Simmons: Joe Johnson’s contract NBA’s worst

Joe Johnson, Thabo Sefolosha

Bill Simmons of ESPN/Grantland fame has compiled a list of what he deems are the 30 worst (or “least cap-appealing”) contracts in the NBA, and with the Brooklyn Nets shelling out $330 million this offseason, it’s no surprise they make the list… Not once… not twice… not three times… but for four players, including two in the top (bottom?) three and the ignominious #1 spot.

Forward Kris Humphries starts it off at #22, though Simmons admits that this will change rapidly:

Unpopular opinion alert: I don’t mind this contract because, next season, he morphs into Kris Humphries’s Expiring Contract and becomes trade fodder for Dwight Howard, Kevin Love or whomever else. If you’re a wealthy team, why not always make sure you have one eight-figure expiring contract for trade purposes … you know, just in case?

Next comes maximum-level point guard Deron Williams, at #17:

Would have ranked in the top three had we finished this list five weeks ago, but Williams went on a tear over these last 18 games: 18.4 PPG, 7.4 APG, 46 percent shooting, 47 percent on 3s. (Listening.) Hold on, you’re saying that shouldn’t be considered a “tear” for someone making nearly $100 million through 2017? Excellent point. It’s hard to look at these numbers …

2008: 18.8 PPG, 10.5 APG, 51% FG, 40% 3FG, 20.8 PER
2011: 20.1 PPG, 10.3 APG, 44% FG, 33% 3FG, 21.2 PER
2013: 17.4 PPG, 7.5 APG, 42% FG, 37% 3FG, 18.1 PER

… without wondering what happened to Deron Williams.

The Nets don’t get another mention until Simmons ranks forward Gerald Wallace at #3, starting with a long diatribe about how the Nets acquired Wallace at last year’s trade deadline and then getting into his production:

Maybe it’s a bad idea to decide in March that you like only three players in June’s NBA draft, and that workouts and interviews couldn’t possibly change that opinion? Just throwing it out there.

The good news? If the Nets didn’t trade for Wallace, they wouldn’t have been able to pay Deron Williams $98 million for the five years after his prime, and they wouldn’t have been able to lock down Wallace at $40 million right after his career careered off a cliff.

2012: 13.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 45.4% FG, 80% FT, 16.0 PER
2013: 8.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 41.5% FG, 65% FT, 12.5 PER

That’s not a slump, that’s NBA menopause. We’ve seen it happen with too many athletic NBA forwards over the years — once they lose it, it never comes back. Repeat: NBA menopause. It’s a real thing. Anyone know how to swear in Russian?

And finally, Simmons debates the merits of Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, who he calls neck-and-neck for the top spot, before giving the label of “worst contract in the NBA” to… Joe Johnson.

Johnson gets the hammer for one reason: for the 2015-16 season, after Stoudemire’s contract comes off New York’s cap, Brooklyn has to pay Joe Johnson nearly $25 million. The exact number: $24,893,863. They’re also on the hook for $31.15 million of Wallace and Williams that year, which means Brooklyn will be shelling out more than $56 million for three well-past-their-prime players that season. No wonder everyone keeps driving up the price tags of NBA franchises — everyone wants to own an NBA team in 2016 just for their cut of Brooklyn’s luxury tax fees.

Also made note of is former Nets forward Travis Outlaw and current Nets center Andray Blatche, though Blatche is on the list for the three-year contract worth upwards of $23 million he signed with the Wizards. The Wizards, hilariously enough, amnestied the contract before it even kicked in. (The Nets are paying him the league minimum.)

Simmons finishes the piece by calling Prokhorov the “Russian Ted Stepien.” I suggest read his introduction if you want to understand just how bad that is.

I’m just glad that Brook Lopez doesn’t get a mention.

Read More: Bill Simmons, Grantland — The Worst Contracts in the NBA