NBA Free Agent Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Top Restricted Free Agents

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJuly 1, 2013

Mar 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) brings the ball past Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (3) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Bucks 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to free agency, everyone is looking for the players who control their own futures to move to a major market in this Big Three era of NBA basketball. While all eyes are focused on the established superstars with that luxury, other free agents remain under their restricted status.

The question is, who are the top restricted free agents and what is the latest buzz surrounding their respective futures?

For those unfamiliar, a franchise has the right to make a preliminary offer to a player coming off of his rookie contract. If the team opts to do so, that player becomes a restricted free agent and his franchise has the right to match any offer from opposing organizations.

In 2013, there are quite a few RFAs with a star label slapped upon them. Here's the latest on where they might be heading.


Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings

Position: Guard/Forward

Age: 23

Experience: 4 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

18.16 PER, 15.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.4 SPG

The Sacramento Kings are experiencing a complete overhaul. They have a new owner, general manager and head coach. On top of this change in scenery, their franchise player, Tyreke Evans, is a restricted free agent.

According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, the New Orleans Pelicans are taking advantage of this opportunity and have offered Evans a four-year contract worth $44 million.

Evans has serious interest in signing with the Pelicans, and will likely agree to sign the deal if the Kings tell him later today in their meeting in Los Angeles that they will not match. Owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Pete D'Alessandro and coach Michael Malone are expected to take part in the meeting, and a person with knowledge of the Kings' thinking said they are considering matching the offer if he agrees to sign it. Evans is visiting with the Detroit Pistons before seeing the Kings.

The Pelicans are interested, Evans shares the intrigue and the Detroit Pistons have mountains of cap space—sounds like the Kings are in a sticky position.

Evans, 23, won the 2010 Rookie of the Year award after the Kings selected him fourth overall in the 2009 NBA draft. After struggling to maintain that level of play during his sophomore and third seasons, he bounced back in 2012-13.

After averaging 15.2 points and posting a Player Efficiency Rating of 18.16, it appears as if Evans has played himself into max-contract range.


Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

Position: Point Guard

Age: 23

Experience: 4 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

16.20 PER, 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG

In late May, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Milwaukee Bucks preferred to keep shooting guard Monta Ellis over point guard Brandon Jennings. Just over one month later, their stance appears to have changed.

According to Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel, the Bucks intend on keeping Jennings this summer.

[Bucks general manager John] Hammond said the team will be aggressive in trying to sign point guard Brandon Jennings to a long-term contract when free agency opens Monday...The Bucks already have made a $4.3 million qualifying offer to Jennings to retain the right to match any offers for the restricted free agent.

Regardless of who offers him a contract, the Bucks will have the final say on Jennings' future.

Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Jennings has expressed mutual interest in returning to Milwaukee. In fact, the way Jennings spoke of it made it seem as if his heart were already set on returning.

He's already set his sights on working with Milwaukee's new head coach and becoming the franchise's first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004.

I definitely want to do more for the city and the franchise. I want to make the playoffs and get out of the first round and become an All-Star for the Bucks. We haven't had one since Michael Redd so I want to be the first.

I believe [new head coach Larry Drew] can help me become an All-Star and a better player.

There really aren't many lines to read between—Jennings appears to be all but set on returning to Milwaukee.


Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves

Position: Center

Age: 27

Experience: 3 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

20.26 PER, 16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.7 ORPG, 52.0% FG

If you're looking for a player that's going to be paid more than you expected, it's bruising big man Nikola Pekovic. He's fresh off a season in which he averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds on a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.26 for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves extended an offer sheet to make him a restricted free agent, but they're far from alone in their pursuit of the 290-pound big man.

According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers have expressed "strong interest" in signing Pekovic. The two sides have not made contact just yet, but there is a strong possibility that Cleveland makes an offer.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Amico reports that the Timberwolves are unlikely to match a large offer for Pekovic.

This is somewhat surprising, as the 27-year-old has proven to be a strong low-post defender and was an excellent offensive rebounder. With that being said, Minnesota needs a rim protector, and that's not Pekovic's strength.

Regardless of who picks him up, Pekovic could earn a pretty penny and help set the market price for other big men.


Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks

Position: Point Guard

Age: 25

Experience: 4 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

16.82 PER, 14.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG

Perhaps one of the most under-the-radar restricted free agents is Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. This comes after the 25-year-old broke through with averages of 14.6 points, 7.2 assists and 1.5 steals in 2012-13.

It appears as if Teague could be reunited with a familiar face this summer—and it's not who you may think.

Larry Drew was Teague's head coach in Atlanta before the team let him go this past summer. The Milwaukee Bucks proceeded to hire him to the same position.

With the previously alluded to reports involving Jennings, it's unclear how strong Teague's chances are of joining the Bucks. Still, his relationship with Drew and his youth could be enough to sway Milwaukee's vote.

Either way, Milwaukee will be paying big money to a young point guard.