NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part III: Southeast Division

In the previous two editions of this series, we took a look at the best and worst contracts in the Atlantic and Central Divisions, and we finish our look at the Eastern Conference today with the Dumpster fire that is the Southeast Division—a division Orlando won with a 42-40 record and sent no other teams to the playoffs.

Which, in turn, points to the wisdom of the NBA making its playoff standards division agnostic. In the old days, the 4 seed Magic would’ve hosted the 5 seed Celtics in Game 1 of the first round, a Celtics team that won 49 games.

The point of that little aside is that there are not a lot of good contracts in the Southeast. The Wiggins Factor is going to get a good workout here.

We’re starting to see some things round into form here. First off, a good rookie contract, as in an impact player in his first four years in the league, should be below 100. A good rotation or veteran player should be under 200. And a superstar should be below 300, but below 250 is a sign that the inflation of a max contract isn’t creating a situation where the player isn’t providing a good value for all that extra money.

The NBA is a star-driven league. You don’t always get a choice in terms of “all our contracts should be below 200 points for the veterans and 100 for the rookies” because lack of star power will kill you in the playoffs.

On the other hand, once a guy’s up over 400 or 500 or into four figures, that’s a bad contract any way you cut it, and if it’s into negative numbers, waive, trade, cut, send to the G-League, get that guy off your team!

Anyway, on with the numbers:

Orlando Magic

Al-Farouq Aminu: $9.26M, 165.84
D.J. Augustin: $7.25M, 86.14
Mohamed Bamba: $5.7M, 276.31
Khem Birch: $3M, 86.62
Michael Carter-Williams: $2.03M, 249.45
Evan Fournier: $17M, 429.66
Melvin Frazier: $1.42M, -16,894.39 (!!)
Markelle Fultz: $9.75M, 3118.06 (!!)
Aaron Gordon: $19.86M, 319.23
Jonathan Isaac: $5.81M, 119.34
Wesley Iwundu: $1.62M, 70.84
Terrence Ross: $12.5M, 240.88
Nikola Vucevic: $28M, 227.50

The superstar’s under 250. Augustin’s a good value at $7.25 million. But guys like Gordon and Fournier are still showing why they were on a truly awful team for awhile until Steve Clifford came in and coached them to 42 wins.

Fultz, of course, has a disaster movie of a contract; if you’re paying first-round money for Fultz’s performance, that’s a colossal waste of money and unless he improves and fast, he’s in danger of becoming one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.

Miami Heat

Bam Adebayo: $3.45M, 41.51
Jimmy Butler: $34.38M, 446.93
Goran Dragic: $19.22M, 966.29
James Johnson: $15.35M, 837.18
Derrick Jones Jr.: $1.65M, 46.55
Meyers Leonard: $11.29M, 419.39
Kelly Olynyk: $11.67M, 201.19
Duncan Robinson: $1.42M, 680.69
Dion Waiters: $12.1M, 804.81
Justise Winslow: $13M, 389.84

Man…look at all those horrible contracts. They overpaid for Butler. Dragic is nearing the end of his career. Waiters is a midlevel exception (at best) making over $12 million.

And yet Bam Adebayo is one of the best value-play contracts in the league. What a world.

The Heat need to consider a complete franchise overhaul from the front office on down.

Charlotte Hornets

Dwayne Bacon: $1.62M, 115.08
Nicolas Batum: $25.57M, 562.56
Bismack Biyombo: $17M, 683.65
Miles Bridges: $3.76M, 105.13
Devonte’ Graham: $1.42M, 236.23
Willy Hernangomez: $1.68M, 53.23
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: $13M, 433.99
Malik Monk: $4.03M, 1,050.75 (!)
Terry Rozier: $19.89M, 638.60
Marvin Williams: $15.01M, 322.07
Cody Zeller: $14.47M, 305.46

Wow, what a disaster that Batum contract is.

As for Rozier, well…making the money Boston was paying him ($3.05 million in 2018-19), he’s a decent value. Not a great value, but a decent one.

At nearly $20 million? That is a bona fide front office screw-up of the highest order. The Celtics got Kemba Walker—speaking of guys who were much better values at last year’s salary—and didn’t get stuck with a true stinker of a contract like Rozier’s 638.6 Wiggins Factor monstrosity.

As for Monk…well, that 1,050.75 Wiggins Factor says he needs to get better in a hurry before he’s a restricted free agent and starts drawing comparisons to the stat’s namesake.

Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal: $27.09M, 293.45
Davis Bertans: $7M, 214.61
Isaac Bonga: $1.66M, -2778.32 (!)
Troy Brown Jr.: $3.22M, 445.17
Thomas Bryant: $7.94M, 117.36
Jemerrio Jones: $1.42M, 538.00
Ian Mahinmi: $15.45M, 1327.29
Jordan McRae: $1.65M, 295.50
C.J. Miles: $8.73M, 1587.00
Ish Smith: $5.85M, 368.47
Isaiah Thomas: $2.32M, -2,302.03
Moritz Wagner: $2.06M, 1051.02
John Wall: $37.8M, 2,642.46

Wall’s Wiggins Factor is a cautionary tale about supermax contracts. The Wizards, even having found a sucker for Otto Porter‘s horrible contract, are still a cap disaster. Wall is the mathematical demonstration of why.

But just look at the monstrously bad contracts on this team. So many guys with Wiggins Factors that are either objectively terrible in that over 400 sense or too high for their roster tier.

As for Mahinmi, rejoice, Pacers fans…we weren’t the ones left holding the bag when the world went mad in 2016. Hail Ernie Grunfeld. This is a monument to his “greatness”.

Atlanta Hawks

DeAndre’ Bembry: $2.6M, 240.89
John Collins: $2.69M, 36.64
Allen Crabbe: $18.5M, 2,659.38 (!!)
Kevin Huerter: $2.64M, 149.23
Damian Jones: $2.31M, 251.95
Alex Len: $4.16M, 106.05
Jabari Parker: $6.5M, 339.97
Chandler Parsons: $25.1M, -700.15 (!)
Evan Turner: $18.61M, 1390.12
Trae Young: $6.27M, 159.03

What on Earth are the Hawks thinking taking on three of the worst contracts in the NBA—Crabbe, Parsons, and Turner—and their attendant atrocious value?

Everything else here is a sign of a team on the rise. Collins is a fantastic value working his way up to getting the bag when he hits restricted free agency. Young’s WS/48 should rise markedly this year and his Wiggins Factor should proportionally drop.

But man, having three of the league’s worst players in terms of value per dollar on the same team…the Hawks are going to pay for that on the court the way they’ve paid for it off the court.

Then again, if they stink, they’ll get another good draft pick in 2020 to add depth to go along with Young, Collins, and Huerter.

COMING THURSDAY: Northwest Division.