Restricted free agents differ from their unrestricted brethren for one key reason: their current teams have the ultimate say in where the athlete will play next season.
The restricted free agents of the 2012 NBA free-agent class can meet with other teams around the league. However, often times if their current organization likes what that player brings to the table, they'll match any offer to keep that guy in town.
For instance, although the Houston Rockets have signed Jeremy Lin to an offer sheet on a four-year $28.8 million deal, ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted that a source with knowledge of the New York Knicks' thought process believes New York "will match any offer on Lin up to one billion dollars."
Lin will have a starting job in New York next season, so I can't imagine he's too upset about that news.
However, for Eric Gordon and other players around the league, escaping the bad situations they're currently in will prove difficult.
Whether these players like it or not, they could stick around against their will or despite better individual situations elsewhere.
Note: While writing, O.J. Mayo and Ryan Anderson both made the list. However, Mayo became an unrestricted free agent when the Memphis Grizzlies didn't extend him his qualifying offer and Ryan Anderson was acquired today by the New Orleans Hornets via a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic.