Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks

Next big free agent questions: What about Brandon Jennings and the other restricted free agents?


Brandon Jennings. Nikola Pekovic. Jeff Teague. Gerald Henderson. Timofey Mozgov. Gary Neal.

These are the guys who could still make free agency interesting… if another team gets desperate enough to make a big offer.

Now that the big name truly free — meaning unrestricted — free agents are off the market, we turn our attention to the restricted free agents who are still out there. The names above make up the list.

Teams let these players become free agents to let the marketplace set their value. Other teams can come in and make an offer on a player, then the team has three days to decide whether to match. For the teams that comes with the risk that another franchise comes with a big offer and you lose the player for nothing. Or, you could just frustrate the players who do not enjoy watching this play out (Teague apparently is in the frustrated camp).

These are good players, but restricted free agency can have a chilling effect — because the offer can be matched a team that wants to poach a player must make an offer large enough to scare off the other team, but not so large as to be drastically overpaying. So you end up with big contracts for Jeremy Lin.

A couple restricted free agents have found a home this year: Tyreke Evans is headed to New Orleans on a four-year, $44 million deal as part of a sign-and-trade; Tiago Splitter is staying with the Spurs for four years, $36 million.

But there are a lot of guys still on the available list.

There have been multiple reports about Jennings and Teague being part of a sign-and-trade — Teague’s old coach Larry Drew is up in Milwaukee and is interested in coaching him some more. But a reliable source — Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times — says the Bucks may keep him.

That seems a steep price, unless there is a silent suitor trying to steal Jennings away. Are the Bucks bidding against themselves?

Minnesota made an offer to Pekovic, expected to be at $12 million a season. It’s steep, but big men get overpaid a little and he is a perfect fit for them next to Kevin Love so it would be worth it. Pekovic is part of a good young core in Minnesota that should be playoff bound next year. He is expected to give them an answer before Wednesday (when he can sign a deal) but may be waiting to see if a better offer comes in at the last minute.

The Nuggets are reportedly interested in Timofey Mozgov, despite having a plethora of frontcourt men now. The Bobcats reportedly want to keep Henderson but there are no details on those talks.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.