2018 NBA Free Agency: Projecting 15 Signings Teams Are Going To Regret (And 5 That Will Be Steals)

The NBA free agency period is one of the most exciting in all of sports. The National Football League might warrant year-round coverage with its combine, draft, offseason signings, and off-the-field news, but no league has more interesting and buzzworthy offseason acquisitions than the NBA. LeBron James, the league's best player and arguably one of the greatest players of all-time, has now switched teams three times in free agency. That's unheard of in any other sport. Another one of the league's best players, Kawhi Leonard, was dealt to Toronto after a fallout in San Antonio and reports that he only wanted to play in Los Angeles; meanwhile, the player he was traded for, DeMar DeRozan, is a Los Angeles native who only wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors. In the past few years alone, we've also seen All-Stars Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Paul George, among others, switch teams in the offseason.

You can easily make an argument that the NBA offseason is more exciting than the regular season, especially given the expected dominance of the Golden State Warriors. The all-star squad is almost certain to win its third consecutive and fourth championship in five years after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins on a cost-friendly deal in the offseason. He obviously shows up as a steal on this list, but for every potential steal there was a handful of contracts signed that teams are going to regret in the not-so-distant future. Keep scrolling to find out who falls in either category.

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20 Regret: Zach LaVine

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You can't fault the Chicago Bulls for locking up Zach LaVine instead of letting him go to the Sacramento Kings after signing a four-year, $78 million offer sheet with the Western Conference franchise. LaVine was a key component in the Jimmy Butler trade a year prior and having him go to another organization just one year later would have been a bad public relations move - although it would have been the right one from a roster management standpoint. LaVine was limited to only 24 games last season after an ACL injury and there is obviously still concerns regarding his health moving forward. Beyond that, he even threw shade at the Bulls upon signing the Kings offer, noting that he was disappointed Chicago didn't originally offer him the deal. Expect tension in the coming years, especially if he doesn't live up to his contract.

19 Regret: DeAndre Jordan

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The Dallas Mavericks attempted to sign DeAndre Jordan in 2015 - the two sides actually agreed to a verbal deal - and the franchise wouldn't have regretted it at that time, but there's plenty of cause for concern in regard to the one-year, $24.1 million contract to which they signed Jordan on July 1. For starters, the Mavericks likely aren't going to be a playoff team, especially considering owner Mark Cuban openly admitted the team was tanking last season. But beyond that, Jordan simply isn't the same player he was in 2015 and isn't going to make much of a difference in Dallas. He might sell a few jerseys, but the 30 year old rebounding machine likely won't be part of the team's long-term plan for success.

18 Regret: Derrick Rose

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The Minnesota Timberwolves seemingly entered the 2018 offseason with the goal of signing former Chicago Bulls, which is an awful idea if you consider the success of the Bulls in recent years. One of the signings that is sure to blow up in the team's face is Derrick Rose, who was inked to a one-year, $2.4 million contract. Sure, there's limited risk involved in regard to both term and money, but the T-Wolves will have lofty expectations in 2018-19 after failing to make the playoffs last season and Rose isn't going to help their cause. Kevin Garnett even believes the 29 year old might even be the team's starting point guard, which doesn't bode well for their playoff hopes.

17 Steal: DeMarcus Cousins

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There's no doubt that the Warriors claimed the biggest steal of the offseason by signing DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year, $5.3 million contract. Part of the reason for the low number is the fact he's coming off of a season-ending injury and the Warriors present an easy opportunity to win a championship (just ask Kevin Durant), but according to Cousins himself Golden State was the only team to offer him a contract. That seems hard to believe given he's a four-time All-Star and one of the most dominant big men in the game when healthy, but we'll have to take his word for it. Regardless, the rich keep getting richer as the Warriors seek a fourth championship in five seasons. And a rebound season from Cousins could help him earn a much more expensive contract in the 2019 offseason.

16 Regret: Paul George

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Make no mistake, the Oklahoma City Thunder had to do whatever they could to re-sign Paul George given the team is in a championship window, but the four-year, $137 million deal they handed him isn't going to be looked back upon fondly in the coming years. A standout with the Indiana Pacers, George struggled to adjust during his first season in OKC before eventually settling in. He finished the seasons with 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, but it never really felt right alongside Russell Westbrook. George will only be 32 years old when his contract expires, but it's hard to imagine him playing at the same level, let alone avoiding a stark decline in production.

