NBA Free Agents 2011: 12 Players That No One Will Want to Touch
This year's free agent class will not come close to rivaling the one from last summer, but it is does have more potential duds in the pool than last year's.
As teams explore the free agent options that are out there, it would be wise for each organization to keep in mind the potential risk associated with any of the prospects they are considering. Certain players are not worth making offers to, and some command way too much money simply because of their name.
We are not talking about the solid role players, like Jamal Crawford, who will be overpaid, nor are we talking about the seasoned veterans, like Kurt Thomas, who are past their primes. Those are all players who teams know what they are getting by signing them, players that don't come with many question marks.
Players like Kenyon Martin, pictured above, are the ones that NBA teams need to be weary of. Free agents that come with more risks and question marks than upsides, are not worth any team's time or investment.
Yes, a player like Martin would be a good acquisition if the price is right, but it will never be right because his name is Kenyon Martin. His days as a dominant power forward, long lost by the way, will still command large amounts of money.
On the ensuing slides we will take a look at players that every NBA team will want to avoid via this year's free agency pool.
Let's get to it.
Eric Dampier of Miami Heat
Eric Dampier is the first member of the Miami Heat to make an appearance on this list, and he will not be the last.
The 6'11" Dampier only finds teams willing to pay and play him because he is nearly seven feet tall. He averaged 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds last season for Miami, appearing in only 51 games. On his career, Dampier has only averaged 7.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, abysmal numbers for someone of his height.
Dampier is a liability on both ends of the floor. He is a subpar defender and is not effective on offense even when he is right under the basket. He is also injury prone, and his legs are shot, leaving him with no vertical leaping ability.
The Heat only paid Dampier a little over $1 million last season, and even that was too much. His lackluster production and fragile health will only worsen as time goes on.
As a result, Miami and the rest of the NBA would be better served resisting any existing urge to offer Dampier any kind of contract.
Samuel Dalembert of the Sacramento Kings
Samuel Dalembert of the Sacramento Kings is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while he has drawn some interest from a number of teams in the market for a center, the entire NBA would be better off staying away.
Why exactly? After all, Dalembert averaged 8.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season, and is known as an okay defender.
The aforementioned may be true, but the 6'11" Dalembert's stats are less than impressive, and only reached the level they did because of weak state of the Kings. He is only 30, but his game is already on the decline.
Dalembert is a more dangerous acquisition than many of the others we will take a look at in this slideshow because of his relatively young age. Teams will see his height as enough to make an investment. Surely his sheer presence down low is bound to make a difference?
Perhaps, but at what cost? In a center-starved league, Dalembert's price tag is bound to be incredibly high, far exceeding his actual ability. With the new CBA supposed to crack down on team's salary cap room, why waste any substantial amount of money on a less than mediocre center, who does not exhibit any sort of dominance on either end of the floor?
Should Dalembert's asking price drop near the veteran's minimum, then maybe teams should take a look.
But that isn't likely, so the entire league is better off just staying away.
Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat
Juwan Howard is the second member of the Miami Heat to make it on this list, and he is one of the tougher players to include on it.
Howard has been a respectable guy and a solid player his entire career, a career that began 17 years ago. Howard is now 38 years old and pretty much a non-entity on the basketball court. He averaged 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds for the Heat last season, making little or no impact in the long run.
Health is a major concern when looking at Howard, and while the veteran is definitely considering retirement, he may be apt to attempting to play at least another year. And if Howard decides to play for another year, hopefully he has a someone close to him who can talk him out of it.
But if that is not the case, despite his low price tag, every team in the league needs to stay away. The last thing any organization needs is a less than effective player sitting mostly on the bench and taking up a valuable roster spot.
Jared Jefferies of the New York Knicks
Jared Jefferies may only be 29-years-old, but he is already on the list of players that every team needs to stay away from.
The 6'11" forward was drafted 11th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2002 NBA Draft, and despite showing some promise at times, he has mostly proved that when he is on the floor, his team is basically playing with four guys on offense.
Jefferies is career 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game producer. His highest yearly scoring average came back in 2004, when he averaged 6.8 points per game, which is a number that is hard to look at. Most of his points come from being directly beneath the basket, and he has proven he is no guarantee from that range either.
Additionally, Jefferies is capable of running the floor effectively, but as he ages, and he is aging fast, this small pro will come to pass.
Jefferies is a likable enough guy and to be fair on his behalf, he has proven to be a capable defender at times, which is why any teams enlist his services in the first place.
To be even more though, he isn't much help on that end of the floor anymore either.
Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz
Andrei Kirilenko is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and is another tough player to include on this list.
Kirilenko averaged 11.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in 64 games for the Utah Jazz last season. His year was marred by injury and the prospect of Utah dumping his $17.8 million salary.
It is so tough to include him because he has had a very good career, but all indications are that his best days are behind him, and he is only 30. Additionally, while he could serve as some help off the bench for a few teams, he is not likely to be apt to taking that substantial of a paycut.
If a team can pick him up for around the veteran's minimum, then maybe he is worth some consideration.
Otherwise, buyer beware: Don't become a buyer.
Kelenna Azubuike got off to a promising start in the first nine games of the 2009-2010 NBA season when he averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, but sadly he all but disappeared after that. Literally.
Azubuike has not played in any games since the first nine of that season, being plagued by a leg injury. The Knicks had high hopes for him coming into this season, yet when it became clear he could not do anything of value for them, they bought out his contract midseason.
Despite showing some promise early on, once a player sits for almost two full seasons, it is unlikely they will ever return to their full form, and Azubuike never even reached his full potential, so who knows what he would be able to do on the court anymore.
The good news about Azubuike is that he would be a cheap mistake, probably not commanding much money at all, but once again, he will most likely wind up wasting a valuable roster spot. Signing Azubuike to any kind of contract would just not be justifiable by any team, and would certainly draw criticism.
