The Most Worthless NBA Free Agent Signings of 2011-12 Season

Joel C. Cordes@@bballJoelNBA Associate EditorJune 9, 2012

The Most Worthless NBA Free Agent Signings of 2011-12 Season

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    Whether expected to be key contributors or free agency afterthoughts, these NBA players did not measure up during the 2011-2012 season.

    Disappointment comes in many various forms.

    In some cases, we're talking about guys signed on name-recognition alone. They not only failed to regain past glories but definitively proved that their careers are done.

    Others failed to capitalize on their chance to finally shine. Still others were just expected to do something,  but failed to deliver anything at all.

    There were no Travis Outlaw-sized debacles this year, but these NBA teams sure did light millions of dollars on fire and flush them down the toilet.

    Here's a quick trip through the "could have been" and "never was."

Shannon Brown: Phoenix Suns

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    We've been hearing for years that Shannon Brown could be a star "if he finally just got some minutes and a starting gig."

    The former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard had his chance with the Phoenix Suns. Here was a team with a huge void at the position and career-inflater Steve Nash still on board.

    Brown's one-year, $3.5 million deal was fine, and his numbers weren't terrible. However, he failed to win the starting job, getting beat out by a rejuvenated Michael Redd.

    It's unlikely he'll get a better shot than the one he had here.

Earl Watson: Utah Jazz

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    A career backup who's made a living providing a spark and steady hand, Earl Watson was brought back by the Utah Jazz after a fairly productive 2011.

    Jazz fans and their TV play-by-play guy gave him a warm welcome, but the league's worst backcourt wasn't helped much by Watson this year.

    Sure, his assists and steals went up a little bit, and he did consistently get the team into their sets. However, Watson couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if he was standing inside of it.

    All those missed shots were almost as damaging as his nearly two turnovers per game.

Larry Hughes: Orlando Magic

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    Considering he was the No. 8 pick in 1998, his whole career has been a little disappointing.

    Larry Hughes has averaged more than 20 points per game a couple of times. But it's been a long while since that happened.

    Orlando had a logjam at shooting guard with Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Von Wafer already on board, but the Magic still must have hoped for more than what they got.

    Hughes only appeared in nine games, shooting so poorly in 12 minutes per contest that he made Earl Watson look like William Tell.

    Something tells me we've seen the last of Hughes.

Gilbert Arenas: Memphis Grizzlies

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    Gilbert Arenas never lived up to his gazillion-dollar contract with the Washington Wizards. However, he was at least a passable backup point guard once the Orlando Magic pulled off a dumpster-diving trade in 2011. 

    Expectations were reasonably low when the Grizzlies signed the former streak shooter this season. The hope was that he could provide a little bench spark as a backup to Mike Conley. After all, he still sported a 20 points-per-game career average!

    Arenas was so nondescript that Memphis resorted to auditioning the horribly inefficient Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo for long stretches instead.

    Gilbert will be golfing with Larry Hughes next season.

Tracy McGrady: Atlanta Hawks

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    He's rapidly becoming this generation's version of Grant Hill. Tracy McGrady's numbers and game used to be absolutely eye-popping, but injuries have largely robbed him of all his athleticism.

    The Atlanta Hawks weren't expecting the old McGrady when they signed him to a one-year deal on the veteran's minimum salary. They saw him as the passable rotation player he was for the Detroit Pistons in 2011.

    McGrady was both steady and healthy this year, but it's really hard to be happy with career-low numbers in nearly every category.

    He's only 33, so it's possible that McGrady can remake himself into a valuable glue guy like Grant Hill did. It just didn't happen this year.

Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy: Los Angeles Lakers

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    It's not as if the Los Angeles Lakers spent a lot of money on Troy Murphy or Jason Kapono. Both were signed for the veteran minimum as low-risk bets.

    Well, you get what you pay for.

    Kapono couldn't handle playing backup for Kobe Bryant, a guy who basically never goes to the bench. In 10 minutes per game over 27 contests, the "three-point specialist" shot less than 30 percent from downtown. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the deadline and cut two days later.

