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The New Orleans Pelicans’ 5 worst free agent signings of all time

The New Orleans Pelicans have been quite fortunate when it comes to their free-agent signings over the years.

After all, the current heart and soul of the team — Jrue Holiday — was retained via free agency, while vets like JJ Reddick and Rajon Rondo also made huge impacts in their short tenure in NOLA.

Still, free agent hunting is still a hit-and-miss process, and the Pelicans also had their share of blunders over the years.

Here’s a look at five of the Pelicans’ worst free-agent signings of all time.

Omer Asik (2015) 

Deal: 5-year, $58 million contract

The Pelicans first got a hold of Asik via a three-team deal with the Rockets and Wizards in the 2014-15 season. The Turkish seven-footer was a decent back-up center for Houston at the time, while the team was in search of bigs to pair up with young star Anthony Davis.

He made a good impression upon his arrival at the Bayou, and the NOLA brass decided to keep him on the roster the following season by re-signing him. However, his contract was quite the head-scratcher for pundits who thought the Pelicans overpaid for his services. Sports Illustrated gave the signing a “D” rating, while RealGM called Asik’s deal the least tradable contract in the league at the time.

Although Asik did have his moments in NOLA, injuries greatly limited his appearances. A bout with Crohn’s disease forced him to miss eight months and lose eight pounds. Asik never lived up to his contract, averaging just 3.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in three-and-a-half seasons with the team. NOLA eventually traded him back to the Chicago Bulls in 2018.

Eric Gordon (2012)

Deal: Matching Suns’ four-year, $58 million offer sheet

To be fair, it seemed like a good idea at the time since Gordon averaged 22.3 points for the Clippers the season prior. His scoring exploits continued in NOLA, notching 20.9 points when they acquired him as the centerpiece in the massive Chris Paul trade in 2011-12. However, he was limited to just nine games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

The Phoenix Suns swooped in and offered Gordon a hefty contract despite his injury issues, but ex-Pelicans GM Dell Demps decided to match that offer to keep him in Louisiana. The 6-foot-3 sniper did become a complementary piece to Davis, albeit in games that he actually managed to play. Lingering knee issues plagued Gordan throughout his stay in NOLA, forcing him to miss a total of 189 games in five seasons.

The Pelicans let him walk away in the summer of 2016 and has since become a vital piece for the Rockets.

Jimmer Fredette (2014)

Deal: 1-year, $948,163

The Pelicans didn’t have much to lose when they inked the BYU standout to a league-minimum deal in 2014. Despite being considered a bust, Fredette was still a capable shooter, whom at best could give the team additional firepower off the bench.

Fredette’s supposed endearing trait never came out with the Pelicans, as he shot a putrid 18.8 percent from 3-point range in 50 appearances for NOLA. He averaged a measly 3.6 points and made just a total of 9-for-48 from distance. NOLA didn’t expect much from him, to begin with, but it’s still quite disappointing considering they gave him around 10 minutes per game.

The Pels gave Fredette another go when injuries devastated their roster the following year, but he was once again underwhelming. He was waived for a second time by NOLA in 2015-16 after four appearances.

Greg Stiemsma (2013)

Deal: 1-year, $2.6 million

The Pels were looking for a slotman to replace Robin Lopez in the summer of 2013 after they shipped him away to Portland. Enter Stiemsma, who was quite serviceable for the Celtics and Timberwolves in limited minutes in his first three seasons. They gave the undrafted center enough playing time to prove his worth, as he averaged career-high 18.3 minutes in his lone year with the Pels.

Those opportunities didn’t necessarily reap rewards for the Pels, as the 6-foot-11 center could only muster 2.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 55 games. Stiemsma never showed the fire they were looking for in a center and was often saddled on the bench due to foul trouble. He didn’t even finish the season as the Pels waived him in April.

John Salmons (2014)

Deal: 1-year, $2 million contract

The youth-laden Pels needed a veteran locker room presence and they thought they acquired one after signing Salmons in 2014. The well-traveled journeyman, after all, had a reputation for bringing in a lot of positives to every team he played for.

However, Salmons looked like a shell of his former self in NOLA. The once fearsome bucket-getter could only muster  2.0 points in 21 games and never really fit in the team’s rotation. NOLA gave up Salmons to the Suns in a three-team involving the Heat. He was waived by Phoenix two days later and has been out of the league since.