NBA Rumors: Worst Free Agent Signings

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2010

NBA Rumors: Worst Free Agent Signings

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    Every year the General Managers of the NBA try to change their rosters in the offseason.

    Some choose to do so via trades and the NBA Draft while others prefer to wheel and deal contracts in the free agent market.

    Some teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers, make small acquisitions to bolster an already strong team while others, like the Miami Heat, completely revamp their entire team.

    Regardless of the strategy, moves are made. And for every great free agent signing, there are bad contracts offered as well.

    This slideshow will highlight the worst free agent signings of the 2010 NBA offseason.

Darko Milicic: Minnesota Timberwolves, 4 years, $20 million

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    I'm really not even sure what Minnesota General Manager David Kahn was thinking here. 

    Last season, Darko Milicic scored a staggering 8.3 points per game in his 25 minutes of action. 

    Does that deserve a four-year deal for $20 million? Probably not unless there is a dramatic increase in production.

    It's almost as if Kahn decided to pay the Serbian center just because he's seven feet tall.

    The only realistic explanation I can think of is that Milicic was resigned by the Timberwolves in the hopes that he would somehow fulfill the talent associated with his lofty draft position. 

    While difficult to believe now, Milicic was the second player taken in the 2003 NBA Draft. The other five players taken in the top five were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. 

    Kahn does think that Darko has the passing ability of Vlade Divac, one of the best big men ever at dishing out the ball, and may be a similar player to Chris Webber.

    This draft bust could prove to be valuable at times to the Wolves if he remains healthy, but not at a clip of $5 million a year. 

Rudy Gay: Memphis Grizzlies, 5 years, $82 million

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    So somehow the Grizzlies looked at Gay's resume, saw that he hadn't ever made an All Star team or an All-Defense Team, and still offered him a maximum contract. 

    Gay is a very good basketball player, but he isn't quite good enough to be offered a maximum contract. Remember that the small forward has never shot over 50% from the field and has more career turnovers than he does assists.

    He still needs to work on his efficiency as he averaged 19.6 points per game on 16 shots per game last season. 

    Had they offered him less money, the Grizzlies probably would have still been able to win his services.

    In fact, Gay himself was surprised at the enormity of the contract. He was quoted as saying "I was surprised. Actually, I was really surprised. When I found out they did that, I was like, 'Wow.'"

    It will be interesting to see how Gay's performance changes now that he's gone from a tantalizing talent to a maximum salary player expected to perform at that level. 

Richard Jefferson: San Antonio Spurs, 4 years, $39 million

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    Richard Jefferson last season averaged just 12 points per game and did so inefficiently, shooting 47% from the field and 32% from behind the three point line. 

    Additionally, Jefferson is already 30 years old and his career is on the decline. His rebounding skills are decreasing steadily with his age and his defense is shaky at best. 

    There just isn't much of a ceiling for this aging player other than his production last season. 

    However for a franchise that traditionally makes good moves, General Manager R.C. Buford decided to sign Jefferson for the next four years at almost $10 million dollars a year.

    Even if the small forward produces well this year, the contract will most assuredly become an albatross around the franchise's neck in the next couple of years. 

Travis Outlaw: New Jersey Nets, 5 years, $35 million

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    Other than his athleticism, Outlaw doesn't bring that much to the table. 

    He doesn't shoot efficiently, he picks and chooses when to play defense, and he doesn't pass that well. He's a solid player but he's nothing special. 

    One thing he does like to do is try to score. But on a team with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Terrence Williams, and Derrick Favors, he may not get to do so as often as he'd like. 

    Outlaw may even become a divisive figure in the locker room if he ends up as the sixth scoring option on the team.

    Also, by paying him $7 million a year, the Nets are essentially ensuring that he gets playing time. Unfortunately for the growth of this young team, his playing time will come at the expense of the younger and more talented players like Terrence Williams and Derrick Favors.

    There aren't too many positives to this signing.

Joe Johnson: Atlanta Hawks, 6 years, $119 million

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    Joe Johnson is now going to be an Atlanta Hawk until his 35th birthday. And when that time comes he'll be the highest paid player in the NBA. 


    Johnson is a legitimate All Star. He's a great player and he can single-handedly win games for the Hawks. But he does not deserve this kind of money.

    But signing Johnson to this deal, the Hawks gave themselves essentially no cap room to work with. They doomed themselves to six more years of mediocrity and first round playoff exits.

    Johnson has never performed well in the playoffs and he gave up on both his team and his fan base at the end of last season. 

    I see why the Hawks and General Manager Rick Sund signed the guard to a deal because he'll propel them into the playoffs and make more money for the franchise. But from a basketball perspective, this move doesn't make the team better.

LeBron James: Miami Heat, 6 years, $110.1 million

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    This is not a condemnation of the signing of LeBron James. It was a brilliant move by the Heat and they added arguably the best player in the NBA for less than a maximum salary.

    It was probably the single best signing in the offseason.

    So, you ask, why is this in a slideshow about the worst free agent signings?

    It's because of the manner in which the signing was made. This was without a doubt the worst method LeBron James could have employed in his changing teams. 

    The Decision dragged on to long and became a me-first ego-fest. He annoyed the fan bases of multiple franchises. The King made the people of Cleveland hate him.

    It was a great basketball move but an awful public relations move, and that's why it makes the list.