Bernucca: The 10 Worst Offseason Free Agent Signings

6. J.J. Hickson, Denver (3 years, $16.2 million): He was one of seven bigs to average a double-double last JJ Hicksonseason while playing both spots in Portland; the other six are on their rookie contracts or make at least $8 million a year, so Hickson may look like a bargain. But it’s hard to determine where his minutes are going to come from. Ownership wants center JaVale McGee to play starter’s minutes and earn his $11 million annual salary, and the Nuggets also re-signed center Timofey Mozgov for three years. At power forward, Denver has budding star Kenneth Faried, traded for Darrell Arthur and still has Anthony Randolph in deep reserve. Unless there is an injury or a trade, Hickson’s minutes – and production – are going to take a serious dip.

5. Randy Foye, Denver (3 years, $9.1 million): Another head-scratcher by the Nuggets, who got left holding the bag on Andre Iguodala’s departure, had to scramble for a shooting guard and came up short – literally. Although he comes with a relatively fair price tag, Foye is nowhere near the player Iguodala is on either end, and that will become painfully evident fairly quickly. His 6-4 size isn’t enough to offset 5-9 Nate Robinson, 5-11 Ty Lawson or 6-2 Andre Miller, who will be alongside him in the backcourt. And his presence slows the development of youngsters Jordan Hamilton and Evan Fournier.

4. Brandan Wright, Dallas (2 years, $10 million): Rick Carlisle and his staff deserve credit for resurrecting Wright’s career and turning him into a serviceable big. But he didn’t generate much outside interest while waiting for the Mavs to exhaust their cap room and undoubtedly could have been brought back at a lower salary. We know centers get paid, but Wright is not a full-fledged center, nor is he a full-time player.

3. Jose Calderon, Dallas (4 years, $29 million): We have no doubt that Calderon will be an improvement over last season’s point guard mess, which saw journeyman Mike James outplay Darren Collison and Roddy Beaubois for the starting job. And we have no doubt that Calderon’s pass-first mentality and ability to run the pick-and-roll will be lauded by Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. But Calderon is an old 31 (remember, he plays internationally) and couldn’t guard a rose bush. By the time this contract ends, he will be 35 and a virtual onramp for opposing offenses.

2. Kyle Korver, Atlanta (4 years, $24 million): Perhaps the best thing about Korver’s deal is that it decreases annually to a somewhat manageable $5.24 million in 2016-17. But Korver turns 36 that season and will be much more of a defensive liability than he is now, which is saying a lot. There is no doubt that Korver is one of Josh Smiththe top two or three pure shooters in the game, and we don’t expect that skill to disappear. But $6 million per year is way too much to pay for a one-dimensional player, no matter how good he may be at that dimension.

1. Josh Smith, Detroit (4 years, $54 million): The only player to change teams this summer and get a bigger deal than Smith was Dwight Howard, his former AAU teammate. And while Howard’s deal dwarfs Smith’s package, you have to wonder about Pistons GM Joe Dumars spending $13.5 million per year to play Smith out of position. Anyone associated with the Pistons envisions bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond playing next to each other for a long time. That relegates Smith to small forward, where he doesn’t shoot well enough and isn’t quick enough to guard wings such as Luol Deng, Paul Pierce and LeBron James – and that’s just in the Eastern Conference. Smith still is just 27 and may figure it out. But as he has shown during his first nine seasons, his learning curve is not exactly accelerated.

RELATED: The 10 Best NBA Offseason Free Agent Signings

RELATED: Salary Cap Analysis Index For All 30 Teams

Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. steppxxxz says

    let me make clear………Im not sure Orlando needed Maxiell……..BUT…..if you dont trust Nicholson, and I wouldnt, then maxiell makes sense as a back up four. Nicholson is the one maxed out, ALREADY., O QUinn cant play the four, but its a promising five back up banger. I like O Quinn. But maxielll makes sense if you want some experience, and toughness.

