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NBA Free Agency 2013: Essential Info to Remember During Signing Period

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers motions to his team during a 116-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on February 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJune 29, 2013

The NBA currently features a number of big names heading into free agency this season, but there is a bit of information you need to keep in mind while staying in touch with the latest rumors surrounding these players.

Big names like Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala could all potentially be moving to new teams this summer, but there are always things to consider before assuming that a deal can go through.  Things like the salary cap and what type of free agent they are can prevent a player from going to a different team.

Starting off, the NBA’s salary cap always plays a big role in free agency.  Unlike the NFL, the NBA features what is essentially a soft cap, meaning that a team can exceed the salary cap in order to keep their own players.  The cap changes year after year, but you can expect it to be close to $58 million based off of recent numbers.

Jumping off of the salary cap and heading into free agency, there are two types of free agents.  There are restricted (RFA) and unrestricted (UFA) free agents.

An unrestricted free agent is allowed to sign with any team that he wishes.  On the other hand, a restricted free agent creates a more unique situation.  The player’s current team has the right of first refusal if the player signs an offer sheet (aka a two-year deal or longer); then the current team can match the offer given in order to keep their player.  This is why the soft salary cap is important to know.  Current RFAs include Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans.

Along with Howard and Paul, there are a number of really solid players that fans should know are currently UFAs.  According to ESPN.com, these names include Josh Smith, Nate Robinson, O.J. Mayo, Jarrett Jack, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson and J.R. Smith.

Still, you need money to sign a star player.  A guy like one of those mentioned above will still call for a pretty hefty contract, but there several teams that could afford a big name this offseason.  According to SI.com, a few teams that could possibly have at least $10 million in cap space include the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers.

Remember that players are under contract until July 1.  Even once they become free agents, a large majority of players can’t be signed or traded until the salary cap is officially set for the 2013-14 season and the league’s audit is finished.  Some players that can be signed include first-rounders accepting their rookie-scale contracts and RFAs accepting qualifying offers from their previous team.

There’s plenty of more detailed information that you could learn, but now you know the basics and can prepare for free agency to begin. 

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