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.