NBA Free Agency Rumors: Restricted Free Agents Teams Can't Afford to Lose
Restricted free agency is like a chess match.
A team will offer a certain player a large contract, knowing his current team can't afford to give it to him and is willing to break the bank in order to retain him.
Conversely, that same team might just let its player walk and stick the offering team with a bad contract. With that being said, there are certain restricted free agents who teams must retain, no matter what kind of offer sheet they need to match.
Let's take a look at who fits that bill.
Nicolus Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers
Batum has yet to officially get an offer sheet, but according to csnnw.com's Chris Haynes, it sounds as if the Minnesota Timberwolves are ready to give him one.
"I just got word Batum's two options at this point, are the Trail Blazers and the Timberwolves. He's focused on coming to an agreement with one of them and has postponed all other team visits."
Where will Nicolas Batum be playing in 2012-13?
Should Batum accept an offer from the T-Wolves, the Blazers absolutely have to find a way to match it.
The Frenchman has been in the league for four years, so it's easy to forget he's just 23 years old. He has improved his scoring, rebounding and defense every season and is developing into one of the league's best young small forwards.
Batum can be flat out lethal from the outside, but at 6'8" and 200 pounds, he's learning to find ways to score from the inside, too.
After a draft that netted the Blazers Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard, Portland is well on its way to being a young, offensive powerhouse. Batum needs to be a part of that.
Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets
ESPN's Chris Broussard has reported the Suns are close to offering Eric Gordon a max contract.
Suns having dinner with Eric Gordon right now. Phx is considering offering him max deal (4 years, $58 million), sources say— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Hornets need to be ready to match whatever deal Gordon may agree to.
Despite the injury concerns after a season in which he played just nine games, Gordon is one of the most dynamic guards in the league. He can get to the hoop and finish with ease. He is also deadly from the outside.
Is Eric Gordon worth a max contract?
For his young career, the 23-year-old is averaging 18.2 points per game—and that includes over 20 per contest for the last two seasons.
Gordon was the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade and, with Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers coming in, things are starting to look up for the Hornets. Letting the young star walk would be a mistake.
Plus, New Orleans can afford it.
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
The Portland Trail Blazers have offered Roy Hibbert a max deal (via ESPN) and, while that will be tough to swallow for the Pacers, they must sign their big man.
Indiana won't have the best flexibility if a large chunk of the salary cap is invested in both Dannny Granger and Hibbert, but it needs to realize 7'2" All-Star centers with skill don't come along too often.
Is Hibbert worth a max contract? Maybe not usually, but in this day and age, when centers are much more rare, the big man is definitely worth it.
Hibbert has good skills with his back to the basket, his rebounding has improved every year, he's one of the best big-man passers in the league and he is terrific at defending the cup.
There are worse things than building around a stud center.
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