8 Worst free agent signings in Philadelphia 76ers history

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5. Kenny Thomas

Kenny “K9” Thomas was a standout college player at the University of New Mexico. During his four years in college, he averaged 15.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game and was the key reason New Mexico made NCAA Tournaments. Thomas’ success led him to be drafted 22nd overall by the Houston Rockets in the 1999 NBA draft.

With the Rockets, Thomas’ best season came in his third year when he averaged 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 48% from the field. The following season during a contract year for Thomas, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where he had similar statistical production to his recent season in Houston.

When Thomas became a free agent in the summer of 2003, the Sixers had a decision to make. The team had just traded for Thomas and he gave them consistency and a reliable scoring presence off the bench. Could they just let him walk? The Sixers chose to re-sign him for 7 years, $50 million which I understand nowadays does not sound like too much money, but in 2003 this was a considerable amount.

Thomas only played one full season with the Philadelphia 76ers, the 2003-04 NBA season. During that year he started all but 2 games for the team and averaged 13.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 36.5 minutes per game. He was a decent player during, but there is no way he lived up to the $50 million the Sixers signed him for.

During the 2004-05 season, Thomas similarly started the majority of games for the Sixers but was sent to the Sacramento Kings in the trade that brought Chris Webber to the City of Brotherly Love. It may seem like his short tenure makes it hard to judge his contract, but to me, it is pretty clear regardless of his production, K9 did not live up to the contract value of a $50 million player.

I like to view K9’s contract as similar to Harris’ 5-year, $180 million deal. Harris is a really good player and starter for the Sixers, but he is not worth what he is being paid. Thomas was the same 20 years ago.