As the NBA Conference standings begin to take shape, it could be worthwhile to analyse the inner workings of the teams you may be betting. Why do player contracts matter? Who have the most untradeable contracts in the NBA Western Conference? Read on to find out.
Here is a list of the most untradeable contracts in the NBA Western Conference
Harrison Barnes (four years, $94.4 million)
The Mavericks are actually pretty well set up heading into the offseason. Two of their trickier deals, Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan, both expire this offseason, and besides those two, the team only has one other player making more than seven figures.
That player would be Harrison Barnes, Dallas’ second-leading scorer. Barnes has become a pretty effective one-on-one scoring option, and a decent defensive presence on the wing that can match up against various positions. Even if it’s primarily because his is the only big contract left on the Mavericks’ books after this offseason, Barnes is still the team’s most untradeable contract.
It’s not a bad contract overall, but the $25.1 million he’s owed next season – which is also a player option – is just a tiny bit too rich for the level of production he currently is providing.
Mason Plumlee (three years, $41.0 million)
Like Dallas, the Nuggets are also set up well for the future. A good amount of their money for the future is tied up, sure, but at least it’s going to one of the best young cores in the league, headlined by superstar, big man, Nikola Jokic and the still-underrated Gary Harris.
To flip the coin, their most questionable contract (belonging to Paul Millsap) at least contains a team option on it next season, when he’ll be seeking a $30.0 million payout if it happens.
So really, Plumlee has to go down as the team’s most difficult-to-move deal. That’s because even though Mason is playing at an extremely high level off the bench for Denver, he’s still just a bench piece for them (although Head Coach Malone is pushing Plumlee for the sixth man award this season).
With Jokic around, there’s simply not enough playing time to go around for Plumlee, who is seeing the floor for almost 20 minutes for each game he’s played in this year - just a shade higher than his 19.4 average last season. Plumlee could merit starter’s minutes in a different situation, but paying him $14.0 million next season to play that briefly behind Jokic every night isn’t the wisest way to utilise cash flow.
Golden State Warriors
Andre Iguodala (three years, $48.0 million)
It’s perfectly easy to see why the Golden State Warriors re-signed Andre Iguodala to the deal they did. It was an investment for a player who will strictly come off the bench (and who has averaged 7.4 points for the team). However, it was a decision that was taken to positive effect. Especially with their main rivals in the West, the Rockets, trying to swipe the veteran wing in free agency a couple of years ago.
The investment will ultimately prove worthwhile, with the Warriors appearing likely to win titles in the next two of the three years of the contract’s period. Despite Iguodala maintaining a strong level of two-way play (and showing he can do so when the playoffs roll come round), overall it’s still a tricky contract to trade.
Chris Paul (four years, $159.7 million)
A healthy Chris Paul is an amazing floor general by any standards. However, given he is approaching 34 and is struggling to stay healthy, it makes it hard to consider any other player on the Rockets roster as the most untradeable.
Just last season, CP missed 24 games in the regular season (there were also a few post season games that he missed too). The season before that, he missed 21 games in the regular season. He has already missed games due to two hamstring injuries this year and although he is an elite player, the thought of paying $44.2 million around the age of 36 (2021-22) is flat out crazy.
Los Angeles Clippers
Danilo Gallinari (three years, $64.8 million)
Placing Harris aside as impending free agent the Clippers are in a situation where they have space to sign multiple max contracts this offseason. With this in mind Danilo Gallinari becomes the best option to look at in terms of being untradeable.
Averaging 19.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and staying mostly healthy, Gallinari is having a good season so far. Staying healthy has been a career-long issue for him.
If he manages to keep healthy then he could be looking at a solid deal (this season the team owes him $21.6 million and next season it’s $22.6 million). He is one of the most efficient wings in the league, and the hope is that he can actually stay healthy.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12.0 million)
The Lakers, like the Clippers, are also set up good for the summer of 2019. Apart from Lebron James (who is obviously worth every penny and then some) only one other player in the line-up is making more than seven figures this season, and that’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Unfortunately, KCP’s numbers in 2018-19 haven’t warranted his value. The 3-and-D 2-guard has improved to averaging 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 36.3% from three.
Even though his contract is expiring, it’s still the one with the biggest question marks on the Lakers’ payroll. Trading it wouldn’t be that tough, but when compared to LA’s other team-friendly deals, it would probably be the hardest to trade.
