In honor of his retirement, I decided to compile a list of the biggest acquisitions (by position) that never panned out for the Nets since Rod Thorn became president.
PG - Chris Childs
Rod Thorn signed Childs to his second stint as a Net in 2002 at a price tag of $3.6 million for two years. He reported to training camp that season with attitude problems, Achilles tendonitis, and quite a few extra pounds on his waist. His physical fitness was so poor, in fact, that he was suspended by Rod Thorn a week before the start of the 2002 season until he got in shape. Ultimately, he only played in 12 whole games and scored a total of 15 points before retiring after only one year of his contract.
SG - Brandon Armstrong
Brandon Armstrong was a solid scorer in his two years at Pepperdine. Unfortunately, this did not translate to success in the NBA. His development was partially stunted by the fact that he was buried so deep in the Nets’ bench, but also because when he was on the court, he looked lost and was prone to turnovers. At one point, the coaching staff tried to convert him to a point guard to no avail. But the main reason that Brandon Armstrong makes this spot is because of the guards who he was chosen ahead of in the draft. You may recognize these names: Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.
SF - Bobby Simmons
Bobby Simmons snags the SF spot on this list because he never lived up to expectations following the signing of a five-year $47 million deal with the Bucks in 2005, although he only spent the last two years of that contract with the Nets. Admittedly, the draft day trade of him and Yi Jianlian for Richard Jefferson in 2008 was a move for cap space in the summer of 2010. This one time Most Improved Player averaged a modest 7.2ppg while playing only 94 games (46 starts) in his two seasons in the swamp. To put that in to perspective, he only scored 678 points in two years, earning approximately $31,213.37 per point ($21 million total).
PF - Yi Jianlian
Yi, Yi, Yi. You had the size and the stroke to be an inside-outside force in the NBA. Too bad that you couldn’t stay healthy or play consistently. Acquired partially to expand the Nets’ fan base to the Chinese market, he never lived up to expectations and was dumped on the Wizards for an extra $3 million in 2010 cap space.
C - Dikembe Mutumbo/Alonzo Mourning/Mile Illic/Jamaal Magliore/DeSagana Diop
Acquiring Dikembe Mutumbo was supposed to put the Nets over-the-top after a disappointing showing in the 2002 NBA Finals against Shaquille O’Neal. A monster defender, he was supposed to be able to contain the likes of O’Neal and Tim Duncan. His single season as a Net was limited to just 24 games because of a nagging wrist injury. He did, however, play in the Finals against the Spurs, but was limited to a sixth-man role and only 13 minutes per game. Dike was bought out at the end of the season, and had some productive years in the twilight of his career between New York and Houston.
The other four men listed at this position represent the parade of big men that that were drafted/signed in an attempt to provide a defensive force down low.
Alonzo Mourning was signed as a condition of Jason Kidd’s return in 2003. ‘Zo was forced to retire because of his kidney ailment just three months after signing a 4-year contract, but came back for the 2004 season. Ultimately, he forced a trade out of New Jersey once Kenyon Martin was sent to Denver. Mourning played 30 total games for the Nets, but his most significant contribution was being traded for Vince Carter in December of 2004.
Neither Illic, Magliore, nor Diop lasted more than a season in New Jersey or played more than 27 games each in a Nets uniform. Illic played in a total of six minutes in five games, collecting 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 1 personal foul, and three turnovers. Those statistics speak for themselves.