    Troy Murphy wasn't much better. The former double-double threat averaged 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, providing hardly any defense, but plenty of plodding.

    Josh McRoberts should have made this list too, but he'll likely have at least one more season to prove he's not damaged goods. Murphy and Kapono's NBA careers are done.

Marquis Daniels: Boston Celtics

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    It's tough to include Marquis Daniels on this list. The Boston Celtics almost owed him one after trading him to the Sacramento Kings last year following a horrific neck injury.

    He never approached the starting-caliber stats for Boston that he previously had with the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers, but Daniels was a nice defensive energy player for the Celts.

    It was great to see Daniels back in a Boston uniform for 2012. Heck, it was great to see him even playing at all. 

    However, it's hard to argue with the career-low numbers he posted in nearly every category. Daniels hasn't been much of a factor this year, but here's to hoping he can bounce back again next season.

Jeff Foster: Indiana Pacers

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    It's hard not to imagine the Indiana Pacers and think of Jeff Foster. The rugged rebounder played his entire 13-year career in Indianapolis, providing the team with a reliable defender and scrappy presence throughout.

    Re-signed during the offseason despite debilitating back problems that hadn't healed, this was still a no-brainer for Foster and the franchise.

    From a nostalgia and loyalty perspective, this wasn't worthless. However, considering that Foster was only able to play 11 games, this was certainly a major disappointment.

    Foster retired in March as a "Pacer for life."

Mike Bibby and Baron Davis: New York Knicks

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    If this had been half a decade ago, signing Mike Bibby and Baron Davis would have been cause for a good old New York parade.

    Instead, the New York Knicks spent a bunch of money on ice packs as both point guards missed nearly half the season. 

    Both players were already in serious decline long before 2012. Yet, neither of them could get healthy and become productive during a year when the Knicks sure could have used their help.

    Baron was just starting to play passably when he suffered a career-threatening injury late in the season. Bibby likely experienced his career swan song as well, averaging fewer than three points per game while shooting worse than 30 percent from the floor.

    Maybe the Knicks actually lucked out? After all, these guys were so bad that it opened the door for Jeremy Lin to get his shot.

DeShawn Stevenson: New Jersey Nets

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    Fresh off a 2011 season when he won a championship ring and once again proved his worth as a defensive catalyst, DeShawn Stevenson had a 2012 to forget.

    It was curious that the quickly softening Dallas Mavericks didn't want Stevenson's tough-guy persona back. Yet, it was flat-out weird when the rebuilding New Jersey Nets signed this veteran to a deal, despite having Marshon Brooks and Anthony Morrow ahead of him on the shooting-guard depth chart.

    Stevenson's minutes were yanked around all year. He was in the starting lineup one night and seemingly in the doghouse the next.

    His career has never been about the numbers, but averaging 28 percent from downtown and from the field  means Stevenson likely won't be traveling to Brooklyn with the Nets in 2013.

    He's probably pretty happy about that, actually.

Erick Dampier: Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks have been collecting "career-over" big men at the end of their bench for a few years now. Erick Dampier was just the next in a long line of these stiffs.

    People forget that "Damp" was a potential double-double fiend back in 2003. The Dallas Mavericks threw a bunch of money at him, and he's been slowly calcifying ever since.

    Sure, the Atlanta Hawks just needed five fouls and an insurance body when they signed him off the scrap heap midseason.

    Yet, it doesn't matter how little they paid for him; Erick Dampier scored one basket in 15 games as the season, and his career, came to a close. 

Richard Hamilton: Chicago Bulls

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    He was supposed to be the missing piece in the Chicago Bulls' championship puzzle.

    Instead, Richard Hamilton was just missing.

    He was hurt through the vast majority of the season, appearing in a career-low 28 games. When actually on the floor, he averaged only 11.6 points per game, the lowest since his rookie year. 

    Hamilton was also unable to help stem the tide once Derrick Rose went down. His numbers barely jumped during the postseason as top-ranked Chicago was upended by the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers.

    He at least shot for decent percentages, but the Bulls were expecting a whole lot more. The good/bad news is that he has two more years, at $5 million apiece, to try to bounce back.

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