Trough NBA history, there has been a number of successful “Bet on Yourself” stories. But what does that exactly mean? It refers to players turning down smaller contracts or extensions only to sign bigger ones in the future. If you want to look at some examples from recent NBA history, just look at Tobias Harris($180M from the Sixers) or Jimmy Butler($90M from the Bulls). It’s sort of poetic and great to see players believe in their abilities, take a risk, and get rewarded for it, but not everyone manages to play their cards right. A lot of players turned down good offers, seeking bigger ones only to flop due to injuries, bad fits, or disappointing seasons, eventually never getting the same kind of offer again. Here are some of the worst examples in NBA history:
Let’s start with the most actual one, as Schröder has been in the headlines all offseason for the wrong reasons. During last season with the Lakers, Schröder received a 4year/$84M extension offer but turned it down in hopes of getting a $100M+ contract in the offseason. Everyone thought Dennis was crazy, and they were right, as neither team saw him as a good fit or player worthy enough of that money. Schröder would eventually sign a 1-year deal with the Boston Celtics, worth only $5.9M. What a difference. Schröder will definitely try to get some vengeance next season and earn himself another chance at a big contract next summer, but it won’t be easy as a role player behind Tatum and Brown.
Wells had one of his best seasons with the Sacramento Kings back in 2005-2006, averaging 13.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg. After an even better playoff performance, the Kings would reward Bonzi with a 5-year/$36M offer. Surprisingly Bonzi would turn it down, fire his agent and try to work a sign and trade that would match or even improve the original offer. That plan crashed down fast as the Kings decided to give the money to John Salmons. After that, Bonzi would sign a 2-year/$5M deal with the Rockets, playing only 28 games with some lousy production, and eventually finishing his NBA career in 2009, going to play overseas in China.
When Noel came into the NBA, he was supposed to be the next big thing. That never managed to become a reality, but Noel still built a solid career. During his stint with the Mavs, Noel would show some potential and flashes, as he received a 4-year/$70M offer. But Noel saw an opportunity to get even more money the next year as he declined and signed a 1-year qualifying offer worth $4.1M, hoping to get the big payday the following offseason. But after an injury-riddled season, Noel wouldn’t get the same interest from teams and sign a 1-year/$5M deal with the Thunder. Eventually, Noel would sign a solid 3-year/$30M deal with the Knicks, but far off from the $70M deal, he could have had a few years ago. That is precisely why Noel is suing his former agent Rich Paul, for persuading him to turn down that offer and lose out on a deal of a lifetime.
Schröder might have been the main target of ridicule on social media this off-season due to his contract situation, but one guy went untouched despite losing out on even more money, and that’s Victor Oladipo. The 2x All-Star turned down a 4-year/$112.9M offer from the Pacers before getting traded to the Rockets. To make things worse, Oladipo would reject another offer last season, as Houston offered him a solid 2-year/$45M extension. But that wasn’t enough as Oladipo saw himself as a max guy. Eventually, Oladipo got traded to the Heat, played in only four games, and signed a veteran minimum this offseason, worth around $2.4M. Oladipo for sure wishes he had at least one of those offers back, as he will have to prove a lot to get that type of money offered again. Considering his injury history and development, that won’t be too likely.
Even though he had a career filled with controversies, Sprewell was a baller. During the 2004 playoffs with the Timberwolves, Latrell would play some of his best basketball and receive a 3-year extension deal worth $21M to stay in Minnesota. That sparked one of the most infamous NBA quotes in history, as Sprewell felt offended and wondered how he would feed his family with that. Pretty ridiculous. To make things worse, Sprewell would play out the next season and never see the NBA court again, going broke shortly after his playing days. A very unfortunate end to his career, as Sprewell is known to this day as one of the faces of bad decisions, especially regarding money.