The NBA playoffs are currently living up to expectations as always, and that means that the season is close to its conclusion. Given this, it's a good time to take a look at the free agency picture, and where certain players may be signing a new contract. There's certainly no shortage of big names on the market this offseason, and where they'll end up is anyone's guess right now. From seasoned vets, to young talents with a ton of upside in the future, every team in the league has a chance to land someone in the near future.
However, while there will be teams that upgrade their roster through free agency, there will be just as many who will be underwhelmed by their signings. The concept of a free agent bust is as old as free agency itself, and a sometimes a new setting for a player doesn't guarantee successful results. In a star-oriented league like the NBA, sometimes a new face in town doesn't mean that they'll gel with the team's top incumbent player. Every situation is different, so let's see who's on the market for this upcoming NBA offseason.
Ranked below are 15 projected signings that teams will regret in NBA free agency.
15 Michael Carter-Williams
After a stellar rookie season with the Sixers, Carter-Williams has largely fallen off the map of relevance in the league, and will be looking to re-establish himself with a new team. Of course, he's only a restricted free agent, so the Bulls may be trying to bring him back next season, but either way, he's been receiving less playing time as the years wear on.
Carter-Williams just hasn't proved that he's worth anything other than a flyer-type contract. The Bulls are his third team in his four seasons in the league, and it's clear he's not as much of an asset as people though he would be after his quality season with the Sixers several years ago. Some borderline contender is likely to pay out for him, and it won't be worth it.
Prediction: New Orleans Pelicans
14 Tyreke Evans
A former 4th-overall pick, Evans has had a pretty good career for himself, but he's slowed his production in recent years. Someone is going shell out the cash for him though, based purely on talent level alone. This is a signing that has "disappointment" written all over it, and unless Evans can land himself on a contending roster, then it won't pay dividends.
More likely, it will be a mid-level team that is willing to pony up the money, and Evans will be one of the best players on a below-average roster, and not really do much to actual improve the team. Although with his struggles to stay on the court in recent years, there's also a good chance that he won't be playing much at all. Teams should be wary of Evans, as there's very little chance he ends up working out.
Prediction: Phoenix Suns
13 Raymond Felton
There was a time when Felton was an overachieving player who was able to justify himself as a starter, but that time is no more. Now, he's a bench player at the absolute best, but at just 32-years-old, someone is going to try him out as a reclamation project. He's been on numerous teams in the past five years, and no situation has worked. He's just a marginal talent now.
Short of landing on a prime roster such as the Cavaliers or Warriors, Felton's best days in the NBA are behind him. His contract will likely be a one- or two- year flyer, and at this point he should really just consider retirement. Out of his prime and unlikely to significantly contribute, Felton is dead weight for most teams in the league at this point.
Prediction: Orlando Magic
12 Taj Gibson
Considering his draft position at 26th overall, Gibson has had a successful NBA career, and was instrumental in the Derrick Rose-led Bulls teams a few years ago. That doesn't mean that he still is at the top of his game, however. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder midway through the 2016-17 season, and he hasn't been able to replicate the same level of play.
This is a tricky one, because if Gibson is able to land in the right spot, then he might be able to swing a bit of a career resurgence. Unfortunately, the more likely scenario is that we're witnessing a player move out of his prime years, whose production will continue to decrease the longer he stays in the league. Some team is going to sign Gibson if the Thunder don't bring him back, but expecting him to be anything other than a marginal bench player will be a lofty expectation to say the least.
Prediction: Detroit Pistons
11 Michael Beasley
At first glance, Beasley is exactly the kind of player that most NBA teams fall for in free agency. A former 2nd-overall pick with great natural ability, and a track record that shows he can be productive in the right situation. Unfortunately, that team is also getting duped because Beasley's numbers have decreased for the past few seasons and are unlikely to recover.
Maybe he's a worth it to take a flyer on him, but paying him anything other than somewhere near the league minimum is a big mistake. He's jumped ship to several different rosters over the years, so a new team is not something he's unaccustomed to. Beasley is merely a once-highly touted player who never lived up to the expectations.
Prediction: New York Knicks
10 Serge Ibaka
Over the years, Ibaka has worked his way up the ranks and has become a productive NBA player. There's no doubt about it. The problem with that is that a team is likely to overrate his value this offseason, and fail to realize that he was also on some very good rosters with great players around him. That's generally that's a good sign that a "solid" player is overachieving and wouldn't post the same production in a different system.
Nevertheless, someone is going to pay some decent money for Ibaka. He's a consistent scorer, and can be depended on to start for many rosters in the league. The problem lies in just how much he's going to get paid, and if he'll be expected to be a one-man-show. It's up in the air, but the contract he gets will likely be an overpay from a desperate team.
Prediction: Atlanta Hawks
9 Andre Iguodala
Whether or not the Warriors want to move on from Iguodala, it's pretty clear that his most productive seasons are behind him. He's pretty much a role player now, destined to be spending more time than not on the bench. Will he be brought in to assist an ailing team, and be paid according to how he played five-plus years ago?
It's happened before, and there's somewhat of a reason to expect that somebody would take that kind of a chance on Iguodala. He was once a prolific scorer, but he's now been reduced to bench minutes only, and won't have the ability to what he did in his prime. Whether or not someone takes a chance on him, he stands to contribute very little to most rosters in the league outside of Golden State.
