We're fast approaching the phase in the NBA offseason where things go dormant. Nearly every top-level free agent has found a home—new or familiar—and the trade winds have begun really dying down after a white-hot start.
On the free-agency side, the best remaining players on the market aren't all that free. They're the restricted free agents—guys whose rights are owned by franchises and only allowed to go elsewhere if their current team lacks an interest in bringing them back.
The restricted free-agent market tends to move at a glacial speed. There is the occasional Tyreke Evans signing, but generally speaking, restricted free agents are near-taboo—mostly because the league's collective bargaining agreement stacks the deck for the incumbent franchise.
Though less restrictive than the previous agreement, teams that sign restricted free agents to offer sheets face an untenable few days—especially during the moratorium period. When a player is signed to an offer sheet, a cap hold—a superficial charge that holds the amount a player will make against his signing team—is placed on that franchise.
That hold puts teams in a situation where they are unsure how much cap room they have remaining, affecting their negotiations with other guys on the market. Under the old collective bargaining agreement, incumbent teams had 10 days to decide whether to match a contract—a crippling time frame that led to an innumerable amount of power plays. Teams only have three days under this new deal, which is less restrictive but still leads to a cooling period on restricted free agents.
Thus, we have our top remaining players usually coming in the form of those players. But as the unrestricted pool dies down, we should see some deals for restricted guys forthcoming.
With that in mind, here is a quick look at the latest info on restricted free agents.
Bobcats' First Priority Remains Re-Signing Henderson?
Gerald Henderson still being on the market is a bit strange. The Bobcats are in need of basketball players who can play the sport. If their summer league performance on Friday is any indication, they're a long way away from having many of those. Henderson, who averaged 15.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season, was at times Charlotte's best two-way player.
So why does Henderson not have a deal, while the Bobcats gave Al Jefferson nearly $14 million per season? Well, other than Bobcats gon' Bobcat? (We all know Bobcats gon' Bobcat until they can't Bobcat no more.)
Other than that, though? Your guess is as good as mine.
The two sides have seemingly hit an impasse in negotiations, and Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that the Bobcats were moving to find a sign-and-trade partner:
Nothing has materialized yet, which has given the two sides opportunities to meet and try to find an amenable grounds. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported that the latest meet-and-greet went well between Henderson's representatives and Bobcats management, and Charlotte still prioritizes re-signing him over everything else.
Which of course it should. Jeffery Taylor would ostensibly take Henderson's spot in the starting lineup next season if he heads elsewhere. Taylor is a nice player and will have a long career as a bench cog, but that downgrade would be rather major from Charlotte's perspective.
Some will generously refer to Henderson as a three-and-D guy, the nickname given to perhaps the league's most coveted asset at this point—a wing who can stretch the floor with his jumper and play solid perimeter defense.
Giving him the three portion of that moniker is being a biiiit generous. Henderson shot a below-average 33 percent from beyond the arc last season and only took 1.5 attempts per game. He, like many of his compatriots, played a role in the spacing hell that was the Bobcats offense last season.
Henderson is more of a mid-range-and-d kind of player. He hit a very solid 43.4 percent of his shots in the mid-range last year, creating a good amount for himself off the dribble. A quick look at Henderson's shot chart would make Richard Hamilton proud, considering his best area on the floor is on both elbows. The Bobcats ran a few catch-and-shoot plays for Henderson, with the purpose of getting him the ball at those spots, and had middling success. Synergy Sports measured that Henderson shot just 36 percent on attempts coming off screens.
But he's also a solid on-ball defender, though he did get burned a bit on rotations out on shooters and sometimes struggles on pick-and-roll coverage. Two-way players are one of the league's most valuable commodities at this point. Charlotte has very few of those types of players. Henderson is the most reliable option. The two sides need each other, so expect a deal to get done.
T'Wolves, Pekovic Still Not Finding Amenable Middle Ground?
Expected by some to be the most sought-after restricted free agent on the market, Nikola Pekovic watched idly as the market for his services went Mojave dry. Dwight Howard's signing with the Houston Rockets had no effect on Pekovic—they wouldn't have been players regardless—but a ton of secondary moves from teams in need of a center left the big man without much leverage.
The Mavericks decided to sign Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, as reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com, rather than making a big run at Pek. Atlanta got Paul Millsap on the cheap, consigning Al Horford to a lifetime at the 5. Andrew Bynum chose to take an extremely team-friendly contract in Cleveland, just days after the Trail Blazers pilfered Robin Lopez from the Pelicans.
That sound you heard was Pekovic's leverage flying out the window. I never knew leverage sounded like Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop." Learn something new every day, I guess.
On the bright side for Pek, the Timberwolves have made it clear throughout this process they plan on taking care of him. Minnesota aspires to a No. 7 or 8 seed in a loaded Western Conference next season, a plan that will forever go half-baked without re-signing Pekovic.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week the two sides were close on a four-year, $50 million pact, but suddenly, mum was the word. There has been no announcement made, even as Minnesota made some financial rejiggering moves to make a big Pekovic deal feasible without a massive luxury-tax bill. On the surface it seemed like a totally fair-market contract, one that might even be a bit of an overpay from Minnesota, considering the lack of competition.
Still, things are progressing slowly. According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, don't expect a deal to be finalized for at least the next week:
Perhaps the dollar figure presented by Wojnarowski was a little premature, but this deal is going to get done. Pekovic has no other suitors, will make more than double his $5.8 million qualifying offer next season under any possible deal and will do so in a city that's increasingly fallen in love with his game.
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