Joe Smith, Minnesota Timberwolves, 1999: one year, $1.75 million
As disappointing as his second and third NBA seasons were, Smith's surprise signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves in early '99 seemed more than a little curious. He wasn't expected to perform as a franchise-carrying big man, but his Minnesota averages of nearly 14 points and eight rebounds (in 33 minutes) for a 23-year-old were nothing to sneeze at. When he "re-signed" in the summer of '99 for $2.1 million, and in the summer of '00 for $2.3 million, onlookers wondered if something a bit more unseemly was afoot, a notion given credence when an agreed-upon document was found that showed the Timberwolves had decided to give Smith a maximum contract starting in '01 -- a good two years before they were allowed to offer one. Smith's '00 contract was voided, Minnesota lost its '01, '02 and '04 draft picks, and Smith's career never recovered.