4. Jerome James: Five years, $30 million
Jerome James was one of president Isiah Thomas‘ top free-agent signings, which should say something about his tenure with the New York Knicks. The seven-foot center received a five-year, $30 million contract.
Why pay a long-term contract for a center who never averaged more than 5.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in a season? The Knicks thought they would receive the James that averaged 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in 11 playoff appearances in 2005. He had regular-season starting experience, but the results never existed, and he never topped 17 minutes.
Due to injuries and the inability to crack the rotation, James only played 90 games in the four seasons he spent with the Knicks; the fifth happened with the Chicago Bulls, who he never played for.
James never averaged more than 10 minutes, 3.0 points or 2.0 rebounds per game. He had a game of double-digit points just three times in the contract’s lifespan and zero nights of double-digit rebounds. This was a nonexistent presence for the Knicks during one of their bleakest times, and Thomas banking on the playoff version of this player became arguably his biggest mistake.
The contract was an albatross, yet the Knicks somehow found a taker over one year before it was set to expire. Otherwise, it would have hampered the team during 2010 free agency. This deal was as regrettable as any for the organization.