Worst free agency signings in NBA history: 2. Jerome James, New York Knicks
This is the last of the New York Knicks’ blunders in free agency, finally. It was president of basketball operations Isaiah Thomas who was the mastermind behind the signing of big man Jerome James. James had put on a memorable playoff performance prior to receiving a five-year, $30 million deal with the Knicks.
James was a serviceable big man for the then-Seattle SuperSonics, appearing in 252 games, 160 starts, in his time there. He started in a season-high 80 contests in his final year with the team.
He nearly tripled his regular season stats with Seattle in 11 playoff games against the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs. He put up 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest during the 2005 NBA Playoffs, gaining the attention of Isaiah Thomas, but it didn’t exactly pan out in the end.
James showed up to training camp the following season out of shape and out of sorts. He averaged just 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest across 45 games, nine of them being starts. The following season, he appeared in just 41 games, putting up just 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
He would play in his last playoff series with the SuperSonics, never making it to the playoffs again. It was one of the more head-scratching signings during a time when the Knicks were really trying to find their way. James used the “contract-year phenomenon” to his advantage in this instance, though in the end, it ended in his demise.