The Notable And Likely Restricted: Free agency in the NBA comes in two yummy flavors: Unrestricted, where the player is free to choose his next team without regards to his previous team and restricted, everyone’s favorite flavor.
Restricted free agency has become the bane of free agency for players and agents, mainly because it ties up a player’s options. In order to make a player restricted a team must offer what’s called a qualifying offer. For first round draft picks this is a slotted number usually worth between 30 percent and 50 percent of the previous year’s salary based on where the player was drafted. For instance the first overall picks qualifying offer is a 30 percent increase over his previous year, wherein the 30th pick’s qualifying offer is 50 percent greater than his previous year’s salary.
Teams can begin making qualifying offers the day following the last game of the NBA Finals and June 30.
A qualifying offer is an offer for a one-year guaranteed contract, which becomes a regular contract if the player signs it.
In making the offer, the “home” team can match contracts offered by other teams, allowing the marketplace to establish terms and a price.
Here are some of the more notable players likely to be restricted free agents and what their teams are currently thinking in regards to their future:
Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics – $2,511,432 – QO -$3,581,302
The Celtics would like to bring Bradley back, but this one is going to come down to price. If a team gets silly with an offer the Celtics may very well let Bradley walk.
The Celtics value Bradley immensely, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Much like Tyreke Evans last year – a team could poach Bradley out of Boston with a heavy offer, the question becomes how much is too much for him?
Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns – $2,626,474 – QO – $3,726,967
There is almost no scenario in which Eric Bledsoe is not matched by the Phoenix Suns. There have been some that have wondered if the Suns would match a full max contract offer and the answer there is very much yes. The Suns likely will set the bar themselves with an offer simply to move the process along. It’s doubtful that Phoenix set the price at max, which should be just at $15.75 million, but if someone else put that number on the table its highly likely the Suns match it.
Greivis Vasquez – Toronto Raptors – $2,150,188 – QO – $3,203,780
Vasquez would like to return to the Raptors, but he would also like to play a bigger role than he has in Toronto. Vasquez’s offer amount is not silly, so it is very likely Toronto issues it and lets the market dictate what his price should be. The Raptors feel strongly that they’ll get Kyle Lowry signed to a new deal and they have started to look at guards in the draft. There is a chance that Vasquez is sign-and-traded if a real offer comes his way, especially if Lowry re-signs.
Vasquez’s future in Toronto is very much up in the air and is tied directly to that of Lowry. If Lowry re-signs, it’s more likely than not that Vasquez is moved on for a number of reasons. That likely won’t play out until Lowry’s deal gets done, which means the Raptors restrict Vasquez to insure they have options should Lowry walk to another team.
Isaiah Thomas – Sacramento Kings – $884,293 – QO – $2,875,131
This one is tough. The Kings likely issue the offer sheet to give them options, but with the eighth pick they are already looking at point guards. Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton and Tyler Ennis worked out there just this week. The Kings say they would like to have Thomas back, but there is a belief that if the price gets silly that Sacramento may let him walk much like they did with Tyreke Evans last year.
Thomas has played incredibly well for the Kings, so there is a chance they sign him or match offers if they are within reason, but if someone starts to get into the $9-$10 million per year range the Kings may pass in favor of other options.
For the last two years the Kings have hinted that Thomas is good enough to start for them, but is he good enough to win playoff games? That’s a debate the team has had internally for some time and likely why they are looking at point guards in the draft.
Thomas is a tough one to call. If the price is right the Kings likely keep him, but if the price gets hefty they may go elsewhere.
Kent Bazemore – Los Angeles Lakers – $788,872 – QO – $1,115,243
The Lakers are very high on Bazemore. His offer sheet is very nominal, so it’s expected they will issue it and lock up his rights. It will become interesting if another team offers a multi-year deal. The Lakers likely match it, but if someone starts to nip at the Lakers cap space it is unclear how committed to Bazemore they really are. In 23 games with the Lakers, Bazemore averaged 13 points on 45.1 percent shooting.
