NBA Free Agency: The Top 10 Worst Signings

NBA Free Agency is one of my favorite times of the year, but not for the most conventional reasons. Sure, it’s nice to watch teams improve and make smart, financially responsible decisions that improve their performance, but really, where’s the actual fun in that? The real fun is in the hasty, poorly planned, financially disastrous decisions that can harm teams for years to come. It may seem cruel, but it’s actually quite entertaining, as long as it’s not happening to your team. So, let’s dive right in – my Top 10 Worst Signings of this NBA offseason.

Honorable Mentions: OJ Mayo: 3-years/24 million, Will Bynum: 2-years/6 million, Chase Budinger: 3-years/16 million, Earl Clark: 2-years/9 million, Jarrett Jack: 4-years/25 million, Tony Allen: 4-years/20 million.

10. Kevin Martin, 4 years $30 million– This former Oklahoma City Thunder player agreed to terms on a 4-year/30 million dollar deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now this may not seem like too bad a deal; the Timberwolves have desperately needed a quality SG, he’s capable of being a secondary scorer and can provide some much-needed shooting. But, here’s why I don’t like it: he’s on the wrong side of 30. By the time this deal is over, Martin will be 34 years old, and we’ve already seen some drop off in his production. Martin was not nearly the player the Thunder expected him to be last year. Maybe he’ll fit better alongside the unselfish, pass first Guard Ricky Rubio, even though neither will be playing much defense. Martin’s a nice player to receive, but this deal will really be hurting them when his production is almost gone by year 4.

9. Tyreke Evans, 4 years $44 million- Evans recently signed an offer sheet with the New Orleans Pelicans, which the Sacramento Kings declined to match, that ended up in Greivas Vasquez being flipped to the Kings. After Evans’ first two seasons, a contract like this would be fantastic. Back then, Evans looked like the next star SG who was very versatile. He seems like a completely different player now. Sure, a lot of blame goes on the mess that was the Kings the past few years; a carousel of coaching, management in disarray and a collection of talent determined to shoot the ball every time they touched it. This would’ve been a bit higher on my list, but Evans still has vast potential. It all comes down to whether or not the Pelicans can get Rookie of the Year Evans, or mediocre and uninterested Evans.

8. Jose Calderon, 4 years $29 million- The former Toronto Raptor and Detroit Piston of last season signed a 4-year/$29 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason. Just imagine how Mark Cuban tried to explain this signing, after the high expectations from fans at the start of Free Agency: “Alright Mavs fans, we finally signed someone! Now I know it’s disappointing that we struck out on Chris Paul. And Dwight Howard. And even a player who missed the entire season last year, and would rather sign in Cleveland than here, in Andrew Bynum, but these two signings will make up for it! Jose Calderon, a 31-year-old Point Guard who can’t play defense and will be 35 by the end of his contract, and Monta Ellis, a glorified 6th man who loves his 18 foot jump shots (We’ll see him later in this list)! NBA Finals, we’re comin for ya!” Seriously how disappointing has this been for the Mavericks? Jose Calderon is a nice player, very smart and has run a number of different offenses with some success, but he’s past his prime and provides almost no upgrade over Darren Collison from last year.

7. Tiago Splitter, 4 years $36 million- Splitter re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs early in the Free Agency period, on a 4-year/$36 million dollar deal. Here starts the run of overvalued, offensively devoid big men, beginning with Splitter. Of these three big men, who include JJ Hickson and Zaza Pachulia, Splitter comes in first because he was actually an integral part of the Spurs defense last year, before being exposed against the Miami Heat. He’s a complete offensive liability. When the Spurs had to rest 37-year-old Tim Duncan, the Heat locked up on the outside, and forced Splitter to beat them. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. Splitter looked like a deer caught in the headlights in the finals, once the Heat found their groove in after game 4. A $9 million yearly average doesn’t seem like a friendly deal for a one-dimensional player.

6. JJ Hickson, 3 years $15 million- JJ Hickson left the Portland Trail Blazers to sign a 3-year/$15 million dollar deal with the Denver Nuggets. In all honesty, Hickson is actually a very nice player and provides some solid defense, even though he isn’t much of a dynamic threat on offense. The problem here is the Denver Nuggets front court is already stacked with offensively limited big men. Javale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov. Hickson was a luxury the Nuggets really didn’t need. The Nuggets are going to have some trouble finding time to play all these players, of somewhat similar skill sets. Hickson is the second of our three offensively devoid big men.

