The 7 Who Are Bleeding Money

$151 million

Miami Heat. Last Conference Final: 2014. Largest Salary: Chris Bosh ($26,837,720). Freedom: 2020-21, $57 million.

The Heat are burdened by the max contract Pat  Riley gave to Chris Bosh once LeBron James left him high and dry. Bosh was then injured and the Heat haven’t been able to recover. They have entered into questionable deals. $19 million for Tyler Johnson. $14 million for James Johnson.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 7 seed.

$150 million

Oklahoma City Thunder. Last Conference Final: 2016. Largest Salary: Russell Westbrook ($35,350,000). Freedom: 2022-23, $46 million.

The Thunder have a lot of big contracts (Russ, Paul George, Steven Adams) and then they have the rest, average players who can’t keep water out the boat when their heavy hitters are out the game. The $40 million the Thunder are paying Westbrook in two years, a player who has not be in a NBA Finals in 6 years, is going to strangle them.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 4 seed

$144 million

Golden State Warriors. Last Conference Final: 2018. Largest Salary: Steph Curry ($37,457,154). Freedom: 2020-21, $45 million.

The Warriors are supposed to be in the top-5 in payroll. They have the best chemistry and talent and have won three titles in four years, including the elusive back-to-back. But the Kevin Durant one year deal, a continuing rite of passage, is going to eventually burn the house down. He’ll walk away and then what? Klay Thompson is a free agent in the summer of 2019 and Draymond Green in the summer of 2020. The Warriors will be in their new digs in Frisco but can the band stay put?

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: Three-peat

$138 million

Toronto Raptors. Last Conference Final: 2016. Largest Salary: Kyle Lowry ($31,000,000). Freedom: 2020-21, $14 million.

The Raptors inexplicably gave Serge Ibaka a monstrous deal he can’t live up to. He’s a role player being paid $20 million. The Raptors hope to keep Kawhi in town but the odds of that are like the Republicans winning the midterms. Everything is about Kyle Lowry and making Kawhi happy.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 3 seed

$137 million

Houston Rockets. Last Conference Final: 2018. Largest Salary: Chris Paul ($35,654,150). Freedom: 2022-23, $66 million

The Rockets are a better offensive team and a worse defensive team. The problem is you just cannot compete in the west without a 6-6 wing defender in the starting lineup. They are going to have some hits on the chin with Carmelo’s apathy. Clint Capela is the key to their season. Can he forget the summer? The Rockets have to disprove a negative, that they can actually guard scorers absent Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 3 seed

$135 million

Washington Wizards. Last Conference Final: 1979. Largest Salary: Otto Porter ($26,011,913). Freedom: 2021-22, $49 million

Forget Dwight Howard and his drama. The Wizards gagged when they made Otto Porter their highest paid player. Porter will never be an All-Star. The Wiz would have been better off letting Porter sign with the Nets and bringing in complimentary talent that can give them 12-14 points. Porter defends but no way, no how, can he deliver on his salary and it’s a number that’s untradeable for his impact. The Wizards have the longest conference finals drought of all the overly mortgaged. It’s 39 years and counting.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 5 seed

$132 million

Portland Trailblazers. Last Conference Final: 2000. Largest Salary: Damian Lillard ($27,977,689). Freedom: 2021-22, $18 million

Neil Olshey made a panic move when he overpaid Evan Turner, who has been nothing but a role player his entire career. But on the positive side, Olshey gave Jusuf Nurkic a moderate salary which Olshey can flip if Nurkic, who had a bad 2017-18, goes into the tank or if there is something better on the market to help the Blazers in the playoffs. The Blazers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have a dynamic superstar in Lillard, a solid #2 in C.J. McCollum who never met a mic he didn’t like, but no #3 option and free agents who would rather play somewhere else than Portland. The Blazers are that little engine with a superstar who lights it up and three ball scoring but just not enough weapons and nothing in the front court. All that money spent with moderate returns and Lillard growing antsy.

2018-19 Best Case Scenario: 4 seed