5 Restricted NBA Free Agents Desperate to Bolt from Old Teams
Good NBA players who eventually face restricted free agency can sometimes find the experience to be a bit frustrating.
They're so close to freedom—getting to handpick which team is best for them to flourish on—yet so far, with their current team having the opportunity to match any other contract offer placed on the table.
This offseason, the pool of NBA restricted free agents isn't very tantalizing, but here are five players, ranked by overall skill, who have their immediate futures still up in the air. All five could be more than happy to end up on a different team next season.
5. Gary Neal
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Gary Neal should have no beefs with the San Antonio Spurs. They gave him an opportunity to take open shots in the NBA, and he has taken advantage of it, with a few coming at the most opportune times.
However, if Neal stays in San Antonio, he'll stay buried beneath the likes of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili (who just signed a two-year contract) and new addition Marco Belinelli. Neal has only been in the league three years, but he's already 28 years old.
This summer, months after exhibiting some fine three-point shooting in an epic NBA Finals, could be his last opportunity for Neal to cash in. He'll be 29 years old by the time next season starts and if he wants to make more money while averaging more than 20 minutes a night, he'll have to leave a beneficial situation behind him in San Antonio.
4. Gerald Henderson
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Among all of this summer's NBA free agents, it's safe to say that nobody wants to leave his current situation more than Gerald Henderson.
Four years with the Charlotte Bobcats will do that to you. Henderson has played 234 games in his career and won in just 77 of them.
A burgeoning connoisseur of the mid-range game, the 25-year-old Henderson shot 43.7 percent between 16 feet out and the three-point line last season, according to Basketball-Reference.com. He has improved every season, has a decent post game, a trusty jumper and enough size on defense to hang with shooting guards and (extra) small forwards.
Henderson could contribute on a contender if given the opportunity, and if he enjoys the feeling that accompanies winning games, his days in Charlotte could be numbered.
3. Brandon Jennings
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
A shoot-first point guard whose outside reputation and inherent confidence rest a few steps beyond his actual skill level, Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks have always felt like an awkward pair.
As a player who feels the need to stand out and go against the grain, Jennings is on record with his desire to leave Milwaukee, in search of a larger market to better suit his showy yet inefficient playing style.
Last season, he averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists, which are perfectly fine numbers for a franchise point guard to put up, but he shot less than 40 percent from the floor for the third time in four seasons.
At 23 years old, Jennings has yet to show he can be a lead ball-handler on a competitive team. It'll be interesting to see if any team that needs a point guard—there aren't many—believes he can someday develop into what he already thinks he is.
2. Jeff Teague
Paul Abell/Getty Images
According to a report at Hoopsworld, The Atlanta Hawks are weary of compensating Jeff Teague like the franchise point guard some believe he can one day be, and that's large enough of a reason for him to want out.
And "out" is exactly what could happen, with news leaking (via CBS Sports.com) that the Milwaukee Bucks are higher on Teague's abilities than the Hawks. Even if they don't take back Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade, Atlanta appears ready to move on, drafting German point guard Dennis Schroeder and putting itself in the hunt for free-agent guard Monta Ellis.
Teague is a fine player, but he's two years older than Jrue Holiday. He is not as good as Holiday either, but Teague wants about the same money. He'd be smart to look elsewhere for it.
1. Nikola Pekovic
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
It would appear Nikola Pekovic could be on the doorstep of a successful four- to five-year run with the Minnesota Timberwolves. And though it's been rumored that a return is near, that has recently been stalled. Pek might be (wisely?) checking his other options.
Grouped with prodigious point guard Ricky Rubio and perennial All-Star/franchise cornerstone Kevin Love, Pekovic has two perfect pieces around him to heighten his skills and stats.
Then again, it's Minnesota, a franchise with as bleak a history as any. That was proven true by the Timberwolves' solid tradition of letting good situations turn sour for no rational reason.
The fact that Love can opt out of his contract in 2015, is another one. It's probable that he will do just that, leaving Pekovic in no man's land without the league's best rebounder by his side.
Basketball-Reference.com projects Pekovic to average 18.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes next season while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor. If he does that, no matter what team he's playing for, he'll be an All-Star.