View Full Version : NBA's Most Overpaid

08-06-2002, 06:26 PM
NBA's Most Overpayed
by Kevin Anderson
Aug 6, 2002, 5:10pm

Okay, first things first: I am very flattered by their interest, but I am removing my name from consideration for the head coaching position with the Denver Nuggets. That means no more phone calls at four in the morning, Kiki.

With that taken care of, let's move on. I have compiled my list of the NBA's most overpaid, categorized by the top five at each position. It was difficult, as there are countless players who make more than they should (and I mean overpaid in a strictly business sense, not in the sense that "everybody in the NBA's overpaid because they're just playing a game, not saving lives or anything"). Consequently, I cannot claim that my list is definitive; it's a subjective question that I have tried to answer the best I can.

Since not all the chips are in place for the 2002-2003 season, the salaries listed here are for the completed 2001-2002 season. I am considering only players who are signed for at least next year, since there are still some dinosaurs roaming the league who might be extinct next year, so there's no point in considering them. There are also a few players who could be listed at a couple of different positions, but for the purposes of this list (and my convenience) they will be pigeonholed into one position that I choose.

Each player's 2001-2002 salary is in parenthesis next to his name.


1. Damon Stoudamire ($12,375,000), Portland. Well, they say you can't be a member of the Blazers nowadays unless you have a lengthy rap sheet, so this guy fits right in. The former ROY still puts up decent numbers, but his star has been fading since early in his career. Now that the Blazers have Antonio Daniels on board, I suspect they will be shopping this guy harder than a mother of septuplets at a back-to-school sale. At least his 12 mil a year can buy some pretty good lawyers (and even better weed).

2. Charlie Ward ($5,110,000) and Howard Eisley ($4,781,250), New York. I know, these are two different players, but can anybody even tell the difference? It adds up to almost $10 million worth of point guard that gives the Knicks so little that management has been desperately seeking every point guard potentially on the trading block. Say, what's Walt Frazier up to these days?

3. Jason Williams ($2,554,072), Memphis. It's not last year's salary that's so egregious; it's his 6-year, $45 million extension that takes effect this year. He may put up some numbers and occasionally make some achingly beautiful passes, but he still turns it over way too much, can't throw it in the ocean, and is a mammoth jackass to boot. Look what the Kings did once they unburdened themselves of Williams. The Grizzlies are assembling very nice young talent, but they won't do anything until they ditch this clown.

4. Kenny Anderson ($8,350,000), Seattle. Obviously, this is way too much money for someone who won't be a starter. He experienced a mild renaissance the past season, but he is still worth nowhere near as much as he makes. The only reason the Sonics picked him up is because he costs less than Vin Baker and is only signed for one more year, thus freeing up money for the free agent class of 2003. Still, he's nice to have around in case Gary Payton spontaneously combusts from rage sometime this season.

5. Terrell Brandon ($9,250,000), Minnesota. Okay, this is a bit of stretch, but point guard seems to be the least overpaid position in the league, at least in my view. He can definitely play, but has been injured too frequently to justify this money ($60 million over 6 years), and simply isn't a prime time player of the caliber one should expect from a $60 million man.


1. Anfernee Hardaway ($11,250,000), Phoenix. Remember when Penny was one of the real stars in the league, and we all loved the "Lil' Penny" commercials? Yeah, me either. Injuries have prevented him from playing more than 60 games five out of his nine seasons in the league, and his numbers have been in steady decline ever since his mid-90's glory days in Orlando. Worse, he's now known a petulant crybaby, and is under contract until after 2005-06 season.

2. Tariq Abdul-Wahad ($5,062,500), Dallas. Signed to a big deal when he was a rising star several years ago, Tariq now finds himself buried on the Dallas bench. He's only played in 53 regular season games the past couple of years, and averaged a whopping five ppg when he's managed to get off the pine. Again, the worst part is he's signed through 2006.

3. Steve Smith ($9,000,000), San Antonio. At one point, Smith merited such a hefty salary, but that time was prior to 1998-99. In the past four seasons, his scoring average has dipped at least a point per game. Last season's 11.6 average was the lowest of his career.

4. Nick Anderson ($5,401,906), Cleveland. Again, this is someone who is ostensibly being paid for his past performance, because he hasn't started a game in two years and averaged about three points per contest during that time. He's old and doesn't fit in with the new-look, barely legal Cavs, but, mercifully, there's only one year left on his contract.

5. Shandon Anderson ($5,500,000), New York. Sure, it would be easy to put Houston and Sprewell on this list, but despite all their shortcomings, they still comprise most of the offensive output for the Knicks. Their contracts hurt, but not as much as the ridiculous one Scott Layden gave Anderson, when no one was seeking his services for nearly as much. This guy doesn't start, only scores five a game, but will continue to eat up money through 2007. If Layden thinks Spree and Houston are untradeable, he should try getting someone remotely respectable in return for Anderson.


1. Scottie Pippen ($18,083,564), Portland. It's painful to watch a legend fade into obsolescence so ungracefully. His scoring has dipped five straight years, and this grouch is not the leader the attitudinally-challenged Blazers need. Sure, he can still play, but at $18 million? That's just ridiculous.

