The Golden State Warriors have been one of, if not the best run NBA franchise over the last decade, culminating in four championships and six Finals appearances over the last nine years.
Given the recent success, sometimes it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always the case. For decades the Warriors were plagued by mediocrity, evident by just six playoff appearances in 35 seasons between 1978 and 2012.
Plagued by mismanagement throughout the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, the Golden State Warriors have handed out a couple of the worst contracts in NBA history.
In a recent article for YardBarker, writer Sean Keane has ranked 25 of the worst contracts of all-time. The Warriors have two of those, starting with their infamous handling of former number one overall pick Chris Webber.
"“The Golden State Warriors would give No. 1 pick Chris Webber a 15-year deal for $74.4 million before he played an NBA game”, Keane wrote. “But why did they also include a clause that let him opt out after the first year and become a restricted free agent?”"
It was an all-around nightmare for Golden State. They gave up Penny Hardaway and three first-round picks to acquire the rights to Webber in the 1993 NBA Draft, only for his differences with head coach Don Nelson to lead to his request away from the franchise after one season.
They orchestrated a sign-and-trade with the then Washington Bullets, receiving Tom Gugliotta and three first-round picks. One of those became Vince Carter, but they traded him too in a draft night deal with the Toronto Raptors in 1998. All up, the trio of Webber, Hardaway and Carter combined for 17 All-Star appearances and 10 All-NBA selections, none of which came with the Warriors.
The second on Keane’s list came more recently when the Warriors gave Stephen Jackson a three-year, $27.6 million contract in 2008. The 14-year NBA veteran had arrived in the Bay in January 2007, involved in a trade that coincidentally saw now General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. depart Golden State.
"“Stephen Jackson was a really good player, but the decision to extend his contract in 2008 made no sense”, Keane wrote. “Stack Jack was 30 years old and under contract for two more seasons — why the urgency to lock him in past his 35th birthday?”"
In fairness to the Warriors, Jackson was a big part in one of the most memorable moments in franchise history. Having only been on the team for a few months, the then 29-year-old played a huge role in perhaps the biggest upset in NBA history — the eighth-seed Golden State taking down the first-seed Dallas Mavericks in the first-round of the 2007 playoffs.
Jackson averaged 22.8 points during that series and over 20 points per game in each of the following two seasons. So, while the contract extension in November 2008 may have been unnecessary, there was clear reasoning behind it.
The 2003 NBA champion was dealt to the Charlotte Bobcats a year later in November 2009, but he’ll be forever remembered in Warrior hearts as a crucial piece to the beloved ‘We Believe’ team who shocked the NBA world.