NBA Power Rankings: Crippling contracts edition

Kevin Love grabs his shoulder. (Gus Chan,The Plain Dealer/AP)

In a salary-capped league like the NBA, one brutal contract can really weigh you down.

This week’s edition of the Power Rankings looks at each team’s most crippling salary commitment.

Rank Team

Andrew Bogut: It’s hard to find fault with the Warriors’ cap situation moving forward as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all locked up long term on team-friendly deals. $12 million for Bogut is probably too much, but we’re just nitpicking here.

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Tony Parker: Again, there isn’t an obvious crippling contract on the books for the Spurs, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on how Parker continues to age. He’ll make more than $15 million in his age-35 season in 2017-18.

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Kevin Love: There is no doubt Love is one of the NBA’s premier players, but Cleveland doesn’t use his skill set to the fullest with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving around. He’s owed $93.5 million through 2019-20, making him one pricey spot-up shooter.

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Paul Pierce: $3.7 million is not going to break a team, especially under the new salary cap, but that’s what a 40-year-old Pierce will earn two years from now. He’s already struggling to keep up, as evidenced by his career-worst stats.

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Enes Kanter: The Thunder were knocked for matching a $70 million offer sheet to land Kanter’s services back in the off-season, and the criticism’s proving to be just. The big man’s minutes have been slashed to just over 20 per game and his defence leaves a lot to be desired.

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DeMarre Carroll: Carroll may very well be a big piece for the Raptors down the stretch and into the playoffs, but he’s only played in 23 games while raking in a cool $13.5 million in 2015-16.

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N/A: After buying out David Lee’s big contract, the Celtics don’t have any dead weight on the books beyond this year. They also have star guard Isaiah Thomas playing on one of the best deals in the league.

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Josh McRoberts: Life in Miami hasn’t been kind to McRoberts, aside from the handsome paycheck. He’s played less than 50 games combined in his first two seasons in South Beach.

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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: He’s just 22 years old, so Kidd-Gilchrist could still have a bright future ahead of him. Charlotte certainly hopes so as it owes him $13 million in each of the next four years. However, it’s looking more and more doubtful with each new injury.

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N/A: The only Hawks player set to make more than $8 million next season is Paul Millsap, and he figures to be well worth his contract. We’ll have to wait and see what Atlanta does in the summer before passing judgment.

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Lance Stephenson: It’s been a disaster for Stephenson since leaving the Pacers, but he’s been solid since joining Memphis. If he can show the Grizzlies enough during the last month of the season, they should exercise their team option for next year. Based on Lance’s recent history, we won’t hold our breath, though.

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Rodney Stuckey: Stuckey’s best days are clearly in the rearview mirror. He’ll be overpaid making a combined $14.5 million over the next two years.

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Dwight Howard: Gone are the days when Howard was one of the most dominant forces in the entire league. His stats are still strong, but he simply isn’t the presence he used to be. He’s also making upwards of $23 million, which doesn’t help.

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Ed Davis: So much potential, so little actual production. Everyone keeps waiting for Davis to break out the way his per-36-minute numbers indicate he can, but it still hasn’t happened. $7 million seems like too much at this point, but could be a bargain down the road.

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Derrick Rose: The former MVP has had an injury-plagued career, which is unfortunate for both Rose himself and fans of the NBA, in general. The 27-year-old’s salary jumps from over $20 million this year to more than $21 million in 2016-17. That’s too much to have tied up in a player who may only play about 50 games.

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Wes Matthews: Dallas forked over some serious cash to land Matthews last summer. It hasn’t exactly gone according to plan as the former Blazer is shooting career-lows from the field and from beyond the arc. 12 points per game isn’t going to cut it for a $17-million man.

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N/A: Utah is definitely a club on the upswing and the benefit of having young talent is the low price tag that accompanies it.

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Josh Smith: In case you were wondering, yes, the Pistons are still paying Josh Smith. Enough said.

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Nene: Once a key cog in the Wizards’ lineup, Nene is averaging less than 19 minutes per game while commanding a $13 million salary. Luckily for Washington, he’s a free agent come the summer.

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Larry Sanders: Sanders is now out of the NBA in an attempt to help get his personal life back on track, but the Bucks will be stuck paying him approximately $1.9 million each season through 2021-22. Ouch.

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Kenneth Faried: At this stage of his career, it’s safe to say Faried is what he is. He provides a load of energy but isn’t able to create much offence for himself. His salary rises over the next three years, and Denver can’t be too happy about that, unless he finally fully breaks through.

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Ersan Ilyasova: Ilyasova is a very serviceable NBA player but his minutes have gone down significantly since being traded to Orlando. The cap is going up next year, but if the Magic continue to use Ilyasova as they are right now, $8.4 million will be too high a price.

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Kyle O’Quinn: Barring severe injury to rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis or a major roster shakeup, O’Quinn is positionally blocked in the Knicks’ lineup. He may still be a good player, but he likely won’t develop into one in the Big Apple. The $4 million he commands could be better used on a player who has proven something in his career.

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Kosta Koufos: Another player who sees his pay rise by $500K each year for the next three seasons, Koufos’s career line of 5.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game is ugly.

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Omer Asik: Asik isn’t really offering the Pelicans much other than a big body to use in matchups with other traditional centres. 3.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for $11 million each of the next three years and $14 million the year after that? No thanks.

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Nikola Pekovic: A $12-million centre, Pekovic has only appeared in 12 games this season due to injury, but doesn’t figure to get much playing time upon his return. Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns is the big man of the future in Minnesota, and behind him the Wolves have Gorgui Dieng, who is younger and cheaper than Pekovic and still has room to improve.

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Deron Williams: The Nets rid themselves of Joe Johnson’s albatross contract last month, but will still be haunted by Williams moving forward. He’ll cost the Nets $5.5 million in cap space for four more years after being bought out prior to the season.

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Tyson Chandler: The Suns have had an abysmal campaign and having Chandler signed long-term isn’t ideal. This is a team that needs to focus on youth, but will be stuck paying an aging Chandler $13 million in his age-36 season.

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Kobe Bryant: $25 million for the 2015-16 version of Bryant. There’s nothing else to say here.

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Carl Landry: Landry is the highest-paid player ($6.5 million) on the worst team in the league.

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