15 Regret: Kevin Love

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In contrast to OKC, the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have to re-sign one of its key players in Kevin Love. Losing LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in successive offseasons should have signaled the start of a full-blown rebuild, but that wasn't the case as the team inked Love to a four-year, $120 million contract extension. Even with Love's declining play in recent years, that would have been a decent move to put a team, like say the Toronto Raptors or OKC Thunder, over the top, but it makes little sense from the Cavaliers' perspective. Even playing alongside James last season, Love averaged only 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. His contract is going to severely restrict the organization's ability to contend in four years.

14 Regret: Lance Stephenson

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Lance Stephenson was almost out of the NBA a couple of years ago, but now he's getting the chance to play alongside LeBron James and co. with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 28 year old shooting guard signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract, so the financial aspect certainly won't be a bother to the Lakers, but his presence on the team might be an issue. LeBron is the leader of the young team and, while additional veteran presence is necessary, Stephenson isn't the right player for that role. Beyond being a potential distraction, he's a poor three-point shooter and has an unimpressive career effective field goal percentage of 48.5.

13 Steal: Trevor Ariza

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It's generally tough to sign a veteran player to a steal of a contract, but that's exactly what the rebuilding Phoenix Suns did when they signed small forward Trevor Ariza to a one-year, $15 million contract. While that's a much higher price tag than some of the other contracts we've labeled as a potential regret, Ariza is a talented player with leadership qualities who is going to significantly help the young core in Phoenix. It's a perfect fit for both parties and one that might even vault the Suns into playoff contention this season. It's also not as though Ariza's skills have declined drastically in recent years; the 33 year old averaged 11.7 points per game in each of the past two seasons, while registering a career-high 54.2 effective field goal percentage last season.

12 Regret: Dwight Howard

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When was the last time a team was happy with the contract it handed to Dwight Howard? That's the question the Washington Wizards should have asked before signing the washed-up veteran to a two-year, $11 million contract after he was bought out by the Brooklyn Nets - who even knew he was with the Nets? In fact, Howard, who had a relatively productive season on an awful Charlotte Hornets team last season, was acquired and subsequently bought out by the Nets this offseason before signing with the Wizards. Washington needs help at the center position, but Howard isn't the answer, especially over a two-year period. Add in the fact that there has been inner-team turmoil largely involving John Wall and it's just not a good fit.

11 Regret: Avery Bradley

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Avery Bradley is a highly-regarded defensive presence on the court, but what type of contract is appropriate for a guard with those skills who only averaged 9.2 points per game in six contests with his new team last season and has a career shooting percentage of 43.9? The Los Angeles Clippers, which acquired Bradley from the Detroit Pistons in a package for Blake Griffin, felt that two years at a total of $25 million was the right offer. The team may not regret the move to the extent that it will hinder its success moving forward, but that's only because they likely won't be a playoff team in either of the next two years. Still, there's no denying that it's an overpayment.

10 Regret: Rajon Rondo

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As with Lance Stephenson earlier, Rajon Rondo isn't going to do much to help the Los Angeles Lakers in regard to leadership when the team already has LeBron James. Moreover, his presence might actually take away from the development of Lonzo Ball, who needs to be given every opportunity to succeed this season given his status as a former second overall pick. The Lakers gave Rondo a one-year, $9 million contract and, while it's not an outrageous figure, he's not the player he was several years ago and hardly worth that deal, especially on a potential playoff team. He's the type of player that's supposed to round out the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, or Sacramento Kings roster.

9 Steal: Julius Randle

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The New Orleans Pelicans needed a win in free agency when it became apparent the team wouldn't be re-signing DeMarcus Cousins after trading quite a bit to acquire him just two seasons prior. And while their replacement for Cousins might not be as talented, he has less concerns regarding both his health and attitude. New Orleans signed former Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle to a cost-friendly, two-year, $18 million contract, despite the fact the University of Kentucky alumnus was coming off a season in which he reached career-high figures in points (16.3), blocks (0.5), and effective field goal percentage (56.3). He did this despite averaging only 26.7 minutes per game, which was a two minute drop from the year prior.

8 Regret: Will Barton

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Will Barton is an important player for the Denver Nuggets, but he's not necessarily up there with Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray, both of whom are projected to be core components of the team as it pushes for playoff success in the coming years. Yet, on July 2, Barton was signed to a four-year, $53 million contract that will see him remain with the team through the 2021-22 season. Denver will likely need cap space to sign Murray and already locked up Jokic to a five-year, $148 million max deal, meaning cap space will be limited in the coming years. The Nuggets might be another superstar away from competing for a championship and Barton's contract will be the one that will restrict the team from doing so.

