Worst free agency signings in NBA history: 29. Tim Thomas, Milwaukee Bucks
Tim Thomas never really showed off elite level talent, but he showed flashes of his ability to be a solid reserve player in the rotation. During his rookie year, he put up 11.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on the wing for the Philadelphia 76ers. It was enough to get the attention of the Milwaukee Bucks, who traded for him during the 1998-99 NBA season.
Milwaukee saw improvements in the early going and ended up signing Thomas to a six-year extension, worth $67 million. The Bucks were sold on Thomas’ versatility and potential to grow into a star after his performance on the floor from 1999-00. He put up 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 80 appearances off the bench.
Only his “off the bench” status would remain intact for the next two seasons. When he started in a total of 70 of 80 games during the 2002-03 NBA season, he averaged just 13.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, a minor boost from his numbers back in 1999-00.
By then, it was clear Thomas wasn’t the elite player the Bucks thought he’d be. During the 2003-04 NBA season, Thomas was shipped away to the New York Knicks. After appearing in 131 games with the Knicks, the Knicks moved him to the Chicago Bulls.
Thomas enjoyed quite the journeyman career after signing his lucrative deal. Through 385 games with the Bucks, he put up 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Safe to say, he at least got his money’s worth.