In the 1996 NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers took a chance on a 6-foot-11 center straight out of high school named Jermaine O’Neal. Although young and raw, O’Neal showed enormous potential, enough so that Portland rewarded the bench player with an absurd four-year, $24 million contract.
It was the finest money ever thrown towards a trash can, O’Neal acting like a first-class bust from the start instead of a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Heavily criticized for gameplay that at times wouldn’t hold up in your gym, once the contract expired, the Trail Blazers gladly waved the white flag. Determined to cut their losses, they landed a deal with Indiana for former All-Star (and aging) center Dale Davis.