The smart money says he’s is back with the Lakers next season, but it seems likely someone will put a multi-year offer on the table even if it’s just something in the $1-2 million per year range.
Gordon Hayward – Utah Jazz – $3,452,183 – QO – $4,677,708
The Jazz are saying Hayward will be back. The question really becomes at what price? Hayward will get the qualifying offer and the Jazz will likely match whatever he gets offered in free agency. The question is will anyone test the Utah’s threshold of pain and offer silly money.
They say the most expensive players to obtain are someone else’s players and in this case anyone that wants Hayward is going to have to overpay for him. It’s believed the Jazz put a $8-$9 million per year extension offer on the table last summer for Hayward, so will he command more than $10 million per year on the open market?
The Jazz say they will match and Hayward will be back.
Jordan Crawford – Golden State Warriors – $2,162,419 – QO – $3,206,867
This one will be interesting because Crawford isn’t considered a high dollar player. His $3.2 million qualifying offer isn’t crazy money and it would give the Warriors the right to match offers, but at what price does Crawford become unreasonable?
In 42 games with the Warriors Crawford wasn’t exactly electric averaging just 8.4 points on 41.7 percent shooting from the field. Crawford started the final game of the season and knocked in 41 points, so he has scoring potential, but is that worth much more than he was earning last season?
Three years and $8-$10 million seems like the right number for what Crawford is as a player, will he command more than that and will Golden State match it if he does?
Evan Turner – Indiana Pacers – $6,679,867 – QO – $8,717,226
Pacers president Larry Bird sounds resigned to the idea that Evan Turner will be playing somewhere else during exit interviews. Considering his offer value is $8.7 million, it seems unlikely that the Pacers issue that, although they might, but again it seems unlikely.
Turner was not exceptional in his time with the Pacers, averaging 7.1 points per game in 27 games, reverting to more of what he looked like in Philly over the last two years. It will be interesting to see what the market place for the former second overall pick really is.
It’s doubtful that Turner lands a deal paying much more than he earned last year, the question is with Lance Stephenson headed to unrestricted free agency do the Pacers really let Turner walk or do they risk picking up his offer as insurance in case Stephenson bolts? The Pacers would have to make that decision on the offer sheet before they known what’s real with Stephenson.
Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons – $4,086,454 – QO – $5,479,935
The Pistons continue to say that Greg Monroe is not going anywhere, that a new deal for him is very likely and that they would match offers if it gets to that point. Monroe’s offer value isn’t at all crazy and the Pistons have the flexibility to match Monroe all the way to the max. The question is will anyone really put a $15.75 million first year offer on the table for him?
There is a reality to a max offer sheet. It’s easy to say you would match it, but would the Pistons really do it? New president Stan Van Gundy says he’s watched enough tape to know that he can make a Monroe and Andre Drummond pairing work on offense. It’s the defensive side where the conflicts emerge, but Van Gundy believes if both players buy in, it would be a strength for the team not a weakness.
There is little doubt that Monroe is the top player likely to hit restricted free agency. The question is does he really get a max offer and will the Pistons really match it?
Patrick Patterson – Toronto Raptors – $3,105,301 – QO – $4,319,474
The Raptors credit their swing to the playoffs to their much improved bench this season. After trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings the Raptors got a handful of bench players in return that really changed the complexion of the team and while Patterson didn’t play a huge role, he is considered a valuable asset for the Raptors.
The question for Patterson is his offer, $4.3 million seems like his range. So do the Raptors issue it and see what the market brings back or do they simply try and work out a deal in that kind of price range?
Keeping Patterson seems like a smart move, the question becomes how much and does it happen after a trip through restricted free agency.
Ed Davis – Memphis Grizzlies – $3,153,860 – QO – $4,361,788
The Grizzlies have invested a lot into Ed Davis, but the question becomes how much is he worth on a new deal? It is very likely the Grizz issue the $4.3 million offer, if only to have the ability to match an offer. The Grizz are hoping to get a new deal done with Zach Randolph, which might make Davis’ value to the team significantly lower than maybe it already is.
