Free agency always brings a lot of surprises and even though some insiders and heart felt fans may be aware of what their team or favorite players are up to, there have been some signings not even the players’ friends ever knew about.
There have been several times where players that looked like scrubs due to age or injury have decided to change sides in order to prove their worth and wind up thriving and taking their teams the distance.
Also, some well-established stars wind up leaving their respective teams in order to have a chance to compete, even regardless of what people may think about that decision. Today we’ll let you know about the top 10 most shocking free agency signings in NBA history.
10. Chauncey Billups (2002) – Minnesota Timberwolves to Detroit Pistons
Billups was a bit of a late bloomer, but he was finally establishing himself as a great force off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves, right when Kevin McHale decided to waive him following averages of 22 points, 5 boards and 5.7 dimes a game against the Mavs in the Playoffs.
With the Pistons, Chauncey Billups went up to lead one of the most fierce defensive units in the history of the game and even upset the almighty Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals with his clutch scoring and great backcourt stopping.
9. Gus Williams (1977) – Golden State Warriors to Seattle Supersonics
Gus Williams’ career didn’t get off to the best start and truth to be told, he was looking quite clumsy and slow in both ends of the floor throughout his first couple of seasons with the Golden State Warriors, especially during his sophomore year
Furthermore, when Williams left the team to join the Seattle Supersonics, his per game averages nearly doubles on an instant basis, and the point guard was even able to lead the team to the Finals.
8. Jamaal Wilkes (1977) – Golden State Warriors to Los Angeles Lakers
Jamaal Wilkes was one of the league’s rising stars during the mid 70’s, being drafted with the 11th overall pick and instantly becoming a sensation due to his averages of 14.2 points and 8.2 boards a game, winning the Rookie of the Year honors and even winning the NBA Championship.
After becoming an All-Star on his sophomore season and staying put with the Dubs for 3 years, Wilkes decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and join forces with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, winning 3 more Championships with the Showtime Lakers.
7. Steve Nash (2004) – Dallas Mavericks to Phoenix Suns
Steve Nash was one of the main responsible why we were able to enjoy Dirk Nowitzki’s best after being a bit of a late bloomer, but even so, Mark Cuban thought he was just too old to hand him a long-term deal in 2004.
Nash went on to play under Mike D’Antoni’s tutelage and win back-to-back MVP awards, completely changing the way NBA offense was played and leading one of the most exciting teams to watch in NBA history.
6. Moses Malone (1982) – Houston Rockets to Philadelphia 76ers
This one was a huge shocker, as Moses Malone was just coming off an MVP campaign and still had a lot left on the tank, but the Houston Rockets didn’t want to overpay for an aging player regardless of how good he was.
Malone went on to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers and play for 4 extra years, winning both the MVP and Finals MVP on the very same season he arrived at the City of Brotherly Love after taking Philly to the Finals and beating Kareem and the Lakers.
5. LeBron James (2014) – Miami Heat to Cleveland Cavaliers
After thousands of fans had burned their LeBron jerseys when he bailed out on them 4 years ago, they were all pretty much begging him to come back to the Q and help a sluggish and mediocre team go back to relevance.
James had a tough time bouncing back from the loss in the Finals against the San Antonio Spurs and even though the team drafted Shabazz Napier in an attempt to suit his demands (as he had a lot of praise for the rookie and a bit of a feud with Mario Chalmers), The King took his talents back to his hometown.
4. DeMarcus Cousins (2018) – New Orleans Pelicans to Golden State Warriors
This one has to be one of the most shocking and softest moves in the history of the game. DeMarcus Cousins was known to be a competitor and a guy willing to do whatever it took to take his team to the playoffs (something he was never able to do), but now that “competitor level” is really in doubt.
Cousins took the easy way out and signed a 5.3 million dollar contract with the defending Champions in order to piggyback ride his way to the Finals, considering he’s likely to miss most of the season due to injury. Surprising, and disappointing.
3. LeBron James (2010) – Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami Heat
LeBron’s first decision was a huge surprise for most people, to say the least, especially considering he was leaving to join a 40 win team that was in no position to compete, at least for the time being.
James created a lot of hype surrounding his free agency decision and the way he mishandled the situation drew a lot of hate towards him, but after teaming up with Wade and being also joined by Bosh, the Heat built a mini-dynasty that went up to make 4 straight trips to the Finals and won a couple of Chips.
2. Kevin Durant (2016) – Oklahoma City Thunder to Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant went from being one of the most beloved and respected players in the world to being labeled as a snake, a traitor and a soft player, as he decided to bail out on his team, the city and the organization in order to join the very same team that had overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Thunder in the playoffs.
Durant won back-to-back rings and Finals MVPs in his first two seasons as a Dub, and truth to be told, he’s even improved a lot and made the team better as well. Still, his public persona took a major hit and he’s one of the league’s most hated guys.
1. Michael Jordan (2001) – Washington Wizards
Michael Jordan had already surprised everybody when he decided to retire early following his 1st three-peat, just to shock the world again with his comeback en route to 3 more Championships as the leader of the most iconic team in NBA history.
Well, if that wasn’t enough, he surprised basketball world again by making a second comeback following a 3-year hiatus, this time as a member of the Washington Wizards. Moreover, he was still capable of completely torching opposing defenders despite having lost most of his speed.