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7 Of The Worst Free Agent Signings In NBA History

Bryan Altman

Rejoice, NBA fans: Coming to a basketball city near you to help break up the dog days of summer is the NBA’s free agency period, which begins on Friday, July 1.

Once the calendar hits July, there’s no stopping the avalanche of activity as teams work to sign the best possible players to improve their chances of capturing the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2017. 

Free agency has become an absolutely vital component of most teams’ strategy when they try to build towards a championship. Whether you’re looking for a role player to put your team over the top or a bona fide superstar to build your team around, the free agent market usually has what you’re looking for.

MORE: 7 Of The Best Free Agent Signings In NBA History

Even though he had a brief resurgence as a member of the Celtics in the 2003-04 season (which lead to a trade to the Knicks), Baker is largely now remembered for his failure to live up to that monster deal he signed in Seattle. 

Ben Wallace

Chicago Bulls: Four Years, $60 million (2006)

From a purely statistical standpoint, Wallace lived up to his contract obligations with the Bulls. In nine years in Detroit, Wallace averaged 11.1 rebounds per game and 6.6 points. In two years in Chicago, he averaged 5.9 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Point being, his stats didn’t drop off too terribly, so the only question the Bulls have to ask themselves is why on Earth they paid that much for a non-scorer on the wrong side of 30 who had been steadily declining in rebounds per game since his 2002-2003 high of 15.4 per game? 

I guess we’ll never know. 

Emeka Okafor

Charlotte Bobcats: Six Years, $72 million (2008)

While his career in Charlotte with the Bobcats started promisingly enough, it ended with a thud that reverberates throughout the NBA to this day. 

When the Bobcats re-signed Okafor before the 2008-09 season and gave him his big contract, he played in every game that year and tied his career low in points per game and hit his second lowest total in rebounds per game. 

 

Luckily for the Bobcats, they were somehow able to deal Okafor and his long-term deal to the New Orleans Hornets the next offseason for Tyson Chandler, so it all worked out in a round about sort of way.

Still, their level of buyers remorse to trade away Okafor’s contract makes it one of the worst in recent memory for sure.  

Darius Miles

Portland Trail Blazers: Six Years, $48 million (2004)

Drafting the kid straight out of high school is always a risky proposition. Even riskier? Agreeing to pay that same kid $48 million over six years after failing to live up to the hype with the first two teams he played for. 

But, that’s exactly what the Portland Trailblazers did and even though Miles averaged a career high in points per game with the team (13.1), the run-ins with coaches, substance abuse problems and injuries lead to Miles’ demise and just a three-year, largely unsuccessful stint with the team. 

Allan Houston

New York Knicks: Six Years, $100 million (2001)

Allan Houston’s max deal will live in infamy in New York for all of eternity. It was that bad. Houston was a great player for the Knicks and even put together arguably his two best years for the Knicks in the two years after he signed his deal.

allan houston2 7 Of The Worst Free Agent Signings In NBA History

Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport

However, as almost anyone could have predicted excluding then-Knicks president, Scott Layden, signing a 30-plus year old player with knee issues to a long-term deal would eventually come back to bite you. 

And it did. Houston endured numerous knee injuries and surgeries that sidelined him until he was forced to retire at the end of the 2004-05 season. 

Jerome James

New York Knicks: Five Years, $30 million (2005)

In a 2005 playoff run as a member of the Supersonics, James averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 11 playoff games. Apparently, that was enough for Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas to overlook his 358 regular season games in which he averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and sign James to a $30 million deal. 

Unfortunately for the Knicks, but predictably, James reverted to his non-playoff form and started just 20 games for the team. 

Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for any of his other three teams.

Questions or comments? Feel free to follow Bryan on Twitter or send him an email.

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