For every good decision one makes in life, there’s usually a corresponding bad decision that follows at some point in time. This is no different when it comes to sports. While there are plenty of well-respected front office executives around the NBA (Pat Riley, Bob Myers, etc), even they are not immune to the ever horrifying “bad contract”.
Across history, the Philadelphia 76ers usually have not had a well-run front office. While the organization has made its fair share of solid signings, they’ve in turn made plenty of bad ones.
With that in mind, here’s to taking a look at the five worst contracts in Sixers history.
#5 Jerryd Bayless
Journeyman point guard Jerryd Bayless wasn’t necessarily awful when he played for the Sixers, he just simply didn’t really play. Bayless signed a 3 year/$20 million dollar contract with Philly prior to the 2016 season. Across his first two seasons, he managed to start just 12 games.
Yes, you read that correctly, 12 games.
Bayless spent the majority of his time in Philadelphia rehabbing a variety of different injuries. When he was healthy, he was pretty much a non-factor on the court, especially considering how much he was being paid to play. In his 42 games as a Sixer, Bayless averaged 8.1 points per game while barely shooting over 40%.
Bayless was eventually included in the trade agreement which netted the 76ers Jimmy Butler in 2018. For that reason alone, he only ranks as the 5th worst signing in team history.
#4. Kenny Thomas
In 2003, things were starting to look pretty darn good for the Sixers. They had just made a Finals appearance no more than two years ago, Allen Iverson was a scoring machine, and the team still had a good amount of cap space to play around with.
So what did the GM at the time Billy King decide to do? Well, he handed out a 7 year/$50 million dollar deal to Kenny Thomas.
A restricted free agent acquired from the Houston Rockets, Thomas was a really, really “meh” type player. Averaging just 10.2ppg at the time of his extension, Thomas would never average more than 13.6 per season as a 76er.
Thomas’ hefty price tag would seriously hurt the Sixers’ chances of ever returning to the Finals, plummeting the team into a state of mediocrity as Allen Iverson was asked year after year to carry a weak roster. Just three years into his deal, Thomas was traded away for an aging Chris Webber (who was arguably even worse).
#3. Matt Geiger
In the late 1990s, with the team poised to make a run at an NBA championship, the 76ers felt it was in their best interest to pay their backup center $8.5 million dollars per season.
While Geiger did have a solid enough 1998/1999 season (13.5ppg and 7.2reb), the 6 year/$51 million dollar investment which the Sixers made into the big man was always a gross overpay. Geiger rarely logged more than 20 minutes a game once Dikembe Mutombo was added to the roster, and he contributed next to nothing during the 2001 NBA Finals.
Due to injuries and even a PED suspension, Geiger was out of the league by 2002. He never lived up to his hefty price tag and his cap hit was yet another reason the Sixers failed to ever give Iverson a true co-star during his prime.
#2. Al Horford
I mean, I think we all knew I had to include “Uncle Al Horford” on this list.
Easily the most expensive contract on this list, Horford was signed to a 4 year/$109 million dollar contract this past offseason. At the ripe age of 33 going on 34, Horford was paid a near max-contract to play power forward next to Joel Embiid.
Obviously, this hasn’t worked out one bit. Horford has been posting career lows in multiple categories, has been discussed in trade rumors for months now, Embiid and Simmons have struggled with him on the court, and Al has even voiced his frustrations to the media.
Similar to that of the Geiger and Thomas deals, Horford has financially limited a team that was dreaming of a Finals run in the near future. Even trading away his $28 million dollar salary this offseason will be a monumental task.
#1. Elton Brand
The irony of this whole thing is that Elton Brand is responsible for both the #1 and #2 spots on this list. Not only was he monumentally overpaid prior to the 2008/2009 season, but he was also the one who inked the contract for Horford this past summer. Go figure.
Coming off of five strong seasons with the Clippers, in which he averaged 20+ ppg, Elton Brand was free to hit the open market at the age of 28. With Brand seemingly in his “prime”, the Sixers were quick to enter a bidding war with the Clippers.
Philadelphia won, agreeing upon a 5 year/$82 million dollar deal with the power forward. Over the next 5 seasons, Brand would see his stats drop in effectively every single category. In just his first season alone with the Sixers, Brand recorded a career-low at the time of 13.6ppg.
The Brand deal turned out to be a massive failure. A decision which plummeted the Sixers into another half-decade of mediocrity before eventually embracing a full-on rebuild in 2013.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.