NBA Free Agents 2011: 10 Shocking Contracts That May Be Signed This Summer
Much like the NBA free agency of 2010, there will be a plethora of talented players hitting the market in the summer of 2011 which include the likes of Nene Hilario, Jamal Crawford, Tyson Chandler and a bunch of other notable names.
While many of the 2011 free agents will earn the right dollar amount for their ability to sustain or even improve upon personal stats while also helping to make their team better, their will also be a slew of players who get overpaid as well.
2010 was a perfect example of this, as many teams panicked and overpaid for role players just so they could say they didn't come out empty handed. (Look at the New Jersey Nets summer of 2010 transactions specifically as a great example of this. Johan Petro anyone?)
With the lockout in full swing, there is no telling when the time will come for these players to sign with a new team or stay with their current one.
However, with the new salary cap likely being more constricting financially, the decision to pay players big bucks could potentially be a step in the wrong direction if teams are not careful.
The players on this list are all talented, but there is also a certain point where teams must have enough self-control financially to walk away if the asking price gets raised too high.
10. Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin #4 of the Denver Nuggets
The above photo sums up everything about Kenyon Martin's style of play. He is one of the most tenacious players on the court, and one of the most energetic players on both ends of the floor when he's healthy as well.
He has always been tremendously gifted athletically, a solid defender, and always brings hustle and energy with him anytime he checks into the game.
However, that last bit at the end of the first paragraph "when he's healthy", is mainly why he makes this list. If he was always healthy, as with many other players there would be no discussion and he would almost be a lock to be re-signed by his current team.
Martin played a total of 48 games in the regular season, which means he missed a little more than half the season last year. As proof of his durability issues, he has only topped 70 games in four seasons out of his 11 seasons played in the NBA.
Although his health issues are well-documented, I get the feeling there will be a team desperate enough for his playoff experience and defensive intensity that will pay way too much for a player who is highly unlikely to play even half a season at this point, let alone a full one.
9. Jason Richardson
Jason Richardson #23 of the Orlando Magic.
Once upon a time, Jason Richardson was the next young up-and-comer at the shooting guard position. With his ability to slash into the lane and throw down high-flying jams, there is no wonder why he became so popular among fans and NBA executives around the league.
Fast forwarding a little bit, he is now playing for his fourth NBA team and while he can certainly kick in some points on the offensive end, his days of throwing down awe-inspiring dunks on his opponents seem to be behind him at this point.
Since joining the Orlando Magic, Richardson has essentially made his living as a spot-up 3-point shooter, with the occasional drive into the lane reminiscent of his days in Golden State.
Richardson is still capable of averaging 13-15 PPG, but I think his success depends on the destination. If he is able to land on a team that has a solid point guard to find him open shots, along with a big man to absorb double teams, he can be a nice kick-out option and contribute solid points as a 3-point shooter.
The main team I expect to be interested in Richardson is the Chicago Bulls, as the playoffs proved their need for a shooting guard who can create his shot. However, with younger options than Richardson available in free agency, he should be an option they only consider as the pool of shooting guards to select from has diminished a bit.
8. Kris Humphries
Kris Humphries #43 of the New Jersey Nets.
While this name will surprise a lot of people considering Kris Humphries is coming off his best season with the New Jersey Nets averaging career highs of 10.4 PPG and 10.1 RPG, it is important to realize his limitations as well.
He is a player who certainly improved with the belief and good intuition of Avery Johnson, but I am a little skeptical of paying him the big bucks he will likely command after his breakout season. Especially since locking him up long-term could hamper the Nets chances of landing Dwight Howard.
While I am one of the few who don't believe in stock-piling superstars to win championships, the Nets supporting cast is not talented enough to help carry Deron Williams and Brook Lopez into the playoffs. I think that in the Nets case because of their weakness in depth they may need another superstar to turn things around and contend for a playoff spot.
While it is easy to speculate and say that Humphries never played more than 13 minutes per game until he became a Net two years ago, the fact that he played for three teams before the Nets could be a red flag.
I'm not taking anything away from Kim Kardashian's new play thing, his breakout season is a feel good story and everyone loves an underdog. With all that taken into consideration, his numbers before this season have been nothing but replaceable role player-level production.
