A few days into free agency and who knew we would all be wrong about the biggest story? Sure, LeBron and Wade and Bosh are still the headlines, but to me and many people I’ve talked to the biggest story has been the ridiculous contracts teams are signing players to.
The Bucks/Grizzlies/T-Wolves/Raptors/Hawks have all made expensive, long-term investments in players that haven’t really done anything to justify the amount of money they’re about to make.
But the question is, which first-day signing was the absolute worst? While the Bulls/Cavs/Knicks/Nets/Heat spend their time fretting over how to get the big name free agents for the big bucks, let’s rate how bad the other teams did in signing the no-name free agents to salary-cap killing contracts. After each contract we’ll have a “Stupid Signing Scale” that will rate how bad the move was on a scale of 1-10.
Bucks sign Drew Gooden for 5 years, $32 million –
My first reaction to this was, “Oh, that’s cool, ESPN is adding some humor to free agency.” Then I kept reading and realized this was serious. So you’re telling me that after trading for Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, who by all accounts are team cancers, the Bucks went out and signed Gooden to this contract? The same Drew Gooden who has played for eight teams in eight years? To me it looks like they’re trying to ruin Brandon Jennings’ career.
There’s a reason a player like Gooden bounces around so much. He’s productive, sure, but he’s not someone you want on your team. Just ask any of the other eight teams who have carried him and then were willing to get rid of him each time. Knowing all this, the Bucks just gave him over $6 million a season for five years? Seriously, this one just hurts my brain to think about.
Stupid Signing Scale: 9/10
Timberwolves sign Darko Milicic for 4 years, $20 million –
When I heard this, I thought the same thing that my man Rob was thinking — Darko is still in the league? Next thought was David Kahn still has a job? After drafting three (3!) point guards in the first round last year, Kahn went out and drafted nothing but small forwards this year, then said his number one priority was signing Darko. It’s like he’s trying to see if he can be worse than Mike Dunleavy was with the Clippers. The funny thing is, he’s probably going to have his job for a couple more years too.
Darko is one of the biggest draft busts of all time, period. While it’s not entirely his fault that the Pistons drafted him over Melo/Bosh/Wade and placed insane expectations on him, he hasn’t exactly done anything of note since being drafted. He definitely hasn’t done anything to justify getting $5 million a year for the next four years. Can’t fault him for signing an overpaying contract, he’ll gladly take the money with him back to Europe when he’s out of the NBA in four years.
Stupid Signing Scale: 8/10
Grizzlies sign Rudy Gay for 5 years, $80 million –
Heading into the offseason, I was pretty sure that whatever contract Rudy Gay got, it was going to be way too much. He is looked at as a guy who deserves near max money and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. He’s got decent range, plays okay defense, and doesn’t make his teammates better. Sure, he gives us the occasional highlight-reel dunk and makes it on SportsCenter, but really, he can’t take over a game like a guy making $16 million (on average) a season should.
Most people (myself included) agree that Gay isn’t even the most promising player on the Grizzlies. I would take OJ Mayo and even Marc Gasol as building blocks for my team before I would take Rudy. This is a contract the Grizzlies will definitely come to regret, while Knicks and Clippers fans everywhere are just glad he’s off the market so their teams can’t offer him a max contract.
Stupid Signing Scale: 8.5/10
Hawks sign Joe Johnson for 6 years, $119 million –
Throughout last season, we heard Johnson’s name continuously thrown in with LeBron and D-Wade and CB4 when talking about guys who will command max money this offseason. But then the second round of the NBA playoffs happened and Johnson (12 pts, 29% shooting, one post-game tantrum per) and his Hawks were swept out of the second round by the Magic. Instantly it became clear to everyone that Johnson was not a max guy and he couldn’t be the best player on a championship team.
Then the first day of free agency comes along and word spreads that the Hawks were prepared to offer Johnson the max….WHAT?!? It seems like the Hawks are content to be swept out of the second round every season. When people are laughing at the contract the second word comes out, it’s probably a bad sign. When the salary of a player in the first year of his contract is too much (and only increasing every year), you know you have one of the worst free agent contracts of all time.
Stupid Signing Scale 9.5/10
Raptors sign Amir Johnson for 5 years, $34 million –
Go ahead and re-read that 15 times, still makes zero sense, right? When I heard about this contract, I thought it was one of those jokes people were telling to lighten the mood of all the stress free agency seems to be bringing. But turns out the Raptors, one year removed from giving Hedo Turkoglu six years and $60 million, feel that Johnson is their replacement for Chris Bosh. The same Johnson who 50% of those following the NBA didn’t know existed, is now going to be making $7 million a year for accomplishing absolutely nothing.
This is a contract that will tie up the Raptors cap-space, meaning they will have a starting front-court of Hedo, Johnson, and Andrea Bargnani, all tied up for 4-5 more years, along with the contracts of Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack. I already feel bad for Raptors fans for when they have to trade away DeMar DeRozen just to get someone to help them clear cap-space in a couple of years. I’d keep going but I don’t want any Raptor fans to kill themselves.
Stupid Signing Scale: 150/10
All these bad signings … kind of gives Richard Jefferson hope, huh?
Belal Abdelfattah is BSO’s newest writer and comes from a long background in sports writing at the Sports Authority Blog and The Block Radio. You can follow Belal on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/belal_a