Andrew Wiggins (four years, $147.7 million)
The Timberwolves are one of the rare teams that have a lot of tied up in a major core of players. With that said, one of the two players that stand out are Gorgui Dieng and the other is Andrew Wiggins - both have monster deals and yet do not produce enough results on court.
Dieng has three years left on a four-year deal worth $62.8 million and he is averaging 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game on 48.5% shooting, which is not too good for a big man but something the Timberwolves can live with.
On the other hand, Wiggins is 23 and is yet to realise his potential. He is in the first year of a four-year deal and he is only producing about 16.5 points per game and hitting about 39.8% of his FG attempts (a career low). If Wiggins doesn’t get it together soon then getting placed on the chopping block becomes just a matter of time.
New Orleans Pelicans
Solomon Hill (four years, $48.0 million)
Back in 2016 it became the norm for role players to sign big-time contracts (all far too rich for the level of players that were signing them). One of these kind of players was Solomon Hill. Despite being a decent role player during his time with the Pacers, Hill managed to land a deal with New Orleans that paid him the annual amount that most starters at the time were making.
Averaging just 6.0 points per game by shooting 33.4% from three-point range since joining the team (dropping to 4.2 and 32.1% this season), as a supposed 3-and-D specialist this is how he has rewarded the team. Not good, not by a long shot.
The one saving grace for the Pelicans is that there’s just one year left on the deal after this season ends, so at least they won’t have that ill money on their books for much longer.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson (three years, $30.0 million)
For a high calibre defender like Andre Roberson to be paid just $10 million per year by OKC is fair, given he was signed in the summer of 2017 on his last contract. Last season his contract looked like it was an under the radar too (averaging just 5.0 points per game, the Thunder had a +9.9 swing rating with Roberson on the floor).
Due to the injury he suffered about 10 months ago (rupturing his patella tendon) he still is out and waiting to get back. He’ll likely make it back at some point this season so the jury is still out on how things would look for him moving forward.
Ryan Anderson (four years, $80.0 million)
Ryan Anderson’s predicament comes connected to that of Timofey Mozgov’s (Orlando Magic’s most untradeable contract) as he was dealt to the Suns. The fact that his production has taken a hit, averaging 3.7 points per game on a 20.6% shooting from three across 15 games (278 minutes) and a guaranteed $15.6 million makes his contract essentially unmovable.
Portland Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard (four years, $41.0 million)
As a backup Meyers Leonard had a bounce back season last year, yet it’s still hard to warrant his contract being anything but brutal to the Trail Blazers. So far he is averaging 13.8 minutes for 2018-19 and he’ll be getting $10.6 million this year, and $11.3 million next season. Although he has almost doubled his play time from last season, it’s a major blow to the Trail Blazers that would struggle to move this backup big even if they tried.
Zach Randolph (two years, $24.0 million)
The Kings have done a good job so far in terms of revamping and rebuilding their roster. A major part of the personnel are on rookie level deals aside from Iman Shumpert and Zach Randolph (neither are major long terms and will be expiring soon, so it’s not a terrible situation).
Given that Randolph isn’t seeing any playing time (while Shumpert is averaging 25.9 minutes across 29 games) it’s easy to make the untradeable case against him. He will likely see a buyout this summer to find a new place on a roster that can get him playing time, if at all possible (though he is more likely to either retire or seek a lesser deal).
San Antonio Spurs
Patrick Mills (four years, $49.7 million)
The Australian guard Patty Mills has always been a solid performer - so far this season he has been producing 8.8 points per game and shooting 38.7% from behind the arch. The issue is that as a solid bench player he is making what would be considered a boatload of money, even for a starter.
On an annual basis he is making $12.4 million for a 32-year-old player that is over the top. Next season he’ll be owed $13.3 million and with the expected salary cap it’s going to be something the Spurs might want to shift but will struggle to.
Dante Exum (three years, $33.0 million)
Out of the entire list of players across both of the untradeable contracts articles, Dante Exum is probably the most tragic. The young Aussie player is only 23 but hes peaked too early and now has become a player that produces little on the court given his talent range.
So far he’s scored 7.4 points per game and is shooting 36.4% overall. The fact that Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and the rest of their rotation at the guards have been doing a good job has put Exum’s contract in the untradeable spotlight.
Although the early return on investment isn’t great, there’s plenty of time for that to change. Plus, even if it doesn’t, at least the third year of his deal is non-guaranteed, so Utah can get out of the contract without paying the full $33 million.