With Avery Bradley agreeing to re-sign with the Boston Celtics and Patrick Patterson reportedly set to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, some of the NBA’s notable restricted free agents are already off the market. Now, let’s take a look at the rest of the league’s restricted free agents. These are players who can sign an offer sheet with a new team, but whose original franchise has the opportunity to match and keep them in town.
Restricted free agency is a bit more complicated than unrestricted free agency, which is what the superstars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh are currently going through. Several players who could’ve been restricted free agents – such as Evan Turner and Ed Davis – are not because their respective teams did not extend them a qualifying offer, making them unrestricted instead.
Here’s a ranking of the restricted free agents in terms of their pecking order on the open market.
Ryan Kelly – PF, Los Angeles Lakers
After having his pre-draft training and summer workout routines delayed due to lingering foot issues, Kelly really had a surprisingly productive year (8.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG) as a reserve stretch-four in the freedom of Mike D’Antoni’s offense for the Lakers in 2013-14. Although he’ll need to add muscle and strength to physically compete with his counterparts, Kelly is more athletic and possesses more ball-skills than you might initially imagine. He’s likely to be retained by the Lakers, but the 23-year-old could definitely work his way onto multiple rosters throughout the league.
Mike Scott – PF, Atlanta Hawks
Scott is a hybrid forward who can stretch the floor from the power forward position. He can be a bit streaky from deep, but can get hot and make it difficult for teams to find an appropriate matchup. Scott ended up being a main part of Atlanta’s rotation ( 9.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG) by the time their seven-game series in the opening round against the Indiana Pacers. While it isn’t certain whether he’ll be back with the Hawks, Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported interest from several “rival teams” earlier this week.
Rival teams believe that Atlanta's Mike Scott is a restricted agent who can be had with a strong offer sheet. Hawks protecting cap space.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2014
P.J.Tucker – SF, Phoenix Suns
Beyond the 9.4 PPG and 6.5 RPG from a small forward, Tucker has developed a reputation for being one of the league’s tougher – yet somewhat unheralded – perimeter defenders over the last few seasons. At 6’6, 224 pounds, Tucker combines size, lateral movement and all-out effort to make life difficult for the league’s top scoring swingmen. Phoenix has the resources to keep Tucker, but he’d also be a an instant contributor on any team that needs to add veteran depth and is in need of a defensive-oriented player.
Greivis Vasquez – PG, Toronto Raptors
At 6’6, Vasquez is another player with great size for his position, only this 27-year-old is capable of running an offense better than most reserve guards and at least a few of the league’s current starters. Vasquez played well in a reserve role behind Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, and since the rumors of Toronto’s interest in drafting Tyler Ennis didn’t come to fruition, he could seemingly still have a place with the Raptors. Vasquez’s last season as a starter was 2012-13 for the New Orleans Pelicans, and it was impressive enough (13.9 PPG and 9.0 APG) that you might expect him to pursue another starting job this summer.
Chandler Parsons – SF, Houston Rockets
Parsons is one of the many players caught in the “we’ll have to wait and see what Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James do, but we’ll get right back to you” ruts, and that cannot be an appealing situation for the 25-year-old forward after reportedly playing a pivotal role in the recruitment process of teammate Dwight Howard and providing a quality year (16.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.0 APG) in their lone season together. Parsons may not currently be quite worthy of the $10-12 million per year range that has recently been attached to him, but he is the type of versatile player that blends well with most of the offensive systems throughout the league. If the Rockets are ultimately ready to move on, he won’t have trouble finding suitors as the Celtics, Lakers and even the Suns have reportedly expressed an interest.
Celtics contacted approximately 30 players last night, according to source. Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons are on the list.
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) July 1, 2014
Greg Monroe – PF, Detroit Pistons
Monroe must feel as though he’s been in a game of tug-of-war in terms of whether he’ll ultimately wind up sticking around in Detroit. There were reports that Stan Van Gundy didn’t want him back, but then those were quickly refuted. Monroe even had to publicly deny reports that claimed he had requested that Josh Smith be traded before deciding what to do this summer, but whether he requested it or not, one could hardly fault him. To no fault of anyone currently associated with the Pistons, a front line of Andre Drummond, Monroe and Smith simply isn’t going to work. If the offensively gifted power forward ends up the odd man out, there should be plenty of interest from teams like the Hawks, Cavs, Lakers and perhaps even the Hornets if they were to desire a twin-towers appeal beside Al Jefferson.
Isaiah Thomas – PG, Sacramento Kings
While we can’t be absolutely certain Thomas’ time in Sacramento is completely done, signs point to an unlikely return given the reported three-year deal they’ve agreed upon with former Clipper Darren Collison. What we do know is that whether it comes from the Kings or someone else, Thomas is likely to get paid handsomely by someone this summer. Coming off a career season (20.3 PPG, 6.3 APG), the 5’9 Thomas would also look great with the Lakers, HEAT, Mavs, Pistons and potentially even the Suns with their preferred uptempo style (depending on what Phoenix winds up doing with their backcourt duo of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe).
Hearing Isaiah Thomas' preferred teams (in order): Lakers, Heat, Pistons
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) July 3, 2014
Gordon Hayward – SG, Utah Jazz
Hayward is another one of the more versatile RFA’s on the market, as he can do a bit of everything while on the floor. Although Hayward struggled with his shot throughout 2013-14 in Utah, part of that could have been due to the lack of viable offensive weapons surrounding him. He still managed to provide 16.2 PPG, 5.2 APG and 5.1 RPG for a struggling team, and is now due to reap the financial rewards this summer. Having denied his request for an extension prior to the season, it was a bit peculiar to see GM Dennis Lindsey stand by an apparent promise the Jazz would match any offer for their RFA just earlier this week. The Cavs, Suns, Hornets and Celtics are each a part of the group expected to pursue Hayward regardless of Utah’s plans.
League source says Jazz are confident Hayward can take a leap, therefore not concerned at all about paying him top dollar
— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) July 3, 2014
Eric Bledsoe – SG, Phoenix Suns
It’s always difficult to decipher which rumor to believe at a given time throughout the free agency process, but it appears the Suns are still currently willing to match any offer for their 24-year-old RFA. Bledsoe is a special athlete at 6’1 and just under 200 pounds. He’s lightning-quick and has the ability to finish both in traffic and over the top of unsuspecting post defenders. That ability is what also makes Bledsoe a bit of a high-risk, high-reward player moving forward, but he should be able to continue making adjustments to his game as he develops in order to become less reliant on all that athleticism.
Unless the Suns are able to move Goran Dragic, which they’re rumored to be seriously exploring, a team could make their decision on Bledsoe difficult by offering a max contract to the up-and-coming point guard. That may seem like a lot for a player that just missed 39 games in his first year as a starter, but he has a lot of fans around the NBA and a team could be getting the league’s next very-good-to-great backcourt weapon just as he’s entering what could be a hugely productive prime.
Additional RFA’s on the market:
Kevin Seraphin, PF (Wizards), Nando De Colo, G (Spurs), Jae Crowder, SF (Mavericks)
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