Roundtable: Least Favorite Free Agent Signing
As we head into the hot and dry month of August, over at Off the Glass we are pushing out more new content to keep you occupied this summer! On this week's roundtable the OTG staff make their picks for their least favorite free agent signing.
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
Dennis Dow - @dennisdownba
Chris Paul is the elite of the elite point guards in the NBA. However, he is 33 years old and has missed more than 20 games the last two seasons. At the completion of this four year deal, he will have turned 38 years old. Paying him 40-million dollars as he winds down his career is going to be disastrous for the Houston Rockets. The worst part about this deal and what makes it the worst signing to me is that due to the amount of this contract, the Rockets were unable to re-sign Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. Losing those two pieces to me makes the Rockets considerably worse.
Lance Stephenson, Los Angeles Lakers
Jac Manuell - @TheJmanJBT
Please don’t hurt me Kory, but…
Lance Stephenson was my least favorite signing in this year’s free agency. I detailed in my ‘Worst New Fits’ piece why Stephenson doesn’t add a whole heap to the Lakers and their playoff aspirations.
Lance is fun as hell, I get that.
I just don’t understand why he got such a lofty contract (as Nick Fay reiterated on The Outlet) when he most likely could’ve been available for the minimum.
Personally, I’m an advocate for spacing around LeBron’s teams, though clearly Pelinka and co. are taking a different tact. Whether it works remains to be seen.
I like Lance, just not on this roster, and not as much as the Lakers front office clearly does.
Trevor Ariza, Phoenix Suns
Tyler Dandridge - @_CoachTy
Observing the chaos of NBA free agency this offseason has been almost as polarizing as the regular season. The overall consensus within the market seemed to value two-year team friendly deals, and a wide range of one-year deals, from the MLE to the veteran minimum. It is evident that teams with money to spend were far more cautious than the 2016 free agency splurge that left the Knicks having to stomach the remaining $37.5 million of an ungodly four-year $72 million deal for the 33 year-old Joakim Noah. 2018 left us with a more clear and determined top dog. With the addition of the Isaiah Thomas of big men in Boogie Cousins, the Warriors are the clear and unequivocal favorite to take their 3rd straight title. Assuming that Boogie can at some point find the rest of his Achilles, the Warriors playoff lineup has the potential to be the most devastating finishing lineup in NBA history. So even with LeBron heading to LA and George staying in OKC, much of what we know about the league has remained status quo.
My least favorite signing of free agency comes from the same team that would win the “What are they doing!?” award. It is none other than the Phoenix Suns’ signing of Trevor Ariza to a one-year, $15 million deal. Now, let’s be clear, Ariza is an incredibly valuable 3&D versatile wing with the veteran experience that would add a determined level of value to a championship contender. However, the Suns aren’t even close to contending for the 8th seed, let alone compete for a title. In the words of Childish Gambino, my sentiments towards Trevor of “Get your money!” couldn’t be more genuine, but I don’t believe at 33 he will be worth 15 Ms. Adding Ariza with their verging star in Devin Booker to their group of borderline college all-stars only achieves to take them out of contention for a top 5 draft selection. Without mentioning the fact that their 2017 draft pick Josh Jackson requires the same oxygen of playing time that Ariza will claim, this is a senseless deal for Phoenix. And it begs the question. WHAT ARE THEY DOING!?
Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson & Javale McGee,
Los Angeles Lakers
Michael Sanchez - @imlaotino
As a Suns fan living in LA, I love to hate the Lakers. When the Lakers signed LeBron James, I was just glad to be on vacation. The only thing that makes Lakers fans more insufferable is when something undeservedly good happens to them. However, in the weeks that followed, I was dismayed that I couldn’t see their reactions to the rest of the signings. The mental gymnastics they must be doing to justify this ragtag group of boneheads and non-shooters is definitely medal-worthy (Laker gold, even.)
The beginning of the Lakers offseason had so much promise. They baited LeBron with the alluring possibilities of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and/or DeMarcus Cousins. Instead, Magic switched in the sobering realities Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and Javale McGee. The blueprint throughout LeBron’s career has been to surround him with high IQ guys that can shoot. These are not those guys. At this point, the Lakers seem less like a basketball team and more like a social experiment.
I understand that all these guys are signed to one-year deals. I even applaud Magic’s foresight to wait until 2019 to make his second big free agent splash. The Warriors are HEAVY favorites to win it all again next year, so punting on this year makes sense. But, LeBron isn’t getting any younger and, last year notwithstanding, his ability to carry a whole team to the Finals has to diminish at some point. Wasting a year of his prime with the “Shaqtin’ a Fool” All-Stars probably isn’t the way LeBron envisioned the start of the final act of his career.
Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings
Alex Bisaillon - @BisaillonAlex
I can’t stand this deal for Sacramento. They already have too many players competing for frontcourt minutes, and now they bring in a guy who doesn’t really move the needle at all, but is talented enough to earn playing time over the young guys. I get that the Kings need to hit the salary cap floor, but why not just make a play at absorbing bad contracts in a trade with one of the many capped out squads around the league and get an asset as well? Would it not hurt to have maybe picked up an extra draft pick for this rebuilding club, especially with their pick next season will likely be heading to Boston? The Kings leadership continues to show ineptitude in creating a coherent or competitive roster, and fringe moves like this that waste roster and cap space are a reason nearly as much as draft whiffs and player mismanagement have been. Dumb moves like this make me worry the Kings are gonna waste the potentially awesome Fox/Bagley duo and that’s a damn shame. Bjelica isn’t a bad player by any means, but giving him this type of deal is only acceptable if you’re a championship contender, the Kings most certainly will not be next season.
Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls
Evan Dyal - @EvanDyal
My least favorite free agency signing of the 2018 offseason was by the Chicago Bulls in signing Zach LaVine to a four-year, $78 million deal. LaVine was a restricted free agent, and the Sacramento Kings signed him to that offer sheet, but the Bulls decided to match. If I were Chicago, I would of let him walk. That is a lot of money for a player with injury history, plays zero defense and is not an efficient scorer. At least Chicago put some injury provisions into the contract. Still, what is the point of keeping him for that much? Chicago is not ready to compete now even in the East; they need to continue to develop Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and rookie Wendell Carter. Yes, Lavine fits the timeline of the guys, but he is not a number one option. All singing him to this deal does is affect Chicago's cap space, and maybe locks them in closer to mediocrity. LaVine to me is empty calories, he may put up some decent stats, but he does not affect winning. He had a -2.16 defensive RPM and a -1.16 ORPM last season. The Bulls could have avoided this; they were on the right path to a successful rebuild, this doesn't help, they should of let him walk.
Doug McDermott, Indiana Pacers
Kory Waldron - @KwalHoops
Yes, this signing nearly put me in shutdown mode after a tremendous season in Indiana. This was the first domino to fall for the Pacers this offseason and it was just bad. They rebounded nicely with the signings of Tyreke Evans & Kyle O'Quinn, but I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN ABOUT THIS DEAL! Three-year, $22 million deal... WHAAAATTTTT!? How does this guy get over $7 million a year, it simply blows my mind. It's not necessarily a bad rotational player to have in the Pacers system, he can shoot and cuts to the basket. Just seems like far too much money for a role player who likely and should play no more than 20 minutes a game.