5. Zaza Pachulia, 3 years $15 million- Zaza Pachulia signed a 3-year/$15 million dollar deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, leaving the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. Finally we have our last member of the trio of offensively devoid big men, and the one with the best name! Pachulia was my favorite signing of this trio because he has almost no offensive talents to speak of. The only thing he brings, defensive grit, is something the Bucks had in spades with guys like Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh. Just when you think some teams can’t make anymore boneheaded moves, the Bucks go and sign Pachulia. The only way this move will be redeemable, in my eyes, is if they play him alongside Drew Gooden for extended minutes next season. That way, they can show us two of the worst big men signings in the past few years.

4. Carl Landry, 4 years $27 million- Carl Landry left the Golden State Warriors to travel up the road to Sacramento, where he signed a 4-year/$27 million dollar deal with the Kings. Carl Landry is just, meh to me. He’s not a very exciting signing and, for a guy who’s played 6th man or lower the past few years, it seems like a stretch to give him $27 million over 4 years.  Landry will most likely be placed beside Demarcus Cousins or on the bench as a 6th man, if the Kings want to keep Jason Thompson beside Cousins. Is Landry really worth almost $7 million a year to split minutes with Jason Thompson? I don’t think so. Besides, was it worth it to give up on Thomas Robinson, a much cheaper contract and more upside, to sign Landry? Again, I don’t think so.

3. Andrew Bynum, 2 years $24 million- Up next is Andrew Bynum, who left the Philadelphia 76ers to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a 2-year/$24 million dollar deal. Oh Andrew, how far have you fallen since the start of last season? Once considered to be the best big man in the NBA (yes, some thought he was better than Dwight Howard for a while), you spent one disastrous season (disastrous is a massive understatement actually) where you didn’t play a single game all year. Offseason rolls around and you have teams clamoring over you, and you end up with the Cleveland Cavaliers. A young team with a ton of talent but filled with questionable drafting decisions over the past 3 years. This is a friendly deal in terms of money but the problem is he hasn’t played a game since the 2012 NBA Playoffs! I can’t trust a guy like that on a two-year deal.  The Cavs looked primed to make the playoffs for the first time since LeBron left, but Bynum is such a question, and I have troubles trusting this team. Dan Gilbert, you make some seriously puzzling decisions…

2. Monta Ellis, 3 years $30 million- Monta Ellis signed with the Dallas Mavericks after leaving a player option on the table with the Milwaukee Bucks. Here’s part two of the Dallas Mavericks disappointing signings. Monta Ellis is a great scorer, very dynamic. However, he’s just not very efficient in his scoring and doesn’t bring anything else to the table. He shot only 42 percent on the season this year, and is a pylon on defense, not to mention a very undersized two-guard at only 6’3. His interest is only scoring, so he’ll put up some nice numbers on a bad Mavs team, but that’s it. Him and Calderon were all Mark Cuban could muster after so much hype. Letting go of Tyson Chandler looked bad a few years ago, but now that we see this is all the cap room of the Mavs could land, it looks even worse. Impressive Mark Cuban, you’ve managed to even make Dirk Nowitzki depressed.

1. Al Jefferson, 3 years $41 million- Al Jefferson was one of the very first Free Agency splashes of the summer, as he shocked a lot of people by leaving the Utah Jazz and signing with the Charlotte Bobcats on a 3-year/$41 million dollar deal. Oh Big Al… What in the world did you do? The Bobcats? The NBA’s punching bag? This was my worst signing of this offseason because it made little sense for both sides. For Al Jefferson, he pretty much killed his chances of getting to the playoffs anymore. The Bobcats are bad, like, REALLY bad. Jefferson may bring some credibility to the team as a somewhat big name, but it’s not like he’s going to be attracting any marquee names next year. Plus, the Bobcats already drafted Cody Zeller in this year’s NBA Draft, making the front court a bit crowded. The Bobcats in signing Jefferson, signed a player with zero defensive abilities to a major deal. It just didn’t make sense to break the bank for a player of Jefferson’s ability. He’s nice, but he cannot be a franchise player, and might just kill your cap for three years.

So those are my top ten worst NBA Free Agency signings, let me know what you guys think. And make sure to check back sometime next week, as I’ll be covering my top 10 favorite NBA Free Agency signings of this offseason.

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