Prediction: Golden State Warriors
8 Jrue Holiday
Holiday was a mid-1st-round draft pick who has quietly emerged as a consistent player, never trailing off in any of his eight seasons in the league. He stands to improve many rosters, but the question is, at what price point? How much will a new team be willing to shell out for him, and will they have to enter a bidding war with the Pelicans to do so?
If Holiday's price rises to that warranting a premium contract, most teams would be better off passing on him. He's a quality player, but if he's asked to run an entire offense by himself, he'd be due for a drop in the quality of his play. He's able to use Anthony Davis in New Orleans, allowing himself the luxury of not being the lead guy. He's a solid player, but not to the point of being the go-to scorer on any team.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets
7 Jeff Teague
Teague is one of those players that every team always considers acquiring, but his talent level may be a bit inflated and exaggerated by some. He's definitely a good player, able to run the point with efficiency and skill, but he's not the kind of player that would warrant a massive contract, which he may possibly receive.
The Pacers may intend on resigning him, so if another team wants a chance at landing him, they'll have to outbid them in full. Teague's a good player, but not an elite one. He'll probably end up getting more money than his game deserves. He's approaching the age of 30, and this would be a bad time to shell out for a player that may see a drop off in production in the coming years.
Prediction: Charlotte Hornets
6 Shaun Livingston
Seemingly have been a member of nearly a dozen NBA teams, Livingston is the prime example of a journeyman talent, and someone who can excel in the right situation. Many teams may be looking at his recent play with the Warriors, and figure that he can add to their roster what he did in Golden State. That may not be the case, due to the elite talent around him when he's been on the Warriors.
Livingston could be a nice bench pickup for a contending team, but expecting him to give you real, productive minutes at this stage of his career is a losing battle. Livingston's role is on the bench strictly, and really should be a positive locker room presence more than anything else. It's far-fetched to expect consistently quality play out of him anymore.
Prediction: Orlando Magic
5 Mason Plumlee
As someone who's just not a fit for the modern NBA game, Plumlee's future remains very much up in the air. He's a center who just doesn't fit on the majority of the league's rosters, and the fact that he's been on three teams in six seasons is evidence of that fact. He won't receive a monster deal, but he may receive even more than he's worth, unable to live up to even middling expectations.
A former 1st-round pick, Plumlee just doesn't have much of a role on most teams anymore. He's dead weight as a relatively unathletic center, and any deal he signs will just be a flyer at this point. He's a journeyman big man who can do little else other than fill up space for the starting players in the paint. He's a candidate to be a reach this offseason, with someone drastically overpaying.
Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers
4 Amir Johnson
Johnson has really overachieved during his career, being a 2nd-round pick that should have been out of the league in short order, but he's just not the kind of player that's going to make the difference between wins and losses anymore. Decidedly out of his prime, Johnson is a bench option at this point, and shouldn't be asked to shoulder the load in any capacity.
He's been durable, sure, but he's also on a high-quality roster with the Celtics, and on another roster, he may not be the best option for bench minutes. Johnson should be signed only the cheapest of deals, and then maybe he can contribute off the bench. Anything other than that would be a drastic mistake for any team.
Prediction: Boston Celtics
3 Jeff Green
A former 5th-overall pick, Green is a league veteran at this point, and is another candidate for a reach signing this offseason. His numbers have dropped a bit over the years, but not to the point that a team wouldn't think that his career is unsalvageable. At the very least, he'll be signed as a stopgap somewhere, and at most will be asked to be a key offensive player.
With how frequently he changes teams, Green is used to the prospect of playing on new rosters. There's a reason that he doesn't often stick around, and it's indicative of valuable he's seen as around the league. Don't expect Green to do much in the proceeding seasons, and keep an eye out for a desperate team looking to give him more money than he's worth.
Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers
2 Derrick Rose
The Rose experiment with the Knicks has turned out to be a colossal failure, and there's no guarantee that he'll be back next season. The question is, who would be willing to give him a premium contract, considering all of the injuries he's suffered over the years? Well, somebody is going to do that. Rose is still a premier talent, despite the fact that he's hit some bumps in the road.
The upside is just too much for a handful of teams to ignore. If he's able to stay on the court, Rose is still one of the best players in the league. It remains to be seen what New York's plans will be with him going forward, but if he hits the open market, expect a bidding war to ensure for Rose's services.
Prediction: Orlando Magic
1 Blake Griffin
This would be the ultimate reach signing if Griffin hits the open market, and doesn't return to the Clippers. There's no denying that Griffin is great for highlight reels and racking up regular season stats, but he comes up short in the playoffs time and time again, playing soft against competition that he should be able to at least be competitive with.
He's going to get big money, no doubt about it. But Griffin simply isn't the kind of franchise player that's worth such a premium deal. Those kinds of players should be able to excel in the playoffs when called upon, and Griffin doesn't fit the bill. He may be the biggest name in free agency, but whoever signs him won't be getting what they bargained for, when push comes to shove. There's no other way to say it; Griffin is overrated, and isn't worth the big bucks.
Prediction: Sacramento Kings
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