NBA players are paid handsomely to perform at their best on the hardwood. Traditionally, a player is often rewarded with a lucrative contract after a great season. This often serves as motivation to maintain their rise. While some players have lived up to their contracts, unfortunately, there are times when a player struggles to live up to the contract. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA players who struggled after signing a big NBA contract.
Stats before contract: 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 46% FG, 43% 3FG (2018-2019)
Stats after contract: 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 43% FG, 39% 3FG (2019-2020)
Buddy Hield proved to be one of the best shooters in the league, especially after the 2018-2019 season. As a result, the Sacramento Kings wanted to secure their shooter by inking him to a four year extension, worth $94 million. Unfortunately, Hield had issues with the team’s coaching staff a season later, per NBA.com. Furthermore, Hield saw his numbers drop. Since then, he has yet to match the scoring production from his 2018-2019 season.
Stats before contract: 13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 44% FG, 41% 3FG (2020-2021)
Stats after contract: 10.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 40% FG, 37% 3FG (2021-2022)
Duncan Robinson proved to be one of the best pieces for the Miami Heat, especially during their Cinderella run in the 2019-2020 season. In fact, Robinson even broke the franchise record for most threes made in a single season. As a result in 2021, the Heat rewarded Robinson with a five year extension, worth $90 million. But after the lucrative NBA contract, Robinson has shot the three-ball poorly.
Stats before contract: 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 46% FG, 24% 3FG (2015-2016)
Stats after contract: 9.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 43% FG, 26% 3FG (2016-2017)
Evan Turner was one of the solid pieces during the Boston Celtics’ playoff campaign off the bench. Given his impact in limited minutes, the Portland Trail Blazers hoped he would do the same for them by signing him to a four year, $70 million contract. Despite giving him the same bench role, Turner needed to acclimate in Portland for a few seasons before finally making an impact for the Blazers.
Stats before contract: 12.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 54% FG, 0% 3FG (2003-2004)
Stats after contract: 9.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 55% FG, 0% 3FG (2004-2005)
Erick Dampier was a double-double machine for the struggling Golden State Warriors. After putting up the best numbers of his career before his NBA contract expired, the Dallas Mavericks signed him to a seven year, $73 million contract. After earning the deal, Dampier would never average a double-double again.
Stats before contract: 19.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 44% FG, 44% 3FG (2019-2020)
Stats after contract: 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 47% FG, 47% 3FG (2020-2021)
The New York Knicks failed to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the offseason. As a result, they signed Marcus Morris. Although the Knicks remained as cellar dwellers, Morris starred for the team, dropping career-high averages. However, Morris was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. To reignite their championship hopes after blowing a 3-1 lead at the NBA bubble, the team inked Morris to a four year, $64 million deal. While Morris played decently as a backup forward, playing alongside Paul George and Kawhil Leonard saw his production go down.
Stats before contract: 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 49% FG, 41% 3FG (2015-2016)
Stats after contract: 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 34% FG, 27% 3FG (2016-2017)
Chandler Parsons dealt with injury concerns in his career. However, the Memphis Grizzlies took a chance on him by signing Parsons to a four year deal, worth $94 million. Although Parsons continued to be hampered by injuries, he also struggled mightily when he was healthy enough to play. In fact, Parsons wouldn’t even get close to scoring double figures after getting a huge contract.
Stats before contract: 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 46% FG, 34% 3FG (2015-2016)
Stats after contract: 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 39% FG, 31% 3FG (2016-2017)
After Kobe Bryant’s retirement, the Los Angeles Lakers were in rebuilding mode. But in the pursuit of a star to lead the team, the Lakers signed Luol Deng to a four year, $72 million contract. Although Deng posted respectable numbers in his final season with Miami, he was also on a decline. Given his age and the Lakers’ youth, Deng struggled to make a name for himself in L.A.. In fact, he wouldn’t even average double digits before finding himself out of the rotation after playing only a total of 57 games in a Lakers uniform. But despite being benched, the Lakers still had to continue to pay him until the 2021-2022 season.
Stats before contract: 9.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 41% FG, 35% 3FG (2014-2015)
Stats after contract: 5.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 39% FG, 31% 3FG (2015-2016)
Iman Shumpert was a starter for the Knicks and displayed so-so numbers. But his production immediately went down after he moved to Cleveland. No longer a starter, Shumpert served as a back-up to Kyrie Irving. Furthermore, with the Cavs having several offensive weapons, Shumpert was utilized more defensively. Despite his offensive struggles, Shumpert at least did enough to help James and the Cavs win the NBA championship.
Stats before contract: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 43% FG, 34% 3FG (2016-2017)
Stats after contract: 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 45% FG, 30% 3FG (2017-2018)
After leading the league in scoring while averaging a triple double for the 2016-2017 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder rewarded Russell Westbrook handsomely by giving him a five year, $206 million NBA contract. While Westbrook continued to be a triple double machine, he struggled to take Oklahoma City to the next level in the postseason. In fact, until today, Westbrook has yet to prove that he can find playoff success as he has failed to play like a champion that his contract pays him for. The nine time All-Star has yet to find postseason success with the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, or Los Angeles Lakers.
Stats before contract: 19.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 40% FG, 28% 3FG (2007-2008)
Stats after contract: 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 26% FG, 29% 3FG (2008-2009)
Gilbert Arenas had a decorated history with the Washington Wizards. But for some reason, the franchise still rewarded him with a six year extension, worth $111 million. While Arenas still posted decent numbers in the 2007-2008 season, injuries certainly bothered him even after the lucrative deal he signed. And when he played, Arenas was barely the shell of the star he once was.
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