2. Tom Gugliotta ($10,113,465), Phoenix. He should probably be listed at power forward, but that position is so loaded with the overcompensated, I had to move him. Besides, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire are the Suns' interior of the present and future. Another case of injuries and Father Time bringing down a one-time star. He hasn't played in more than 57 games since the 1996-97 season, and has only averaged 6.5 points the last two seasons.

3. Tim Thomas ($9,675,000), Milwaukee. Now that Big Dog will be harassing the women of Atlanta, it is time for Thomas to step up and become the star everyone has been expecting for so long. That's a lot of dough for somebody who's been around for five years and never averaged more than 12.6 points or 4.2 rebounds per game.

4. Keith Van Horn ($10,865,250), New Jersey. Sure, he puts up numbers, but this frequent subject of trade rumors is not, by far, the best player on New Jersey, and shouldn't be the highest paid. With some more intensity, like he showed for stretches during the playoffs, his salary might not look so bad.

5. Grant Hill ($10,865,250), Orlando. This might not be completely fair, with injuries being the reason Hill is here. But realize, the last time Hill was healthy an entire season, T-Mac was merely a rising star in the league, not a bona fide MVP candidate. How will Hill respond to being the second option, assuming he ever gets healthy again?


1. Shawn Kemp ($12,770,000), Portland. Any smarmy wisecracks I could think of would be superfluous, so I'll let you insert your own punchline. Man, how does a team get this screwed up? Coach, keep all these guys away from Qyntel Woods. Please, for the kid's sake.

2. Juwan Howard ($18,750,000), Denver. Hopefully, the obscene amount of money he makes will keep Juwan warm this winter in Denver, when his team is getting pummeled on a nightly basis.

3. Vin Baker ($11,250,000), Boston. That Seattle was actually able to trade him shocked me more than if the Sonics had swept their way through the playoffs. I just don't know what Boston could be thinking. Who knows, maybe another turn in the Eastern Conference will do him well, but I wouldn't bet a nickel on it.

4. Alan Henderson ($6,500,000), Atlanta. At the time, a $45 million deal (ending in 2005) for 1997-98's Most Improved Player seemed reasonable. But injuries and decreased productivity have relegated him to "forgotten man" status. With over $30 million annually tied up in Atlanta's new starting frontline, where do he and his contract fit?

5. Austin Croshere ($6,310,000), Indiana. Another case of a player riding one decent playoff stretch into an unwarranted huge contract. Applying the logic used to give Croshere such money, Robert Horry should make approximately $85 million a year.


1. Zydrunas Ilgauskas ($11,250,000), Cleveland. Ilgauskas's once promising career has been derailed by injuries. Now, after a solid summer, DeSagna Diop looks more like the future man in the middle for the Cavs. Chris Mihm looks like...well, he's still Chris Mihm.

2. Greg Ostertag ($6,933,333), Utah. We all should have nothing but love for the big O, after he donated a kidney to his ill sister. Nonetheless, he retains his lofty perch high on the overpaid list, and will do so for the next two years, until his contract runs out.

3. Shawn Bradley ($4,155,844) and Evan Eschmeyer ($3,038,000), Dallas. Another combo pick; for over $7 million they provide the Mavs' deep-pocketed DQ manager with jack squat, unless you count Bradley's novelty-like height as an asset.

4. Erick Dampier ($6,235,000), Golden State. Garry St. Jean is still weeping at the Warriors' bad lottery luck, because he'd give anything to find a replacement for Dampier. His rebounding and scoring have dropped annually since 1997-98, and they weren't that high back then. He only plays 24 minutes a game, and is signed through 2005-06. Welcome to the neighborhood, Eric Musselman.

5. Kelvin Cato ($6,048,000), Houston. Cato's window of opportunity to prove himself as Houston's post-Hakeem answer at center slammed shut the day the Rockets' lottery balls came out on top. For the next four years, he will make a very handsomely paid backup and PlayStation tutor for Ming.

Kevin Anderson lives in Columbia, SC and is holding out for max money, based on the advice of his agent

08-06-2002, 06:30 PM
<< Charlie Ward ($5,110,000) and Howard Eisley ($4,781,250), New York. I know, these are two different players, but can anybody even tell the difference? >>

Here's the best indicator. Ward pulls up shortly after crossing midcourt, grinding to a complete halt before entering the paint, while Eisley tends to favor the sideline-to-sideline dribbling tactic, hoping to exhaust his defender and/or leave him/her in a convulsive laughing fit with his horizontal ball handling prowess.

08-06-2002, 06:56 PM
You know it sucks that three knicks are on this list but there should be two other knicks on this list (Camby and Houston)and potentially another in Spree... Just goes to show you that the Knicks are in a bad situation.

For all the people yelling Bradley for mayor the fact he is on this list or even thought to be on this list should calm that movement down some.

08-06-2002, 07:12 PM
Hell, there are three Mavericks too.

08-06-2002, 07:28 PM
Very true, however with the exception of Bradley we don't rely on Wahad and Esch as much as the Knicks relied on Ward and Anderson and they're going to rely on Eisley going into next season.

Not to mention atleast the Mavs are a contender where the Knicks......... well we know the story.