The 20 worst free agent signings in NBA history

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls NBA (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls NBA (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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#18. Joe Johnson: 6 years, $123.6 million

The decision to re-sign Joe Johnson to a massive six-year contract was controversial even at the time. It was pretty much agreed that Johnson wasn’t worth nearly $124 million, but the Atlanta Hawks didn’t want to lose him for nothing, so they opted to re-sign him. Although Johnson is better than many players on this list, he wasn’t a franchise player, even though he was paid like one.

That limited the Hawks’ ceiling to being a first or a second-round playoff team. Luckily for Atlanta, the Brooklyn Nets were desperate for star power and agreed to take him off their hands in exchange for five players. Brooklyn even gave up a first-round pick for the privilege. Johnson would spend the next three and a half seasons there, putting up solid numbers and making an all-star team, before being brought out and later signing with the Heat.

By the end of his contract, Johnson had made three all-star teams, albeit in a less talented Eastern Conference. Even then, his best seasons were the three that preceded his signing the $124 million deal. He also never averaged more than 18.8 points in any season under the contract, despite being nicknamed “Iso Joe” for his ability to score one-on-one.

The Hawks overpaid for past production, which is a big no-no. They were fortunate to get off the final four years of his contract, which paid out $89 million, while the Nets were misguided in taking on his awful deal.