2010 Free Agent Recap: The Best Signings


Just how much difference a year can make is very apparent to NBA fans right now.  A year ago we were in the midst of a NBA feeding frenzy – the greatest free agent class in the history of the world.  We couldn’t get away from NBA news if we tried, what with the constant signings, rumours and “Decisions.”  A year later, we are in a basketball wilderness – nothing to report or talk about except billionaires fighting with millionaires over our hard earned bucks.

So, rather than get depressed thinking about the way things currently are, let’s go back and revisit the summer of 2010 using a writer’s best friend – hindsight. We figured out which free agent signings worked out the best, the worst, and which teams came out of the fray on top.  But rather than base this assessment on opinion, we ranked the signings quantitatively.  In an effort to calculate which free agents gave their respective teams the most bang for the buck, we took a player’s salary earned this past season and divided it by his Win Share (a metric used to measure a player’s all-around impact on the court, or the number of “wins” he produced for his team) in order to see how much each “win” cost his team.  Since playoff wins are much more valuable to a team, we made a player’s playoff Win Share worth four times his regular season one (since the regular season Win Share leader historically has a score four times that of the playoff leader) to come up with a Weighted Win Share total.

Here are the five best bargains from last summer’s free agent frenzy (only players who played at least 1000 minutes for his team are included).  To give a little perspective, the average free agent signed this past season cost around $1.1 million per win.


5) LeBron James – Miami

Salary: $14.5 million

Weight Win Share total: 30.8

Cost/Win: $0.47 million

The only true star to make it onto our top five, LeBron James did this season what he always does – deliver.  Rarely do players live up to their hype, but James is one of those rare players who do, exceeding the incredibly lofty standards set for him entering the NBA out of high school as well as doing the same this past season in Miami, leading the Heat to the NBA Finals.  Now, about that ring…

4) Zydrunas Ilgauskas – Miami

Salary: $1.4 million

Weighted Win Share total: 3.3

Cost/Win: $0.42 million

LeBron’s trusted sidekick, Big Z turned out to be the Heat’s most cost effective free agent signing last season.  While he didn’t play a whole lot of minutes, he was effective when he got in there and more than worth his $1.4 million price tag.

3) Kurt Thomas – Chicago

Salary: $1.4 million

Weight Win Share total: 4.0

Cost/Win: $0.35 million

Players like Kurt Thomas, or P.J. Brown before him, are always in demand and can seemingly stay gainfully employed in the NBA for as long as they want.  For a 38-year-old, Thomas played big minutes for the Bulls providing rebounding, leadership and toughness while also posting the third-best Win Share/48 minutes of his career.

2) Kwame Brown – Charlotte

Salary: $1.2 million

Weighted Win Share total: 3.5

Cost/Win: $0.34 million

No, Kwame Brown will never live up to his billing as the number one overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, but he did have one of his best seasons as a pro this past year for the man who drafted him 10 years ago, Michael Jordan.  In his first year as a Bobcat, Brown started 50 games while getting about 8 points and 7 boards a game.  You just don’t get production like that on the cheap very often. 

1) Keith Bogans – Chicago

Salary: $1.6 million

Weighted Win Share total: 6.4

Cost/Win: $0.25 millions

A surprising name at number one, but Keith Bogans brought it for the Bulls this season.  Championship contending teams generally don’t get a starter, let alone a bench player, for only $1.6 million a year, so while Bogans doesn’t bring much on the offensive end, his defensive abilities made his signing the steal of 2010’s free agency frenzy.

Jeff Fox is the mad genius behind The Hoops Manifesto and The MMA Manifesto.


Photo courtesy of daylife.com, Getty Images