The Philadelphia 76ers had a rather eventful free agency last year, handing out fat contracts to both Tobias Harris and Al Horford while losing Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade. The results have been rather mixed thus far, with Harris and Horford underachieving a bit and Butler leading the Heat to a better record before the 2019-20 season suspension.
While these moves haven’t turned out as planned just yet, they don’t compare at all to some of the worst signings in 76ers franchise history.
5. Kwame Brown
We start things off with 6-foot-11 big man Kwame Brown, who many consider to be a flop as a first overall pick.
Brown was the top pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, and following an unsuccessful four-year stint with the Washington Wizards, the former Glynn Academy High School standout bounced from one team to another for the remainder of his career. For some reason, the Sixers thought it was a good idea to sign a 30-year-old Brown to a two-year, $5.7 million deal in the summer of 2012.
Simply put, things did not work out for Brown in Philly, as he averaged just 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in a total of 22 games played in his debut season with the team. The Sixers didn’t even let him play out the second year of his contract, opting to waive Brown after his first campaign. They still paid him close to $3 million for Year 2, though, which obviously stunk.
4. Scott Williams
In the summer of 1994, the Sixers were looking to bring in some championship experience to their squad, which prompted them to look in the direction of Scott Williams, who was a three-time champion with the Chicago Bulls. While the 6-foot-10 big man never really made a significant impact for Chicago other than some energy off the bench, the 76ers still gambled on him on a deal that earned him upwards of $8 million in salary in five years with the squad.
What did Philadelphia get in return? Half a double-double per night, with averages of 5.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in four and a half seasons with the squad. The Sixers eventually realized that not even the opportunity to play alongside the great Michael Jordan made Williams anything more than a mediocre bench player.
3. Kenny Thomas
NBA fans of the early 2000s would know that Kenny Thomas was a pretty solid power forward during his heyday. However, no one in their right mind would agree that the former New Mexico standout was worth $50 million. Well, that’s what the Sixers gave Thomas in the summer of 2003 when the 6-foot-7 forward became a free agent. The deal spanned for seven seasons, though, but still, we can’t comprehend what the front office was thinking at that point.
Thomas averaged 12.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and a steal in three and a half seasons with the Sixers, which is actually pretty decent. Then you remember that the team paid him $50 million, and all of a sudden, we’re back to square one.
2. Matt Geiger
Matt Geiger’s narrative is pretty similar to that of Kenny Thomas. The 7-foot big man’s production wasn’t bad, as he actually posted 13.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game in his first season in Philadelphia. However, what makes the Geiger acquisition an absolute head-scratcher is the fact that Philly signed him to a $51 million contract for six years.
Geiger was part of the Allen Iverson-led side that went all the way to the Finals in 2001, only to be defeated by a powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers side. He didn’t do much for the squad, though, averaging just 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds throughout that memorable season. The fact that he earned $7.5 million that year for that level of production remains to be a hard pill to swallow for any Sixers fan, and his career flamed out in Year 4 with Philly.
1. Elton Brand
Currently the general manager of the 76ers, Elton Brand’s contributions to the franchise as a player were rather disappointing.
A former first overall pick, Rookie of the Year winner, and a two-time All-Star, Brand was a beast for the Los Angeles Clippers. That was until he suffered a career-changing Achilles injury in 2007. Brand hit free agency the following offseason, and despite being 30 years of age at that point and coming off a major injury, Philadelphia still decided to sign him to a five-year, $82 million contract.
This would have been a good deal if they got the old Brand back, but sadly, this was never the case. The 6-foot-8 big man was still a decent contributor for the Sixers when he returned, but he was by no means able to live up to that big-money deal. Philly eventually pulled the plug on Brand, waiving him using the amnesty clause in 2012.