Just like a loose ball, when the bag is in reach, you dive headfirst for it. Every summer, a handful of teams, big and small markets, choose to resign, extend, or offer big money to one of their rising players. Sometimes it works out. Other times, you’re stuck with Kevin Love. Although kudos to Love for rejuvenating his career this season, he’s still not worth the $31 million per coming off the bench.
For eager contenders, it’s a game of business Russian Roulette. Sometimes the contract hits — Nikola Jokić ($29.5 million per), Joel Embiid ($29.5 million per), Domantas Sabonis ($18.7 million per). And sometimes, it’s fumbled by injuries, regression, or age. It will take a miracle for these five teams to get out from under the bad contracts they’ve awarded their players. When it happens, the intentions are always good. Maybe you’re a small market trying to create a superstar duo or a contender wanting to lock in a missing piece. For these five teams, it’s one contract that could make or break the future of their contending status. This list doesn’t include albatross contracts on rebuilding teams (i.e., John Wall + De’Aaron Fox). This is about the contending teams whose ability to win it all might be hamstrung by a massive cap-eating contract. One that could hinder their ability to amend their roster via free agency or trade.