NBA Free Agents 2011: 9 Players Who Must Be Avoided at All Costs This Summer
Year after year, NBA general managers give writers like Bill Simmons and Rick Reilly hundreds of thousands of words of material for atrocious free-agent signings.
Think Eddy Curry. Think Jerome James (poor New York Knicks fans). Teams (maybe it's just the Knicks?) just can't stay away from players who used to be good or should be good. Sometimes teams offer a perfectly serviceable player like Elton Brand far too much money, and he underperforms.
Free agency is not a science, but there are certain players that you'll never see a smart team sign.
The NBA is currently in a lockout, so free agency can't happen right now. But what David Stern and Co. do shouldn't stop us from endlessly speculating about free agency.
Here's the 2011 free agents who should be looked at with a conspicuous eye. Or just not signed at all. I guess it depends if you're the Knicks.
Notably Absent from the List
Troy Murphy, Nenad Krstic, Brian Scalabrine, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier.
All of these guys have value. Murphy and Krstic never had a chance to stick with Boston. Scalabrine won't play but he'll practice hard, and somehow that will matter. Is my Boston bias showing?
T-Mac reinvented himself as a point guard this past season. EVERY team should look into Shane Battier. Guy's a warrior.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Taking a flyer on a 31-year-old "scorer" (if 15 points per game earns one that designation) coming off a torn ACL? Pass.
Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard and Erick Dampier
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
In 2008, the Boston Celtics struck gold with P.J. Brown, a veteran big man and "glue guy" who had one breakout performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Almost every team has at least one grounded, old big man that's supposed to provide a veteran presence.
But Juwan Howard, Jamaal Magloire and Erick Dampier are just bad at this point in their careers. Only Howard could be considered a viable option for a competitive team.
Cheap, younger big men like Aaron Gray, Spencer Hawes and Shelden Williams provide a little more spark. (Who would have ever thought one would say that about Hawes and Gray.)
Also, these three players played for the Miami Heat last season, which makes them insufferable for life.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
J.R. Smith and DeShawn Stevenson
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Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy watching J.R. Smith play basketball. He's probably a top-10 entertainer in the league--a hyper-athletic Jimmer Fredette.
But when I own the Golden State Warriors in 30 years (why Golden State? Best jerseys), he's not a player I want on my team. He's doomed to thrive on bad teams due to his selfish and often stupid play.
I can't think of a gunner like Smith seriously contributing to an NBA champion. I also prefer my players to contribute more than one thing to a team. Smith can score, but what else?
I won't say the same about Jamal Crawford. I think he picks his spots better.
As for DeShawn Stevenson, I just don't like the guy. He thinks he's the next coming of MJ and has a face tattoo. Enough said.
Kwame Brown and Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Not only are Kwame Brown and Mike Dunleavy Jr. bad NBA players, but there's probably no better way to turn a fanbase against you as an owner.
Brown and Dunleavy Jr.'s terrible contracts are now such cautionary tales that the players themselves have been stigmatized. If the Boston Celtics signed either of these guys, I'd immediately switch allegiances to the Minnesota Timberwolves and their bizarro roster.
Thankfully, I live in a smart sports city that would never allow that to happen. Sorry Minnesota.