NBA Free Agents 2012: Ranking the Riskiest Signings of the Offseason
NBA free agency is almost here and, as always, many of the top players on the market represent major risks to potential teams. There are certainly relative bargains to be had, including former superstars Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. But many of the other top free agents come with heavy baggage and a risk of a poor return on investment.
So, who are the riskiest signings of the NBA free agency period?
No. 5: Goran Dragic
At age 26, Dragic finally got his chance to shine with the Houston Rockets when Kyle Lowry was sidelined due to injury. He closed the season particularly well; averaging 17 points, 8.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in his last five games. Dragic will be a very, very tempting unrestricted free agent for many teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers, in need of a dynamic point guard.
However, Dragic only has a half season of elite production under his belt. Before that, he languished for years as Steve Nash's backup. A team will have to be risky and decide if Dragic turned the corner or was his emergence last season a mirage?
No. 4: Ramon Sessions
Sessions played well with the Lakers and averaged 11 points, 5.5 assists and 3 rebounds last season. He is a very underrated offensive point guard who can really pass the ball and create for his teammates. However, he faded in the playoffs and is an atrocious defender, possibly the worst in all of basketball. So signing him to a long-term, expensive deal is very risky given his clear deficiencies.
No. 3: O.J. Mayo
Mayo has had a roller coaster of an NBA career.
He began with a bang as a Rookie of the Year candidate, slumped to the deep bench in his second season and found a niche as a sixth man leading up to restricted free agency. Mayo is a major talent and teams in need of shooting guards, including the Chicago Bulls, will give him a serious look for a deal at the mid-level exception (or a sign and trade agreement). But Mayo is still a very risky signing given his past uneven performance and occasional attitude issues.
No. 2: Nick Young
Young is a talented enigma. An exceptional athlete with skills and a good long-rang stroke, he has everything to be an NBA superstar....except the right attitude and a willingness to improve. Young tantalizes teams with his potential but has never become more than an inconsistent gunner whose refusal to pass the ball can often lose games. He will want big money now that he is finally a free agent but buyer beware.
No. 1: Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace is, dubiously, the best unrestricted free agent on the market. Wallace is 30, still technically in his prime and a close to all-star level player who is known for tenacious defense. But he will look to command a contract over $50 million on the free-agent market and, as a player who depends on his athleticism and a reckless style of play, he is almost certain to decline well before his deal is over.