7 NBA Teams That Will Always Struggle to Land Premier Free Agents

Mike Walsh@WalshWritesCorrespondent IJune 22, 2012

7 NBA Teams That Will Always Struggle to Land Premier Free Agents

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    With the NBA free agency right around the corner, fans across the league are pining for a big name player to sign with their favorite team. In a perfect world, all teams would have an equal chance in landing a Deron Williams, Chris Bosh or LeBron James. However, NBA free agency is far from just. For these seven teams, this period is a cruel joke.

    There are some teams who just cannot seem to land the big fish on the open market. Whether it be teammates, proximity, night life, history or even just weather, there is a hurdle or obstacle in the way of big names choosing to play for them. 

    Though the names of the 2012 period seem minuscule in comparison with some big summers past, the results will not change. These seven teams are avoided like the plague when premier free agents scan their list of potential suitors. 

Atlanta Hawks

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    Atlanta fans have been dragged through the mud plenty the past few years, but there is something to the fact that they cannot draw big name free agents.

    Looking at this most recent incarnation of the Hawks, their best player out of free agency was a 33-year-old Tracy McGrady.

    All of their top players were either traded for or drafted by Atlanta. The organization was so worried they would lose Joe Johnson to free agency, they threw an obscene contract at him just to make him stay. They knew they stood no chance against many of his other suitors and now they will be stuck paying him nearly $25 million in 2015. 

    Part of the issue in Atlanta has been a notoriously light fan base, at least when it comes to attendance of home games. The Hawks were the second-worse selling team that made the playoffs this past season and finished 23rd in overall attendance.

    Atlanta is just not somewhere that the stars want to play.

    This may be part of the reason they are the most consistently mediocre team in the NBA. They are seemingly always good, but never good enough. They have not won an NBA title since 1958, which doesn't help in attracting players to come win.

    The best free agent Atlanta has ever signed was probably Moses Malone, and that was in 1988.

Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors may be more used to watching their star players walk out more than any other franchise in the league. Chris Bosh followed Vince Carter, who followed Tracy McGrady.

    They all leave, and no one ever comes.

    The majority of the free agents that Toronto has been able to sign recently are foreign players. Their top player acquired via free agency last season was Jose Calderon, hardly a premier player. 

    Toronto is actually a fantastic city, however it is not a desired destination of the game's biggest names.

    The franchise itself is not yet of legal drinking age, even in Canada. The issue is, that in their 17 years of existence, they have not come close to building a winning culture. The Raptors have endured 12 losing seasons since their incarnation and have gone through eight different head coaches.

    There is nothing about the franchise's history, however young it may be, that would draw in a potential free agent. The team is also perennially in the middle of the pack in terms of attendance. 

    It was strenuous to find a better free agent signing for Toronto than Calderon. 

Boston Celtics

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    A fun tidbit about the Boston Celtics, of their 19 retired player jerseys, only two belonged to players acquired through free agency. It is true, look it up. Only Don Nelson and Dennis Johnson were signed by the Celtics as free agents. 

    The question for fans is; is that more remarkable, or frustrating?

    The Celtics are one of most storied franchises in all of sports. There are 17 championship banners hanging in the rafters of the TD Banknorth Garden. However, Boston could not be less of a desirable landing spot for premier free agents.

    In terms of their current roster, only Mickael Pietrus was a meaningful free agent this past season, unless you count players like Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins. On the 2008 championship team, the big free agents were P.J. Brown and James Posey.

    Some will bring up the racism argument, which sadly is based on truths. Boston has been trying to shake the stigma of being a racist city for generations. It reared its head before the Kevin Garnett trade and again in the first round of the NHL Playoffs this spring.

    This idea, coupled with the weather and lack of proximity to the stars have created one of the more inexplicable things in sports. Big name players don't want to go to Boston. The most decorated franchise in the sport, and the best they can seem to do is Marquis Daniels.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves are always going to have to draft and trade a lot more shrewdly than most other NBA teams in order to succeed. When zero premier free agents want to come to your city, there is little room for error.

    Minnesota had a similar experience with Kevin Love as Atlanta did with Joe Johnson. They got scared that he would leave for greener pastures and made somewhat of a panic deal, signing him for just four additional years. 

    For Minnesota it is almost all about the location. Where the Timberwolves play is not a desirable location for obscenely wealthy men to be. Thanks to hitting on a few recent drafts, Minnesota has started to climb out of the basement in terms of attendance numbers this year.

    However, the top two free agents on the team were Luke Ridnour and Jose Barea.

    Since their inception in 1989, Minnesota has registered just seven winning seasons. They were all a direct result of the drafting of Kevin Garnett.

    During their best season, the top free agent addition was Troy Hudson.

    Will players like Love and Ricky Rubio be able to buck this trend and convince a premier free agent to move to the frigid north? Highly unlikely.  

Indiana Pacers

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    The state of Indiana is as historically rich in basketball as any area in the world.

    However the area just does not seem to mesh with the current lavish lifestyle of today's superstars. Around every corner of the past decade, Indiana's star players have been met with controversy and legal troubles.

    In 2011, David West bucked a trend and signed as a free agent with the Pacers. While a skilled player, West isn't really a superstar, but it was nice to see a name player choose a franchise like Indiana. Outside of him, the free agents have been few and far between.

    On the great Reggie Miller led teams, the Pacers were still very organic. They have always been a team that was built through the draft and trades. This has continued into this most recent talented roster.

    Despite earning the three seed in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers once again found themselves in the cellar of the attendance numbers, ranking only ahead of the New Jersey Nets. The Pacers averaged only 78-percent capacity on the season. This does not make for an attractive selling point to free agents. 

    Indiana has to overcome a lot of odds in order to sign free agents. They were able to do so with David West, but don't expect that to become a consistent avenue for star players. There is still too much baggage in the area and the Pacers are still not a popular place right now.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Milwaukee suffers from a lot of the same symptoms as Minnesota. Since they share a border, a lot of the same issues arise with location and weather. The difference is, Milwaukee actually has some good basketball history.

    The history, however is all the result of trades and drafts, not big time free agents.

    Oscar Robertson was traded to the Bucks and they drafted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to help form their lone championship season. They have also featured the likes of Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and Ray Allen, all of which were drafted there before moving on.

    The stigma of the area around Milwaukee is that it is a small, predominantly caucasian market. There is little excitement about Wisconsin for professional athletes. All of that aids into the Bucks being unable to sign high quality free agents. 

    The best free agent this most recent team could offer was Drew Gooden, though we can't put much stock into that because he apparently is trying to play for every team in the NBA before he retires.

Sacramento Kings

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    Lately, Sacramento has been stuck player little brother to the other California NBA teams. While the Clippers and Lakers have the allure of Hollywood and the Warriors have the beauty of San Fransisco, it is Sacramento who is left scrambling for the lighter side of free agency.

    The Kings have been scrutinized often during the ownership of the Maloof family. The family has infamously made attempts to move the franchise out of Sacramento. This is not an inviting atmosphere to enter into if you were a big time free agent. 

    The Maloof's have still been very secretive about their intentions for the franchise, though an agreement was reached on a new stadium deal in the city, the family has apparently backed out once again.

    The current Kings roster is built upon mainly draftees and a few trades. The top free agent on the team is Terrence Williams who started with a 10-day contract.

    The Kings do have a decent past with bigger name signings like Vlade Divac and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, however that appears to be a thing of the past.

    Amidst all the recent uncertainty of the franchise, the Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006 and have since gone through four different head coaches.