More so than any other summer in recent NBA history, money is going to be flying around in free agency. Teams have set themselves up well to make an impact at a time when the market is saturated with talent.
With this comes the possibility that teams will dole out cash for some vastly overrated players.
Is one solid season in Brooklyn enough to warrant a team spending top cash for D’Angelo Russell? A trio of Sixers free agents might not be as good as their contracts will signify.
It’s in this that we check in on the 10 most overrated NBA free agents heading into July.
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Still only 23 years old, the expectation has to be that Russell will get somewhere near a max deal on the restricted free-agent market. His former Los Angeles Lakers team is interested with a meeting slated for early July. The question here is whether Russell was a one-hit wonder in 2018-19. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists, but shot just 43 percent from the field. His win shares of 5.0 was fourth on the Nets, behind Jarrett Allen, Ed Davis and Joe Harris. Buyer beware.
Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics
Another restricted free agent, it seems that Rozier is in line for a $12-plus million offer sheet. We’re not sure why that’s the case. A former first-round pick of the Celtics, Rozier has shot a combined 38 percent from the field through four NBA seasons. He’s yet to average more than 11.3 points or even three assists per game. Last season alone, Rozier averaged 9.0 points in less than 23 minutes of action. Is he even a starter-caliber guard? That’s a major question facing the Celtics and other teams looking to chase after the 25 year old.
J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers
If Redick is not hitting from distance, he’s a liability on both ends of the court. The Philadelphia 76ers’ playoff run magnified this to a T. The veteran finished minus-20 in the final three games of Philadelphia’s conference semifinals loss to the Toronto Raptors. He shot just 36 percent from the field during that span and continued to play shoddy defense. At 35 years old, Redick is well past his prime. Despite this, there’s going to be a bull market for his services. The veteran is looking at $12-plus million annually.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Barnes’ decision to opt out of his $25.1 million salary for next season caught a lot of people by surprise. He has never really lived up to the max contract the Dallas Mavericks handed him ahead of the 2016-17 season. Splitting time between Dallas and the Sacramento Kings last season, Barnes averaged 16.4 points and shot 42 percent from the field. Sure we’re looking at a good two-way player that could be a key contributor on a winning team. Even then, the $20-plus million Barnes is likely to earn annually would be a massive overpay.
DeAndre Jordan, New York Knicks
Jordan has gone from being one of the most skilled defenders in the NBA to being a salary throw-in. That included him behind shipped from the Dallas Mavericks to the New York Knicks in the Kristaps Portzingis trade last season. Still good for double-digit rebounds, Jordan’s offensive game has never really expanded. This is an issue in a modern NBA that values big men stretching the court. At this point, he’s a fledgling mid-tier starter that can’t be counted on in crunch time. Is this someone teams should be valuing at $15-plus million annually? We’re not too sure.
Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers
Considered one of the best two-way wings in the NBA, Butler’s overall performance in Philadelphia last season left a lot to be desired. He was the third option behind Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Even then, the four-time All-Star averaged just a hair over 18 points per game while shooting a four-year low 34 percent from distance. He also failed to make any of the All-NBA Defensive Teams. Entering his age-30 season, Butler is seeking a max five-year contract from the Sixers. Should he move on to another team, it will also be for the max on a four-year contract. Have we already seen the best from Jimmy Buckets? That’s a real question heading into free agency.
Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz did not waste any time finding an upgrade over Rubio in the form of Mike Conley. That came after Utah got a first-hand view of Rubio over the past two seasons. The results were not too promising. He averaged just 12.7 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 40 percent from the field in 2018-19. These numbers are akin to what we saw from Rubio over the first seven years of his NBA career. Despite this, some team is going to overpay for a weak shooter with major issues on defense.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Volume shooter? No. 2 scoring option? These are the two questions that will surround Middleton once free agency opens. He shot just 44 percent from the field last season and finished with fifth-best win shares on the team, behind the likes of Brook Lopez. Middleton also averaged less than 14 points per game in Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors. His performance is not indicative of someone who should receive near-max offers in free agency. It’s that simple.
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s crazy to realize that Harris has already played for five NBA teams throughout his still rather young career. Teams are also banking on some upside after the soon-to-be 27-year-old wing put up a career-best 2018-19 campaign. He averaged north of 20 points to go with 7.9 rebounds with the Clippers before being dealt to Philadelphia. The only question here is whether Harris is already tapped out as a No. 3 scoring option on a good team. If that’s the case, anywhere near a max contract will be considered an overpay.
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
Irving’s popularity has taken a major hit in recent months. With his Celtics finishing up a drama-filled and disappointing 2018-19 season, Irving has been in the spotlight. Those around the NBA have called him everything from a locker room cancer to a diva. Those are not tremendous words for a man that was set to become one of the most highly-coveted free agents this summer. In fact, some teams are pushing back against the idea of signing him. Even with a less-than-robust market, we’re expecting Irving to get a max deal from the Brooklyn Nets. But will they rue a potential union early in the contract? Based on what we saw in Boston, it’s a real possibility.