2012 NBA Free Agency: 5 Poisonous Players NBA Teams Should Avoid

Joye Pruitt@hoopselectSenior Analyst IApril 11, 2012

2012 NBA Free Agency: 5 Poisonous Players NBA Teams Should Avoid

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    The 2012 NBA Playoffs have not been played, but that does not stop the free agency rumors from flying all over the map already. So far, there is a possible merge between Steve Nash and the Miami Heat, with the South Beach franchise actually being named with Ray Allen and few NBA draft big ballers to fill their center position needs.

    The Orlando Magic are going to be shuffling through this summer’s free agency to find players to stack around their tormented superstar, Dwight Howard, to keep him around longer than the 2012-13 or to at least earn the respect of him not dragging them through the mud again.

    There are plenty of free agency headliners worth a huge payday, but then you have those that are not worth the dime that franchises are probably going to shell out for them.

    Those are the players that could do an organization more harm than good and create a poisonous atmosphere that could result in the dissolving of team chemistry, the firing of a great head coach and even a sub-par league record. 

5. Lamar Odom

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    The latest detail regarding Odom’s exit from the Dallas Mavericks active lineup is that he and Mark Cuban engaged in a heated argument during halftime at Memphis. It is reported that this may have prompted talks that eventually landed Odom on the inactive list for the duration of the season.

    No regular season. No playoffs. Odom just has to sit out of the remaining games of the season as an audience member instead of a player of the game.

    The next team that brings Odom in will have to evaluate how dedicated he is to the game and their franchise before possibly inking him to something long-term. With his stint in Dallas as a precursor, organizations should be very worried if they are not the Los Angeles Lakers or a strong-minded contender, like the Miami Heat.

    Odom did not really want to be a non-Laker, but his pride trumped the feeling of passion for the team and he wanted out. It seems more and more each game that Odom was not living with his decision and was pouting his way through his career until he lands with a franchise worth their weight in gold.

    It’s not as though the Mavericks are not in contention, but a repeated championship is almost completely out of the question. Maybe it is the fact that the expectations were sky-high for him going into Dallas. Whatever the case may be, Odom has a lot of redeeming to do before fans can trust him on another roster.

    Free Agency Type: The Dallas Mavericks will likely buy Odom out by late-June to ensure they will not be on the hook for his $8.4 million 2012-13 salary. Odom will be unrestricted going into this summer’s free agency. 

4. Raymond Felton

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    Ray Felton returned to the NBA post-lockout in the worst basketball shape possible and he made no bones about blaming the lack of an offseason for his physical shortcomings. In Portland, Felton has been little more than a heavy distraction, literally and figuratively.

    From stepping onto the court obviously heavier than usual and reportedly leading the militia to bombard Nate McMillan out of town, after seven years with the Trail Blazers, Felton is not an attractive free agency prospect to anyone looking for a point guard this summer.

    Felton’s leadership abilities are more than mildly questionable, so as a floor general that makes him even less desirable. This season in Portland has been nothing but disappointing as the veteran guard, at 27 years old, finds himself cascading in the pits of the rankings at his position.

    He is scoring the lowest average of his career (11.1 PTS) and is shooting his the lowest field-goal percentage (40.4) since the 2006 season with the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Felton is not a dependable player to have in the starting rotation and putting him in a reserve role with a minimum contract could lead to some locker room tension that some coaches are not ready or willing to tolerate.

    Free Agency Type: Unrestricted

3. Tracy McGrady

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    The fact that Tracy McGrady can play 21 minutes against the Charlotte Bobcats and not score a single point should agitate his free agency stock enough to leave him untouched.

    As a matter of fact, it should be realized that McGrady does not even shoot that much anymore. Even when taking into account that the veteran shooter does not get as many minutes on the court as he would probably like, when he does have the ball in his hands, he does not pull the trigger.

    That could be for a handful of reasons, including the fact that the coach tells him that it isn’t his job to score as he did in his history in the league suggested. It could also be because McGrady, as much as he talks about already buying his ticket to the Hall of Fame, has lost the confidence in his shot.

    The last flash of T-Mac was seen earlier in the season against the Miami Heat. His free-throw percentage in that game may not have been the prettiest, but the way he played influenced the hell out of the game.

    McGrady is a handful simply because of his ego. He does not play like he deserves more playing time or the rock in his hands, but he talks a good game that could do nothing but rub teammates the wrong way.

    McGrady is not in it as a team player. He just wants to end his career without leaving a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. Yet, he has already overstayed his welcome. McGrady is no longer useful around the league, so any contract would be overdoing it.

    Free Agency Type: Unrestricted

2. Javale McGee

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    JaVale McGee is the type of player that general managers and scouts fear. Not because he curses out teammates and creates a ruckus in the locker room because of awkward manners or a general ignorance of his atmosphere.

    McGee is the biggest question mark in the league because he has all of the potential in the world and the size equivalent, but he has yet to even scrape the surface of what he can be. After an ugly time with the Washington Wizards, McGee was traded to the Denver Nuggets with a coach who firmly believed in him, even going as far as comparing him to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    The problem with that comparison is that Kareem’s lowlights did not parallel his highlights. Not only does McGee lack the maturity to be consistent, but he chases highlights more than ESPN.

    To succeed in the NBA, he has to put aside the dream of being a highlight reel and focus on accessing the part of his game that will make him a stronger commodity.

    Maybe playing in Denver’s system will edge McGee out of that Washington Wizard sense of entitlement that his former franchise played with so well. Maybe it will force him to play smarter basketball, using his athleticism to play a step ahead of his opponents instead of right in their hands.

    McGee could be a great player in the league if he allowed himself to, but the glory his coach gives him about skills that have yet to be refined could be what keeps him in the shadows of his mental lapses. The McGee experiment could go extremely well or very bad.

    So far, the results are obvious.

    Free Agency Type: Restricted

1. J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith has become an enigma. You could say that he was kicked out of China. Minus the boot, a Chinese foot and Smith landing back in the states on his behind with his luggage following closely after, that is what one could assume happened.

    After making ridiculous demands of his Chinese franchise, he was shown the door. Smith plays like he deserves minutes instead of earning his time and that is what makes him such an intolerable presence.

    His skill set is outstanding when it comes to looking for bench production. Teams hope that his next time will be better than his last, but Smith has found another way to disprove that theory.

    In Denver, he wanted to hop on the court without repercussions. Smith wanted to do what he wanted to do and as long as he was loading up the box stats, his transgressions should have gone unpunished. Now, with the New York Knicks, a franchise teetering on true contention, Smith has allowed his past demons to resurface.

    Players get ejected all the time. It happens. Emotions take control and after a short conversation, thing change. However, this is Smith’s last chance to get it right or his exit may be reminiscent of Allen Iverson’s.

    Iverson’s talent was explosive and athletic and could have been instrumental to any franchise in the country. However, his ego and lack of discipline shown on and off the court led to his exile from the NBA. Not to mention that while playing alongside someone like Carmelo Anthony, arguably the second-best pure scorer in the league, he chucks up horrible shots at a stage in his career when he should know better.

    It’s not about finding your stroke this late in the season. It’s about doing everything to make sure your team wins. It includes compromise, maturity, and being a great team player, which is something Smith has yet to learn.

    Free Agency Type: Player Option