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9 worst but highest-paid NBA players in history

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Former Chicago Bulls Luol Deng invests in NBA Africa
Former Chicago Bulls Luol Deng invests in NBA Africa. Photo: Chicago Tribune
  • The best basketball players have a reputation for bringing with them big contracts
  • Not all of these contracts are equal as some players get more money
  • Orlando Magic handed Jonathan Isaac a $70 million

The best basketball players have a reputation for bringing with them big contracts. However, not all of these contracts are equal as some players get more money while others who are equally deserving get less which births the worst highest paid NBA players phenomenon.

Some of these players do not live up to the expectations of their contracts which ends up costing their teams more than they are worth. Here they are.


Orlando Magic handed Jonathan Isaac a $70 million, four-year contract that he didn’t live up to. The team had big expectations for the forward out of Florida State as they selected him as the sixth overall choice in the 2017 NBA Draft. Sadly, in only 136 games over three seasons; he averaged 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.

The team maintained its faith by offering him a contract extension after he suffered an ACL injury during the NBA Bubble. Isaac has not yet returned to the hardwood two years later.


Luol Deng formerly of Los Angeles Lakers

Luol Deng formerly of Los Angeles Lakers. Photo/Opencourtbasketball

The Los Angeles Lakers intended to strengthen their lineup ahead of Kobe Byrant’s departure. They consequently signed two-time All-Star Luol Deng in the 2016 summer. The costly $72 million acquisition with a four-year contract would backfire on the Lakers because Deng played in just 56 games in his initial campaign. He scored 7.6 points on average per game.

Deng played in just one game the following season, which was his last with the team, and the Lakers had to pay him up to 2022 as his contract stated. Therefore; he qualifies to be among the worst highest paid NBA players.


The Philadelphia 76ers handed Ben Simmons a five-year, $177.2 million contract. It had Simmons in mind as the team’s future face ever since they selected him in the first round. As a result, they rewarded Simmons for his early promise by offering him a huge deal befitting of a franchise player.

The Sixers experienced injuries, dramatic strikes, and playoff collapses in return as Simmons sat out a whole season.


Gordon Hayward of the Charlotte Hornets makes for a good wing when he is in good shape. Sadly, the All-Star’s life isn’t the same since suffering a horrific injury in his first game with the Boston Celtics. Nevertheless, the Charlotte Hornets decided to stake a $120 million, four-year contract on him in free agency. This couldn’t be further from the worst highest paid NBA players


After winning the 2011 MVP award as the youngest player, Derrick Rose was tipped to become the next great thing. He was rewarded by the Chicago Bulls with a lucrative $94.3 million, five-year contract extension. However, he suffered an ACL injury put his career on jeopardy.

The Bulls had to pay him like an MVP even though he was no longer performing at that level up to the 2016–17 campaign.


Allan Houston’s scoring ability made him an eye candy for The New York Knicks and they dished out a six-year, $100 million contract. He performed admirably for the first three seasons until a knee injury rained on his parade. After the 2004–05 season, Houston hang up his boots.


worst highest paid NBA players

Chandler Parsons. Photo/Blazers Edge

Chandler Parsons struggled with his health before joining the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016. In addition, during his two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, he scored just 14.8 points a game. The Grizzlies went all out by offering Parsons a maximum four-year contract worth $94.5 million despite the warning signs.

The Memphis franchise eventually paid for the contract given his iffy health. Parsons played in just 95 games over the course of three seasons.


Speaking of the worst highest paid NBA players, the Houston Rockets believed they had finally cleared their hands of all the controversy when they traded James Harden to Brooklyn after he hit one of his own. Unfortunately, this led to even another issue after trading for John Wall from the Washington Wizards for $171 million for four years.

In his rookie campaign, Wall performed beyond expectations, scoring 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. However, the Rockets gave him the option of either playing 10 minutes per game the next season or being traded. The five-time All-Star went with option two. Wall watched Rockets games while receiving payment for the entire season because there was no deal. The two parties wouldn’t agree to a buyout until the 2022–23 campaign.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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