If every NBA general manger had a crystal ball, bad contracts would not exist. No one would be overpaid. Fans wouldn’t have to watch a player collect a large paycheck by sitting on the bench every night. The New York Knicks wouldn’t embarrass themselves every off-season. The reality is, however, bad contracts exist. Unfortunately for organizations, it is impossible to predict how a player will perform after signing with a team. They might get injured. They might have personal issues. They might retire before their contract is up. They might be on the downside of their career and not produce at all. Every player is a risk. Gilbert Arenas was a superstar on the rise. Larry Hughes was poised to be LeBron’s wingman in Cleveland. Every player signing with the Knicks was a savior. None of these players lived up to their contracts, and left people uttering the popular Price Is Right phrase, “That’s Too Much!”
If there were ever an example of a player who turned one great season into a large contract, Dampier is the guy. In his final season (2003-2004) with Golden State, he averaged 12.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 74 games, all as a starter. NBA teams drool over centers with the ability to score, rebound, and protect the basket. When he hit the free agent market in the summer, he was a hot commodity; even the Toronto Raptors were interested. Ultimately, he ended up in Dallas and immediately went back to producing the same numbers as before his contract year. Averaging 6.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game – for six seasons in Dallas – was nice, but definitely not worth the price tag.