Which NBA Restricted Free Agents Will Be Signed Away from Current Teams?
NBA free agency is a mess, but it can be even more chaotic for teams with surpluses of restricted free agents.
While the team of a restricted free agent has the right to match any offer sheet that player may sign, the open market can ultimately determine how much cash must come out of a franchise's pocket to keep them around.
In certain situations, that's fine. When a team knows it will re-sign a player no matter what, allowing league-wide interest to determine their value actually works.
But it's not always that cut and dry, as sometimes the easiest free agents to retain can become the hardest ones to hold onto.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Lin, PG New York Knicks
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Jeremy Lin isn't leaving the Knicks, and while that doesn't fit our current motif, it had to be acknowledged.
Lin is far from the most talented free agent on the open market, but he's one of the most often talked about and a player many teams are considering as a viable option.
However, no matter how poisonous of a pill Lin's contract will prove to be, New York isn't going to balk at the opportunity to bring him back. It's simply a fact.
But if you need further justification, I lay it all out on table for you here.
Devin Ebanks, SF Los Angeles Lakers
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Devin Ebanks prefers to return to the Lakers, but while there is a mutual interest between the two parties, the market for his services is hotter than imagined.
Currently, there are a wealth of teams interested in signing Ebanks to multi-year deals, including the Western Conference champion Thunder and completely retooled Nets.
While Los Angeles has the right to match any offer, it is now in position to perpetuate the string of unwarranted contracts it already boasts.
Jerryd Bayless, PG Toronto Raptors
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Jerryd Bayless is a talented floor general, but his tenure in Toronto may be coming to close.
The deft slasher can still be of major value to the Raptors, but he is liable to get lost in the Steve Nash shuffle.
Even if Toronto misses out on Nash, Bayless could be worth more to a lot of teams, especially if the Raptors follow through on their lucrative three-year offer for Landry Fields and continue their back-channel pursuit of Jeremy Lin.
Some see Bayless—a skilled shooter and dribble penetrator—as a starting point guard one day.
That day won't come for him as a member of the Raptors.
Omer Asik, C Chicago Bulls
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Isn't this why we endured the NBA lockout, so that contractual offers such as these would cease to exist?
Apparently not, as the Rockets are already preparing to tender an offer sheet worth $25 million over the next three years to Bulls big man Omer Asik.
Once July 11 rolls around and Asik officially signs the offer, Chicago will have three days to match it, but they won't. And they shouldn't.
Asik is a fairly adept rim-protector, but the seven-footer isn't good for much else.
And unless the Bulls front office is feeling particularly self-destructive, the Rockets will find that out for themselves.
D.J. Augustin, PG Charlotte Bobcats
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Though the Bobcats extended a qualifying offer D.J. Augustin's way, don't bank on him returning to Charlotte.
Augustin is a savvy floor general with a nice jump shot and the ability to attack the rim. Once the free-agency dust settles on remaining marquee point guards like Goran Dragic, Jeremy Lin and Steve Nash, though, a fundamentally sound player like Augustin will be in high demand for teams that missed out.
And with the Bobcats sold on the versatile abilities of Kemba Wallker, matching any significant offer makes little sense, even for Michael Jordan.
The window for him to return is still there, but more likely than not, Augustin has played his last game for Charlotte.
Nicolas Batum, SF Portland Trail Blazers
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The Trail Blazers failed to ink Nicolas Batum to an extension earlier this past season. They're now going to pay the price.
Figuratively, not literally.
The Timberwolves have already offered Batum a four-year deal worth as much as $50 million, a tag Portland will not be willing to match, as it's intent on filling more pressing needs elsewhere.
Batum is a noticeably athletic wing who can shoot, attack the rim, rebound and provide great perimeter defense. But he's still relatively unproven, and Minnesota has officially set his market value far too high.
For the Blazers, at least.
Roy Hibbert, C Indiana Pacers
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Roy Hibbert was one of the restricted free agents projected to be going nowhere, but things have changed.
On the heels of potentially losing Nicolas Batum, the Blazers offered Hibbert a four-year, $58 million deal, the maximum allowed under the current CBA.
Could the Pacers match? Of course, but don't hold your breath.
While Hibbert is a great defender and has developed a nice touch around the rim, he's foul-prone and sometimes sloppy with the ball in his hands.
Truth be told, Indiana doesn't really know what it has in Hibbert—a bona fide star or a sound complementary piece—hence the exploration of Plan B in Chris Kaman.
After a season of promise, it doesn't seem a Hibbert-led Pacers squad will be taking the floor next season.
Landry Fields, SG New York Knicks
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The newly-instituted CBA is seriously doing wonders for a league wrought with absurd contracts, isn't it?
Landry Fields is a great rebounder for his position who can score at the rim or knock down the open three, but he disappears down the stretch and has yet to prove his worth during the postseason.
And yet, the Raptors have verbally agreed to offer Fields a three-year deal worth close to $20 million.
The move is hardly basketball related, as it diminishes what little hope the Knicks had of acquiring Steve Nash even further, yet that doesn't make it easy to embrace.
New York will still have the right to match, but unless Toronto rescinds its offer by July 11, Fields has likely played his last game as a member of the Knicks.
Eric Gordon, SG New Orleans Hornets
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After bringing Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers into the fold, Eric Gordon would logically want to remain in New Orleans, right?
Gordon is prepared to sign a maximum offer sheet worth $58 million over four years with the Suns.
That said, this is a truly unique case, as the Hornets are prepared to match such an offer. Ultimately, though, they'll opt to work out a sign-and-trade for a player who clearly wants out, and they'll receive whatever value they can from his departure.
Because depart he will.