The Washington Wizards have had a hard time building a consistent winner since the turn of the millennium.
Formerly known as the Bullets, Washington was among the most successful franchises in the 1970s, making four trips to the NBA Finals and winning a title during the 1977-78 season.
Led by Hall of Famers like Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, the Bullets established themselves as perennial championship contenders. But that would quickly become a thing of the past.
The Bullets remained consistent throughout the 1980s, but went through a playoff drought during the 1990s and officially rebranded in May of 1997.
Since then, the Wizards have left much to be desired in the nation’s capital.
There has been drama, like Michael Jordan’s ownership that turned into another comeback as a player. Not to mention, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton bringing guns into the locker room.
While the 2010s seemed to offer more hope after John Wall came to D.C., the last couple years have been a massive struggle with Wall and the shelf and Bradley Beal surrounded by an underwhelming supporting cast.
The Wizards have had a number of missteps as a franchise, including some woeful contracts in free agency. In fact, many of them have been internal moves which have come back to cost the team dearly.
Here are the five worst free-agent signings in Wizards history.
5. Tyronn Lue
The Wizards brought Lue into the fold prior to the 2001-02 season, mostly at the request of Jordan, who was making his attempt at another comeback.
Lue had some success in Washington. He saw significantly more playing time than he previously received as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, even making 24 starts during the 2002-03 season.
But, Lue’s presence is a reminder of the authority Jordan had over the front office. That alone is enough to warrant his place on this list.
Consider: Lue averaged 8.2 points and 3.5 assists per game during his brief stint with the Wizards. Respectable, to be sure, but hardly worth a combined $3.57 million combined, particularly back then.
4. Eric Maynor
The Wizards signed Maynor to a two-year deal in July of 2013. He would play just 23 games with the team.
Maynor had developed a knack for being a gritty backup point guard during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and a short run in Portland with the Trail Blazers.
But Maynor was an utter disaster in Washington. The former VCU star averaged 2.3 points and 1.7 assists in just over nine minutes per game, shooting less than 30 percent from the field.
To make matters worse, the Wizards ended up shipping Maynor and draft picks as part of a three-team deal to acquire a past-his-prime Andre Miller. Yikes.
3. Ian Mahinmi
Mahinmi could easily go as high as one of the top two spots. His contract is unquestionably one of the worst in team history.
The Wizards signed Mahinmi to a four-year, $64 million contract in the summer of 2016 despite the fact Mahinmi essentially had just one full year as a starter with the Indiana Pacers and averaged just over nine points and seven rebounds per game.
Needless to say, Mahinmi has been a disaster in D.C. He was already stuck behind Marcin Gortat in his early years, and has subsequently dealt with injuries and poor performances.
Mahinmi has started in 35 of his 38 appearances this season for the Wizards, averaging 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. But his averages of 5.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in four seasons make this contract all the more hideous.
2. Juwan Howard
Howard looked like a promising forward in his early years, even making the All-Star team in his sophomore season.
The former Michigan star had an opt-out clause after year two in his first contract and–after an initial courtship with the Miami Heat–re-signed with the Wizards for seven years and $105 million.
Howard’s career would begin to unravel after that second season. He still had some productive scoring years, but was not a great rebounder or defender. Howard was also accused of sexual assault, though he would win a subsequent defamation lawsuit.
Still, his massive contract was something of a sham, particularly after the Wizards traded him tot he Dallas Mavericks in February of 2001.
1. Gilbert Arenas
This one does not need much explaining.
Arenas became one of the top scorers in the NBA after signing with the Wizards in 2003. He made three consecutive All-Star teams between 2004 and 2007, averaging over 29 points per game during the 2005-06 campaign. But his career was about to go in the tank.
“Agent Zero” tore his meniscus in April of 2007. He played just 13 games during the 2007-08 campaign. Nevertheless, the Wizards handed him a six-year, $111 million contract in July of 2008.
The rest is history. Arenas never was able to recover from his knee issues… or off-court issues.
Arenas was suspended indefinitely in January of 2010 after the gun incident. He had previously been under investigation by federal authorities, and the NBA acted quickly in levying their own punishment.
Although Arenas returned the following year, he dealt with more injury troubles prior to being traded to the Orlando Magic. His career was over just one year later.
Arenas is one of the biggest “What If?” stories in recent NBA history. His second contract with the Wizards is also the worst in the history of the franchise.