0 out of 5
Gerald Herbert / Associated press
Restricted free agents are not as free as they seem. Other teams may come up with lucrative deals, but the team’s matching rights in place mean there is no doubt who holds power during the NBA offseason.
Particularly unhappy RFA can regain some weight by signing a qualifying offer with their current team, like Kristaps Porzingis threatened to do in 2019. But it’s a risky path to unrestricted free agency, the following out of season. If something goes wrong – injury or decreased performance – the player will wish they had sacrificed some autonomy in exchange for multi-year deals that would have been on the table in restricted free agency.
This is why it is extremely rare for RFAs to sign eligible offers. The risk-return calculation promotes restricted free will.
Things could get interesting this offseason, as the overall harvest of free agents is barren. Several teams have significant capitalization space, and some of them are just in the right phase of their growth process to invest heavily in young talent coming out of their rookie contracts. Teams tend to spend all the money they have, which could lead to revealing bid sheets.
Will the teams in place match them or let their valuable restricted free agents go?
1 of 5
Carlos Osorio / Associated press
The writing is on the wall for Lauri Markkanen.
The No.7 pick in the 2017 draft lost his starting role with the Chicago Bulls midway through his fourth season, despite a career-high 40.2% long-distance. Chicago was clearly unhappy with Markkanen’s one-dimensional play, and his demotion only reinforced the franchise’s lack of confidence in him by not agreeing to an overtime until the 2020-21 season.
If Markkanen is a part of the Bulls’ long-term plans, the team is performing a phenomenal act of bad management. Everything Chicago has done in the past year suggests it’s ready to move on.
Markkanen’s shot is legitimate. It is 36.6% out of 1,346 in-depth career attempts and is particularly deadly corners. Any team in need of a tall that can space the floor in a limited role should have an eye on the 7-footer, although it should be understood that Markkanen is going to be a target on D.
He needs to land with an organization that already has strong defenders at guard and wing points, as well as a real rim protector on the inside. That’s essentially the perfect description of the San Antonio Spurs, who are set to field a 2021-22 lineup that includes Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl.
Prediction: Markkanen signs with Spurs for no more than $ 15 million a season.
2 of 5
Nick Wass / Associated press
The only item of significant value the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up to get Jarrett Allen was the 2022 Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick, so it’s not like they’re determined to keep the 23-year-old center. At the same time, its acquisition never looked like a rental.
Allen fits the Cleveland rebuilding age bracket, and he’s really the type of shot-blocking, rim-rolling backing piece you’d want on the backline behind a young, error-prone perimeter defense.
Terry pluto of Cleveland.com believes the Cavs are going to give Allen “$ 100 million or more in a contract extension,” which would have been the end of that discussion until the franchise officially got the No. 3 pick in from the 2021 draft. If USC center Evan Mobley is available there, Cleveland may want to reconsider their dedication to Allen. In today’s NBA, it’s impossible to justify paying a non-superstar conventional center around $ 100 million; Mobley would be a much cheaper and more sensible alternative.
The Charlotte Hornets need a cross and could float an offer, and Yahoo! Chris Haynes reported in March that the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards should also be interested in Allen. It just seems unlikely that the Cavs will let Allen get away with a fight.
Prediction: Mobley steps off the board at No.2, and Cleveland is able to keep Allen for less than $ 100 million.
3 out of 5
Carlos Osorio / Associated press
Duncan Robinson wasn’t as scorching last season as he was in 2019-20, but when a 40.8% success rate on 8.5 three-pointers per game is a year down, you know that you are dealing with a high flight shooter.
These are always in demand, so Robinson will not be short of suitors.
ESPN Adrien Wojnarowski reported that the bids for Robinson’s services could reach around $ 20 million per season. If so, the Miami Heat, who’d rather spend their money on stars who change the landscape, might be hesitant to match.
It might not bother Robinson, whose free agency priorities don’t seem particularly sentimental, via Ira winderman from the Sun Sentinel: âAbove all, the fit, a place where I really feel at ease. Winning is obviously a priority for me too. And then, of course, it’s also a business and there is an opportunity to make money taking care of the people I love the most. “
It’s near and the Heat must also consider Kendrick Nunn’s restricted free agency, as well as preserving ceiling space for a larger class of free agents in 2022. But in the end, Robinson himself provided an altering offensive spacing. If there are multiple contenders near the $ 20 million mark, that should signal the Heat that they can sign Robinson at that rate with the confidence that they could trade him in the future capture move. stars that they have surely already prepared.
While Miami has no intention of keeping Robinson for what the market says it is worth, he will remain a valuable asset.
(Much too specific) Prediction: The Heat match a four-year, $ 74 million offer to keep Robinson.
4 out of 5
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press
Lonzo Ball is a good theoretical fit with the New Orleans Pelicans. But then, a knockdown shooter who can defend his position and keep the ball moving, especially in transition, is a theoretical fit just about anywhere.
It’s the finances that could force a split between Ball and the Pels.
Brandon Ingram is already stuck on a max deal, Zion Williamson is sure to command the max money when it’s his turn, and insuring Ball on a contract that pays him north of $ 20million per season could keep the Pelicans out. land a name star to complete Zion.
The Pelicans need to think long and hard about the size of an offer they are prepared to match. ESPN cap expert Bobby Marks said Marc Berman of New York Post that he doubted New Orleans would consider matching a starting salary of over $ 18 million per season.
With the New York Knicks among the teams able to pay Ball far more than that (up to $ 28 million in the first year of a new deal, to be precise), the odds seem to favor Ball by forgoing plans to New Orleans.
Prediction: Ball signs an offer with the Knicks and the Pelicans refuse to line up.
5 out of 5
Ben Gray / Associated press
It’s ironic that by adopting a style of play that doesn’t tend to charge players, John Collins has recently made it much more likely that his Atlanta Hawks will shell out big bucks to keep him.
Ahead of the 2021 playoffs, Collins appeared to be an empty calorie contributor. He could get his points and rebounds (21.6 and 10.1 respectively in 2019-2020 before slight lows in both categories this year), but it wasn’t always clear that those stats were contributing to the victory. Defensively Collins was suspect and he didn’t show the most consistent focus or intensity.
The elastic and skillful forward transformed in the Hawks’ 2021 playoff race, embracing a low-use role and becoming a high-energy practitioner of the little things every team needs to achieve meaningful success. He attacked the offensive glass with renewed poise and ceded opportunities on the ball in exchange for more screen settings and better passes in the flow of the offense. He also toughened up defensively and showed reliable attention from both sides.
This version of Collins, despite his drop in box score stats, is more valuable to Atlanta than the one who could get 20 and 10 every night. As such, expect the Hawks to come up with the best offer before other teams shoot or match whatever happens to Collins.
Prediction: Collins is staying with the Hawks on a multi-year contract worth more than $ 100 million.