While I agree with bringing Humphries back, it makes sense for the Nets to have a conscious with this decision too. If he asks for too much money, I would shoot for Nene Hilario or even go for the gold to obtain Howard.
In my opinion, both players would mesh better with Brook Lopez anyway.
7. Samuel Dalembert
Samuel Dalembert #10 of the Sacramento Kings.
With big men like DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol being the prized on the market this summer, they are also restricted free agents and it will likely be extremely hard to obtain either considering how valuable they have proven to be to their respective teams.
That's where Samuel Dalembert steps in. No one is debating his shot blocking prowess or uncanny rebounding ability, or his ability to stay healthy missing only two games in his past five seasons.
After listing those attributes of a legitimate 7-footer, it almost sounds crazy not to want this guy, if you have a void at the center position, as many teams do.
The issue with Dalembert has always been his attitude. He got disgruntled in Philadelphia and in Sacramento, so if he doesn't like a situation he becomes almost like human mustard gas in the locker room.
He always seems to be concerned about playing time and whether he is starting or not, and several other selfish factors that say he could spell nothing but trouble for many teams.
Considering many contending teams are interested in him, it is possible that he could land in the right situation and be very productive and happy for the first time in awhile.
Because of how hard it is to obtain a legitimate defensive presence at the center position these days, there is a large chance that a team like the New York Knicks or even the Miami Heat pay him too much money.
While his playing style fits the bill for exactly what each team needs, contending teams like the aforementioned two must ask themselves if his unpredictable attitude is worth the price tag.
6. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith #1 of the Denver Nuggets.
Since being bounced out of New Orleans in 2006, J.R. Smith has made a nice living for himself as a lethal weapon off the bench for the Denver Nuggets.
However, the reason he was forced out of New Orleans is the same reason many Nuggets fans are thinking their beloved team should let Smith walk this summer. His incredible scoring ability is undeniable. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, so is his attitude problem.
While I think he is definitely a player who can land in the right situation and produce impeccable numbers offensively, teams that think of signing him cannot ignore his unpredictable temper and toxic locker-room personality.
For the right price, he is certainly worth the risk, especially for a veteran team like the Chicago Bulls, who already have an identity and a coach who is likely to keep Smith in his place.
Playing alongside Derrick Rose, the Bulls would have a deadly backcourt, and Smith would take the pressure off of Rose and Luol Deng by helping them shoulder some of the scoring load.
That being said, while he certainly makes sense on paper, teams will have to evaluate whether or not they can stomach his wildly unpredictable demeanor in the locker room.
5. Thaddeus Young
Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.
One of my favorite up-and-coming players on this list, Thaddeus Young is sure to gain serious attention from many teams in search of a reliable wing player.
He proved to be a a great spark off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers last season, to complete one of the deepest benches in the NBA. However, I think Young's success is tied strongly to that of savvy coach Doug Collins.
While I think Young can succeed in certain other situations, teams in need of an experienced wing like the Clippers and Nets may want to look towards filling that void for a "glue" guy with Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince or Andrei Kirilenko.
Young is a great fit for the situation he is in right now, and I believe the Sixers should certainly do everything they can to bring him back. For other previously mentioned teams though, there is no telling how he will produce under another head coach or with another team.
Young is a great addition for any team as long as the price is right. Unfortunately, for most of the teams that are interested, intangible players like Young tend to come at a premium.
His best fit is either to re-sign with the Sixers or a team who has solid veteran leadership. At the end of the day, though, I expect Young to re-sign with the Sixers.
4. Greg Oden
Greg Oden #20 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
While many are in the belief that Greg Oden will be a bargain to get at a cheap price this summer, I tend to disagree.
Not that he wouldn't be a bargain at a cheap price, but simply because the Portland Trail Blazers seem adamant about keeping him. It is entirely possible too that they are in denial that they blew it by taking him over Kevin Durant, which I think any team in their position would have done.
Oden has shown glimpses of what made him a No. 1 pick, but for the most part, he has spent more time modeling suits on the Trail Blazers bench, rather than playing on the court.
While I do expect the Trail Blazers to match just about any offer for him, it wouldn't shock me if the Miami Heat somehow walk away with him due to Pat Riley's shrewd business acumen.