7 Regret: Tony Parker

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Had the Charlotte Hornets signed Tony Parker five years ago it would have been a massive steal for the organization, regardless of the prize. The team has needed a talented veteran with impressive leadership abilities for quite some time, but signing Parker to a two-year, $10 million contract seems like a stretch at this point in time. Beyond the fact it's going to be super weird to see him without a Spurs jersey, there's little he can do to improve the odds of the Hornets rebounding from an awful 2017-18 season. His play - and minutes - has been declining for years and he averaged a career-worst 7.7 points and 3.5 assists per game last season. The 36 year old isn't getting any younger either.

6 Regret: Carmelo Anthony

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Like Paul George, Carmelo Anthony struggled to find his comfort zone in OKC, but to an even greater degree. The 34 year old small forward was supposed to be the third and final piece of a Big 3 that would compete with the Golden State Warriors, but that never came to fruition as Anthony instead averaged a career-worst 16.2 points and 1.3 assists per game. He also registered the lowest field goal percentage of his career at 40.4. Given all that, it's strange that the Houston Rockets would take him on, even at just $2.4 million per year, especially considering the team was a healthy Chris Paul away from knocking off the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It's even worse when you consider Melo's abysmal 41.5 field goal percentage in 72 career playoff games, not to mention the 37.5 percent and 11.8 points he averaged in last year's playoffs.

5 Steal: LeBron James

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The Los Angeles Lakers could have handed LeBron James a blank cheque and the team would have earned a steal for securing the best player in the world. While he may not put the team over the top as a championship contender just yet, he's at the very least going to earn the team hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise, ticket sales, and other means of revenue. He's also a perfect player to help protect the growth and development of Lonzo Ball, whose play won't be as heavily scrutinized this season with all eyes on King James. It's a perfect situation for both parties.

4 Regret: Doug McDermott

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The Indiana Pacers surprised a lot of people with its performance during the 2017-18 season due in large part to the breakout season from Victor Oladipo. With higher expectations in 2018-19, the team signed Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott, both of whom should help improve its roster, but the price tag on McDermott might just be a tad high. The two parties agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract, meaning the former 11th overall pick will earn more than $7 million per year. He's still only 26 years old so the term isn't all that egregious, yet it's a lot of money for a bench player who doesn't do much besides shoot from three-point range. That said, he boasts a 40 percent career mark from beyond the arc, so if he's used right he can be effective.

3 Regret: Omri Casspi

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Reports have surfaced that the Golden State Warriors weren't impressed with Omri Casspi's attitude last season, but that didn't stop the Memphis Grizzlies from signing the former first-round pick to a one-year, $2.2 million contract in the summer. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound small forward has played for six different teams through his nine-year career and has been unable to find a permanent home in the league, likely with good reason. Ethan Strauss of The Athletic recently noted that the Warriors "felt his attitude was suboptimal," which, if anything, means he should be comfortable in Memphis, where his attitude will match the team's regular season success.

2 Regret: Jerami Grant

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The 2018 offseason may not have been as crazy as the year prior (despite The King switching teams once again), but there was plenty of head-scratching contracts handed out. Like McDermott above, Jerami Grant was a valuable bench player in 2017-18. The fifth-year forward averaged 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game in his second season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he's certainly not irreplaceable, which is why it was somewhat strange to see him re-sign with OKC on a three-year, $27 million contract. He reportedly drew interest from the Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic, which might be a reason for his high price tag. His contract won't be a headache for the Thunder, but it'll be far from a steal.

1 Steal: Nik Stauskas

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Nik Stauskas, or "Sauce Castillo" as he is now known thanks to closed captioning, hasn't exactly had the best start to his career. The 24 year old and former eighth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has only averaged 7.0 points per game through his first three seasons and struggled last season on a poor Brooklyn Nets team. However, in the right system, Stauskas can excel as a spot-up or corner three-point specialist. He's not as polished as someone like Doug McDermott, but the Portland Trail Blazers got him on a cost-effective contract of one-year, $1.6 million. At worst, it's confirmed that Stauskas was a first-round bust, but there's a chance he can revitalize his career coming off the bench in Portland.

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