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The NBA’s Most Depressing Players of 2009

From one depressing player to another

Changing of the Guard Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Allen Iverson, G, Memphis Grizzlies

Our Most Depressing NBA Players of 2008 list was headlined by Vince Carter, shown above passing the torch to his successor atop this ignominious throne, Allen Iverson. He couldn’t possibly have picked a more-depressing franchise to land with at this late stage in his HOF career than the Memphis Grizzlies. AI didn’t have much choice, really, but tell me I’m not the only one who’d feel better about reading reports of Iverson dominating overseas in Europe, as opposed to scanning boxscores on dreary winter mornings and seeing that AI played low-efficiency backup minutes, in a losing cause, on a terrible team like Memphis.

I’ve had trouble swallowing this move from the moment it happened:

So this is what Allen Iverson’s career has come to: a sideshow attraction on a floundering franchise that views him as nothing more than a means of selling a few more tickets to a small, generally disinterested fanbase. In just one year, the first-ballot Hall of Famer and longtime NBA fan favorite has first been reduced from a high-scoring perennial All-Star to a coveted expiring contract, then to an unwanted, unrestricted free agent, and finally to leftover late-summer scraps.

It’s literally a sad state of affairs in Memphis. Forget bobblehead or replica jersey nights at the FedEx Forum this season—they’re better off giving away Zoloft.

Adam Morrison, GF, Los Angeles Lakers

At least he got a championship ring, just like his fellow, colossal draft-bust Darko Milicic got a ring with the Detroit Pistons back in ’04: as a cheerleader, though in breaking his hand during the final ticks of garbage time in the series clincher, Darko arguably earned his more than Morrison did. A popular write-in pick for 2008’s Most Depressing Players, Morrison headlines a long list of first-round picks from the 2006 NBA Draft that in 3 short years have found permanent seats at the end of a bench, and aren’t much longer for this league than the length of their legacy rookie contracts.

Mysteriously taken third overall by the Charlotte Bobcats despite little indication that his college-friendly game would translate to the NBA level over the long term, Morrison is a career 37% shooter with skewed pers of 8.7 points, 2.4 boards and 1.6 assists… skewed in that those averages actually belie the miniscule contributions he’s made to a winnning cause. He’s laughing all the way to the bank though: $5.2 million this year and $6.3 million next. I’m setting the over/under on the number of times he’s traded during his expiring-contract year at three. Any takers?

Quentin Richardson, GF, Miami Heat

The washed-up, long-range chucker that nobody wants, though Pat Riley insists Q-Rich will play a significant role for the Miami Heat this year. Sure he will. Toting a juicy $9.3 million expiring contract, the nine-year vet was traded four times in the span of seven memorable weeks this summer, which prompted Andrew to call a spade a spade after Richardson briefly landed with the T’Wolves:

Quentin Richardson is a 29-year-old “guard-forward” (but not really either) who doesn’t play defense, hasn’t seen a shot opportunity or bear claw that didn’t look good to him, sports a career 1.6-to-1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, brings a bad locker-room attitude and has shot 71.3% from the line and 39.8% from the field in his nine seasons in the league. He’s a cancer, on the court and off. Oh, and he kinda sucks. Kinda sucks a lot. The only thing Minnesota Miami can hope to get out of Richardson before his contract expires next summer is a unique ability to steal shots and minutes from the young kids and stunt their development in the process.

Tim Thomas, F, Dallas Mavericks

Here’s a useless bit of trivia to regale your friends with at a party: Tim Thomas, the 7th-overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, has never played in all 82 regular-season games during the 12 years he’s been in the league. He twice played in 80–as a Buck in 1999-0 and 2002-03–but never 82. In this season, his 13th, he’ll suit up for the 8th team of his career, the Mavericks, who hope to utilize him as a three-point specialist, I guess. (Hey, it’s the Mavericks. It’s not supposed to make any sense.) They hope to use him in that limited capacity, of course, once he returns in a month or two from right-knee surgery.

A hint is a hint, Tim: it’s time to call it a day… though, admittedly, I couldn’t walk away from the $6 million you’ll make this year either.

Four more of the NBA’s Most Depressing Players after the break, and your chance to vote for your “favorite” depressing player, after the break….

