Some of the top free agents on the market this summer aren't as “free” as you might think.
In the National Basketball Association, there are two types of free agents: unrestricted and restricted.
In Layman’s terms, an unrestricted free agent can sign with whichever team he pleases. A restricted free agent can sign with any team, but his former team has the right to match the team making the offer. If you’re still confused, NBA.com has all of the definitions that you might need regarding how free agency works.
There aren’t a ton of restricted free agents on the market this summer, as many of the bigger names are unrestricted. That doesn’t mean that those who will be signing offer sheets won’t be making big impacts next season—whether it be with the team they played for this past season or on a new team. They can be just as good.
So, which restricted free agents are the ones will be on the minds of several front offices in the coming weeks? Well, let’s take a look at some of the notable players who will need permission to go elsewhere and give a bit of in-depth analysis on the top three in the class.
Notable Restricted Free Agents
|Jeff Teague||Atlanta Hawks||14.6||2.3||7.2|
|Gerald Henderson||Charlotte Bobcats||15.5||3.7||2.6|
|Darren Collison||Dallas Mavericks||12.0||2.7||5.1|
|Tyler Hansbrough||Indiana Pacers||7.0||4.6||0.4|
|Brandon Jennings||Milwaukee Bucks||17.5||3.1||6.5|
|Chase Budinger||Minnesota Timberwolves||9.4||3.1||1.1|
|Nikola Pekovic||Minnesota Timberwolves||16.3||8.8||0.9|
|Tyreke Evans||Sacramento Kings||15.2||4.4||3.5|
|Gary Neal||San Antonio Spurs||9.5||2.1||1.9|
|Tiago Splitter||San Antonio Spurs||10.3||6.4||1.6|
|For a full look at the 2013 free-agent class, head to ESPN.com.|
3. Tyreke Evans, G, Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans entered the NBA after a strong season at Memphis. He got off to a great start, averaging 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. That was enough to win him the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year Award. The problem, though, is that Evans hasn’t been as good ever since.
Evans has averaged fewer points per game in ever year since his rookie season. What’s weird is that his shooting percentage has actually increased since that year. The answer to the puzzle is that he’s been taking fewer shots, but making more of them. He averaged 16.2 attempts per game in 2009-10 and just 11.8 this past year.
Evans certainly isn’t among the elite guards in the NBA, but he’s still a valuable asset. If given at least 30 minutes per night, you can bet that he’s going to score at least 15 points. Several teams are going to be seeking guards who can put up numbers like that. The Kings could use their lottery pick to take a guard and thus, let him go wherever he wants this summer.
2. Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nikola Pekovic has only been in the league for three seasons, but he’s getting better and better with experience. As a rookie, he wasn’t playing much and didn’t get the opportunity to shine. It appears that he worked hard during practice, though, as he’s now emerging into one of the better big men in the league.
As a rookie in 2010-11, Pekovic only saw about 14 minutes per night. Last year, he was playing 27 minutes per night while scoring 13.9 points and grabbing 7.4 rebounds. Minnesota must’ve then realized his potential, as he got even more time on the floor this year, and was one of the team’s primary starters.
This past season, Pekovic averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, which are pretty good numbers. Several teams will certainly pursue him over the course of the offseason. Pekovic could end up being a big piece of an organization looking to get considerably better for not a ton of money.
1. Brandon Jennings, G, Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings if one of the good up-and-coming players in the NBA, but he isn’t at star status just yet. While Jennings has been a good scorer in his first four years in the NBA, he isn’t the most accurate shooter. But if a team allows him to take 15 or 16 shots per night, he has the potential to score at least 17 points per game.
Jennings has shot around 39 percent from the field over the course of his career and is not much of a deep threat. He’s only 35.4 percent accurate from downtown, but he tends to make his teammates better with crisp and accurate passes. Jennings also is a pretty good rebounder for a point guard, as he’s averaged 3.4 boards per game in his four years.
Teams seeking to acquire Jennings may have to pay a pretty penny, though. Monta Ellis told the Bucks that he’s going to opt out of his deal, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today). That means keeping Jennings in Milwaukee is even more important for the team going forward. The Bucks can’t lose two major scorers.
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