2011 NBA Free Agency: Marc Gasol and the Top 15 Restricted Free Agents
This year’s restricted free agent class includes several players, like Marc Gasol, who have experienced breakout seasons.
Restricted free agency is when a restricted free agent signs an offer sheet from another team and the parent team has seven days to match the offer to keep the player.
This offseason, some teams will offer lucrative multi-year deals to lock up some of these restricted free agents, so it will be interesting to see how the parent clubs respond.
Here are 15 restricted free agents who will garner much attention this offseason.
15. Dante Cunningham, Charlotte Bobcats
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Dante Cunningham can be a vital asset off the bench for a team looking to make a run.
Though the Villanova product has averaged just 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, he’s only 23-years-old and is on the verge of coming into his own.
His last eight games have been an indicator that there are signs of good things to come for Cunningham.
During that stretch, he’s averaged 7.3 points per game in 19.1 minutes.
Cunningham appears ready to take the next step in his career.
14. Yi Jianlian, Washington Wizards
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Yi Jianlian broke in with a bang for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007, averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Last year for the New Jersey Nets, Yi averaged a career-high 12.0 points per game starting at power forward.
However, the seven-footer has had injury troubles each year of his career.
This season, Yi has been relegated to a bench role for the lowly Washington Wizards.
A team willing to take a gamble may find lightning in a bottle with Yi.
13. Reggie Williams, Golden State Warriors
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Reggie Williams has quietly had a decent season for the Golden State Warriors, playing in the shadows of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
He’s averaged 9.4 points per game off the bench and has filled in as a starter when needed.
Williams shoots the three-ball well and can serve as an offensive spark off the bench.
He is the perfect role player who will give a team good minutes in whatever way he can.
12. Aaron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets
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Aaron Afflalo is enjoying a career year for the Denver Nuggets.
He has started 67 games and averaged 12.6 points per game while shooting lights out from three-point land.
Though he’s been out with a hamstring injury, Afflalo expects to return for the playoffs where the red-hot Nuggets will try to make some noise—even without Carmelo Anthony.
Afflalo has been a consistent force for Denver, so the Nuggets would be wise to lock him up.
11. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
While Blake Griffin can single-handedly fill up a highlight reel with his monster dunks, DeAndre Jordan isn’t too far behind.
Jordan is a powerful finisher around the glass who has played well all year for the Los Angeles Clippers.
He has averaged 7.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Griffin and Jordan can serve as a formidable tandem to a Clipper team that is on the upswing.
Jordan is likely to be a hot commodity among teams looking for an offensive and defensive presence.
10. Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons
Rodney Stuckey may not be one of the elite point guards in the game, but he could be a valuable asset to a team looking for depth.
Stuckey is averaging 14.9 points per game this year in mostly a starting role for the Detroit Pistons.
If the Pistons are content with Stuckey at the point guard’s spot, they will likely sign him to a deal.
Other teams may be more interested in Stuckey as a role player, where he could provide instant offense off the bench.
9. Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers
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Spencer Hawes has the potential to be a dominant force in the paint.
However, his stats have suffered slightly this season due to his nagging ankle injury.
He seems to be healthy and will gear up for a playoff run with the Philadelphia 76ers.
He’s averaged 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Hawes has developed a decent mid-range jumper as he attempts to become a complete player.
He’s another guy who can start or come off the bench, which should have teams lining up for his services.
8. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
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Mario Chalmers was expected to be the X-factor for the Miami Heat this season.
The Heat brought in the stars and put the responsibility on Chalmers to run the point.
Chalmers, however, has only started 28 games and has averaged 6.6 points per game.
He will miss the next two weeks with a knee injury, which will allow Mike Bibby to get the bulk of the minutes at point guard.
Chalmers started all 82 games and averaged 10 points per game in 2008-2009. A team wanting to sign him will hope he can return to that form.
7. Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers
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Greg Oden has only played in 82 games since being drafted in 2007.
He has been severely bitten by the injury bug and claims that he is still a long way away from returning to the court.
In 21 games last season, Oden played to his potential, averaging 11.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
With the emergence of LaMarcus Aldridge this season, it will be interesting to see what the Portland Trail Blazers do with Oden.
A healthy Oden and Aldridge could be dominant in the paint, but will Portland’s patience run out with their former first overall pick?
6. Marcus Thornton, Sacramento Kings
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After providing solid bench minutes for the New Orleans Hornets for the first 46 games of the season, Marcus Thornton was dealt to the Sacramento Kings for Carl Landry.
Upon his arrival in Sacramento, Thornton has found himself averaging 21.4 points through 14 games.
He has also shot 42.5 percent from the beyond the arch while with the Kings.
Thornton is proving that he can be a serviceable starter in this league, and he may get the chance to start for a contender next season.
5. Marco Belinelli, New Orleans Hornets
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Marco Belinelli has been a great find for the New Orleans Hornets this season.
He has started 58 games and averaged 10.3 points per game.
More importantly, he has hit clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch in games, which the Hornets hope he continues in the playoffs.
He goes through stretches of being deadly from three-point range, shooting 41 percent from behind the arch.
With uncertainty surrounding the future of Chris Paul and David West, the Hornets may look to Belinelli as part of their future.
4. Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets
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Wilson Chandler will likely draw plenty of attention this offseason.
Though the power forward will always be remembered as part of the famous Carmelo Anthony trade, Chandler has quietly put together a solid NBA career.
He has averaged close to 15 points per game each of the last three seasons, including 16.4 per game in 51 contests for the New York Knicks this year.
He has been a major part of the Denver Nuggets’ recent success.
Kenyon Martin is an unrestricted free agent, so the Nuggets will likely need to make a decision between the two.
Chandler is only 23, so he seems to be the logical choice.
3. Aaron Brooks, Phoenix Suns
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Coming off a monster year in 2009-2010, averaging 19.6 points while starting all 82 games, Aaron Brooks was poised for another huge season.
However, injuries limited him to just 34 games for the Houston Rockets and even led to his trade to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic.
Brooks has been providing solid bench minutes for the Suns, averaging 8.4 points in 16.8 minutes.
Depending on what the Suns intend to do with Steve Nash, Brooks may or may not factor into their future.
If not, multiple teams will be prepared to offer Brooks a starting gig.
2. Jeff Green, Boston Celtics
Jeff Green was the ultimate compliment to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the Oklahoma City Thunder before being dealt with Nenad Krstic to the Boston Celtics for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.
Green is an exciting player who can light up the scoreboard from the outside.
After starting 208-of-209 career games for the Thunder, Green has been coming off the bench for the mighty Celtics.
He will be an integral part for Boston’s playoff run, but there will likely be a team willing to offer him time as a starter this offseason.
Whether or not that team will be the Celtics remains to be seen.
1. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
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Marc Gasol has established himself as an up-and-coming big man in the NBA.
He has put together three consecutive solid seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies and can further make a name for himself with a strong showing in the playoffs.
The 7’1” center got off to a roaring start this season, but he has cooled down somewhat as the season has progressed.
Gasol has averaged 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
If Memphis is unable to match another team’s offer, Gasol will likely be heading for a new home.