Report: Agents expect minimal change for restricted free agents under new Collective Bargaining Agreement

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement reportedly includes key changes for restricted free agents:

  • Restricted free agents will be able to sign offer sheets July 1, not the day after the moratorium (which is slated to be July 12 next summer).
  • The incumbent team will have 48, down from 72, hours to match an offer sheet.
  • Teams won’t be allowed to rescind qualifying offers.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Yet most agents reached over the weekend think there will be little meaningful chance for restricted free agents

“Any changes made will be minimally helpful to players, at best,” one prominent agent said.

That sounds like significant change to me. In fact, I wondered whether the reported changes were being accurately conveyed because they sounded too friendly to restricted free agents.

Allowing restricted free agents to sign offer sheets before unrestricted free agents can sign contracts could have a huge effect. In previous years, teams chased unrestricted free agents first and then looked into restricted free agents if there was money left after the moratorium. Suddenly, that would be reversed. Teams could take a swing at a restricted free agent – or six – and know their fate on an offer-sheet match before even being allowed to sign an unrestricted free agent (though unrestricted free agents often agree to terms during the moratorium then officially sign afterward).

I still wonder whether there’s another shoe to drop about unrestricted free agents also being allowed to sign sooner. If not, I disagree with the agents Aldridge cites. This would be a huge swing for restricted free agents.

The other changes are more minor, though still help restricted free agents.

In this age of instant communication, teams don’t need three days to match an offer sheet. Two days is plenty to gather and evaluate all relevant information. A reduced waiting period will make teams more eager to sign a player to an offer sheet, because the downside – in days of cap space is tied up – is reduced if the incumbent team matches.

Teams rarely rescind qualifying offers, but it can bite a player. Ask Dion Waiters. If teams hold a player’s matching rights, it’s only fair they leave the qualifying offer open even after market conditions change.