In 1989, Jon Koncak signed a 6 year, $13 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Hawks and instantly assured himself a place in professional basketball history. Koncak was coming off a year where he averaged just under 5 points per game, around 6 rebs per, in just over 20 minutes a game. However, his contract made him a highly compensated professional basketball player and also a lightning rod for scrutiny from the media, fans and other players in the league. See, in 1989, Jon Koncak signed a deal paying him more per year than Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson were making. His new contract earned him a new nickname: Jon Contract.
So to honor the NBA, the collective bargaining process, and to help us get through the month of August (Please, no more coverage of Dez Bryant NOT carrying Roy Williams shoulder pads): The Real Shaq teams up with other bloguin geniuses to compile a list of the WORST contracts the NBA has had since the last lockout in 1999. And boy, let me tell you there are some good ones on here. Here’s how it works: every week day in August one of the fabulous bloggers from around the Bloguin network will write about a bad contract and make their case for why it’s one of the worst contracts the NBA has ever had.
The timing on who I have selected to profile today could not have been worse timing. Let me preface this article by saying this: Adonal Foyle does not deserve the ridicule he will receive in this article. It is a business and Foyle cashed in on a business decision. With Foyle now retiring, he will have time to focus on things outside of basketball. But despite his ambitions off the court, Foyle has always loved basketball and the opportunity it has given him.
It is no coincidence that Magic fans are singing his praises after his departure despite the fact he did not play a single game last year. Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith said last summer that re-signing Foyle was the easiest decision they made during that hectic summer.
But let’s go back to the summer of 2004. Orlando, feeling tired of circulating between Andrew DeClercq, Pat Burke, Steven Hunter and Juwan Howard, are once again in the market for a new center. Then-general manager Jon Weisbrod successfully completed a blockbuster trade that shipped Tracy McGrady out of Orlando (for Steve Francis, a completely different kind of headache) and drafted Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor (good decision).
But the Magic still wanted a backup center. Someone who could defend the paint, block shots and help Howard along. At a reasonable price, of course. Kelvin Cato was on the roster, but who knew what kind of production you could get out of him? And Howard was still considered a power forward.
In steps Adonal Foyle.
Foyle had played seven relatively underwhelming seasons with Golden State at that point. He played in only 44 games the previous year, averaging 3.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Foyle was always a guy that provided more than what was in the box score. He was a shot blocker — averaging more than 2.0 blocks per game in the three seasons before his contract year in 2004 — a big body and a good locker room presence.
Orlando was very confident the team would be able to sign him for a portion of its mid-level exception.
Golden State had other concerns.
Erick Dampier was also a free agent and his stats were more gaudy. He would demand more money than the Warriors could afford. Golden State ended up doing a sign-and-trade that sent Dampier to Dallas, leaving a void in the team’s middle.
No one can blame Foyle for taking the deal he took. Foyle went from a salary of $4.4 million to $6.5 million. In the three years he spent under contract with Golden State, Foyle earned $30.875 million. And that did not include the buyout of his final years.
Foyle averaged 4.0 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game. That would be about $38,400 per point and about $315,000 per rebound. Pretty ridiculous for a guy who has never averaged more than 5.5 points per game and had only one season with more than 5.0 rebounds per game.
Suffice to say, Orlando backed off its offer and went with Tony Battie. Things worked out in the end as the Magic picked up Foyle to back up Dwight Howard and received a great locker room presence.
I think we can all definitively say Adonal Foyle did not deserve the money he received from Golden State those three years. But I think we can all definitively say Adonal Foyle deserved part of that money for the person he is.
As I mentioned yesterday in the post about his retirement, Foyle is involved — and has started — several charitable organizations. The Kerosene Lamp Foundation does a lot of good work helping kids stay off the street through basketball in both the U.S. and in Foyle’s native St. Vincent & the Grenadines. His Democracy Matters not-for-profit does a great job educating and registering voters to get them involved in the democratic process.
Everyone who meets Foyle loves the guy. I am sure (and I cannot speak for Golden State fans) Golden State was not happy about the amount he was paid, but was sure glad to have him on its team.
I guess, sometimes nice guys do get what is coming to them.