Davis logged few minutes in the regular season and almost nothing in the postseason, even when Randolph was suspended. Davis had a few bright spot games, but hardly the body of work to believe he’ll get a major offer.
The Grizz under previous leadership really liked Ed, but it seems if he gets expensive for some reason they may pass on him in favor of someone who might be able to contribute.
This one will be interesting to watch, because Davis might be obtainable.
Kevin Seraphin – Washington Wizards – $2,761,114 – QO – $3,898,693
Seraphin has had some moments, the problem this year was he was parked behind far better players and rarely saw meaningful minutes. With a $3.8 million offer value, it’s almost worth issuing because he has shown some promise at times with the Wizards, especially with the uncertain future of Marcin Gortat.
The smart money say Seraphin gets the offer and the Wizards try and work out a reasonable deal. There may be some outside value, mainly because he is a 6’10 big that can score and he might be had fairly cheap.
Washington has said they would like to keep their core together, but it’s unclear how much they would pay Seraphin, especially if others get involved in the bidding process.
Trevor Booker – Washington Wizards – $2,350,820 – QO – $3,420,443
Much like Seraphin there have been times this year where Booker was pretty solid. With a $3.4 million offer, it’s almost worth issuing just to see if he can be retained fairly inexpensively.
Booker played extended minutes in April and was very productive for the Wiz. With ownership wanting to keep the core together it seems likely that Booker is back, although much like Seraphin, if the pricing starts to get silly, the Wiz may think twice.
Ekpe Udoh – Milwaukee Bucks – $4,469,548 – QO – $5,962,377
Given how committed the Bucks are to John Henson and how much cash they have committed to Larry Sanders and veteran Zaza Pachulia, it seems unlikely that Udoh will get the $5.9 million Offer that it would take to restrict him.
Udoh has had tons of injuries in his NBA career which makes it doubtful there is a huge push for him in free agency.
The smart money says the Bucks move on and Udoh is an unrestricted free agent. There simply isn’t a body of work to justify a $5.9 million offer and the Bucks really have plenty of options at his position under contract and may pick up a few more in the NBA Draft.
As a general rule of process most teams with cap flexibility match offers, simply to avoid losing a valuable asset. If a team matches a contract offer they cannot trade that player for one calendar year without that player’s consent. Teams have three days to match a signed offer sheet.
Players are under no obligation to sign an offer sheet from a team unless they want to play there. Equally, once a player signs an offer sheet the “home” team can either match or decline. Prior to physically signing an offer, the player can notify the “home” team of intent to sign and try and negotiate a sign and trade if the terms are way out of line, although a player is under no obligation to do that.
At any point in the process the home team can withdraw the qualifying offer and make the player unrestricted.
If you are curious about how the Rookie Scale Contract system maps out here are the slotted years through the 2017-2018 NBA Draft Class.
What Young NBA Teams Seems Poised To Improve?: Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, Lang Greene, Jessica Camerato, Alex Kennedy and Yannis Koutroupis debate which NBA teams could make the biggest jump next season.
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A Few Good Free Agents Left
David Yapkowitz looks at several free agents still remaining on the market ahead of the season.
The start of the 2017-2018 NBA season is finally here, and teams are required to have their 15-man roster (plus two possible two-way contacts) finalized. Every year there are players that are left off a roster. Some are younger guys who maybe haven’t proven they belong in the league just yet. Some are older veterans looking for that one final hurrah.
A few of these players might take open gigs in the G-League or overseas in hopes of attracting the attention of NBA front offices as the year goes on. Others remain at home, working out and waiting for that call that might never come. And sometimes, the waiting and anticipating pays off as playoff teams come looking for veteran help and tanking teams are on the hunt for unrealized potential.
