Second-Guessing the Worst NBA Free Agents Signings This Year
Although every NBA general manager feels as though they're making the right move at the time, not every free agent signing goes down as a success. For every Tyson Chandler, there's another player who didn't quite live up to expectations during the 2011-12 season.
With the new collective bargaining agreement in place—as well as an abbreviated free agency period—teams were noticeably tighter with their purse strings this year, not willing to commit themselves long-term to players who they had serious reservations about.
Now that the 2011-12 campaign is in the books, there's no better time to review the deals that were made last December and make note of those contracts that don't appear to be working out quite so well.
So, with the 2012 free agency period set to kick off in less than a couple of months, let's take a look at five of the worst free agent signings from the past season.
Jason Richardson, Orlando Magic
Orlando's Jason Richardson is just a shadow of the player who starred for the Golden State Warriors as recently as 2007.
That Jason Richardson was an athletic marvel who could dunk in traffic as easily as he could knock down a 22-footer.
The current version, while still a solid contributor, can no longer be considered a primary or secondary option on any team.
In 2011-12, Richardson's scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage were all at career lows, and he shot a paltry 59.4 percent from the free-throw line to boot.
Those are not the types of numbers the Magic expected when they signed him to a four-year, $25 million deal in December.
Samuel Dalembert, Houston Rockets
Samuel Dalembert still has the tendency to foul opposing players quite a bit, but his per-36 minute averages this season of 12.2 PPG and 11.4 RPG are very impressive.
But the 6'11", 250-pound center is so inconsistent, it's hard to defend the Houston Rockets for signing him to a two-year, $13.7 million deal (the second season is a team option).
A decade into his NBA career, Dalembert is still prone to making rookie mistakes virtually every night. For every shot that he blocks, there's a play or two where he fails to properly box out a defender or make the proper read on a cutting teammate.
It's far past the point where teams should hope that Dalembert "figures it out"—and it's also past the time where he should be earning $7 million per year.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
Tayshaun Prince's skills were on the decline long before he signed a four-year, $27 million deal this winter, and quite predictably, he posted his lowest scoring average since the 2003-04 season.
What makes even less sense is that the Detroit Pistons re-signed Prince on the same day that they came to terms with Jonas Jerebko on a four-year, $16 million deal. The two essentially play the same position, so Prince's presence is possibly stunting the growth of Jerebko (as well as 2009 first-round pick Austin Daye).
There are thoughts that Prince may have had an unofficial, off-the-books agreement that he'd be back following the 2011 season.
If true, then that deal may come back to bite Detroit for years to come.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Not even the allure of "Lob City" can obscure the truth: DeAndre Jordan's four-year, $43 million deal is a tad bit exorbitant.
Jordan's statistics during his first three years in the league aren't important; contracts should be signed for future potential and not for past performance.
Yet all we know about Jordan is that he's an exceptionally athletic shot-blocker who rebounds well and finishes with the best of them.
We also know this: In the past two seasons, Jordan has taken a total of 22 field goal attempts from beyond nine feet.
Is it fiscally responsible for a team to pay someone who is so limited offensively in excess of $10 million per season?
It's hard to fault the Clippers: They were stuck between a rock and a hard place when the Golden State Warriors signed Jordan to an offer sheet in December.
With Jordan's deal occupying a fair amount of cap space, it will take some interesting machinations for Los Angeles to acquire the extra pieces they'll need for a legitimate title run.
Kwame Brown, Golden State Warriors
Even if Kwame Brown didn't tear his chest muscle back in January (an injury that kept him out for most of year), Golden State's decision to sign him wasn't one of the shrewdest moves in the history of the franchise.
Two weeks before the start of the regular season, the Warriors agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with Brown, a player who had only averaged more than nine points per game once in his 10-year NBA career.
There's a reason why the 6'11" Brown had played for four teams in the three years prior to signing with the Warriors: he's simply an injury-prone, inconsistent player.
At 30, it's highly unlikely that he'll ever reach the potential that led to his being selected No. 1 overall in the 2000 NBA Draft. It's also unlikely that he'll get another deal that averages $7 million per year.