The 6 worst NBA free agent signings of the summer

NBA free agency is supposed to be a time of hope and optimism. Even adding a couple of decent role players to a team that continues to go down a dead end is something to get a little bit excited about, hypothetically speaking. Save the contempt for your team’s first four-game losing streak. It’s all positive vibes in July.

Almost every major free agent in the league is being talked about at this point. The cap space is used and the guards have been changed. While the league waits to see how the Damian Lillard and James Harden trade demands ultimately play out, it’s still a good time to review the immediate aftermath of the free agent frenzy.

Not every deal is a winner for teams around the league. Here are six free agent signings organizations may one day regret. Check out our free live tracker for agencies and winners and losers for more coverage of league events over the past week.

One disclaimer: these are only bad deals from the team’s perspective. Congratulations and kudos to every player on this list for landing the bag they worked so hard for.

Dillon Brooks to the Houston Rockets on a four-year, $80 million deal

Brooks is legitimately great on the defensive end — with Second-Team All-Defense honors this past season to show for it. Of course, Brooks’ wing-stopping ability is only part of what he brings to the table, and the rest of it is pretty nasty.

Brooks takes a lot of shots, and he doesn’t make many of them. He remains a tough outside shooter, hitting just 32.1 percent of his threes over the past two seasons combined. Brooks is also one of the league’s most annoying players: he started beefs with LeBron James, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Donovan Mitchell just last season, and didn’t look good in any of those encounters.

It’s kind of understandable when a player uses a great playoff game to land a huge bag in free agency, but Brooks was so bad in Memphis’ first-round series loss to Lakers that the team issued a statement that they would not re-sign him. Brooks brings some much-needed defensive intensity to the Rockets, but his non-stop antics and shootouts make this look like a big overpay.

Jerami Grant to Portland Trail Blazers for five years, $160 million

Damian Lillard’s dream offseason with the Blazers reportedly included re-signing Jerami Grant, who was his best teammate last year. Portland locked up Grant for $160 million over five years on the opening day of free agency. Less than 24 hours later, Lillard asked for a trade. Oops!

Grant — who turns 30 in March — doesn’t fit the Blazers’ timeline in the post-Dame era. There’s no doubt that Grant is a solid player on both ends of the floor, but it’s hard to imagine there’s another team out there that would be happy to pay him an average annual salary of $32 million, even in an increasing salary cap. This contract feels very similar to the deal Jusuf Nurkic signed last year for four years, $70 million, which also immediately felt like an overpayment.

Good for Grant for landing this kind of money, though. I’m old enough to remember when his college coach Jim Boeheim shamed him into entering the NBA draft. I remember when he was criticized for leaving the Denver Nuggets to take a much bigger role on a much worse one Detroit Pistons hold for the bubble. Getting his points per game up in Detroit earned him an Olympic gold medal and now a $160 million contract.

Reggie Jackson to Denver Nuggets for two years, $10.3 million with player option

The Nuggets signed Reggie Jackson in February after he was bought out by the Hornets at the trade deadline (the Clippers traded him for Mason Plumlee). Denver went on to win the NBA championship in 2023, but Jackson was not in the rotation at all. He only played 18 minutes in the playoffs.

Denver has rotation minutes to fill the backcourt next season after Bruce Brown signed with the Indiana Pacers, but the team obviously didn’t trust Jackson enough to play a role last season, so committing to him now seems odd. Couldn’t Denver get a player option on the second year of that deal? Who else gave Jackson $10 million guaranteed after he just got mothballed in the playoffs?

Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers on a three-year, $51 million deal

Hachimura picked a good time to have the best stretch of his NBA career. He was one of the breakout stars of the Lakers’ surprising run to the Western Conference Finals, hitting 48.7 percent of his threes and having four different 20+ point scoring outbursts during the playoffs.

Hachimura’s hot streak seemed to come out of nowhere. He shot 29.6 percent from three and had just one 20+ point scoring game in the 33 regular season games he played with the Lakers after coming over in a midseason trade with the Wizards. Rui is a talented shot maker and his size helps him survive defensively at 6’8, 230 pounds. He’ll be worth the money for the Lakers if he continues to shoot as efficiently from three as he did in the playoffs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Joe Ingles to the Orlando Magic on a two-year, $22 million deal

The Magic needed shooting, and they landed a shooter in free agency in Joe Ingles. But at $22 million, the addition feels like a significant overpay considering how little Ingles produced last year in Milwaukee as he worked his way back from ACL surgery.

What’s even more disappointing is that Orlando could have opened up max cap space this summer to add a true piece to a young, rising team in the Eastern Conference. Instead, all they did was sign Ingles, who turns 36 in October. There is value in adding a veteran presence that can space the floor around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, but I’m not sure if anyone thought Ingles would get a $22 million deal this offseason. The Magic should have dared to dream bigger.

Max Strus to Cleveland Cavaliers for four years, $63 million

I actually really like what the Cavs did in the offseason, bringing in wing shooters in Max Strus and Georges Niang. Both can really space the floor with high volume, very accurate shots around Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Cleveland had nothing on the wing last season, so adding a few ready and willing shooters helps.

Still, nearly $16 million a year for Strus? It is surprising. He’ll need to shoot much better than his 31.9 percent clip from deep during Miami’s run to the NBA Finals this past season.

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