Living off reputation

Five free agents whose skills have waned, yet teams remain interested

Updated: July 2, 2012, 4:01 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus

The biggest pitfall in the free-agency process of any sport is to overpay a player based on a level of past performance that is unlikely to continue. You see it all the time in baseball: Players earn hefty multiyear deals based on a career year that is unlike any they've put up before and, ultimately, never repeat.

In basketball, you don't see the career-year syndrome that often because year-to-year performances in hoops are more stable. Nevertheless, you still see teams overpay players based on what they've done, as opposed to what they're going to do.

This year's free-agent class is littered with candidates for those kinds of poor decisions. That's not unusual. It happens every summer. Of course, the problem in the NBA is that, with the salary cap, poor investments can haunt teams for several years, making it more difficult to add younger, impact talent or to plug in holes with truly productive veteran free agents. Just ask new Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry how much fun it is to work around the bloated max contract his predecessors in Atlanta gave to Joe Johnson.

I'm not sure there are any Joe Johnson-type follies to be made in this year's market, although some have already cried foul at the size of the offers received by restricted free agents Omer Asik and Roy Hibbert. However, there are a few players who are being hotly pursued who might be better left alone. Let's look at five players whose names might no longer be synonymous with production.


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