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

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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.

Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.

Kent Bazemore hits game-winner to lift Hawks over Pelicans (video)

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Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.

This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.

Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.

Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

It’s way too far.

Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

Rose on ESPN:

I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

On Paul Pierce’s part.

I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!

NBA: Referees missed multiple intentional-foul attempts by Mavericks in loss to Nuggets

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The Mavericks trailed the Nuggets by 23 points in the second half and 16 points with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter last night. But Dallas rallied and cut its deficit to only one with 10.4 seconds left. Denver had the ball, so the Mavericks had to foul.

They tried… and tried… and tried before finally succeeding.

Per the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, Dennis Smith Jr. should have been called for intentionally fouling Will Barton with 8.2 seconds left. Failing that, Wesley Matthews should have been called for intentionally fouling Barton with 6.7 seconds left. Mercifully, officials (correctly) whistled Matthews for fouling Gary Harris with 1.7 seconds left.

Harris made both free throws, and the Nuggets escaped with a 105-102 win once Dallas couldn’t get off a shot with so little time left.

The Mavericks probably would have lost even with a correct call on this sequence. They were trailing in the final 10 seconds and without the ball.

But allowing Denver to run off an extra 6.5 seconds and get the ball to a better free-throw shooter certainly hurt Dallas’ odds.

I’m not so concerned with the result of this game, though. The Mavericks are better off improving their lottery position by losing. It is a bad break for the teams jockeying with the Nuggets for playoff position, but, again, Denver probably would have won anyway.

The bigger takeaway: Even if players are more concerned about communication than calls, if referees can’t even get consecutive intentional fouls right, that doesn’t instill much confidence in the officials.