He’s played in 28 of the Cavs 48, starting 7 of them. His minutes per game have dropped from 29.9 to 19.6 this season and thus his stats have suffered. He’s averaging only 5.6ppg and 5.8rpg while shooting .610% from the field and .617% from the free throw line. His advanced statistics show him having a -1.6 Box Plus/Minus: -0.9 Offensive Box Plus/Minus and -0.7 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). The good news for him is that Lue is bringing him in the starting lineup to shake up Cavaliers so he has a chance to prove his worth and his contract. With him making $16,400,000 this season, #17,469,565 next season, and $18,539,130 during the 2019-2020 season he is going to have to work hard to justify his contract.
Last season for the Pistons, Reggie Jackson averaged 14.5ppg, 5.2apg, and 2.2rpg while shooting .419% from the field, .359% from the three-point line, and .868% from the free throw line in the 50 games he played and started. This season, Jackson has played and started in 33 of the Pistons 48 games and is averaging 14.6ppg, 5.5apg, and 2.8rpg while shooting .446% from the field, .339% from the three-point line, and .868% from the free throw line. His advanced statistics show that Jackson is contributing a -0.6 Box Plus/Minus (+1.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus and -2.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). This kind of production from a starting point guard making $16,000,000 this season, $17,043,478 next season, and $18,086,957 during the 2019-2020 season hurts the Pistons. Just to compare, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics is only making $2,868,625 more than Reggie Jackson this season and is averaging 24.9ppg, 5.0apg, 3.7rpg, and 1.1spg with a +6.4 Box Plus/Minus. Jackson’s growth and development since playing for the Pistons is lacking and label the starting point guard position for the Pistons as a need.
The Pacers do not have many bad contracts. Thaddeus Young’s large contract is okay since he plays and contributes for the Pacers. Would they move him if possible? Yes, but he probably isn’t the player they want to move the most. Al Jefferson’s contract really is not that harmful per say, but his production has fallen off and he’s 33 years old. After playing in 66 games for the Pacers last season, Jefferson has only played in 23 of their 51 games. Only playing in 14.3mpg, Jefferson is averaging 6.9ppg and 4.3rpg while shooting .522% from the field and .800% from the free throw line. Jefferson makes $9,769,821 this year and $10,000,000 next year with only $4,000,000 of that guaranteed. Jefferson can still be a valuable mentor to young big man Myles Turner but the end is near for him after dominating the league for so many years.
With Malcolm Brogdon’s emergence last season and the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe this season, Matthew Dellavedova has seen his role decrease. After averaging 26.1mpg and starting in 54 games last season, he’s only started in 3 games and averaging 18.7mpg this year. He’s averaging 4.6ppg and 3.9apg while shooting .383% from the field, .394% from the three-point line, and .909% from the three-point line. His advanced statistics show that he has a -5.3 Box Plus/Minus (-1.6 Offensive Box Plus/Minus and a -3.7 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). Dellavedova is set to make $9,607,500 for the next three seasons and if the Bucks could find a suitor to take on his contract, there is a good chance they would pull the trigger.