For every loser, there must be a winner. Yesterday we brought you the top 10 winners of NBA free agency, and so today we’re bring you it’s counterpoint: the top losers. For what it’s worth, some teams really did try to win (Toronto), while others reminded us why the owners need to be protected from themselves. All in all, it was fun – the topsy turvy he said/she said emotional chess match of Jeremy Lin‘s restricted free agency, the more simplisitic, checkers-like decision of Deron Williams. But with a heavy heart, we bring you those losers.
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10. ERIC GORDON
No, I’m not talking about his four year, $58 million deal. That makes him a winner in anyone’s book. Where he loses the most is in reputation. He’s one of the four best shooting guards in the NBA (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, James Harden), so there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind he deserved a max deal. And he is 23 years old after all, so we can expect him to vastly improve by the time he hits the unrestricted free agent market.
All of this could have gone down smoothly, with Gordon politely signing Phoenix’s offer sheet and publicly shutting his mouth until New Orleans decided to match or not. Instead, he presumptively proclaimed himself a Sun, trampling all over his former Hornets brass and teammates. It’s hard to believe that he would want to leave, especially since the team has so dramatically improved this offseason with the additions of Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson. Maybe he just didn’t want to share the backcourt with another combo guard, or maybe he wanted to be the outright star instead of living in Davis’ shadow. In any case, now everyone thinks he’s a whining little sh*t and kinda dumb, too, for blaming the Hornets for not reaching out during free agency. He was restricted after all, so they never needed to open up negotiations, and instead could let him dictate his own market value.
But all that’s done now, and Gordon is still a Hornet, albeit a well paid one, and he’ll have to “suffer” through the next four years of the franchise’s rise to prominence once more. Really, it’s just amazing that he managed to screw all this up when it could have been so easily avoided.
9. TORONTO RAPTORS
Landry Fields is a nice player and Kyle Lowry was a nice get. But Fields’ $6 million per year is a hefty price to pay for a player who does nothing particularly well, and ultimately the Raports lost out on the primary plan: Steve Nash. But the more curious bit of the Raptors offseason is why they would go out and acquire these players in the first place. Jose Calderon‘s contract might be expiring, but to bank on Lowry re-signing in Toronto after Calderon leaves is a stretch, especially when you can almost guarantee that a contender will overpay for his services. And even if he does re-sign, to what purpose is that signing? Toronto is trying to start over, but overpaying for a player relatively maxed out on potential seems questionable. Really, any non-salary shedding move is head-scratching at this point – unless of course they’re signing a superstar. But then again, what free agent really wants to go to Toronto?
8. CHICAGO BULLS
The Bulls didn’t lose, per se. More of a non-win. But in their current predicament, a two-time top-seeded Eastern Conference team whose playoff shelf life has been remarkably short, they desperately need to improve. In truth, they’ve really tried – signing Carlos Boozer, being active buyers at the trade deadline, etc. But nothing has come to fruition, if only because their cap space is completely done in by Boozer, Rose, Noah and Deng‘s contracts. Not that this pseudo “Big Four” isn’t talented in its own right, because it is. But the lack of cap flexibility stemming from their contracts isn’t warranted based on their talent – do we really expect a team with those four at the core to overcome Miami, a revamped Boston, San Antonio or Oklahoma City? Probably not.
In the end, Chicago did sign Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic – bolstering without bolstering their two-guard spot. But they lost Omer Asik, the one player out of these four that will make the biggest impact, so really the Bulls only got worse.