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2013 Restricted Free Agents NBA Teams Are Most Likely to Let Walk

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

2013 Restricted Free Agents NBA Teams Are Most Likely to Let Walk

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    The Sacramento Kings extended a qualifying offer to Tyreke Evans on Tuesday, officially making him a free agent and kicking off a few weeks of "will he stay or will he go?" speculation.

    The first few weeks following the NBA Finals always seem exciting, although the new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players has calmed things down a bit.

    Teams have to extend qualifying offers to eligible players by June 30 if they want to make them restricted free agents, which is followed by a moratorium on player movement until the league's audit is completed.

    Players can sign qualifying offers with teams during that period, but very little is allowed besides re-signing players already on the roster or inking rookie deals.

    That means restricted free agents get a handful of days to shop their value around the league before taking the best offer back to their team.

    The question we're looking at right now is which of the players who are eligible to become restricted free agents will actually land back with their old teams?

    It was once a foregone conclusion that a hefty portion of the group would be back in their old uniform, but very few things are certain with wasted salary being extremely detrimental to teams under the current CBA.

    A lot of players are no-brainers to return to their current teams, but there are a few whom we can look at and determine they'll be on the move without question.

Honorable Mention

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    Nikola Pekovic: Pek is one of the most sought-after restricted free agents this summer, and it's likely going to be a bonanza during the July moratorium to get him to sign an offer sheet.

    Not only is he becoming a dominant force on defense, but his offensive game has progressing nicely over the years.

    Look for Minnesota to match nearly any offer within reason, but he could be grabbed if some team would like to go outside of reason.

    Tyreke Evans: While Evans was the second-leading scorer on the Sacrament Kings last season, he's also one of roughly 284 guards on the Kings, and one of 573 guys who need the ball in their hands to produce.

    Evans will likely end up back in Sacramento, but a big offer from elsewhere could force Sacramento to give him up.

    Brandon Jennings: Jennings is in an interesting situation, as they prefer to keep Monta Ellis over him, but Ellis could be on his way out the door.

    Milwaukee won't match a ridiculous offer for Jennings, but in order to put any quality player on the floor, they might go a bit more expensive than they would have hoped.

     

10. Tiago Splitter

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    2013 Salary: $3.9 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $4.9 Million

    Reason for Leaving: Freeing up interesting scenarios.

     

    Tiago Splitter was integral to the Spurs all the way through the playoffs, at least until they got into the NBA Finals.

    Once there, he was too slow and unsure of himself to do more than play a few minutes here and there against a more athletic group of players.

    While it's likely that San Antonio will extend the qualifying offer to Splitter, if the bidding gets too high they have some lucrative alternatives to overpaying the big man.

    San Antonio could possibly go into free agency with nearly $17 million in cap space, should Splitter, Gary Neal and Manu Ginobili all walk, which would free them up to make some interesting moves.

    There are some capable big men on the market, but one that stands out as a "Spurs" man more than any other is Paul Millsap.

    San Antonio will likely play it safe upon their first option, but Plan B could get intriguing. 

9. Eric Maynor

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    2013 Salary: $2.3 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $3.4 Million

    Reason for Leaving: Delicious, succulent cap space.

     

    While Eric Maynor is probably worth the $3.4 million qualifying offer that the Trail Blazers would have to extend to him, his worth is much more evident on successful teams.

    In his short time with Portland, he was a solid backup point guard and their most proficient player on the bench. However, he's not worth a ton to a team gunning for the 10th seed in the Western Conference.

    Where Portland could really stand to gain is if they let him walk, relieve themselves of the cap hold that he would put on their books, and pursue other free agents who could make a legitimate impact on their team.

    Maynor will get paid somewhere in the neighborhood of his qualifying offer, but probably not in Portland.

8. Gary Neal

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    2013 Salary: $972,000

    Qualifying Offer: $1.1 Million

    Reason for Leaving: A free agent bonanza.

     

    What's interesting about Neal is that he isn't a Spurs type of player by definition, as his consistency is always in flux, and his defensive awareness is definitely not on par with the rest of his team.

    However, Gregg Poppovich always likes to have those "wild card" players on the bench like Robert Horry or Nick Van Exel to keep things interesting, so he does serve a purpose.

    Much like Splitter's situation, the Spurs could convince themselves that the cap space is more valuable than actually bringing Neal back for another season or two.

