Predicting Biggest 2013 NBA Free Agency Busts

Michael PinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2013

Predicting Biggest 2013 NBA Free Agency Busts

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    Not all free-agency signings work out.

    Free agency is when teams get to finally turn hard-earned cap space into tangible production, players who will get their fanbase excited (or angry) and contracts that will reverberate throughout the franchise for its short-term future.

    Basketball is a game of fit and chemistry, and just because a player produced on one team doesn't mean he'll do the same in a different-colored jersey. 

    Here are five free agents who should end up dissatisfying the teams that sign them, ranked in order from least to most disappointing.

5. Monta Ellis

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    The NBA's most notorious chucker, Monta Ellis is reportedly willing to seek financial compromise with any contending team that will have him, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger. That's the absolute best-case scenario for Ellis, but one that still feels unlikely.

    Ellis turned down $11 million to stay in Milwaukee for the 2013-14 campaign, and there's little-to-no chance he signs a contract less than that amount per season, even if it's a three-year deal. 

    And so, what we have is a 27-year-old, eight-year veteran who shot 41.6 percent from the floor and 28.7 percent from behind the three-point line last season. Whoever signs Ellis needs to know they're playing with fire.

    And when potentially eight figures are at stake for more than one year, fire isn't something to be played with.

4. Andrew Bynum

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    Only a bust in the eyes of those who honestly expect him to return as an unquestionably dominant All-Star center for the life of whatever contract he signs, Andrew Bynum is currently the open market's most polarizing player.

    Even though he's a mere 25 years old, Bynum's injury history is very real. Including the lost season of 2012-13, in which he played zero games and neutron-bombed the Philadelphia 76ers, Bynum has only played 82 games once in his eight-year career, as a 19-year-old in 2006-07. 

    He's also logged over 31 minutes per game just once, and that happened in his last year with the Los Angeles Lakers. Injuries are nothing to joke about, as is Bynum's nonchalant attitude towards being a professional athlete.

    He's repeatedly behaved in irresponsible ways—which means absolutely nothing if he's scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds a night, but there's no guarantee he's that player.

    And even if Bynum is healthy for the duration of his next deal, his work on the defensive end is below average, especially defending the pick-and-roll, which is something he needs to at least become competent in if he wants to reach his full potential.

3. Brandon Jennings

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    Brandon Jennings is one of the toughest players to read this summer; a shoot-first point guard who isn't all that great of a shooter (39.9 percent from the floor last season) with a PER that dropped 2.3 points in 2012-13.

    Is he a franchise point guard? Is he a scorer off the bench? Is he a combo guard who needs to be surrounded by the right type of complementary talent? Is he the complementary talent for someone else?

    Jennings will probably get paid like the first option, which is trouble for whoever's writing the checks. Last season in Milwaukee, the Bucks scored exactly three more points per 100 possessions when Jennings sat on the bench, according to NBA.com/Stats.

    He's only 23 years old, but hasn't improved in any of his four seasons in the league—a humongous red flag. 

2. Jarrett Jack

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    This high ranking comes under the assumption that some poor franchise will guarantee Jarrett Jack too much money for too many years, based on his one season of stellar play as Golden State's go-to sixth man. 

    He was fantastic with the Warriors, averaging 12.9 points (40.4-percent three-point shooting) and 5.6 assists per game, but his production came in a perfect role that fit him like a glove.

    Jack came off the bench, looked for his own shot and thrived in small-ball lineups when the likes of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry helped create driving lanes by spreading the floor. His defense was still atrocious (especially in the playoffs) and will continue to be so on his next team, especially if he's afforded more minutes.

    Some organization will unfortunately look at what Jack did last season and think that despite his age (an older 29) and obvious deficiencies, he can step into its starting lineup and replicate, if not improve upon, what he did in a Warriors jersey. 

    That just isn't realistic, and whoever signs him will have made a giant mistake.

1. Al Jefferson

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    Last season, the Utah Jazz outscored opponents by 5.9 points per 100 possessions whenever Al Jefferson sat on the bench, according to NBA.com/Stats.

    When Big Al played, the Jazz were 2.9 points per 100 possessions worse than the other team. Almost all of this is due to his inability to play defense, which has officially become a vital characteristic for big men to thrive in today's NBA.

    Take a look at these numbers: Utah held opponents to 98.4 points per 100 possessions with Jefferson on the bench and 107.6 when he played. The difference between those two figures is the chasm between the league's third-best and third-worst defense. 

    Jefferson brings elite low-post offense (an inefficient means of running an offense) to the table, and that's about it. The Jazz also rebounded the ball much better when Jefferson sat as opposed to when he played. Whoever pays him big money over the next three or four years will regret it instantly.