No. 3: Larry Hughes
It’s possible that you may notice a trend emerging with the players on this list. Larry Hughes is the fourth such player that fits a very specific mold: the Cavaliers overspent in free agency or the trade market, added a one-way contributor who failed to live up to expectations, and then Cleveland compounded the issue by holding on to him for far too long.
Hughes signed a massive $65 million contract in free agency, joining the Cavaliers in the summer of 2005 after one of the least-efficient 20-points-per-game seasons in modern NBA history. Unsurprisingly, high-volume and low-efficiency scoring isn’t the best fit with LeBron James, and he failed to make much of an impact.
Imagine if the Cavaliers had moved on from Larry Hughes after his first mediocre season in Cleveland; they could have added a player or two who could have helped them in their run to the NBA Finals. Instead, Hughes averaged 11.3 points per game on 34.7 percent shooting in those playoffs, filling up a whopping 35.5 minutes per game. BPM estimates that he had such a negative impact offensively that he was 1.9 points per 100 possessions worse than a league-average player.
Hughes would play 2.5 seasons with the Cavs before they moved on, including Hughes in a three-team deal that completely reshaped their rotation. LeBron James was so dominant during those seasons that he willed his team to the NBA Finals, and Hughes was a wholly unqualified running mate for him.