2017 NBA free agency: 5 players to stay away from

Apr 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) talks with forward Serge Ibaka (9) after beating Milwaukee Bucks 106-100 in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has a list of players for their favorite team to sign. However, here are five NBA free agents you should want your team to avoid.

The NBA offseason was off to a thrilling start on June 22 with a blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade to start the draft. Free agency promises to continue that thrill and carry it into July and beyond.

This free agency class is a mixed bag of superstars, stars and role players. However, the players at the top of the list such as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, don’t have much of a realistic chance to sign with someone other than their own team, the Golden State Warriors. So in that sense of free agency, there isn’t a big fish in the sea.

However, similar to the 2017 NBA Draft class, this free agent class promises to bring a lot of depth at varying positions. Experts aren’t expecting there to be a huge splash of spending similar to last season, as the salary cap didn’t rise nearly as much as predicted.

In fact, it actually went down $3 million since the April prediction and will sit at $99 million going into next year.

Since this is the time of the year where fans love to speculate, I’ll give you something to speculate about.

We all gloat and dream about what might be if our favorite team signs the stud free agents or even certain players who we believe fit well with our team.

This list is the opposite. This is the list of five players you absolutely do not want on your team. Here are five players you should hope and pray that your team avoids come July 1.

Feb 8, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) holds his head during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. Derrick Rose

If you didn’t already come to your own conclusion that your favorite team shouldn’t sign Derrick Rose, I’ll lay it out for you.

By now, Rose has a reputation that isn’t very favorable with the fans. Sure, he has a sizable pocket of fans who stand by him to this day but for the most part, he has been forgone.

The odd thing about Rose is that he’s been around so long, we forget he’s only 28 years old. He’s also coming off the most points per game he’s scored since 2011-12, so why all the hate?

The main reason is that Rose is a bonafide ball-hog. His usage percentage of 25.6 percent is higher than the likes of Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul. His assist percentage, 21.6, is the worse than any other starting point guard in the NBA besides Patrick Beverley. Oh, and Beverly technically played shooting guard last year, which means Rose did have the lowest assist percentage.

The biggest concern about Rose is his injury history. It’s well-documented how many knee injuries he’s had and that he hasn’t played 82 games ever in his career. Not even once. Shockingly, he hasn’t even played more than 67 games since the 2010-11 season.

Knees don’t tend to get better with age, they usually get worse. As Rose gets older, the knee injuries are more and more likely to continue to be an issue — as they currently are, with Rose coming off yet another knee injury.

Teams tend to want players who A) Play well within their system and B) Can stay healthy and on the floor. At this point, it doesn’t seem like Rose fits either of those categories, no matter the team.

Jan 4, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad (15) at the foul line against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers won 109-99. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

4. Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad comes up next on our list and for mostly different reasons than Rose. He was the 14th overall pick by Utah Jazz in the 2013 NBA Draft and was quickly shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night.

Muhammad has been a career backup, starting in only 14 of his 235 career games, with 13 of those starts coming during the 2014-15 season.

He’s proven to be a decent scorer throughout his career, averaging double-digits in two of the past three seasons and just narrowly missing out on that feat again last season when he averaged 9.9 points per game. This past season he even had the highest effective field goal percentage of his career at 52.3 percent.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, the “hate” comes in when you look at literally any other aspect of his game. I mean, this is a dude who averaged 2.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.1 blocks per game. Talk about atrocious.

He can’t shoot from outside either, racking up a career three-point percentage of 32.3 percent. Even that number is deceiving for Muhammad.

As you can see from the above video, Muhammad’s shot isn’t pretty looking. His release is also slow which means he needs an extra second to get his shot off. Seconds are very precious in the NBA, so this is valuable time that is being wasted.

While Muhammad can create shots for himself, he cannot create for anyone else. He often gets tunnel vision while driving to the rim, resulting in the porous assist numbers.

Muhammad’s biggest struggle is that he is a tweener forward. He’s too small and not strong enough to guard power forwards but not quick or agile enough to guard small forwards. This puts him in a very difficult position every night as he looks completely lost on the defensive end of the court.

Last season, Muhammad racked up a Defensive Rating of 116, the worst of his career. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus was a whopping -4.4, also the worst of his career.

What mediocre production Muhammad does bring on offense, he more than takes away from it with his lack of defensive production — meaning you will want your favorite team to stay far, far away from the Bazz.

Apr 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts to a call from an official during second quarter play against Milwaukee Bucks in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

3. Kyle Lowry

It feels odd to put a player like Kyle Lowry on this list, since he is coming off his third consecutive All-Star appearance and has continued to improve every year of his career.

He’s coming off career-highs in points per game (22.4), rebounds (4.8) and three-point percentage (41.2 percent). Lowry’s outside game has come a long way the last few years, which is very impressive.