    What is likely is that San Antonio will extend the qualifying offer to Neal, who is owed just over a million bucks next season, but if the price tag gets too high, they won't have a problem letting him go.

7. Rodrigue Beaubois

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    2013 Salary: $2.2 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $3.3 Million

    Reason for Leaving: Too much money, too little improvement.

     

    After starting out his career as an explosive backup point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, Rodrigue Beaubois has fizzled faster than a flat soda.

    He shot 52 percent from the field in his rookie campaign and has barely gotten within 10 percent of that in the past three seasons.

    Put simply, he's not worth $3.3 million to any team, and he's not worth the cap hold for the Mavericks, who plan on making big moves this summer.

    No qualifying offer should be extended, and Roddy Buckets will most likely be elsewhere next season.

6. Ben Hansbrough

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    2013 Salary: $473,064

    Qualifying Offer: $1.9 Million

    Reason for Leaving: No reason for staying.

     

    What did Ben Hansbrough add to the Indiana Pacers last season?

    He scored 57 points, was lucky to see more than garbage minutes, and was able to give his brother somebody to play checkers with on flights around the country.

    Otherwise, he was a complete waste of a roster spot and a glorified insurance policy.

    It makes more sense for the Pacers to pick up another player on a minimum contract and see how he does, rather than give anything more to Hansbrough.

5. James Johnson

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    2013 Salary: $2.8 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $3.95 Million

    Reason for Leaving: $4 million is laughable.

     

    The Kings gave up a second-round pick last summer to give James Johnson a chance on a third team during his rookie contract.

    Surprisingly enough, he was even less impressive in his year with the Kings than he was in the past three seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors.

    Johnson just isn't worth what a mid-level role player should be making in the NBA, and he's not probably not worth the roster spot on the Kings.

    Don't expect a qualifying offer from Sacramento, and if he does come back to the Kings it will probably be at an even cheaper price than last season.

4. Pablo Prigioni

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    2013 Salary: $473,604

    Qualifying Offer: ~$1 Million

    Reason for Leaving: Spain is cooler than New York, I guess.

     

    Pablo Prigioni played basketball in Spain from 1999 through until 2012 before the Knicks gave him a one-year deal to make him a 35-year-old rookie.

    Unfortunately, his wife isn't a fan of New York City, at least according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

    Beyond that, Prigioni is worth more than a million bucks on the open market.

    That's relevant to the situation because of New York's salary situation. Anything over the qualifying offer would dig into their minimum mid-level exception, which they would like to use to pick up another player.

    Expect the qualifying offer to come, but he could be gone quicker than he came around.

3. Toney Douglas

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    2013 Salary: $2.1 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $3 Million

    Reason for Leaving: Cap space, baby.

     

    Toney Douglas has been bopping around the league for four years now, and he's in a steady decline ever since leaving the New York Knicks.

    While he legitimately puts for the effort to help his team, it might just be that he's not a great player.

    Sacramento would likely rather have the cap space that letting him go would create, rather than battle back-and-forth over what he's worth.

    Douglas isn't worth much to the guard-heavy Kings, so he's likely going to have to find somewhere else to miss layups.

2. Omri Casspi

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    2013 Salary: $2.3 Million

    Qualifying Offer: $3.3 Million

    Reason for Leaving: He's terrible.

     

    Coming into the NBA, Omri Casspi was expected to be a solid defender with great size at the small forward spot, who could also knock down three-pointers with ease.

    He's done neither for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the past two seasons.

    Casspi has played fewer minutes every year since his first with the Sacramento Kings, and giving him $3.3 million would be like givin Luke Walton a six-year $30 million after he averaged just 11 points per game.

    In other words, expect Cleveland to let him walk, and they'll do so happily.

1. Chris Copeland

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    2013 Salary: $473,604

    Qualifying Offer: ~$1 Million

    Reason for Leaving: He's got value.

     

    Chris Copeland would be perfect for the New York Knicks next season, mostly because he's a body and can play basketball, but he's also a solid shooter who can space the floor.

    The only problem is that they've spent themselves into oblivion.

    Nothing they can do between now and the July moratorium can get them under the luxury tax line, meaning anything they spend on restricted free agents beyond their qualifying offer will be limited to the minimum mid-level exception.

    New York can give him up to $3.18 million, but anything more than that and they'll be left in the dust.

    With interest coming from the New Orleans Pelicans, all it could take is $3.19 million to steal him from New York.

    Copeland proved that he's a valuable player, so this seems to be an extremely likely scenario.

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