5 Most Impactful Free Agent Signings In NBA History
At the end of every season in the NBA, a player who has just finished the final year in his existing contract has a huge decision to make. Does he re-sign for the team he originally played for or does he take on a new challenge and jump ship to another franchise? The executives of each team also have a huge part to play in such a decision. Firstly, being able to free enough cap space to sign a star. Next, having the pieces that would fit their new player. then they have the task of convincing the player they are looking at about their vision for him with their existing team.
There have been some huge free agent signings in past and some of these players have gone on to play some of their best basketball after joining his new team and also resulted in the team winning multiple titles. Others haven't worked out as well, but due to the magnitude of the signing, have changed the course of the NBA.
Here is a look at five instances where the team and player involved have benefitted majorly by taking a gamble on each other.
Gilbert Arenas (Wizards), Dikembe Mutombo (Hawks), Jamal Wilkes (Lakers), Gus Williams (Sonics), Chris Bosh (Heat), Carlos Boozer (Jazz), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), Vlade Divac (Kings)
5. Chauncy Billups (Detroit Pistons)
After being taken with the third pick in 1997 Draft by the Boston Celtics, there were big things expected of Chauncey Billups. He failed to live up to expectations in his first five seasons in the league. He had been jumping around the league quite a bit and just didn't seem to fit into any team's system at the time.
After playing with the Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and the Toronto Raptors, he finally flourished in Minnesota but due to salary cap issues, the Wolves were not able to re-sign him in 2002 although he wanted to stay. This ended up being the best thing that could've happened to his young career. He signed a six-year deal with the Detroit Pistons and was named their starting point guard.
He flourished in Detroit by becoming one of the top clutch shooters in the league and also a defensive menace. The defensive trend that he and his teammates set was the key to their success during this period.
Billups was named to his first All-Star team and to two more after that while with the Pistons. Detroit reached the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row and won an NBA Championship (2004) along the way with Billups being named Finals MVP.