Raps G Jerryd Bayless is now unrestricted free agent, agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN. Raps have pulled qualifying offer to make Bayless UFA— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 6, 2012
Zip, bang, boom: The free agent market gains another solid unrestricted option as Bayless has suddenly shifted from being a valuable insurance policy to being completely expendable. The Raps now have both Lowry and perpetually underrated playmaker Jose Calderon, leaving precious few minutes for Bayless in the rotation and even less for him on the balance sheet.
But the fact that Bayless was cast off by a lottery club shouldn't negate the fact that he had a truly productive and important fourth NBA season.
Bayless is clearly a class apart from the league's premier up-and-coming point guards, but he quietly grew while initiating the Raptors' offense last season. He's still very much capable of being a starting-caliber point in the right offensive context, and at only 23 years old, his best years are very clearly ahead of him.
Yet for reasons that almost assuredly stem from Bayless' distinctive style, he's never been all that coveted in a league-wide context. He's been dangled in deals, parked on the trading block and marginalized with limited minutes—in many cases for valid reason. It wasn't until the most recent campaign that Bayless' approach began to reap legitimate dividends, and thus his newfound unrestricted free agency should also double as a test of which scouts were really paying attention.
An unspectacular point guard who missed half of the regular season on the 11th best team in the Eastern Conference doesn't move the needle much on a macro sale, but this is a promising player nonetheless—prime for a role as a bucket-getting sixth or seventh man or an orchestrator and perimeter shooter in a basic offense.