The NBA’s top restricted free agents during the 2013 offseason won’t be given nearly as much attention as their unrestricted brethren. Nonetheless, they are still talented players whom NBA general managers will look to target this summer in order to improve.
The Milwaukee Bucks will have the final say regarding Brandon Jennings’ NBA destiny, so another NBA team would have to step up with a big offer to try and pry him away.
More often than not, restricted free agents end up staying put if their teams have the financial capability to keep them in town. So will the restricted free agents in 2013 remain with their current teams, or switch uniforms as their careers move forward?
“Psycho T” has carved a niche as a steady role player with the Indiana Pacers. However, Tyler Hansbrough’s four-year NBA career thus far gives a good idea of what type of player he will be moving forward.
Sure, Hansbrough will score some points, grab some rebounds and hustle his rear end off, but he’s also a selfish player (0.5 assists per game for his career), and his defense is well below par (0.2 blocks and 0.6 steals per game for his career).
You have to admire his hustle, but big guys who are one-way players and who score the ball at a 42.7 percent clip (Hansbrough’s career percentage) are a dime a dozen. He’s not a vital piece to Indiana’s puzzle moving forward.
Look for an NBA team to overpay for his services based upon performances when David West was sidelined in March, when Hansbrough notched four double-doubles in six games.
Prediction: Charlotte Bobcats
Other Possible Landing Spots: Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers
Above all else, NBA GMs know what they are getting from Darren Collison. Throughout his career, Collison has consistently averaged approximately 30 minutes, 12 points, five assists and three rebounds per game. Those numbers aren’t spectacular, but NBA teams could do much worse, especially considering Collison’s above-average defense.
Collison has played for three different NBA teams during a four-year career. He’s struggled to find a steady home, but his talents will give him options in free agency, options that may not include the Dallas Mavericks.
Mark Cuban and the Mavs will undoubtedly look to make a big splash during the summer of 2013. Honestly, they have to do so in order to make Dirk Nowitzki happy.
While they may not land a “sexy” name like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, re-signing Collison probably isn’t a huge priority.
There’s an outside chance that he’ll return, but I imagine Collison changing uniforms yet again.
Prediction: Utah Jazz
Other Possible Landing Spots: Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards
Gerald Henderson has solidified his spot as a legitimate scorer in the NBA. He may play for the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, but he’s a talented player capable of some truly impressive performances.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Henderson eclipsed 30 points three times and scored 20 points or more 11 times. He could afford to improve his three-point shooting, as he shot just 33 percent from beyond the arc this season, but he converted 44.7 percent of his shots from the field and 82.4 percent of his free throws.
Henderson is certainly a valuable basketball player, but the Bobcats need to decide whether he’ll be a part of their future plans. Should Charlotte land the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft (where it's projected), it could potentially take Ben McLemore out of Kansas to be the new starting shooting guard. McLemore had an up-and-down NCAA tournament, but his potential could outweigh what Henderson offers.
Charlotte isn’t exactly close to competing for a championship, so it could afford to let another team sign (or maybe overpay) Henderson.
Prediction: Atlanta Hawks
Other Possible Landing Spots: Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks
Tyreke Evans needs a change of scenery in the worst way. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie, but never regained those stellar numbers. His scoring, rebounding and assists averages have been on a steady decline in each year since his rookie season.
Unless the Sacramento Kings relocate to Seattle, however, seeing Evans play in a different city next season may not happen.
Even given the steady dip in numbers, I don’t believe that the Kings front office is finished with the Evans experiment just yet. As a restricted free agent, Evans will be at the mercy of the Kings’ decision-making.
The Sacramento guard did record a career-low two turnovers per game while shooting a career-high 33.8 percent from three-point range in 2012-13, but just about every other part of Evans’ game lacked the previous luster.
If the Kings can continue to build through the draft and add an elusive small forward to their system, they could move forward with a solid core built around Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.
If nothing else, Evans will come at a discounted price due to his yearly regression. So perhaps Sacramento can get him to return to form and flip him via trade later in the season for future assets.
Prediction: Sacramento Kings
Other Possible Landing Spots: Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns
Despite having to battle injuries throughout his career, Nikola Pekovic has established himself as one of the league’s premier centers.
He played 47 of a possible 66 games during the lockout-shortened season in 2011-12, which can be viewed as his breakout year. He played 62 of a possible 82 games during the 2012-13 campaign, which is disconcerting, but literally everyone on Minnesota’s roster was hurt at one point or another this season.
Despite the injury troubles, Pek is built like a Sequoia tree and can provide a great one-two punch with the all-around game of Kevin Love (if the two can stay healthy).
The Timberwolves whiffed in the 2009 draft by drafting Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings. As a result, they simply can’t afford to let Pekovic get away this summer (under any circumstance).
With a healthy roster, the Timberwolves are a Western Conference playoff team. They’ve simply seen a string of bad luck ruin a postseason opportunity.
Look for Minnesota not only to bring Pekovic back, but also to make a playoff run in 2014.
Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves
Other Possible Landing Spots: Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks
Brandon Jennings made headlines leading up to the postseason for his bold claim that the Milwaukee Bucks would beat the Miami Heat in six games in their first-round series. You can’t exactly blame Jennings for being confident and believing in his team, but you can blame Jennings for his putrid playoff performance.
After a steady performance in Game 1 (26 points on 8-of-20 shooting), Jennings went MIA. In Games 2, 3 and 4, the Bucks point guard scored 27 points combined. He shot an abysmal 2-of-18 from beyond the arc (11.1 percent) and 9-of-37 from the field (24.3 percent).
Needless to say, Jennings may have played his way out of a max contract.
It also doesn’t help that the majority of NBA teams aren’t in the market for a point guard this summer. The Utah Jazz could replace Mo Williams. Atlanta will need a replacement if they can’t sign Jeff Teague. Dallas could use an upgrade and Detroit could be on the lookout, but that’s about it.
A lack of demand for the point guard position, coupled with Jennings’ failure to walk the walk after talking the talk, could lead to an uneventful reunion with Milwaukee.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks
Other Possible Landing Spots: Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons