By Ryan Mayer
The NBA free agency period is almost upon us. As of midnight on July 1st, NBA teams will be able to have conversations and begin negotiations with free agents about prospective deals but of course, they won’t be able to officially sign those deals until later next week. You’ve probably heard about the upcoming salary cap boom that is about to hit the league with the influx of money from the league’s “new” TV deal (it was agreed upon a couple years ago, but the first year of the extension is, you guessed it, this year).
With a fresh stream of cash for every team (the salary cap will be $94 million) and all of the teams needing to spend at least up to the salary cap floor ($84.6 million) it’s fair to say that the players will benefit greatly. The problem is, there are only a small number of high quality free agents and the rest of the guys will likely be signing contracts that make your eyes bulge and ask ‘He got HOW much?’. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most overrated free agents that are available this summer.
Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets
Howard isn’t the same player he was in Orlando, we all know that. Back injuries have robbed him of much of the explosiveness and athleticism that made him such a dominant force on the low block and on the glass for years. Granted, he did average a double-double last season with 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game to go along with 1.6 blocks as well. The problem isn’t necessarily his production, it’s the contract that he’ll likely get.
Those numbers don’t warrant a max-level contract. Yet, after Al Horford and Hassan Whiteside, Howard is likely the third best center available. Seriously, look at the list. Teams that swing and miss on Horford or Whiteside will likely turn to Howard and due to his reputation, he’ll get close to the max. At 30 years old, with his best years behind him, that doesn’t seem like a smart move.
Evan Turner, SF, Boston Celtics
Turner isn’t a bad player. The stigma of “bust” has been attached to him unfairly because he hasn’t necessarily lived up to the hype that came with him being the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He revived his career over the past two years in Boston, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists largely coming off the bench for a young Celtics squad. He’s still young (27) and clearly brings a well-rounded offensive game to the table with the versatility to guard multiple positions. However, like most of the guys on this list, he will likely be overpaid compared to what he is.
The problem for Turner, is he is by and large a mid-range specialist. That’s great, but the way the league is currently constructed, you need to be able to knock down threes consistently to thrive. Sure, there are exceptions like DeMar DeRozan, but DeRozan is successful because he’s able to consistently make trips to the free throw line. Turner doesn’t do that with great urgency. He’s averaged just 2.2 free throw attempts per game in his career. Again, this isn’t meant to kill Turner, but like we stated earlier, there will be some contracts that could make you shake your head this summer and Turner is likely in line for one.
Chandler Parsons, SF, Dallas Mavericks
Parsons might end up being the best player on this list… When healthy. That’s the biggest caveat with the multi-talented swing man. He offers tremendous outside shooting for his size (38 percent from 3-point range) and adds some rebounding (5.1 per game) and playmaking ability (3 assists per game) to any team that wants him. However, health is a big concern seeing as he’s never played a full 82-game season and has missed a combined 37 games the past two years in Dallas due to various knee ailments. He’s opted out of his previous deal in hopes of getting a raise and will likely be looking for near max-contract money. For a player with the kind of injury concerns like Parsons, that’s a huge risk.
Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
Barnes had a horrendous NBA Finals. However, that’s not the reason he finds himself on this list. In fact, as a young player, his scoring has continued to improve in every season that he’s been in the league. That being said, Barnes is the fourth option on a very good Golden State team. This summer as a restricted free agent, he’s likely to draw max-contract offers from teams. That’s a problem because generally, offering a player the max means that you expect them to be a number 1 or 2 option (outside of teams like the Cavs or Warriors) and Barnes hasn’t proven capable of doing that.
He was given every opportunity to explode in the finals and show that he could handle more of the scoring load against a Cavaliers team that was basically daring him to beat them. In the last three games against Cleveland he shot 5-32 for just 15 points. Barnes is a good player who can be a solid contributor on a good team. But, for a team like the Sixers (who are rumored to want to chase him) expectations from the fan base will likely overrate his abilities.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.