For most of the veteran guys, their opportunities will likely come later in the season when teams gear up for the playoffs. Here’s a look at a few of the top veteran free agents left that could certainly help a team at some point during this season.
Since being traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics three year ago, Lee has adapted to his new role as a veteran big man helping to anchor second units. He is no longer the automatic double-double machine and borderline All-Star he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left in the tank.
He didn’t really fit quite right in Boston, but in his stops with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, he still showed he can be a solid contributor off the bench. In 25 games with Mavericks in the 2015-2016 season, Lee put up 8.5 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting while pulling down seven rebounds per. With the Spurs last year, he averaged 7.3 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with 5.6 rebounds. For a playoff team that needs a little big man depth, he is a solid option.
Much was made about Williams’ disappearing act in the Finals last year, and rightfully so, but lost in all the chatter was the actual solid job he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading up to that point. Once in the conversation for best point guard in the league, injuries and poor play in Brooklyn sort of made Williams a forgotten man. The Nets bought out his contract and he joined his hometown Dallas Mavericks.
After a so-so first year in Dallas, Williams looked rejuvenated last year to the point that he actually drew some interest around the trade deadline. With the Mavericks looking to get younger and head closer to that rebuilding path, they cut Williams and allowed him to join a contending team. Over the final 24 games of last season, including four starts, he averaged 7.5 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, 41.5 percent from the three-point line, and 3.6 assists. Of course, his Finals performance is all anyone cares to remember, but if a team needs a veteran backup point guard, they could do a lot worse.
Last season in Indiana, Ellis posted some of the lowest numbers of his career since his rookie season. Heading into a rebuilding year, the Pacers waived Ellis and his name barely came up in free agent rumors during the summer. At his best, Ellis was a borderline All-Star talent who could put up points in a hurry. Despite his reputation as a gunner, Ellis was a bit of an underrated playmaker and was never as bad defensively as most made him out to be.
He never really seemed to find his groove in Indiana. In his first year with the Pacers during the 2015-2016 season, he posted 13.8 points per game, down from 18.9 the previous year in Dallas, and his shooting dropped from 44.5 percent from the field to 42.7 percent. His playoff numbers with the Pacers were down even more than his regular season numbers, despite exploding in the postseason a few years before with Dallas. His starting days are almost assuredly behind him, but as a sixth man type scorer bringing energy off the bench, he’s probably better than a lot of the players currently in that role.
The Brazilian Blur’s best days are behind him, but similar to Ellis, he can still help a team in need of additional scoring punch off the bench. It was only two years ago that he was a key contributor off the Warriors bench. Firmly on the rebuilding track, the Suns waived Barbosa during the summer. Despite still being a capable player, his name also rarely came up in the free agent rumor mill.
He didn’t play all that much last season for a Phoenix Suns team that is clearly rebuilding, but he still was able to average 6.3 points per game in only 14.4 minutes per. His role on a rebuilding team would be a veteran mentor, but for a playoff team, he’s not a bad option. He showed that he can still play at the NBA level despite losing a step or two. Perhaps later on in the season when teams start looking for playoff help is when he may find his phone starting to ring.
The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted that high. He’s only averaged double figures (12.0) in scoring once in his career and that was during the 2012-2013 season. When he came into the league, he didn’t really have much of a set position. He was a tweener, somewhere in between small forward and power forward. That was prior to the changes occurring in today’s NBA with more of a premium on stretch big men.
During Williams’ time in Cleveland last season, he played in 25 games and averaged 6.2 points per game. What stood out most, however, was his shooting. He shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from the three-point line, both career-highs. Shooting from long range was always a bit of a weakness for him and prior to last season, he had never shot higher than 33.2 percent from downtown. He also didn’t register much chatter by way of free agent rumors, but if he can reproduce shooting percentages like that, he fits right in with the direction of the league.
With league rosters pretty much set, there likely won’t be much roster movement, if any at all, for the next few months. Teams are looking to see how their new summer acquisitions work out. But after a few months of real game action, other roster needs start to become more apparent. Don’t be surprised if come the new year, teams start knocking on a few of these player’s doorsteps.
