- Bonzi Wells
If things were different, Bonzi Wells would be under contract in the NBA for about $8 million right now. As it is, he's out of basketball.
Wells last played in the NBA in the 2007-08 season. He started the year with the Rockets in the second season of the 2 year, $5 million deal he signed with the team in summer 2006, the best offer he could get after declining a five year, $38.5 million extension from the Kings a few weeks earlier. (Whoops.) He was traded to the Hornets at the 2008 deadline, in a move that had far greater ramifications for the Hornets than is perhaps realised. For a two month rental of Wells, New Orleans traded Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius, a 2008 second round draft pick and Bobby Jackson, receiving Bonzi and Mike James in return. Haluska, Vinicius and the pick (later used on Maarty Leunen) were irrelevant, but the inclusions of Jackson and James were very significant. Put simply, Jackson was expiring in 2009 and James wasn't.
The addition of James's contract to Nawlins's already hefty salary bill was the precursor to the Hornets' recent series of salary-cutting move. Whereas Jackson's expiring contract would have put them under the tax, James's non-expiring put them back into it. Over the course of the last 12 months, the Hornets have had to make a series of moves to gift away players, just to stay under the tax. The Hornets have had to give away Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Bobby Brown and Devin Brown to save money; none of those players are very good, and are not rotation calibre (Butler excepted), yet it is representative of a problem; the Hornets can't afford to improve, and as such, they've gotten worse. (Even their big moves, such as Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor, saved short term money. This was not a coincidence.)
The Hornets already had a fragile salary structure after their novelty oversized contracts to Peja Stojakovic, James Posey and Morris Peterson. They knew they didn't have much to spend, yet they took on Mike James's contract knowing that it would inhibit their ability to spend any more. James himself was turned into Antonio Daniels, which didn't really change anything as his salary was almost identical; however, Daniels too had to be traded to save money, and was dealt in the offseason for Darius Songaila and Bobby Brown. That trade saved New Orleans about $1.2 million this season and provided another valuable step to avoiding the luxury tax, which they eventually did - however, Songaila's contract was a year longer than Daniels's. This means that two years have now been added to Bobby Jackson's initial contract. This will mean a third straight season of frenetic luxury tax dodging, thrifty spending, Sean Marks and minimal depth. They'll be bailed out soon when Peja expires, but until that time, it'll be more of the same.
And they got themselves into this hole purely for Bonzi Wells, who played 34 games for them.
Anyway. Moving on.
Since falling out of the NBA in the 2008 offseason, Wells has played in China and Puerto Rico only. He averaged a whopping 34.3ppg, 8.9rpg, 4.1apg and 3.8spg in 14 Chinese league games before a premature release (giggidy), and playing in only three games for Capitanes de Arecibo in the Liga Americas tournament, averaging 19.7 ppg. He is now claiming to be, in his own words, "damn near retired." The lesson, as always; negotiate hard, but don't lose perspective on what your true market value is. Doing so has cost Bonzi over $30 million.