At a time when the NBA is wide open for contention and a majority of teams are flush with cap space, the start of free agency on Sunday brought a flurry of action that will surely shake up the outlook of the league for years to come.
While the Brooklyn Nets stole the spotlight by landing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, several other teams came out of Sunday as big winners thanks to significant improvements to their lineup and bench at reasonable prices.
The nature of free agency though is overspending. While plenty of teams did well in the early rush, a few signings particularly stand out as contracts that could hurt their teams for years to come.
Here are five marquee free agent signings that will leave NBA teams feeling regret.
Philadelphia 76ers sign Tobias Harris to five-year, $180M deal
The 76ers were already expecting to lose Jimmy Butler this offseason, so they couldn’t afford to let their other big in-season acquisition walk as well. Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of overpaying for Harris with a five-year max deal.
It’s not that Harris isn’t a good player, he played a prominent role for the 76ers by averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Philadelphia is paying the type of money you give to a player that puts your team over the top and Harris isn’t that kind of player. As a result, the 76ers have even less money to address their lack of consistent outside shooting.
Michael Jordan whiffs twice with Terry Rozier deal
After overpaying for a variety of role players in recent years, Jordan had the chance to keep Charlotte’s icon and keep the fans happy. Instead, he made a lowball offer to Kemba Walker and pushed the All-Star point guard out the door.
Jordan somehow compounded that mistake by agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal to overpay Rozier. The 25-year-old showed flashed as a starter in Boston, but he only averaged nine points and 2.9 assists per game last season in a limited role. Jordan is banking on him to be a great point guard for Charlotte and perhaps Rozier is capable of it. Unfortunately, Jordan’s track record as an evaluator makes that very doubtful.
New York Knicks shell out three-year, $63M deal for Julius Randle
It’s now a story as old as time. The Knicks built up an image of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant teaming up at Madison Square Garden, then reality hits and Randle became their biggest free agent signing.
This isn’t meant to be a knock on Randle. He averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in a breakout season last year to earn this big payday. Sadly, the Knicks put him in a situation where he’ll always be viewed as the consolation prize to another offseason disaster. Randle will put up numbers, but New York is paying $21 million per year to represent a constant reminder of this team’s inept ownership.
Dallas Mavericks gamble with five-year, $158M deal with Kristaps Porzingis
Dallas needed to keep its new star from bolting in free agency after everything it gave up to land him at the trade deadline. The danger that came with that deal is the contract Porzingis just received.
He’s worth every penny if he is healthy and plays up to his All-Star abilities. The trouble is there’s no guarantee of that given he hasn’t played since he tore his ACL on Feb. 6, 2018 and this deal carries no injury protection. He’s also being investigated for a rape accusation in 2018, which raises even greater concerns.
This contract will prove to be one of the biggest gambles in the NBA and the risks could be crushing for the Mavericks if there are more medical or off-the-court issues.
Miami Heat land Jimmy Butler in sign-and-trade blockbuster
While orchestrating a sign-and-trade deal for stars has worked out before for Miami, this blockbuster sequel could end up being a massive flop that leaves everyone disappointed.
Butler might be happy to join Miami today, but his view of the team could change within a few months of his arrival. Miami will pay Hassan Whiteside and Ryan Anderson more than $45 million this season, while Butler’s new $35 million salary will further limit Miami’s cap flexibility with an already depleted roster.
It greatly limits the team’s moves the rest of this offseason and results in Butler joining a team that won’t be contending for a deep postseason run. This will inevitably lead to frustration and we already know what happens when Butler gets heated.