NBA PM: The Wizards Are “More Than Ready” For A Big Year
Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal says his team is “more than ready” for the start of the NBA season.
With several teams in the Eastern Conference taking a step back, the Washington Wizards will be one of the beneficiaries due to roster continuity. Shooting guard Bradley Beal, one of several key Wizards signed to a long-term contract, said the team is “more than ready” for the season and has large expectations.
“This is going to be a big year for us,” said Beal after a Monday practice. “We’re healthy. There’s no excuse for us [not to] get off to a good start.”
Beal added that, while health is a key for the entire roster, it’s especially important for him after struggling with injuries in the past.
“It’s really a confidence booster, realizing my potential, what I can be, the type of player I can be when I had a healthy season,” said Beal of last year’s campaign. “That’s probably what I was more proud of than anything, playing 70-plus games and then playing in the playoffs every game.”
In Basketball Insiders’ season preview for the Wizards, we noted that Beal was Washington’s most efficient ball handler in the pick and roll last season. Beal said that creating for teammates is something he’s worked on in the offseason and will continue to be a point of emphasis.
“That was great for me and the strides I made throughout the year, working on my ball handling, working on creating for other guys and getting my own shot,” said Beal. “Those are the primary things I’m focused on … being able to create better, getting guys easier shots than before, getting more assists and improve everywhere.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Friday’s preseason finale in New York that he’s been encouraged by the ball movement he has seen since the start of camp.
“I thought a lot of good things happened in training camp,” said Brooks. “The ball movement was outstanding. Guys were sacrificing for one another on the offensive end.”
One thing that should help the ball movement of the second unit is the arrival of backup point guard Tim Frazier, who missed most of the preseason due to a strained groin. Frazier had nine assists and no turnovers in his preseason debut against the Miami HEAT.
“I feel very comfortable with Tim,” said Brooks. “He finds corner threes, which we like.”
Beal added that one area he hopes to improve, both individually and as a team, is rebounding.
“I think I only had like three rebounds [per game] last year,” said Beal. “I obviously love scoring the ball. That’s something I never worry about. I want to continue to fill up the stat sheet a little bit more and contribute to the game in different areas. I think rebounding was something that hurt us a little bit last year.”
The Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers to open the season Wednesday, and Brooks said it will take a team effort to defend emerging star Joel Embiid.
“He’s a problem,” said Brooks after Sunday’s practice. “His athleticism is off the charts. We’re going to have to do a good job of staying in front of him. You’re talking about a guy that can put the ball on the floor, that can get to spaces and spots that normally a 6-10 guy doesn’t.”
With a revamped bench, roster continuity and good health entering the season, the Wizards look like a team that could challenge the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors for supremacy in the East. Beal certainly seems to think so.
NBA Opening Night Storylines
Hours before the 2017-18 season gets set to tip off, here are some storylines to follow for Tuesday’s games.
The long summer is over. We finally made it. NBA opening night is upon us.
Rejoice, hoop heads.
Because the NBA is a perfect concoction of chaos at all times, Tuesday’s opening night slate has some can’t-miss built in headlines that the entire league is going to be glued to.
With a new year set to begin, everyone is on the same page. Whether that page includes the likes of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry or Doug McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a different story. But still, Tuesday marks day one for all teams and as it stands they’re all equal.
As we get set to sit down and dissect these opening game matchups on Tuesday, let’s highlight the most intriguing storylines that will be followed for the rest of the season. There’s nothing like watching a story grown in the NBA from its inception, right?
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
This is the game we’ve all been waiting for since late June, when Kyrie Irving let it be known to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out from under LeBron’s shadow.
Three years of NBA Finals appearances, the greatest comeback in basketball history, and a ring to show for was all Irving wanted to walk away from. For him, he felt it was his time to shine.