  2. steppxxxz says

    agree with all except Maxiell. Your dead wrong here. Maxiell was stuck on terrible teams….and if you look at his play, not his numbers (on genuinely bad teams remember) he actually continued to try to play a team game, defend, and scramble for loose balls. I was surpised he lasted so long. You watch, he will look much better in a magic jersey this year. he is also tough and physical. At worst you get a tyler hansbrough back up type four. That was a good signing considering the price. The worst signing was monta ellis perhaps, josh smith next for that price. Korver was ok….i get it. I wouldnt have done it, but i get it. JJ Hickson was a waste of money. THAT is a what a waste of money looks like. Ugh, boy did they implode in denver.

  3. Rjd123 says

    Agree on most of these. Dallas could’ve and should’ve done a lot more. They should’ve made (and i read they were second in line) for Pierce and KG to team up with Dirk. I feel like people get defensive about the Josh Smith signing. Josh Smith can’t guard 3’s. He is a legitimate power forward. Him going to the pistons was a mistake for them. They’re one of the few teams with legit young bigs who are going to be stars. They didn’t need Smith. They should’ve got a legitimate sg or sf. I think they will regret it comes years end.

  4. PC3 @swhtown20 says

    1ST Off LBJ Is RT The CBA Has Screwed All NBA Players TheyTook A Pay Cut While All Rules Went In The CBAs Favor #Conlusion Any1 #WTH #SMH Looks Like Billionaire Owners Got Richer Why The Players Who Make The NBA/$ R Taking PayCuts HuH RT? ..Next Issue Signing Casspi 2 The League Min.+Team Option For 2nd YR is A Bad Deal Who Was Drafted By Morey #SMH RT…BradonWright Is A Steal JasonFriedman Said Something That Will Always Stick W/me BIg Guys Dont Grow On Trees Wright Is A Role Player Who Does The Little Things For His Team2win #Underratted…JoshSmith Posses LBJ Talent A Steal For Det….So He Cant shoot Shocking For PF s RT..He Blocks,Runs,Rebounds&Dunks On SOFTIES RT..Coach N ATL Let Him Shoot..He Was Used Wrong Now He S Got A Great Coach In Cheeks..Just Like Lakers Took A Big Dip W/out D12 In The West Same For Hawks Will Take A Serious Dip Outta ve Of Playoffs..SuperStars Make This League Ask Ainge&Morey..Missing Monte RT..Everything Else Is RT

  5. jerry25 says

    I agree with Nathan about Josh Smith splitting minutes and besides I see the Pistons fighting the Knicks for 5th place in East. If Pistons become a solid playoff team, then their off season was a success.

    Brandan Wright certainly received a gift. He was a Minimum player for the few teams that might have wanted him.

    ATL did Brooklyn a huge favor to overpay Korver, just when he was about to accept a mini-MLE of about 10 million over 3 years, after being recruited by Deron Williams.
    Nets ended up saving the mMLE for a more needed Andrei Kirilenko and then picked up Alan Anderson, for his shooting, at a Vet Min price. Kirilenko+Anderson >> Korver, besides being cheaper.

    Denver may miss the playoffs even if they finish several games over 500. Ty Lawson was just arrested for spousal abuse.

  6. Nathan says

    If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the NBA the last few years, it’s that defining players as solely a C, PF, SF, SG, or PG is a mistake. It’s much more about wings and bigs. Yet this ranking of the ten worst signings constantly pigeonholes players at a particular position. The writer also doesn’t seem aware that not all starters play 48 minutes a game, in fact none do. Especially when it comes to bigs. Josh Smith will be playing a lot of minutes as a big, not a wing. If anybody thinks Andre Drummond is going to average more than 25 minutes a game, they are in for a surprise. If they’re smart with their rotations, Drummond, Smith, and Monroe can all play serious minutes while sharing the court for a negligible amount of time.


  1. […] When Kyle Korver signed a 4-year, $24 million deal earlier in the off-season, the move was generally met with either tepid reaction or praise. However, not everyone seems to agree that the signing was a positive one, and Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops placed Korver on an inauspicious list on Tuesday. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>