5 NBA Stars Currently Stuck in No-Win Situations
An NBA star is a terrible thing to waste and on some teams, that talent is misplaced by being stuck in a no-win situation putting up vacuous numbers.
The biggest problems that confront stars stuck in no-win situations are not being able to make their fans happy, playing on teams that are never in contention, not living up to big contracts or just being a bad fit with coaches or team management.
Players can deal with the problems in two ways: either deflect the situation or let it affect their heads. It is not newsworthy when a player gives the “I do what is best for the team” or “I play hard and statistics don’t matter” responses.
Other players don’t deal with it quite as well and make the situation directly about them to make headlines.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Just like his team’s possible relocation, Tyreke Evans is left languishing with the Sacramento Kings. Evans is a legitimate up-and-coming talent that can extend himself into playing both the guard and forward positions.
Evans will become a restricted free agent as of July 1 and could easily look for a more noteworthy and headline-driven team. The Kings will either relocate to Seattle or retain their rights to Sacramento if a new arena deal is confirmed.
Evans has shown brilliance during his four-year career with the Kings. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, but his statistics have marginally decreased each season, as have the expectations of the Kings franchise.
He has a big body with a 6’6” frame that belittles smaller defenders, and he can force his way to the paint for easy hoops. However, instead of building a system around him and center DeMarcus Cousins, Evans has been looked around by management.
If Sacramento wants to keep its talent, it needs to utilize his talents and give him a guaranteed role each night, instead of flipping him around the court. He should have the ball in his hands as an oversized point guard and be given the opportunity to drive to the hoop to make things happen.
Evans needs a new opportunity, whether that is with the Sacramento/Seattle franchise or if he goes to greener pastures. He has the skill, but he just needs the right fit.
Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
Carlos Boozer left the Utah Jazz in the summer of 2010 for the riches of the Chicago Bulls. Boozer was the up-and-coming big man that the Bulls were lacking, but he injured a finger on his shooting hand before training camp that held him out the first month of the 2010-11 NBA season.
Instead of transitioning smoothly from pick-and-roll partner Deron Williams to Derrick Rose, Boozer was absent and instantaneously angered Bulls fans. The future connection with up-and-coming superstar and regular season MVP Rose was put on hold.
The Bulls did finish with the best record in the NBA during Boozer’s first season. However, it didn’t help that Boozer disappeared in the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Miami Heat. The only lingering memory was the flagrant foul Boozer committed on LeBron James that woke up the Heat from a slumber and closed out the Bulls.
Since that time, Boozer has put up steady and decent numbers (averaging 15.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season), but he’s posted a marginal decrease in key statistics compared to his time with the Jazz. Boozer will be making $15.3 million next season and $16.8 million the following year.
He still has the possibility of being amnestied by the Bulls. His release is highly doubtful, but the Bulls will be very close to the salary cap and won’t want to suffer the stiffer penalties. The Bulls could go for a younger, cheaper player in free agency like the Utah Jazz’ Paul Millsap or go for it all with the Atlanta Hawks’ Josh Smith.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Andrea Bargnani is another former No. 1 pick, taken first in the 2006 NBA draft, who has seen his star blemish in his time with the Toronto Raptors. The seven-footer was chosen first by general manager Bryan Colangelo, ahead of the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Rajon Rondo.
The seven-footer has the potential with his ability to shoot consistently from the perimeter and has the skills to bang down below. He was set to give other teams major matchup problems with his stretched-out game.
Maybe thankful for him was the fact that he injured his elbow and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. He was having his worst season as a professional by averaging only 12.7 points and a measly 3.7 rebounds. He was besieged by injuries and only appeared in 35 games.
The fans roasted Bargnani this season at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. He was expected to have resurgence after turning up his level of play at the end of last season.
Management was actively trying to find a trading partner, and there were rumors that he would be shipped to Chicago for another player on this list, Carlos Boozer.
Bargnani will likely be freed from his no-win situation as the Raptors can use their amnesty clause on him if they can’t find a willing trading partner over the summertime. He is in line to make $11 million next season and $12 million the following one.
Ben Gordon, Charlotte Bobcats
Ben Gordon hit the NBA by storm in 2004-05 after winning the 2004 NCAA Championship with the University of Connecticut. Gordon was the first rookie to win the NBA Sixth Man Award with the Chicago Bulls by averaging 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Gordon was a key member of the developing Bulls’ squad, which was the first to make the playoffs since Michael Jordan left the team. Gordon left the Bulls after his last contract year and Derrick Rose’s rookie year as he bolted for paydirt in Detroit.
The move to Detroit didn’t work for Gordon as he produced significantly inferior statistics for three years until Detroit wanted to go younger and save money by shipping him out to the Charlotte Bobcats.
With that move, Gordon went from a career of competitive teams to being on the worst team in the NBA. He is not a fan of the losing culture and had a major blow up with Coach Mike Dunlap. He has picked up his play recently by scoring in double digits seven out of the past eight games.
He is set to cash in on his player option next season that will pay him $13.2 million. Since it will be an expiring contract, Gordon should be able to remove the no-win situation status soon.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
John Wall was the first pick of the 2010 NBA draft and was looked upon as a major building block for the rebuilding Washington Wizards. Wall has been steady during his two-and-a-half-year career by averaging 16.2 points and 8.1 assists per game.
Wall missed the first 33 games of this season with a stress injury to his left knee. When he returned, he was looking at a 5-28 record and an almost guaranteed early summer vacation.
Michael Jordan’s former agent, David Falk, wanted to be very clear that there is no productive future in Washington. He believes that Wall is a one-speed player and needs to develop his game in order to progress.
Wall has progressed since that time and won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on March 18 over the likes of LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Al Horford the Atlanta Hawks. He is trying to slow down on the dribble, so he can be mentioned in the same breath as Chris Paul and Steve Nash.
Wall will need to continue the trend and help develop the young teammates like Bradley Beal that surround him or he will become the next Nene and get lost in the shuffle. He is up for a contract extension at the end of the year and is trying to show that he is worth the maximum deal.
The Wizards need to make a legitimate playoff next season in order to introduce Wall to the remaining basketball universe. If they don’t, Washington and Wall could end up in a vast wasteland from where Wall may never emerge.