2014's Most Overpaid Free Agents

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9. Dwyane Wade – 2 yrs/$31.125 million

Kicking off the countdown is Wade, whose unsustainable kamikaze style of play throughout his prime has seen his career arc go the way of an NFL running back.

Only a few years removed from MVP-caliber play, Wade was a disappointing liability throughout the 2013 Finals. This prompted Miami to let him (more or less) choose his own hours last season in an effort to keep his legs fresh; he sat a third of the regular season, only to suck yet again in the Finals, costing them both a title, and LeBron James.

Even though Wade took a large pay cut, and this deal can be re-structured next summer, $15 million for a guy who – if Miami’s lucky – will play 60 games next year and is liable to disappear in the biggest moments, is not a good bargain. The Heat took care of their franchise icon with this deal, but it’s doubtful Wade will be able to reciprocate.

8. Chris Bosh – 6 yrs/$109.838 million

Another gaudy re-signing by Miami in the wake of LeBron’s exodus, Bosh – already past his prime – will be locking down more per-year money than Wade over three times the contract length.

This was a desperation move by a team who’d just seen its contention hopes deflated, and was reportedly inches away from losing Bosh to the Rockets. It allowed them to save face (somewhat), but the Boshtrich is hardly worth that kind of money now, let alone five years down the road.

How he’ll adapt with an upgraded role on offense remains to be seen, but Miami will be hard-pressed to spread the floor as effectively without LeBron’s playmaking, which doesn’t bode well for Bosh.

7. Marvin Williams – 2 yrs/$14 million

The Hornets are a team on the rise, now bereft of the awkward ‘Bobcats’ moniker, with cap space, legitimate talent, and a respected coach. It was only a matter of time before a homicidal competitor like Michael Jordan would get tired of having a crappy team.

Sometimes less is more though, with Williams’ signing being a prime example. Almost a decade into his career, Marvin has yet to develop a trademark skill, or do anything to outweigh his reputation as one of the worst Draft picks in recent memory (ahead of Deron Williams AND Chris Paul by a team in desperate need of a point guard).

He’s a serviceably athletic swingman, but even in an aggressive market, giving Williams anything more than the mid-level exception is somewhere between ambitious and foolish. It’s only a two-year deal, but it likely won’t even take that long for MJ to regret this decision.

6. Channing Frye – 4 yrs/$32 million

Frye’s unique skill set as a forward/center could reap huge dividends for the right team. Unfortunately for the Magic, that team was the Suns, whom they pried him away from with a comically-bloated 4-year deal.

Frye was a perfect fit for Phoenix’s four-out offense that let him prey on slower bigs from the perimeter. Now Orlando will be paying more to a player on the wrong side of 30, as he does a less-effective impersonation of himself.

The Magic have large question marks at several positions, and their team is at least a season away from Playoff contention. As most of their players hit their primes, Frye will be entering his mid-30s. If a competitive team that relied on outside shooting – say, the Rockets - made this signing, it wouldn’t be as horrific. But this just makes no sense for Orlando.

5. Avery Bradley – 4 yrs/$32 million

Using another team’s stupid decisions as a financial model for your own signings is never a good idea, but luckily for Avery Bradley, that’s what Boston’s been doing this summer.

After the Pistons overpaid a certain unproven shooting guard (more on that in a moment), the Celtics scaled their offer to Bradley accordingly, with potentially disappointing results. While he’s a capable two-way player, there’s little evidence of his being a starter on a winning team.

As Boston’s rebuild continues, they’ll likely look for more firepower from the perimeter (especially if they continue to insist upon not trading Rajon Rondo), meaning Bradley could soon become just another overpaid reserve.

4. Ben Gordon – 2 yrs/$9 million

This one’s very hard to figure. While it’s only two years and $9 million, there’s very few plausible explanations as to why a rebuilding team would willingly sign an aging player with as many red flags as Gordon.

Between his plummeting numbers, repeated history of attempted offensive monopolization, and somehow pissing off the Bobcats enough last year that they actually waived him too late for him to sign with a Playoff team (as if to say “we’re doing you a favor” to their competition), this is a guy you should want nowhere near your young, developing squad.

3. Jodie Meeks – 3 yrs/$18.8 million

Avery Bradley can likely thank Stan Van Gundy for his new contract, as without the Meeks signing as a baseline, it’s highly unlikely he would’ve inked for that much. Meeks is a great shooter – something the Pistons covet after what Josh Smith did to them last year – but also a very sketchy defender who’s never contributed to a winning franchise.

His coming out party on the Lakers was largely due to: a) Mike D’Antoni’s free-flowing offense that perpetually inflates the stats of perimeter players, and b) the fact that the Lakers were god-awful last year.

This move is hardly enough to condemn Van Gundy to the same reputation that engulfed his Pistons predecessor, but it’s far from a promising start for a man charged with re-vitalizing a franchise.

2. Gordon Hayward – 4yrs/$62.965 million

‘(The Jazz would) certainly like to keep their current best player, but several GMs are willing to test how badly.’ – me, June 14

Well, we have our answer, and it’s “pretty f***ing badly”. The Hornets tossed Hayward a completely mind-boggling near-max offer sheet, putting Utah in a very painful spot: either grossly overpay a poor-man’s Chandler Parsons, or lose him for nothing (remember, this is Utah we’re talking about. They haven’t scored a marquee free-agent since Carlos Boozer lied his way onto their team).

Some believe Hayward could grow into this contract, but some people also think that meth is a good life decision. If he ever lives up to this giant payday, it will be a pleasant surprise, but the Jazz will still probably be terrible.

1. Jordan Hill – 2 yrs/$18 million

The lunacy of this contract is best described as a function of the Lakers’ offer to Pau Gasol, which was reportedly for the same length, and only $1m/year more. Hill is an athletic big, who excels at rebounding and shows occasional glimpses of offensive ability, but forking over this kind of money should be seizure-inducing for Lakers fans.

With $35 million in cap space already devoured by Kobe and Steve Nash next year, they needed to be frugal in filling out the roster. Instead, this deal emerged as damning evidence that Jimmy Buss’ insanity may be rubbing off on Mitch Kupchak.

But hey, at least they got Jeremy Lin at the outright-bargain of $15 mill next year, right?

Every summer, NBA teams infallibly spend money on free agents stupidly. Some do it out of loyalty, others out of desperation, and plenty due to sheer ignorance. Whatever the motivation, the result is often the same: fans whining about Player X clogging their team’s salary cap, while the front office searches waywardly for another team to – literally – get passed the buck.

This year, things have been zany. With the league’s salary cap rising rapidly - a trend that isn’t exactly stopping soon – GMs are tossing even more money at everyone from superstars to 2-bit role players. Now-bigger budgets skew the relative values of these contracts (and new CBA rules prevent them from damaging teams for too long), but the math behind some of 2014’s new contracts is staggering.

While the final verdict on these deals can’t be cast for some time, here’s a pre-emptive look at which of 2014’s free agents are now the most overpaid:

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