As a result, in this case, teams are better off remaining safe rather than sorry, and avoiding Azubuike at all costs.
Jamaal Magloire of the Miami Heat
With Jamaal Magloire being the third member of the Miami Heat to make an appearance on this list, is anyone else seeing a pattern here, and perhaps a few reasons why they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals?
Magloire, 33, appeared in only 18 regular season games for the Heat, averaging 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds. He was more than a liability on offense, and it was clear he did not have the leg stamina to play adequate defense.
Overall, Magloire was non-entity on the court, simply an inexpensive filler Miami signed to take up space as they let their "big three" experiment run its course. The Heat made it to the finals in the first year of said experiment, but none of it was due to the efforts of Magloire.
At 6'11", the only aspect of Magloire that makes him an asset is his height. However, the Heat would have been better off obtaining the 5'9" Nate Robinson and giving him minutes at center. At least he attempts to block shots.
Before any team hands an offer sheet across the table to Magloire, they should take a step back to reconsider their decision. And then run.
Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets
The 33-year-old Kenyon Martin is not a player who many would have thought would ever have wound up on a list like this.
Martin got off to a promising start with the New Jersey Nets, but things started to change almost immediately after he became a member of the Denver Nuggets. His career has been hampered by injuries, basically killing his ability to score in the low post.
Martin only appeared in 48 games for the Nuggets this season, averaging only 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Additionally in his limited action this season it became clear that his rebounding prowess, probably the best part of his game at one point, evaporated.
Whatever team signs Martin at this point will be basically paying for his name and for what he did early on in his career. He earned $16.5 million last season, and it is unlikely that he would be willing to take a pay cut in the veteran's minimum range.
Unfortunately, while his numbers are not the worst we have seen, they are an indication of what is to come, so unless Martin shows an inclination to accept an on-the-cheap contract, each and every team in the league is better off staying away.
And it is doubtful that his current team, the Nuggets, would make an effort to argue such a notion.
Chris Wilcox of the Detroit Pistons
Chris Wilcox of the Detroit Pistons is a name that many may believe doesn't belong on a list that points out which players all every NBA tea, should avoid.
However, the 29-year-old veteran has been less than impressive during his nine year career in the league. On his career, Wilcox has averaged 8.8 and 5.1 rebounds per game, severely low numbers for a guy coming in at 6'10" and and 235 pounds.
Throughout his career, Wilcox has proved to be a liability on defense and has an indifference effect on his team's offense. He never developed the low post game that many thought he was capable of playing, and as a result has become a major disappointment.
Wilcox's career has been marred by injuries and ineffectiveness. He has only averaged 30 minutes per game twice in his career, and has only played in 75 or more games over the course of a season twice in his career also.
Coming out of Maryland there was some serious chatter that Wilcox could develop an Eddy Curry like dominance.
I guess it's fitting that Wilcox's career has taken such such a disappointing route thus far then.
James Jones of the Miami Heat
The fourth member of the Miami Heat to grace us with their presence on this list is the 30-year-old James Jones, who has been with the organization since 2008.
Jones is not especially good at anything, making little or no contribution to Miami’s success, despite playing in 81 games last season. He averaged 5.2 points and two rebounds in 19 minutes of action per game.
At 6'8", Jones should be grabbing significantly more rebounds than a measly two per game. Additionally, he is a liability on defense, and his offensive production, to be kind, is sub par.
Jones is an unrestricted free agent, and there is a better than very good chance that Miami will not make an inquiry to bring back the eight-year veteran.
And while Jones is a likable enough person that will not take up significant cap space, he is ineffective when on the court, which is reason enough for all teams to steer clear of him this offseason.
Since 2008, Eddy Curry has only played in eight NBA games, and if that isn’t reason enough for all teams to avoid inquiring about his services, I do not know what is.
A member of the Knicks since 2005, the biggest contribution Curry ever made to the organization was his expiring contract being used to help land Carmelo Anthony this past offseason. Other than that though, the only thing he was good for was cashing paychecks.
Curry had a promising start to his career, but lack of condition and will to improve led to a series of injuries that prevented the seven-foot, 295-pound center from not only producing, but also playing in general. Curry has a reputation as being lazy and his off the court issues have been clearly evident over his disappointing, to say the least, nine-year career.
Teams may be inclined to simply inquire about Curry’s services, given the sheer fact that he is seven-feet tall and the league is not exactly latent with big men, but such an inclination is a mistake in itself. Over the last five years Curry has not, and never will again be an integral part of any team’s success.
Curry's health issues are a far bigger risk than any dividends his production would pay. And let’s not forget that is if he is even fit enough to stand on the court.
If an organization is looking for a way to waste money and take up space on the bench, then Curry is certainly the guy for the job. Other than that though, every franchise would be better off staying away.
Greg Oden of the Portland Trail Blazers
Many may not recognize Greg Oden as pictured above, since he is actually in uniform and on the court.
After being drafted first overall in the 2007 NBA draft, expectations were high for the seven-foot center out of Ohio State. Unfortunately for Oden though, his career has not been marked by impressive accomplishments, but rather a string of production preventing injuries.
In three NBA seasons, Oden has appeared in only 82 games, and he sat out all of the 2010-2011 season. Oden may be slightly enticing because of his size and he has showed he is a capable defender when on the court, but when is he on the court?
Oden has a career averaged of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, but he has only played one full season in reality, which tells us nothing. At only 23, Oden’s legs are already shot, and any team that shows any interest might as well take a look at Eddy Curry while they are at it.
Oden’s tale is a sad one, but the Portland Trail Blazers and the rest of the NBA's franchises need to be careful not to lengthen said story.