The 2018 NBA offseason featured a number of surprising signings that came out of nowhere. Some were predictable to an extent given the circumstances of their contract and team situation. And while it's been short of two months since the NBA season kicked off, many of these moves are already looking questionable. They weren't the best on paper when they took place, and appear to be even worse now that they have stepped on court.
Every offseason is going to have signings that turned out to be the wrong situation for the player, and while some are fortunate enough to leave via a trade, most are stuck until their current contract expires. Some of them may have believed to be upgrading teams with their move, while others simply took the bigger paycheck - an understandable move especially when it comes to veteran players. For many of these players, their true worth will show in the Playoffs - if they happen to make it - as most teams determine their moves based on postseason success.
A player who goes from a contender to a rebuilding team will grow sick of his current situation at a quick rate since they will be encountering a completely different culture. On the other hand, there are certain players who benefit from being a big fish in a small pond, so playing for a championship caliber team isn't necessarily the ideal situation for them. With today's list, we look at 10 NBA free agents of 2018 who went to the wrong team and where they should have gone:
20 Wrong Team: Rajon Rondo - L.A. Lakers
It is understandable as to why Rajon Rondo chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only does he play for one of the biggest teams on Earth, but he would be playing alongside LeBron James which puts the team in a good standing. Knowing that he would be competing with Lonzo Ball for the starting PG spot, Rondo still decided to sign with the Lakers. But considering that LeBron runs the position most of the time, it has limited Rondo's role on the offensive end as he could have had greater impact with a different team, as he did in recent years.
19 Should've Signed With: San Antonio Spurs
Coming into this season, it was evident that the San Antonio Spurs might struggle to fill the void left by the departure of Tony Parker. While his prime years are well behind him, it was clearly time to replace him with a younger player to run the team. Dejounte Murray was set to take over the position until his injury, leaving the Spurs thin at the position. Rajon Rondo would have been a good fit for the team since he would have been able to handle the ball more than he does with the Los Angeles Lakers. That's not to mention that he would have surely benefited from playing for Gregg Popovich.
18 Wrong Team: DeMarcus Cousins - Golden State Warriors
DeMarcus Cousins had a tough decision to make in free agency. Seeing as he had been injured during the season, there were doubts regarding his long term health. Some teams questioned whether he would return to his form while others were skeptical by his attitude and overall antics - leading to a thin market for the talented big man. And while he had been linked with the Los Angeles Lakers for the past year - Cousins pulled a stunning move by taking a one year deal with the Golden State Warriors that is clearly a rental. But it's unlikely to improve the offers in the upcoming free agency class.
17 Should've Signed With: New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans did offer DeMarcus Cousins a contract to remain with the team, but he was disappointed by the deal as he felt he was worth much more. In fact, Cousins felt disrespected by the Pelicans' contract which is why he decided to take a completely different direction with his free agency decision. But he would have been better off staying with the Pelicans where he would have had a much bigger role than he is set to on the Warriors. Not to mention that Cousins had formed an incredible duo with Anthony Davis that could have achieved plenty of success.
16 Wrong Team: Dwight Howard - Washington Wizards
Dwight Howard has struggled to find a team to call home in recent years, jumping from one underwhelming stint to another. He believed that he would be able to push the Washington Wizards into taking the next step, especially since the team lacked a presence at his position. Howard's season didn't get off to the best start due to a nagging injury, while the Wizards struggled to impress on the court.
With the team likely to be split up during the season, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that Howard is already regretting his decision to join the Wizards in the first place.
15 Should've Signed With: Golden State Warriors
Despite the backlash he may receive from fans, Dwight Howard is still a very useful player who could be a positive asset on a number of teams. He would have made perfect sense for the Golden State Warriors, where he wouldn't have needed to contribute beyond easy baskets, rebounding and defense. While there had been reports of mutual interest between the two sides, it is unknown as to why they failed to reach a deal. Howard may very well find himself playing for yet another team sometime this season, and if the Wizards' struggles continue, then he will surely be shipped out of town in the offseason.
14 Wrong Team: Paul George - OKC Thunder
A number of fans and media members were confident that the Los Angeles Lakers would land Paul George in the offseason. After all, he did specifically request a trade from the Indiana Pacers since he wanted to fulfill a dream of his to play for the Lakers. So when the announcement came that George was re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, everyone was caught off guard. It isn't the ideal situation for him since he isn't the greatest fit next to Russell Westbrook, and many teams could have utilized him better. But it is certainly commendable that he opted to stick with OKC instead of leaving for a bigger market.
13 Should've Signed With: Philadelphia 76ers
OKC fans may have been thrilled about retaining Paul George's services, but it's no secret that multiple teams were highly interested in acquiring him. Among them were the Philadelphia 76ers who were keen on landing another star to add to the core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. After striking out in the offseason, they were finally able to do so with the addition of Jimmy Butler. And while the latter may be a great player, Paul George would have made an even better fit for the team as he could have led them to the next level come playoff time.
12 Wrong Team: Isaiah Thomas - Denver Nuggets
Isaiah Thomas signing with the Denver Nuggets was one of the strangest moves of the offseason. Coming off a bad season, Thomas wanted to get his career back on track with a move to the Nuggets although it was questionable from the very first day. Not only are his minutes likely to be limited, but he isn't the greatest fit in their system. Thomas remains sidelined with an injury as he has yet to make his season debut for the team. And considering their current, he will be struggling to earn minutes off the bench unless he returns to All-Star form.