At the right price, Oden definitely deserves a shot on someone's squad due to his great potential, but it won't be long before he reaches Tyrus Thomas status. Like Thomas, many will GM's will get sick of hearing about his untapped potential and will want to see results.
The lockout is sure to help Oden recover, and it is highly possible he has a breakout year whenever the NBA decides to start playing games again. However, teams still have to realize his health limitations and ability to get into foul trouble, as well as his limitless potential.
3. Glen Davis
Glen "Big Baby" Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics.
Having Doc Rivers as a head coach and Kevin Garnett as a teammate has done a great deal of good for Glen Davis, who is trying to shed his "Big Baby" moniker and mature as a person and a player, both on and off the court.
While he certainly has turned himself into a reliable role player for the Boston Celtics, they are an aging team with three of their four most prominent players in Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce all getting older. Their money will likely be spent better elsewhere to help add another young and talented piece to the team instead of overpaying for Davis.
Davis is exactly the kind of player we will likely see teams pay for who strikeout on obtaining the bigger name players, just to say they got someone.
Many teams must realize, though, that when looking into signing someone like Davis, one big question must be answered. How will he play without Rivers and Garnett to keep him in line?
Has he truly matured as a player? Or is he just a product of his environment in Boston?
He is the type of player teams must be wary of signing, especially since a potentially more limiting salary cap makes every dollar spent, count even more.
2. Jose Juan Barea
Jose Juan Barea
J.J. Barea is one of those players that I think the Mavericks absolutely want to bring back, but simply won't be able too.
The team has so far been very complacent this offseason, by watching a truly integral piece walk away in Tyson Chandler. Losing Barea wouldn't be as terrible considering they are loaded at the point guard position with Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and potential star .
Who they lose him to however could be a problem. It has already been confirmed awhile back that the Miami Heat have interest in the 6'0" (yea right) spark plug off the bench, after he maneuvered his way to the hoop for several mentally demoralizing layups against them in the NBA Finals.
The reason he makes this list, however, isn't that he won't be a great contributor to whatever team he goes to, but because of how much money he will likely get thrown at him after his unbelievable performance in the playoffs as a whole this year.
He became a player teams prepared for and tried to defend, but somehow couldn't. The fact that he is the size of a toddler and was winding his way to the hoop against some of the best teams in the NBA simply destroys a squad mentally to the point that you feel like you can't beat him.
Every layup he makes feels like it's worth 20 points instead of two because of how non-threatening he looks.
Underestimating him proved to be a major mistake for many teams. However, overpaying him could be an even bigger one. Teams like the New York Knicks and Miami Heat should certainly give him a call, as there's mutual interest from both sides, and he seems like a great fit for both teams style of play.
However, it is unknown how well he would handle being a starter and a facilitator for teams with such elite scoring options at other positions.
Look for him to get a big time pay day and likely end up on another contender when all is said and done.
1. DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan #9 of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Although he is probably the most surprising player on the list, DeAndre Jordan had an absolutely stellar year next to high flying phenom and best buddy Blake Griffin.
He averaged 7.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 1.8 blocks per game last season in only 25 minutes of play.
Very impressive numbers, but they are skewed a bit.
He is playing next to one of the NBA's best power forwards in Griffin, and the double-teams Griffin received likely helped to give Jordan some open looks under the hoop.
While there is nothing wrong with that, it is important to note just how much of Jordan's success is contingent upon Blake Griffin. Not just on the court either.
The two of them are best friends, and Griffin is the one who got Jordan motivated to hit the weight room and showcase the explosive athleticism that had every scout drooling over Jordan when he came into the NBA in 2008.
The main reason he makes this list is because Donald Sterling is notoriously cheap. This is one of those times where he might want to cough up the bucks though.
Griffin and Jordan are 22 and 23 years old respectively, and should be a formidable frontcourt for the foreseeable future for the young, talented Los Angeles Clippers franchise.
He will certainly receive plenty of interest from other teams, since 7-footers with his combination of size and skill don't grow on trees these days.
However, with how invested the Clippers seem to be in Griffin, it would be a wise decision to lock up his best friend at the center position. Especially when realizing they could become one of the best power forward/center combos in the entire NBA.