While everybody is focused on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, I feel like what happens with the following 5 restricted free agents could be the story of the summer.
Meet the top restricted free agents. Their teams have the right to match any offer for them.
Why do I think these are particularly interesting to follow? Because numerous NBA team have money to burn. And when teams have money and can’t get the top dogs listed above they are forced into driving up the prices of the restricted free agents to see if their teams will match. Look at what guys like Nic Batum, Eric Gordon, and Roy Hibbert have commanded in recent years.
All of the teams that own these players rights would most likely like to see them return. But these teams have to be aware of not just other free agents, current and coming, but their own roster and who they will need to spend money on. Being forced to overpay for their own guy could be challenging. I’d argue we’ve seen mixed results for the guys listed above.
Greg Monroe- The Pistons claim he’s priority #1. He should be. He’s a terrific offensive player and a decent fit on a big front line next to Andre Drummond. Detroit has plenty of money, but they have a roster issue named Josh Smith. They can’t lose Monroe for nothing, but keeping him complicates matters in how to sort things out in the future.
Eric Bledsoe- Injuries have been an issue, but Bledsoe shined last year in Phoenix when given more minutes. The Suns have more than enough money to keep him, and I’d guess they’ll be forced to do so at the highest possible amount. Goran Dragic’s success gives them options, but they don’t want to lose the key piece of the deal they made a year ago.
Chandler Parsons- Fits in great with the Rockets, but will be out if Carmelo or LeBron want to go to Houston. Rockets better hope somebody doesn’t make this tricky by making a quick, big offer while the other stars are in limbo.
Isaiah Thomas- What can a 2nd round pick do for you? The Kings took Thomas last in 2011 and he has turned into one of the more efficient offensive point guards in basketball. He is small though, and how much he is worth to the Kings or another team remains to be seen.
Gordon Hayward- Will Dante Exum’s arrival and Alec Burks presence impact how high the Jazz are willing to go? I doubt it because Utah has a ton of money to spend, but will be intriguing to see another team force them to do it for a player who is good at a lot of things, but not really great at anything.
Teams with money that probably won’t land a top priority free agent: Magic, Sixers, Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks, Celtics, Hornets, Jazz, Suns, and Pistons. These teams best chance to upgrade is to max out, and possibly overpay for one of the above guys. The Kings and Rockets each have some roster/money issues that might effect them. The other 3 teams have plenty of money, but I am excited to see who presses them into matching.