2010 represents one of the biggest free agent markets in the history of the NBA. Leading the charge is none other than LeBron James. The rest of the list includes Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby,Tracey McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Brad Miller, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal, Mike Miller, Rip Hamilton, Yao Ming, Amare Stoudamire, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Mike Redd, and Tyson Chandler just to name a few, damn this is going to be a crazy off season. So to play on the free agent market of the past we bring you the 10 worst free agent signing in the past ten years, which I’m sure someone in this 2010 group will join sadly.
Darius Miles had so much potential that many teams were dying to get their hands on him. The thought was “What’s he going to be like in his prime?” Too bad he peaked in his early twenties. The Portland Trail Blazers scooped him up after the 2004 season with a six-year, $48 million deal at the tender age of 22. You know what he did for them? He gave them two half seasons filled with controversy – which included cursing out his coach, challenging him to a fight and violating the league’s substance abuse policy – before suffering a career ending knee injury. The Blazers record during his stint? 47 – 113. Yikes.
Kenyon Martin helped the New Jersey Nets get to the NBA Finals two out of the four years he was there. Although injuries plagued him, the Denver Nuggets offered him a max contract of seven years and $92.5 million. The Nets didn’t match the offer but worked out a sign-and-trade that gave the Nets three first round picks. Since joining the Nuggets, Martin hasn’t helped them to the Finals. He’s missed 169 games and hasn’t been an All Star since he was a Net. Fortunately the team isn’t horrible without him.
There was a time that Mitch Richmond was simply lethal. As a member of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, Richmond never averaged less than 22 points per game. Knowing they couldn’t keep Chris Webber, the Kings sent C-Webb to the Washington Wizards for Richmond in 1999. Richmond averaged a career low of 19.7 ppg in his first season as a Wizard but that didn’t stop Washington from offering him a four-year, $40 million contract. He returned the favor with two more seasons on the decline before Washington bought out his contract and sent him on his merry way.
Grant Hill was once considered the next Magic Johnson/Michael Jordan. In the 1990′s he was that damn good. As a Piston he was a beast, but Joe Dumars must have known something nobody else knew when he shipped Hill off to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade for Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins that earned Hill a seven year, $93 million contract. The Motor City was pissed. Orlando was ecstatic thinking that the Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady duo would be the KO punch to get the Magic an NBA championship. Whoops! Hill went down like the Hindenburg and only played in 47 of the Magic’s 328 games in his first four seasons due to ankle surgeries that not only nearly took his career, but almost took his life. Hill got somewhat on track and played more than half a season in 2005 but would be injured again until his contract expired. That NBA Finals appearance wouldn’t come until the 2009 season, when Hill was long gone.
Philly, you can thank Elton Brand, his monster contract and his craptastic play for what appears to be a few years in the dumpster. As a Bull and a Clipper, Brand was a walking double double. He went down with a separated shoulder in 2007 and missed 74 games. But the Sixers weren’t concerned about the shoulder. They signed him to a five-year, $80 million deal. What they got back was just dreadful. He sat out 53 games in his first year as a Sixer and watched the team go 40-40 as they made the playoffs in the #7 slot. When Brand played 76 games in this season, he averaged a measly 13 points and 6 rebounds while the Sixers went an abysmal 27-53. Thanks Elton!
Peja was supposed to help the young core of Chris Paul and David West become the West’s next big thing. After all, he was lighting up the scoreboards as a Sacramento King and with the Indiana Pacers. The Hornets got him in a sign-and-trade with Indiana that netted Peja a five-year, $64 million deal. Everyone thought he’d be a great fit. His back didn’t agree. He only played 13 games in his first year with the Hornets before back surgery ended his season. He came back strong in the 2007-2008 season as the Hornets nearly made the NBA Finals. But the following two seasons saw Peja completely fall apart. Injuries kept him from getting back to top form as he only shot a notch over 40% from the field and couldn’t average more than 14 ppg. The Hornets are stuck with his contract and he is scheduled to earn $14.3 million next season. So much for nabbing a big name player.
Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s Fat Eddy Curry! Hard to believe that the chunkster was supposed to be Shaq-like. A heart abnormality that could be fatal scared a few teams away. But not the New York Knickerbockers! Despite being a slightly above average player, the Knicks nabbed him via a sign-and-trade deal that earned Curry six-years and $60 million. The Knicks picked up a draft pick that turned out to be Wilson Chandler (not bad) but gave up their second pick in 2006 and the ninth pick in 2007. Who were those picks? LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah respectively. The Knicks went 72-150 in the games Curry played – no playoffs. No need to tell you about Aldridge and Noah. Oh yeah, Curry is scheduled to make $11.3 million next year. The Knicks are still asking for a take back on that deal. LeBron isn’t pleased.
Hartford Hawks stand up. As a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Vin Baker was stellar. He was an all-star in three of his first four years, averaged a double double during those all-star years and was being mentioned as one of the top power forwards in the league. The Sonics gave the chunky and overweight Shawn Kemp the boot in order to get their hands on Baker. He was an all-star in Seattle during his first season and the Sonics rewarded him with a seven-year, $86.7 million contract. Apparently, Baker used all his new found loot to purchase a plethora of booze as he became an alcoholic and tossed his career in the dumpster.
Something about T-Mac and getting past the first round of the NBA Playoffs just doesn’t work. In Orlando, the Hill/McGrady experiment didn’t pan out but McGrady blew the lid off the league by posting whopping numbers – including a league leading 32.1 ppg during the 02-03 season. A monster trade landed McGrady in Houston alongside Yao Ming for what many people thought would make the Rockets a competitive squad in the Western Conference. The Rockets proceeded to lock him in with a three-year, $63 million extension and then watched as the house burned down. The Rockets went 49-31, 33-47, 51-29, 54-26 and 52-28 in the seasons that T-Mac was there. The scoring dropped off a bit but that wasn’t a big deal. The problem was that McGrady still couldn’t get past the first round of the NBA playoffs – unless you count the 2008-2009 year that McGrady was out with an injury and the Rocket’s got to the second round without him. Baffling stuff here. So what was the point? They could have been an 8th seed and had the same result. Saved a little money too.
Oh boy. Knicks fans might throw something at us for mentioning this contract. The fact is that Allan Houston never, ever, ever deserved the six-year, $100 million deal that he received as a player who had never averaged over 20 ppg prior to his stink stint with the Knicks. Not to mention he was 30-years-old at the time. At best he was a 75% version of Ray Allen. But the Knicks didn’t care. He helped guide the #8 seed Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals in a lockout shortened year, so apparently he deserved it. What did he give the Knicks back in return? A near decade of sub .500 seasons, two first round playoff exits, a blown out knee that eventually ended his career and a contracted that choked out any cap space the Knicks could have used to sign some talent. They named a rule after the guy for christsakes! Perhaps this all happened for a reason – to get LeBron James. But forcing Knicks fans to suffer for ten years without sniffing the NBA Finals is downright depressing. Spike Lee still weeps at the mention of his name.