5 NBA Free Agent Contracts Teams Will Immediately Regret
If the intent of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement was to bring about a sense of fiscal sanity, then it may be time for Billy Hunter and David Stern to head back to the negotiating table.
Franchises across the league have been handing out deals at a furious pace this summer, and not all of that money has been spent wisely. While there are many free agents who are almost guaranteed to pay immediate dividends, there are others who are almost certain to cause a lot of frustration in the coming weeks and months. The second-guessing has already begun in several cities, and the chorus of disenchanted fans will only get louder once the season starts.
So before the ink has dried on the deals that were signed this summer, let's take a look at five contracts that teams will soon regret.
5) Nicolas Batum, Portland: 4 Years, $45 Million
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The Portland Trail Blazers had a ton of money to work with this summer, and the team decided to use some of it to match the four-year, $45 million offer sheet that the Minnesota Timberwolves gave to Nicolas Batum.
However, cap space might be the most valuable commodity in the NBA, so Portland might have been better served by letting Batum walk. After all, the 6'8" Batum is a very erratic player who is a flat-out liability on defense (0.94 points per possession last season, 387th in the NBA according to Synergy Sports).
Portland desperately needs a No. 1 option to pair with forward LaMarcus Aldridge, but by re-signing Batum at more than $11 million per year, it doesn't look like the Blazers will be able to acquire a difference-maker via free agency.
4) Kris Humphries, Brooklyn: 2 Years, $24 Million
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The NBA's luxury tax provision is obviously no concern of Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, especially given the decision by the team to re-sign Kris Humphries to a two-year, $24 million deal.
Humphries is one of 10 players in the NBA who averaged a double-double last season (13.8 PPG, 11.0 RPG), but he is, at best, the fifth option on offense for the Nets. Brooklyn isn't likely to run many plays for the 6'9" forward, so the team is basically paying him $12 million per year to do the dirty work in the paint.
Brooklyn is already hamstrung by the other contracts that they've given out this offseason, so maybe re-signing Humphries is of little consequence to the front office. However, if the Nets get off to a slow start next season, they may start to wonder why there's so much money tied up in a disappointing team.
3) Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia: 2 Years, $13 Million
At the right salary, Spencer Hawes would be the perfect backup center for the Philadelphia 76ers. Instead, he'll be paid $13 million over the next two seasons to start at power forward.
This will not end well.
Don't be fooled by the numbers Hawes put up last season (9.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG in 24.9 minutes per game)—not only was the seven-footer in his contract year, but the stat sheet fails to tell the entire story.
Most (if not all) of what Hawes provides on offense is negated by his lackluster ability at the other end of the court (as evidenced by these figures from 82games.com). Opposing big men routinely have their way with Hawes in the post, and his defensive lapses will only be magnified now that he has to guard faster, more versatile players at the 4 spot.
Re-signing Hawes was bad enough, but by locking him up for two seasons, the Sixers essentially robbed themselves of financial flexibility as they head into next summer's free-agency period.
2) Brook Lopez, Brooklyn: 4 Years, $61 Million
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Brook Lopez is a very good center who averaged 20.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2010-11 before missing most of last season with a broken right foot. That said, paying a "very good" center $15 million a year isn't a strategy that will work in the long term.
While the Brooklyn Nets can clearly afford to sign the checks, handing that much money to someone who has never even sniffed an All-Star berth is puzzling. For a team that isn't all that deep, Brooklyn might have been better off using Lopez in a sign-and-trade deal that would have netted them a few assets.
If—and only if—Lopez winds up as part of a midseason deal that brings Dwight Howard to Brooklyn, then Nets general manager Billy King made a shrewd decision. But unless that happens, Lopez's $61 million deal will haunt the team for years.
1) Omer Asik, Houston: 3 Years, $25 Million
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More than 100 free-agent contracts have been signed so far, yet one stands out among the rest for all of the wrong reasons.
With sparkling career averages of 2.9 PPG and 4.4 RPG, 26-year-old center Omer Asik (formerly of the Chicago Bulls) was able to land a three-year, $25 million contract with the Houston Rockets this summer.
To his credit, Asik is an excellent defender: Opposing players shot less than 34 percent against him in 2011-12, according to Synergy Sports. Even so, his skill in one aspect of the game doesn't justify such a hefty deal.
Ironically enough, the $15 million "poison pill" that Houston put in the final year of the Asik deal just might wind up killing the Rockets themselves. A similar provision in Jeremy Lin's contract means that the team is obligated to pay nearly $30 million to Lin and Asik in 2014-15.