And because the NBA is the perfect mix of beautiful insanity, it would only make sense that Irving would get dealt to the very team that is jostling for position to unseat the Cavs and King James.
The Irving-led Boston Celtics will have to wait a grand total of one second in the new NBA season to begin their matchup with their point guards old teammates and the team that stands in between them a Finals appearance. With Gordon Hayward and Irving together for the first time against meaningful competition, there’s no better way than to check their fit from the jump than by challenging the conference champions in their building.
But Irving’s homecoming isn’t the only storyline heading into the first game of the season. There are some changes on Cleveland’s end as well.
While the main return for Irving — Isaiah Thomas — won’t be suiting up for the Cavs anytime soon due to injury, there are still plenty of new faces to keep an eye on Tuesday night. First and foremost, Flash is in town. After having his contract bought out by the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade joined forces with his buddy in The Land in hopes of recapturing some of the magic that led them to two championships in South Beach.
By teaming up once again, James and Wade provide some of the best chemistry in the league. Yes, Wade isn’t the player he once was when he and James were winning rings. But something is to be said for knowing exactly where someone will be on the court at all times, and that’s the trait exactly that Wade and James share.
Along with Wade, James and the Cavs are hoping to get some type of resurgence from Derrick Rose and Jeff Green off of the bench. Once Thomas returns to the court for Cleveland, this is arguably the deepest team James has ever been around in Cleveland.
Even with Irving and Hayward on board, Boston will be relying on some role players of their own — namely Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The back-to-back third overall picks will occupy most of the time at the forward spots opposite of Hayward. As the season moves on, the development of both of these wings will be crucial to how dangerous the Celtics can be past their two star players.
Tuesday night will be must-see television at Quicken Loans Arena. New eras for the Eastern Conference heavyweights are about to begin.
And as James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, “The Kid” will be just fine.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors — 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
On the Western side of the basketball landscape Tuesday night, the potential conference finals matchup will see its first act when the revamped Rockets head to the Bay Area.
Last season at this time, the basketball world was bracing for what the Warriors would look like after adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. And as expected, they dominated. Not even LeBron James could put a stop to them, managing just one win in their finals bout.
This year brings in more of the same questions. Can anyone stop the Warriors? Will Golden State just steamroll their way to another championship, effectively sucking the fun of competition out of the entire league?
Well, a few teams this offseason did their best to try and combat that narrative. One of them being the Rockets, who they added perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul to their backcourt.
Putting Paul in the same backcourt as superstar James Harden has the potential to create some of the biggest headaches for opposing teams. The constant ball movement and open looks the two star guards can provide are nearly endless.
While the league swoons over the Warriors’ ability to hit shots from well beyond the arc, it should be noted that it was Houston last year that led the NBA in three-point shooting, not Golden State. It’s certainly not wise to try and go toe-to-toe with the Warriors at their own game, but if there’s ever a team equipped to do it, it’s Houston. Tuesday night will provide a nice preview look at how things in the Western Conference could shake out in the coming months.
Aside from the barrage of scoring that will take place in this matchup, what would a big game be for the Warriors without a little Draymond Green trash talk?
After Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN that, “You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us, either,” Green clapped back with a comment of his own, as he always does.
“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” Green said. “But they added some good defensive players.”
It’s true, the Rockets aren’t considered a defensive stalwart by any means. Last season, Houston was 26th in points allowed, compared to second in points scored. Green may be onto something when it comes to questioning how serious his opponents take defense.
That being said, last year’s Rockets didn’t feature Paul. Even at the age of 32, Paul is still one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. And no matter his age, he’ll always possess that competitive fire he’s been known for over the last 12 years.
Going up against the Warriors at Oracle is usually nothing short of impossible, but if there’s going to be a team to challenge their supremacy this season, we’ll get a good look at how they stack up on night one.
With all of this in mind, let’s not forget that the world’s best league is finally back in action. Give yourself a pat on the back, you made it. Now, go enjoy some basketball.