11 Should've Signed With: Phoenix Suns
Before he became a legitimate All-Star for the Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas had a strong year for the Phoenix Suns. And given that the team is currently in desperate need of a point guard, he would have been the perfect addition to the mix. A low risk, high reward signing is exactly what the Suns needed in the offseason, and Thomas may very well have been that.
Right now, it's just a matter whether Thomas will be able to return to form before the nagging injuries slowed him down. Since his departure from the Celtics, Thomas hasn't found himself in a suitable situation to succeed.
10 Wrong Team: Tyreke Evans - Indiana Pacers
When the Indiana Pacers signed Tyreke Evans in the offseason, it was seen as a brilliant move by the team that could have assisted them in taking the next step. But there question marks regarding Evans' fit with the team, especially considering his inconsistent history in the league. He was coming off a great season with the Memphis Grizzlies in which he finally found the perfect role to play.
His stint with the Pacers couldn't have been any different thus far with Evans struggling to fit with the team, which led to a significant decrease in his overall minutes as well.
9 Should've Signed With: Memphis Grizzlies
After years of struggles on various NBA teams, Tyreke Evans found himself in an ideal situation with the Memphis Grizzlies that was suitable to his style of play. As a player in need of handling the ball to be effective, he had the opportunity to do so for the Grizzlies, which cannot be said about his current run with the Indiana Pacers. Seeing as how the Grizzlies are once again competing for a playoff spot, it's safe to say that Evans played his cards wrong. Barring a major turnaround this year, he may not come back to the Pacers next season.
8 Wrong Team: Carmelo Anthony - Houston Rockets
It's safe to say that Carmelo Anthony made the wrong decision to join the Houston Rockets when the team gave up on him less than a month into the season. And while Melo has been unfairly blamed for the Rockets' struggles early on, he was never a great fit for the team on paper. It was his close friendship with Chris Paul that convinced him to join the Rockets in hopes for a championship run. Anthony's playing style clashed with that of the Rockets, and since the team had already lost two of their best defensive players - it only made Melo's job that much more difficult.
7 Should've Signed With: Charlotte Hornets
Carmelo Anthony is no longer an All-Star player and it has been clear for the past two years, but he could still succeed in the right role. It's just a matter of finding the right situation that suits his playing style as well as need to have the ball in his hands. While he is no longer good enough to be the first option on offense, Melo could still be an offensive threat given the right fit. He would have made sense for the Charlotte Hornets who could certainly have used a scorer like Anthony, although it is understandable as to why both sides may have been skeptical about a potential deal.
6 Wrong Team: Jabari Parker - Chicago Bulls
From one of the most hypes prospect to a forgotten college star, Jabari Parker's career was undoubtedly slowed down by several injuries. Once it became clear that the Milwaukee Bucks had very little interest in retaining his services - especially given the money and role demanded by Parker - it was only a matter of time before the two sides moved on. During the offseason, Parker has struggled early on with the Bulls, making his decision to join the team in the first place questionable one. His options may have been limited on the open market, but Parker could have had it better elsewhere.
5 Should've Signed With: Utah Jazz
Prior to the offseason, there were strong links between the Utah Jazz and Jabari Parker. He was very likely to leave the Milwaukee Bucks behind to begin a new venture, while the Jazz were said to be highly interested in his services. Parker was certainly worth a shot for the Jazz as his offensive ability would have been an immense addition to the team. Parker would have also benefited from having some better players around him, allowing him to contribute positively on the court. It was a missed opportunity for both sides and would have been a much better situation for Parker in particular.
4 Wrong Team: Trevor Ariza - Phoenix Suns
With the Houston Rockets' cap space problems, it became clear that Trevor Ariza may not be back for another year. And while some had expected him to take a short term deal to stick around, Ariza accepted a hefty one year contract from the Phoenix Suns. It's understandable that Ariza went for the money at this stage of his career, as he is maximizing his profits as much as possible but it hasn't been an ideal situation for him. The Suns are currently rebuilding with no intentions of winning anytime soon, therefore Ariza would be better off on a competitive team.
3 Should've Signed: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets were one game away from advancing to the NBA Finals and gave the Golden State Warriors a great battle in the Western Conference Finals. The wisest move would have been to retain the same core and go for it again this year as the Rockets were extremely close to being crowned NBA Champions. Ariza had been a great fit for the team, providing them with much needed defense on the wing as well as reliable three point threat. One month into the 2018-19 season and it's already clear that both sides are missing each other and likely regret the offseason outcome.
2 Wrong Team: LeBron James - L.A. Lakers
When LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers, it was evident that he had priorities in his life beyond basketball. Many have reported that James was seeking the limelight that comes with playing in Los Angeles, as well as developing a number of major projects before calling it a career. And while that is understandable, LeBron should have ensured that the Lakers had the proper pieces around him before he inked a deal with them. The Lakers' young players have failed to live up to the hype thus far, leaving James to carry yet another flawed team to the playoffs.
1 Should've Signed With: L.A. Clippers
LeBron James could've had an ideal situation that would have suited his business goals while also winning basketball games at the same time. The Clippers are currently a far better team than the Lakers, and adding LeBron James to the mix would've made them a contender this year and beyond. Seeing how well they have played this year, we can't help but think that James made the wrong decision by choosing the Lakers over the Clippers. And while we understand that the former has been historically the more prestigious franchise, the Clippers appear to be in much better shape today and going forward.