James Harden, NBA free agency 2024: The 7 worst contracts of the summer

The NBA never had poor contracts. Players received payment and likely deserve more than the league's governors' 50% of basketball-related profits. Bear in mind.  

There are less bad team-building contracts. Even Bradley Beal's five-year, $251 million no-trade pact changed hands. Front offices are sophisticated these days, and incompetent ones are discovered swiftly.  

Use more than dollars to evaluate these deals. Players should get what they can negotiate and more. Instead, ask: Would a championship team make this deal?  

Remember: Basketball is a sport. Sport is fun. Even bad contracts are good. But ... 1. James Harden, Clippers ($35M AAV) Two-year, $70 million contract  

23.9% of 2024-25 salary cap 2023-24 (72 games): 16.6 PTS (43/38/88), 8.5 AST, 5.1 REB, 34.3 MIN. Advanced: 18.6 PER, 61.2 TS%,.163 WS/48, 4.1 BPM, 3.8 VORP Cost per Win: $4,166,666.67  

Harden turned down a three-year, $161 million deal from the Brooklyn Nets in October 2021, which would have earned him over $55 million this season. In June 2022, he sought a four-year, $227 million contract to become the NBA's first $60 million man. It never arrived.  

Harden spent $62 million over three seasons for what? Three more frustrating playoff exits. He was involved in all. Consider his 2025-26 wage loss restitution of $36.4 million. Good for him for recouping some. It's unclear how it favours the Clippers.  

Since the 2019-20 season, when Harden, 30, won a third straight scoring title (34.3 points per game) and finished top-three in MVP voting for a fourth straight year:  

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