When the clock struck midnight on July 1, the free agency period for the NBA officially began. We’ve already seen a shitton of players either moving to new teams or staying put with their currents ones. While some free agent signings have been applauded, others have been heavily critiqued (for good reason). Here are the four worst NBA free agent signings of 2017, so far.
- Joe Ingles: four years, $52 million with the Utah Jazz
Joe Ingles is a solid role player who, admittedly, played exceptionally well in this past years playoff series against the Clippers. $13 million a year isn’t the worst deal for a player of his caliber, although I do think it’s a bit of an overpay. What I see as a bigger issue is the length of the deal. Ingles will be 30 years old by the start of the NBA season, which means he’s already nearing the tail end of his prime. One of his best skills right now is his ability to guard multiple positions due to his combination of size and speed. As he gets older, his speed will drastically decrease, limiting him mostly to the power forward position. A 34 year old forward making $13 million a year in 2021 with little to add other than three-point shooting is not an attractive contract, which is why he makes the list.
- Blake Griffin: five years, $173 million with the Los Angeles Clippers
When healthy, Blake Griffin is an elite talent; just three years ago, he was top three in MVP voting. Otherwise known as “Lob City,” the Clippers were one of the most exciting teams in the league due to the athleticism that Griffin displayed on some of his electric alley-oop dunks. Unfortunately, Blake’s body has quickly deteriorated since then. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor did an excellent job breaking down all of Griffin’s injuries in an article written midseason last year, and that doesn’t even include the serious foot injury that occurred in the playoffs this season. Blake’s best asset is his athleticism; while he has tried to transform to a more perimeter oriented game, he simply hasn’t been the same player since 2013. At 28, he’s supposed to be in the prime of his career — if he can’t stay on the court now, what do the hell do the Clippers expect him to be doing as a 33 year old in the last year of his contract?
- Jrue Holliday: five years, $125 million with the New Orleans Pelicans
Like Blake Griffin, Jrue Holiday has struggled with injuries his whole career. But while Blake has at least shown signs of MVP potential, the same cannot be said of Holiday. Combine his injury history with the fact that he’s a slightly above average starting point guard, I really just don’t think this deal makes sense for the Pelicans. I understand the lack of cap space limited their options to look at other potential signings, but you have to think about the future of your team. Jeff Teague put up nearly identical stats (via Basketball-Reference) as Jrue last season, and he received an offer for less years (3) and less money ($57 million), not to mention a cleaner bill of health. It feels like the Pelicans trapped themselves into mediocrity with this deal.
- Langston Galloway: three years, $21 million with the Detroit Pistons
Ah, the classic free agent overpay by Pistons coach and general manager Stan Van Gundy. Just last year, Van Gundy signed backup point guard Ish Smith (a much better player) to three years for $18 million (a much better deal). Why is he paying more for a worse point guard to backup the backup??? No offense to Langston Galloway; he’s a fine NBA role player who’s clearly talented enough to play in the league. But paying him to this deal makes no sense, especially considering how close the Pistons were to the salary cap even before this contract. Maybe Van Gundy knows something that I don’t about Galloway’s potential as a player, but unless I’m missing something, this seems like a questionable front office decision.