Today marks the end of the NBA’s self-imposed moratorium, which means all the rumored signings and trades can now become official. (July 1 marked when teams could start talking to free agents and come to terms on handshake deals.) Free agency is one of the most exciting parts of the NBA offseason; fans watch anxiously to see what new players may soon suit up for them. However, general managers and front offices don’t always make smart choices. Through the years, there were signings that either at first glance or in retrospect had many scratching their heads in confusion. Lets take a look at the 20 worst free agent signings in NBA history. (WARNING: Knicks fans may not want to read on)
*** *** ***
VIN BAKER (Sonics: seven years, $86.7 million)
Following the first four years of his career, Vin Baker looked like a quality power forward, capable of getting 20 points and 10 rebounds in any game. In 1997, the Seattle Supersonics traded for Baker and awarded him with a brand new contract as well. However, during his five seasons in Seattle he would never average 20 points or 10 rebounds again. In fact, Baker’s career was sadly derailed by his bout with alcoholism.
STEPHON MARBURY (Knicks: four years, $76 million)
The first of many bad decisions made by then GM Isiah Thomas was re-signing Stephon Marbury after acquiring him from Phoenix the season before. After an initial foray into the playoffs, which concluded in a first round loss, the Knicks failed to make the playoffs again during the final four years of Marbury’s contract. Marbury would ultimately be out of the NBA for good following a failed 2008-09 season with the Boston Celtics.
TRAVIS KNIGHT (Celtics: seven years, $22 million)
Rick Pitino’s climb from college coach to NBA coach wasn’t pretty and the signing of Travis Knight is one of the reasons why the transition didn’t go too well. After a rookie season where Knight averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, the Celtics tossed $22 million his way in hopes he would be their man in the middle for years to come; yet years turned into a year. Knight only wore Celtic green for one season, where his numbers only slightly improved to 6.5 points and 4.9 boards.
PENNY HARDAWAY (Suns: seven years, $87 million)
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was one of the best and most polarizing players in the NBA during his time with the Orlando Magic. An athletic 6-7 point guard, Hardaway had his way in the league and at the height of his career, posted averages of 21.7 points, 7.1 assists, 2.0 steals and 4.3 rebounds a night. However, in the 1999 offseason, the Phoenix Suns offered a behemoth of a contract to Penny even though his best days were behind him. A knee injury in 1997 lingered on until he ultimately needed microfracture surgery during the 2000-2001 season. He would only play in 202 out of a possible 328 games as a Sun.