Aleksandar Pavlovic, GF, Minnesota Timberwolves

You know him by his more effeminate name, Sasha. He’s one of many 6-7 swingmen who’ve had just enough solid games, and flashed just enough competence from time to time, to stick around longer than ability warrants. The 19th overall pick of the 2003 draft by the Utah Jazz, Pavlovic spent five injury-riddled seasons in Cleveland before signing a 1-year, $1.5 million deal with the T’Wolves this summer. Why Minnesota felt the need to add this kind of mediocre stopgap depth is beyond me, but hey, somebody has to uphold the long legacy of puzzling personnel moves made by former GM Kevin McHale.

In six professional seasons, the Serbian Who Sucks has career pers of 5.8 points (41% FG), 1.9 boards, 1 assist, 0.6 threes, 0.5 steals, and 0.2 blocks. Despite that dismal line, I’ve seen him started on fantasy rosters as recently as last season.

MIkki Moore

Mikki Moore Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Mikki Moore, FC, Golden State Warriors

Seven-footers almost always have a longer lease on NBA life than guards and swingmen do. Exhibit A: 7-0 veteran Moore, an undrafted big out of Nebraska who since breaking into the league in 1998 with the Detroit Pistons has played for nine different teams, including two separate stints each with the Nets and Celtics. Kudos to Moore for elongating his career far further than most thought it would be, and though he doesn’t do any one thing well, to his credit Moore has distanced himself from his fellow middling seven-footers with consistently high-energy efforts that have come in handy during garbage time or the occasional spot start.

Still, like his teammate Claxton, below, there’s something very, very sad about a guy his age (34 in 2 weeks) riding the bench on a youth-oriented Warriors team going nowhere this year. Then again, at least he’s not doing the same in Memphis or Sacramento.

Bobby Simmons, GF, New Jersey Nets

There used to be some real value here, specifically during his fourth NBA season when he was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player for averaging 16.4 points (46% FG), 6 boards, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals in 75 games for the Los Angeles Clippers. Now, the 6-6 swingman is on the last tick of an astounding 5-year, $47-million deal gifted to him by the Milwaukee Bucks following that solid year in LA. Though he’ll be battling the likes of Jarvis Hayes for a small handful of minutes off the bench on what should be one of the Eastern Conference bottom-feeders, Simmons is the Nets’ highest-paid player this year with a pricetag of about $10.5 million. Now that’s value in today’s robust economic climate.

Honorable mention to teammate Tony Battie–yes, he’s still in the league and he’s probably nursing a broken bone or a sprained something.

Craig “Speedy” Claxton, G, Golden State Warriors

He really should consider permanently dropping the “Speedy” moniker and getting reacquainted with his birth name: there’s nothing speedy about the injury-prone, eight-year vet at this point. A decent prospect early in his career who could fill it up in a hurry as a reserve, Claxton was awarded a 4-year, $25 million deal by the Atlanta Hawks following a 2005-06 season in which he averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per in 71 games for the New Orleans Hornets. That was essentially the last we’ve heard of him, as various ailments limited him to 44 ineffectual appearances in two seasons for the Hawks.

Claxton is now back for his second stint with the Golden State Warriors, which makes an already depressing situation even worse: is there anything worse than a guy nicknamed “Speedy” who not only is anything but speedy, but who also won’t see the floor much for one of the most uptempo teams in the league? Knowing Don Nelson’s “rotation genius,” however, we shouldn’t be surprised when Claxton plays 25+ minutes per, until he sprains his ankle or knee.

Last Year’s List:
The NBA’s Most Depressing Players of 2008

Reader Picks:
– Jamaal Magloire, C, Miami Heat
– Desmond “Derrick” Mason, GF, Sacramento Kings
– DJ Mbenga, C, Los Angeles Lakers
– Tyson Chandler, C, Charlotte Bobcats
– Kevin Garnett, F, Boston Celtics (in 2010?)
– Kenny Thomas, F, Sacramento Kings
– Eddy Curry, C, New York Knicks
– Kurt Thomas, F, Milwaukee Bucks
– Earl Watson, G, Indiana Pacers
– Joe Alexander, F, Milwaukee Bucks
– Javaris Crittenton, G, Washington Wizards
– Kwame Brown, C, Detroit Pistons
Slalom Vlade, F, Charlotte Bobcats
– Tracy McGrady, GF, Houston Rockets
– Shaun Livingston, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
– Brian Scalabrine, F, Boston Celtics

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