Compared to the other 29 NBA teams, the Utah Jazz actually does not have a terrible free agency history. It’s not like top-notch free agents have been signing up for a chance to play in Salt Lake over the years.
However, the Jazz still has a reputation for re-signing some underserving players to overblown contracts. Let’s break down four of Utah’s worst free-agent decisions of all-time.
1-year, $2.5 million deal (2019)
Green’s signing was initially thought of as a bargain considering it was short-term and it did not hurt their cap space as much.
The 6-foot-8 scorer, after all, is an experienced swingman who can give Utah’s bench a big boost offensively. However, Green did not seem to fit in Salt Lake as he averaged career-lows across the board in limited minutes. The 33-year-old could only muster 7.8 points and 2.7 boards in 30 games, while shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from deep.
The Jazz reportedly wanted to give more minutes to Georges Niang and Jarrell Brantley, leading to their decision to waive him last December.
4-year, $42 million contract (2014)
Burks showed promise in his early years with the Jazz and investing in him seemed to be the right choice at the time.
The 6-foot-6 guard was coming off an impressive third year in the league, doubling his scoring average to 14.0 points on 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent from downtown in 78 games.
Less than two months after Burks signed the dotted line, he was ruled out for the rest of the 2014-15 season due a shoulder injury.
Injuries began to pile up for Burks in the coming seasons, dealing with an ankle fracture and a fractured left tibula the following year. Burks never regained that momentum he once had and was relegated to a reserve role for the rest of his stay in Utah.
The Jazz traded him to the Cavaliers in 2018 for two second-round picks.
4-year, $12 million contract (2000)
Amechi’s extension is rather modest by today’s standards but the Jazz certainly did not get their money’s worth on him.
The once unheralded British center made a name for himself in his early years with the Magic, becoming the first undrafted player to start in an NBA game.
The durable slotman was due for a big contract in the summer of 2000, where the Jazz emerged as the winners for his services.
After missing just two games in the last two seasons, Amaechi could only suit up for 54 times in 2000-01. On the rare occasions that he made it on the floor, the 6-foot-10 bruiser was absolutely dreadful, tallying just 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per night.
Utah thought his play couldn’t get any worse the following year, but it actually did. Amechi normed 2.0 points and 1.5 boards in ’02-’03, prompting Utah to trade him to the Rockets for Glen Rice.
6-year, $86 million max contract extension (2004)
Just to be clear, AK-47 had a phenomenal career in a Jazz jersey. However, there’s no denying that he got a bit complacent and regressed once Utah gave him the big bucks.
After a breakout season in 2004 where he was named an All-Star for the first and only time, Utah locked up the Russian defensive menace to a hefty max extension.
He proved he was worth the contract at first, maintaining his averages in the ’05-‘06 season and even led the league in blocks per game (3.3). His effectiveness, however, dipped considerably the following year despite playing more minutes.
Kirilenko was reportedly unhappy for the lesser role on offense, which now revolved around the pick-and-roll prowess of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. He was relegated as the fourth option, with Mehmet Okur also getting more touches. The 6-foot-9 forward even requested the Jazz brass to release him of his contract so he could return to Russia.
Kirilenko stayed with the Jazz for the remainder of his contract but never returned to the fearsome form he had in 2004.