The value of new NBA free agency signings won’t be determined until next season starts, but there are already a handful that seem doomed from the start. With a lot of money up for grabs, some players inevitably end up grabbing more than their fair share.
This summer was tame compared to the great cash flows of the summer of 2016. A smaller than projected salary cap was partly to blame; the new total of $99 million was well below projections. Because of this and the results of overspending last summer, free agency was decidedly less exorbitant in 2017.
The Evan Turners of the world got $50 million instead of $70 million this summer. While the players are still benefiting from the cap spike, there has already been a return to normalcy in free agency. The bad contracts of this summer won’t stand out nearly as much as the bad contracts of the year prior. That being said, there are some signings that already look bad. These are the five free agency deals that will look most puzzling down the line:
5. Knicks sign Tim Hardaway Jr. to four-years, $71 million
Knicks fans thought that their team’s offseason would be quiet besides Carmelo Anthony news, following the departure of Phil Jackson. But Steve Mills had other ideas as he helped head up the latest Knicks rebuild. They offered Tim Hardaway Jr. a contract that most deemed a gross overpay; their offer was reportedly roughly $20 million over what the Hawks were planning to offer. In the end, the Knicks drafted Tim Hardaway Jr., traded him for the draft rights to Jerian Grant, traded Grant in the Derrick Rose trade, and then renounced Rose to sign Hardaway Jr. Many Knicks fans don’t count this signing as progress.
To be fair to the Knicks, the logic of this move is there. Hardaway Jr. possesses the valuable skill of being able to create his own looks. That skill becomes important with Carmelo Anthony on the way out of New York. Additionally, Hardaway Jr’s strengths and weaknesses mesh well with those of first round pick Frank Nkilitina in the backcourt. With their cap sheet set to be low during their pending rebuild, overpaying to acquire a restricted free agent is forgivable.
Hardaway Jr. will be relied upon heavily next season. Ntilikina, Ron Baker, and Courtney Lee have their respective skills, but they all struggle to create their own looks. Kristaps Porzingis will be the offensive focal point following Anthony’s departure, but Hardaway Jr. may not be far behind him in the scoring column. Hardaway Jr. will be hard pressed to earn his lucrative deal in what figures to be a career season, however.