NBA Free Agency 2011: 8 Players Who Will Not Live Up to Their Contracts
The 2011 NBA free agency, like almost every other year, will provide some contracts blown completely out of proportion. Teams overbid on players that either had one great year, or simply seem to have a ton of potential.
Josh Childress is an example of this. The Phoenix Suns signed him on for five years and $33.5 million at the beginning of the 2010-11 season. Childress played less than 20 minutes a game and only averaged five points per outing.
Rashard Lewis is easily the most overpaid athlete in the NBA today. When Lewis moved from Seattle to Orlando, the Magic signed him to a six-year, $118 million contract. After three moderately productive seasons for the Magic, he was traded to the Washington Wizards.
This season, only Kobe Bryant made more money than Lewis in the entire NBA. Lewis' salary will increase in the next two seasons, peaking at over $23 million in 2012-13.
When a position with high demand is thin in the free agent pool, teams will overpay for an average player. Teams will do anything in their power to snag at least one player from the free agency.
Here's a bunch of players that could earn more than they're worth this offseason.
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Glen Davis drew some attention from NBA scouts with his performance in the 2008-09 playoffs.
In the absence of Kevin Garnett, Davis averaged over 15 points a game in two series'. After a mediocre season in 2009-10, he picked up where he left off this season. The Boston Celtics were decimated by injuries to their big men this year, and Davis stepped in.
He finished with over 10 points a game for the first time of his career. People will see the blend of strength and surprising speed.
They've seen "Big Baby" do things that most forwards and centers his size can't do. His athleticism is bound to land him a decent-sized contract.
However, Davis is only 6'9" tall. He will be constantly beat by guys that are over 7' tall. At power forward, his speed is neutralized and ineffective.
Davis is the classic tweener—one that doesn't have the skills to truly earn the big bucks.
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Shaquille O'Neal is beginning to see much more time in a suit than a uniform. He's also the guy that Glen Davis was always compared to in his college days at LSU.
If Shaq returns to the league next year, he will likely land a large one-year contract with a contender. Shaq's return will happen solely because he thinks he still has something in the tank.
Although I agree that he does, his legs have completely given out on him.
If O'Neal was healthy all season, he could definitely do what he's paid to. He'd be a valuable backup that can tire out the other team's bigs. All the wear and tear on his legs will get in the way of that.
If someone takes a risk on Shaq, they may be rethinking their move by about mid-season.
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Peja Stojakovic is still in the league to do one things: shoot threes.
Stojakovic is one of the best pure shooters the NBA has ever seen, shooting 40 percent from behind the arc during his career.
Dallas was the third team to use him this season, adding him shortly after the injury to Caron Butler.
Stojakovic has done well with the Mavericks, even pitching in 21 points and five rebounds in a Game 2 victory over the Portland Trailblazers. If he continues to throw in performances like this, team scouts will take notice.
Stojakovic was paid less than $1 million by the Mavs this season because of how late he was picked up. A couple of spot-on showings from three-point range, and he'll probably make somewhere around $5 million next year.
Unfortunately for the team that lands him, they'll find out he can only do one thing. When Stojakovic isn't hitting his shots, he's useless on the court.
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Kenyon Martin never lived up to the hype of a No. 1 pick. Martin is the last American-born college senior to be taken with the first pick of the draft.
Kenyon made over $16 million this season—yet another injury-plagued year for the power forward out of the University of Cincinnati. With only 11 seasons under his belt, some teams will be more than willing to offer a deal for around four years and $32 million.
The problem is Kenyon's knees.
He has had microfracture surgeries on both knees, causing him to miss significant time, and changing his style of play drastically. He's no longer a high-octane dunker.
His knees will continue to give him problems as he approaches 34 years old. He can be a solid defender, but his potential for offensive explosiveness is a thing of the past.
Sorry Kenyon, but switching your jersey number from six to four just signifies that you have two fewer knees than you did at the start of your NBA career.
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When he was with the Phoenix Suns, Goran Dragic drew some comparisons to Steve Nash.
Dragic loves to distribute the basketball and fared pretty well in the Suns system. However, he may have been a product of a well-coached offense.
Dragic was traded to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline.
In the last three games of the season, Dragic was at his very best. After flirting with two triple-doubles, he finally earned one in the last game of the regular season. Anyone that was watching Dragic at the end of the year might have a jaded view of his game.
His performances were against the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks. His numbers against the Mavs were inflated because he played 53 minutes thanks to a Kyle Lowry left-foot injury.
I'm still not sold on Dragic, but I think NBA teams desperate for a point guard could sign him to an unusually big contract.
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When the Miami Heat acquired Mike Bibby, I thought it was going to be a huge edge for the franchise in April and May. Little did I know, Bibby is just a shell of his former self.
Mike Bibby might be near the top of the league in three-point shooting percentage, but I wouldn't trust him to hit a three if I was the coach. Mario Chalmers is clearly the more solid option at this point because he can play a little defense. In the postseason, Bibby is 4-of-19 from distance.
He's not scoring, he doesn't handle the ball and isn't a leader either. Bibby simply gets by with his name at this point of the career. It was his name that got him a spot in Miami, and that name will land him another job next season.
Any team that signs Bibby this offseason will be surprised when he shows up without the game he used to possess back in his days with the Sacramento Kings.
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Aaron Gray has had a spectacular postseason thus far. His play against the Lakers will definitely increase the amount of money he makes with the contract he signs in the offseason.
Gray doesn't seem like the type of player I'd want on my team. He's not in great shape, and gets by with pure size. He's a hard worker on the court, but it doesn't look like he puts in an honest effort off the court.
He's had a couple of good games against the Lakers, playing strong defense on Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. During the regular season, he didn't see too much court time. Honestly, it seems as if he's only in the game to be a big body.
However, Gray looks like the type of player I've seen general managers take chances on the past. He's rough around the edges, but theoretically could be groomed into a starter.
Gray will be signed for three or four years somewhere, and his new suitor will realize he won't ever be a starter. Maybe a few garbage minutes here and there, but he won't have an overwhelming impact on his new team.
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About five or six years ago, some people may have tried to convince you that Andrei Kirilenko was the most complete player in the NBA. His game seemed to have zero weaknesses, and he did everything at an exceptional level.
Now, Kirilenko has seen his production in almost every category drop. The most significant slip is in his shot-blocking ability. Kirilenko averaged over three blocks a game in back-to-back season, finishing at the top of the league in total blocks one of those years.
He's also the only player in NBA history to finish a game at least six points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. He could really do it all.
It's tough for me to fault Kirilenko for his downfall. The level of all athletes in the NBA has risen around him, and he's struggling to keep up with the new pace of play. Players are harder to block and rebounds harder to come by.
There's no doubt in my mind that some teams will be targeting Kirilenko come July. However, the price they pay for his services will most likely be much too high. He's the type of player a bunch of teams could bid back and forth on, going higher and higher.
Kirilenko can still be an effective force in the league, but he'll never see another All-Star game. He's an average role player at best.
Who do you think doesn't belong on the list?
Who do you think I left out?