The first day of the 2023 NBA free agency derby is behind us, so now it's time for us to review who got paid and how much. What follows is our list of the worst deals handed out in the opening hours of proceedings on Friday. We found four that were particularly egregious.
Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
Irving re-signed with the Mavericks on a three-year, $126 million deal, giving him a chance to make a run at the playoffs with Luka Doncic. While Irving is an elite shot-making guard, he's only played in 163 games over the past four seasons. He's 31, wholly unreliable and Dallas just committed to him for the long-term.
Do we really expect him to straighten up, fly right and be committed to his teammates after doing the opposite with three franchises over the past decade? Nope. It's a bad deal.
Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets
I don't know anyone who doesn't love the way Fred VanVleet plays, but he's not a superstar. The Rockets paid him like one on Friday. VanVleet got a three-year, $130 million deal as a 29-year-old, undersized guard. Guys his size tend to age poorly in the NBA, especially at this age. Yes, his work ethic may help with the development of Houston's young players, but that's why you hire development coaches. this past season, VanVleet averaged 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 36.7 minutes per game. It was a great season. What are the odds he repeats that over the next few years?
He'll be making roughly $45 million as a 31-year-old during the 2025-26 season. That's insane for a player of his ability.
Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
Centers were at a premium this year, but the contract Poeltl got was a bit nuts. The Raptors retained him on a four-year, $80 million deal as free agency opened, setting the market at his position. He started his career in Toronto, but had spent five seasons in San Antonio before the Raptors reacquired him for Khem Birch, a 2024 first-rounder and two second-rounders. He didn't put up overwhelming numbers, scoring 13.1 pounds, grabbing 9.1 rebounds and blocking 1.3 shots per game. He's efficient (65.2 percent from the field), but isn't a game-changer.
He'll be 31 when this contract expires in 2027 and will be making $22.1 million. It's not an egregious deal but probably won't look great at that point.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Given what he means to the franchise, the Warriors were always going to bring Draymond Green back, but the price they paid to do so was heavy. Green got a four-year, $100 million deal to return to the team following one of the worst seasons of his career. The 33-year-old averaged 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 31.5 minutes per game. He shot 52.7 percent from the field and only 30.5 percent from 3-point range. He's still a decent defender when he puts in the effort and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team this season.
The problem is, Green will be 36 and making nearly $28 million a year in the final season of the new deal. This one could look ugly down the line.