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Just The Sports: Free Agent Mistake

Just The Sports

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Free Agent Mistake

Forward Al Harrington may be many things in his life, but worthy of playing for the Denver Nuggets he is not. Yet, inexplicably, the Nuggets just signed Harrington to a five-year, $34 million contract; in other words, the Nuggets just signed him to a contract that is five years too long and worth thirty-four million dollars too much. Harrington would be a poor signing for any team, but for the Nuggets, it is an especially poorly thought out signing.

Over the past two seasons, the Nuggets have been in the top ten of NBA teams (7th in 2008-09 and 3rd in 2009-10) in terms of points per 100 possessions, making them one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league right now. Harrington, on the other hand, is one of the most inefficient offensive players currently employed by an NBA franchise, although it would seem Harrington does not realize that considering how much he likes to dominate the ball on offense.

Throughout the course of his career, Harrington has only had two seasons when his offensive rating (an estimate of how many points a player produces per 100 possessions) was greater than his defensive rating (an estimate of how many points a player allows per 100 possessions). Therefore, his teams have actually suffered for the most part by having Harrington on the court. Sure, he has had a few good games, but overall, a team will run a point deficit if they choose to play Harrington regularly.

If the Nuggets signed him for his defense since they obviously could not have signed him for his offensive exploits, then they are mistaken on that front as well. Yes, Kenyon Martin is entering his age-33 year and has a history of suffering major injuries so the Nuggets should be looking for a player who can replace his role on the team, which is to provide some sort of defensive presence on the interior. Sadly, Harrington has not played defense since 2003-04 when he last played on a team that stressed defense and cannot be counted on now to play defense on a team where defense is simply not a priority. Harrington neither blocks shots nor rebounds at a high rate, making him a defensive liability.

The only thing Harrington will be able to do over the next five years is be overpaid. If that is what the Nuggets signed him to do, then the transaction can easily be considered a success. Of course, they are probably expecting a return on their investment so they will no doubt be disappointed they spent their mid-level exception on a player who cannot help them win.



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