Wednesdays officially marks a year since the 2019 free agency started. There were some good deals made, but we’re going to look at the worst 2019 NBA free agency contracts, decisions and moves.
After winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard went home to Los Angeles to play for the Clippers. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant departed the Golden State Warriors and took his talents to the Brooklyn Nets to play with his good buddy Kyrie Irving.
Some teams have hit the jackpot so far with their free agency signings. Other deals, however, haven’t gone so well through year one. With that, let’s take a look at the worst contracts of the 2019 free agency so far.
5. Julius Randle, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks had lofty expectations prior to last year’s free agency. Their wish list included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both of whom crossed over the bridge to Brooklyn. Instead, their “prized” free agency turned out to be Julius Randle. New York brought on the 6-year veteran with a 3-year, $62.1 million deal.
It’s not that Randle had an atrocious season with the Knicks. In fact, he was nearly 20-10 guy for them this season. However, bringing him on just didn’t make sense for them from the get go. The team just came off the draft by picking R.J. Barret with the no. 3 overall pick. For a team focusing on its youth movement, a high usage power forward like Randle certainly didn’t help with the Canadian wing’s growth.
Randle is still under contract for two years, with nearly $39-million left in his deal. The good news for them is that the 6-foot-8 forward is just 25 years old. He still has value as an asset. Other teams could certainly use the crafty lefty, but New York is probably not the best place for him.
4. DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets
DeAndre Jordan had a horrible 2018-19 season with both the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks. It was clear at that point that Jordan was no longer the rebounding beast and defender that he was when he was with the L.A. Clippers. In fact, he became one of the worst defenders in the league and was stat-padding his way to another double-double campaign.
Still, being buddies with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving apparently has its perks. The Brooklyn Nets, despite already having a promising young center in Jarrett Allen, signed the aging Jordan to a 4-year, $40-million deal.
Jordan spent most of the season off the bench, with Kenny Atkinson opting to start with the 21-year old Allen. However, as soon as the Nets let go of Atkinson in early March, Jordan assumed the starting center role for Brooklyn. This isn’t doing any favors for Allen’s development. Nonetheless, the young center will get his chance with Jordan reportedly sitting out the rest of the season after testing positive for COVID-19.
3. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Harrison Barnes surprisingly opted out of his $25.1 million player option last season. Many thought this was a bad move for the 6-foot-8 forward, as no other team would likely pay him that much. However, Barnes was able to get another lucrative contract from the Kings for four-year $85-million.
Barnes is by no means a scrub. He’s a solid all-around player who can do multiple things on the floor. But he doesn’t particularly excel at any aspect of the game either. He doesn’t possess an elite skill that stands out from the things he brings to the table.
With that, Barnes isn’t someone who should be making over $21-million a season. That’s a pretty massive overpay for a player who’s pretty much who is at this point of his career.
2. Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
After trading him for a valuable package of picks and young prospects, the Philadelphia 76ers pretty much had no choice but to ink Harris to his max contract demands. The Sixers obliged, signing the 6-foot-8 forward to a 5-year, $180-million deal.
Harris is averaging 19.4 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Sixers this season, which isn’t bad at all. He’s a solid scoring wing who is capable of creating his own shot and knocking down three-pointers at a decent rate. Nonetheless, as much as he can put points on the board, he gives most of it up on the other end.
Harris doesn’t have that high of a ceiling, and now at 28 years old, he’s pretty much who he is at this point of his career. Paying $36-million annually for a player who has never been an All-Star is too much.
1. Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers
Another Sixer. Yikes.
Philadelphia surely blew it with this one, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better. The Sixers inked the 34-year old to a 4-year, $109-million contract last year. Philly hoped that by adding Horford, they would take away someone who became a problem for Joel Embiid in their previous encounters as opponents. However, Horford has been a bad fit playing alongside Embiid and Harris in the front court.
He has looked lost for the most part of the season and isn’t entirely sure of his role on the team. Ben Simmons’ inability to shoot from the perimeter has forced Horford to take more shots from the outside and become more of a floor spacer. In his first season in Philly, Horford is averaging his lowest point-per-game output since his sophomore season and is shooting the lowest percentage of his career.
Moreover, with the league going small, Horford probably isn’t best playing power forward, especially at this point of his career. He’s lost a bit of a step over the last couple of years. Horford is still a great defender, but matching him up with quicker forwards won’t utilize his full potential on defense.
With the way year one has gone so far, the Sixers may want to explore the market for the veteran big man.