Not all free-agent signings are bound to work out. For every team that acquires a quality player for cheap, there is another team overpaying an aging player with a multi-year contract.
Let’s take a look at the 10 Free Agent signings that will likely not work out next year.
If you looked at Jermaine O’Neals 2010-12 stats and 2012-13 stats, you would see two different players. During his two years with the Boston Celtics, he averaged 5.2 points on 44.2 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds in 20.4 minutes of playing time. He seemingly revitalized his career in Phoenix, where he averaged 8.3 points on 48.2 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds in 18.7 minutes a game.
If O’Neal managed such a career resurrection, why would be on this list?
Well, his rise from the ashes in Phoenix can be largely attributed to the Suns’ outstanding training staff, who seemingly have a fountain of youth on tap. They have prolonged careers of players like Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal.
Unfortunately, the veteran center does not come with that staff, so we will likely see a regression this year. O’Neal is being brought in as a band-aid solution to the Festus Ezeli problem. He will only remain the backup center as long as Ezeli is out.
Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves
Corey Brewer returns back to the team that drafted him on a three-year, $15 million deal. The Timberwolves want a small forward who will be able to fill the void of Andrei Kirilenko, and unfortunately, Brewer is not that guy.
The former Denver Nugget averaged 12.1 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting. It should also be noted that he attempted nearly 10.8 shots per game in 24.4 of average minutes per game. Compare all that to Kirilenko’s 12.4 points on 50.7 percent shooting and his 8.8 average attempts in 31.8 minutes. The Timberwolves chose to replace Kirilenko with a less-efficient player who can contribute less across the board.
In a year that Kevin Love is returning, the Timberwolves made the decision to bring on a small forward who demands touches to be effective and who likely won’t contribute in non-scoring ways, and overall, the decision to sign Brewer to a multi-year deal removes some flexibility in Minnesota’s books for little upside.
Zaza Pachulia, Milwuake Bucks
Zaza Pachulia is best known for his rousing speech in 2008 after the Atlanta Hawks upset the Boston Celtics on their home floor and forced a Game 7. Whether you think that locker room presence and a career average of 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds is worth a $15.6 million, multi-year deal is a different question altogether.
The answer to that question is a resounding no.
The Bucks are overpaying a backup center who will likely not see more than 25 minutes per game. The worst part about this deal is that it is a three year commitment to a center who will be 30 years old starting next year. At the end of the day, this Pachulia deal will be one the Bucks will rue in a couple years.
Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks
Jose Calderon is a player a lot of teams would like to have. He is a pass-first point guard with a credible three-point shot. Unfortunately, none of that is worth a four-year, $29 million deal, especially when you factor in his age and his poor defense.
Calderon will be 32 years old when 2013-14 starts, and his salary will only increase as he ages. He is by no doubt a great point guard, but he leaves much to be desired on defense. Opposing point guards enjoy a high 19.2 PER against Calderon, according to 82games.com, and you can only expect that number to rise as Calderon’s age takes its toll.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats
In a year where bottoming-out makes the most sense, Charlotte has seemingly befuddled, going against the tide in signing Al Jefferson to a lucrative $41 million deal.
While Jefferson certainly won’t affect the Bobcats’ ability to be awful next year, he will certainly not allow the team to dip down to 21 losses again. Not only is Jefferson expensive and counterintuitive to grabbing a great draft pick, he will hinder the development of younger players like Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor and Cody Zeller. He averaged nearly 15.8 attempts per game last year and you can only expect that number to go up. That means less touches for the up and coming Bobcats.
While this deal isn’t necessarily a cap-killer for Charlotte, it certainly raises a lot of questions about the Bobcats long term game plan.