Outside of last season, Lowry has been pretty healthy the past few years. He’s missed a total of 42 games since the start of 2013-14, but 22 of those games came this past year because of a wrist injury.

He did sprain his ankle at least twice in the playoffs, which limited his effectiveness when he was on the court and caused him to miss some games as well, but Lowry’s age is what lands him on this list.

He’s already 31 years old and will definitely entertain max contract offers. If the Toronto Raptors re-sign him to a five-year deal, which I’m not saying they will, then he will be getting paid over $25 million a year when he’s 34, 35 and 36.

If any other team signs him, they will be able to give him a four-year deal with the same concept. I’m not okay with paying any 34- or 35-year-old player a fourth of the salary cap.

I’m also worried about how Lowry’s body will hold up over the long haul. He’s a bowling ball type point guard who takes a lot of contact on his drives to the rim. That type of contact isn’t sustainable long-term for many players his size.

Lowry will give some team another good couple of years, but his production is sure to slip. When that happens, the team will be regretting they signed up to such a long-term deal.

Feb 15, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Shabazz Napier (6) battle for the ball in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

2. George Hill

George Hill is becoming a favorite of many fans around the league and rightfully so. He’s coming off a career season, averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 40.3 percent from the three-point line.

The unfortunate thing is that this aging point guard is unable to stay on the floor due to a growing amount of injury concerns.

Last season alone, he missed time due to a sore thumb, sore toe, concussion, toe soreness again and a groin strain.

Injury History last three years

DATE DESCRIPTION
05/04/2017              Sore Toe
03/29/2017              Groin Strain
03/06/2017              Toe Soreness
01/01/2017              Concussion
12/01/2016              Sore Toe
11/07/2016              Sore Thumb
01/19/2016              Personal
01/04/2016             Food Poisoning
11/16/2015             Upper Respiratory Infection
01/28/2015             Groin
01/02/2015             Strained Left Groin
10/27/2014             Left Knee Contusion
02/28/2014             Bruised Shoulder
Via Foxsports.com

Then, in the playoffs, he missed time due to, you guessed it, a sore toe. For those of you counting at home, Hill was forced to miss time on three separate occasions over the course of six months because of his toe.

I’m no doctor, but I do believe that toes are a vital part to an NBA player’s success, especially as a point guard. All of your cuts, explosions and push-offs start with your toes.

Those injuries caused Hill to miss 33 regular season games and three playoff games. If his injuries were an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be as much of a concern. Unfortunately, Hill has missed 32 or more games in two of the past three years and three of the past six.

This means that any team who signs Hill will know going into the contract that he is likely to miss significant time for at least a couple of the years during his contract.

While Hill is a great shooter, he has his downfalls on the offensive end as well. He isn’t the best creator nor penetrator for his team. This means that whichever team he goes to will be best-served in having a secondary ball-handling option nearby who can create for himself and others.

Given that this will be Hill’s last time to cash in big in free agency, you can bet he will want four years and lots of money.

2017 NBA Playoffs: 10 X-Factors That Could Decide First Round Series

Mar 7, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1. Otto Porter Jr.

Oh, Otto Porter. He is a great example of a conundrum some teams face every year in regards to the salary cap, especially with the cap exploding last season.

There will be some poor team out there who ends up giving this dude max money. Porter, who averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists will be getting paid between $20-25 million a year beginning in 2017-18.

I call it the Allen Crabbe effect.

Porter has made improvements every season, increasing his points, rebounds, field goal percentage and especially his long range efficiency. This past season, Porter shot 43.4 percent from the outside on 4.3 attempts per game. Perhaps this is what makes him most attractive.

Per Game Table
Season Age Tm Pos G GS MP FG% 3P% eFG% TRB AST STL PTS
2013-14 20 WAS SF 37 0 8.6 .363 .190 .385 1.5 0.3 0.2 2.1
2014-15 21 WAS SF 74 13 19.4 .450 .337 .495 3.0 0.9 0.6 6.0
2015-16 22 WAS SF 75 73 30.3 .473 .367 .541 5.2 1.6 1.4 11.6
2016-17 23 WAS SF 80 80 32.6 .516 .434 .608 6.4 1.5 1.5 13.4
Career 266 166 24.9 .481 .389 .552 4.4 1.2 1.0 9.3

Don’t get me wrong, Porter is a good player. But he’s just that — good. He can shoot the outside shot, rebound and play some defense. However, he’s never going to be your go-to scorer or a guy who will make huge plays for you late in ballgames.

And that’s OKAY. Not everyone in the league can be that guy. The NBA also needs players like Porter who can excel in their role of supporting cast.

Porter didn’t make this list because he’s a bad player. He’s on this list because of the price it will cost your team to sign him. He’s a restricted free agent and all signs point to the Washington Wizards re-signing him. The only way he might slip away is if a team comes in with a very overwhelming offer.

When I think of a max-contract guy, Otto Porter Jr. just isn’t it. Stay away from him in free agency.

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