5 2014 NBA Restricted Free Agents Likely to Change Teams
Restricted free agency in the NBA can be a very tricky thing. More often than not, players end up re-signing with their own teams, through one of two means. Either the player and team negotiate a deal on their own, or a player goes out and signs an offer sheet, and his original team matches.
The thought of losing an asset for nothing isn't ideal for general managers, so usually steps are taken to avoid this. Whether that means a sign-and-trade deal or something else, it's pretty rare to see a team just let a player go via restricted free agency.
With that being said, this year's crop of restricted free agents features quite a few flight risks, mainly because they no longer fit or because they may try and force their way out and earn a payday that's too difficult to swallow.
The following five restricted free agents may not all leave by signing an offer sheet their original team refuses to match, but here's guessing one way or another they'll be changing teams this offseason.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
The disaster in Detroit this year has been well covered, as we all know the frontcourt of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond failed on multiple levels to get results. The Pistons had the talent of a playoff team, but the fit was not a pretty one.
Would that alone be enough for whoever takes over as general manager in Detroit to simply let Monroe walk? Probably not. He's too good of an asset, even if he pulls down the type of contract most expect. Here's David Aldridge at NBA.com with more on that:
The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe's agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he'd get for his clients for two decades -- and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract.
Two years ago, when a big deal for Indiana's Roy Hibbert, a Falk client, seemed doubtful, Falk created a one-team market. Portland dropped a four-year, $58 million sheet on Indiana for Hibbert. The Pacers matched, and are no doubt happy they did, but Falk proved he can still find suitors when he has to for his guys.
What might be likely at this point is for Monroe to demand a sign-and-trade or to ask Detroit not to match, maybe even threatening a holdout if they do. While those scare tactics might not work and could make things really ugly, Monroe might need to save his career at this point and get with a team that knows how to use him.
Although they'll need something in return for him, it would seem to benefit both parties to trade Monroe to a team with cap space, like the Sacramento Kings did last year with restricted free agent Tyreke Evans. If Josh Smith is still with the Pistons, Monroe should be elsewhere this offseason.
Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is going to reach a crossroads this offseason because of restricted free agent Avery Bradley. Should he continue the full-scale rebuild and dump mid-level contracts for draft picks, or will he view Bradley as a member of a young core (that presumably includes Rajon Rondo) around which to build?
It's hard to say which way Ainge is leaning, but a lot will depend on the price. Here's Adam Kaufman at Boston.com with more:
It’s a foregone conclusion that Ainge will extend his player a $3.6 million qualifying offer, but what then? Bringing Bradley back for around $4 million annually over multiple seasons would be a coup, especially since the speculation prior to this year’s setback was that he could earn in the neighborhood of $30 million across four seasons. It’s why he didn’t want to sign a contract extension prior to the October 31 deadline and why he reportedly turned down a four-year, $24 million deal from the C’s over the summer.
It wouldn't be a surprise if other teams in need of a great defensive guard on the perimeter smelled blood in the water and made Boston pony up to keep Bradley. It's pretty rare for teams to make qualifying offers that they know the other team will match, so it's very possible that Bradley gets a deal around $8 million a year that will really make Ainge think about it.
While a sign-and-trade isn't out of the question, it seems more likely that Bradley will sign an offer sheet elsewhere outright and sign with that team. Losing a young asset will hurt, but occupying so much of the cap space with a non-elite player might be viewed as much more damaging in the long term.
Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies
It's a bit surprising how little playing time Ed Davis has received for the Memphis Grizzlies, and that creates an interesting dynamic as his restricted free agency nears this offseason.
For a while it appeared like the Grizzlies may have been "hiding" Davis to keep his value from skyrocketing and making him too expensive, but those days are long gone. Davis has been a rarely used backup big, sometimes falling out of the rotation altogether. Davis has played only 15 minutes a game this season, and that's with Marc Gasol missing a large chunk of time.
Here's Joe Mullinax at SB Nation Blog Grizzly Bear Blues with more:
Zach Randolph is having another very good season, averaging a double-double. There is a distinct possibility that Zach will stay in Memphis, a city that loves him, for more years and less money. Ed Davis' style of play and growing pains have not endeared him to the Memphis community like Zach's development as a player and as a man here in the Bluff City has. Amongst Grizz Nation, Ed Davis has been a scapegoat for poor play, much like he was Lionel Hollins' scape goat. Heading into restricted free agency, it is hard to see Ed Davis, with playing time once again inconsistent under a difference Head Coach, as a Grizzly much longer.
Davis is clearly talented, but given Memphis' tricky financial situation and the small role he's played, it would seem like any substantial offer for him in restricted free agency would be enough to make the Grizzlies look elsewhere.
That's probably best for Davis, who could really use the playing time to further develop. There's a lot of talent present, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a team in need of a big man recognize that.
Ekpe Udoh, Milwaukee Bucks
Ekpe Udoh's situation isn't all that different from Davis. A fomer lottery pick with great length and shotblocking abilities, Udoh has struggled mightily to receive consistent minutes and outplay the frontcourt options ahead of him on the roster.
Here's Royce Young of CBSSports.com on Milwaukee's impending decision:
They don't have a whole lot of pending cap space -- about $10 million -- but do have the ability to make smart additions. Assuming they make a qualifying offer to Ekpe Udoh, they'll have a decision to make whether or not to match on any offer sheet he gets as a restricted free agent.
Given the emergence of John Henson and the long-term contracts of Zaza Pachulia and Larry Sanders, the Bucks might have a hard time justifying a decent payday for a fourth big man who overlaps quite a bit with the rest of the roster.
That might be particularly true if new management takes over alongside the new ownership, as investing in mid-level existing players from another regime isn't always ideal.
Udoh is a promising talent who could fit on a lot of different rosters, but Milwaukee just isn't one of them. It would be a surprise if they matched an offer sheet on Udoh.
Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri is going to have an extremely busy offseason ahead of him. The first priority will likely be retaining unrestricted free agent point guard Kyle Lowry.
After that, though, it's tough to say what Ujiri will do. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, both acquired from the Sacramento Kings in the Rudy Gay trade, will be restrictred free agents. Both Vasquez and Patterson have had some really big moments off the bench for the Raptors, but it may be difficult to retain both.
That's especially true for Vasquez, who has proven in multiple different stops that he's a very competent point guard who has the size and smarts to play off the ball as well. While Vasquez has filled that role perfectly for Toronto, it's possible a team may be ready to give him a little more playing time and cash than Ujiri is comfortable with.
That's particularly noteworthy when you consider how many solid point guards there are in the league. Spending valuable cap space on a backup point guard might not be ideal.
While investing in Vasquez long term might not be likely, Ujiri has re-signed players only to trade them a few months down the line. Either way, it doesn't seem likely that Vasquez will be with the Raptors for the long haul, especially when you consider how much he's bounced around the league in the past.