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Who could be next summer’s potential restricted free agents? Five guys to watch.

Aug 16, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

Kenneth Faried Kenneth Faried

As we move into late August most of the NBA player moves are set, save for the formality of Kevin Love ending up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But there are two big restricted free agents out there — Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe. Both have yet to strike a deal with their teams or to find another team that will make a big offer (other teams held off largely because they believed the Pistons and Suns would just match the offer). Both are threatening to play for the qualifying offer and become unrestricted free agents next summer, but that is a big risk.

Meanwhile some other restricted free agents this summer — Gordon Hayward leads the list — got big offers and to max out the deal.

So who could be the guys next summer who are restricted free agents? Already Kyrie Irving is off the list because he got a max extension from the Cavaliers. Here are five guys to watch.

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: The brain trust for the Warriors refused to put him in a deal for Kevin Love, so now the pressure is on him to step up his already impressive game and perform. Oh, and the Warriors have to sign him. There’s almost zero chance the Warriors don’t keep him one way or another. He’s going to make eight figures a year, the question is if the deal gets done or if he goes to restricted free agency. If he does, he could end up in a Bledsoe/Monroe situation where he has a hard time getting offers from other teams because everyone thinks the Warriors will just match.

Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: We laid out the case why the Spurs may want to wait on making a max offer to Leonard, but they will at one point to the Finals MVP and (like Thompson) there is almost zero chance his team lets him go. That said, if he gets all the way to restricted free agency you can bet a bunch of teams will come calling.

Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets: Denver likes Faried and the energy he brings, but they fear the healthy contract he will get on the open market will be more than they want to pay, so they have shopped him around a little. If he isn’t moved, Fraried’s camp is going to want more than Denver wants to pay and his agent is going to have to draw the offer he wants (max or near it) from another team and force Denver to match. He could be the most interesting guy likely to get to restricted free agency next summer.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: Former Wolves GM David Kahn helped screw up the franchise’s relationship with Kevin Love by refusing to give Love a full five-year max contract extension because you can only have one of those going at a time and Kahn wanted to save it for Rubio. Well done. Rubio’s camp is rumored to want a max deal and Rubio has been a pretty good NBA point guard — he can defend, he’s a gifted passer and has done well at running a team. But his shot keeps him from being a max guy. If no deal on an extension is reached how well Rubio plays next season on a team with young talent around him will determine what the market will offer next summer. But if he wants max he’s going to be disappointed.

Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic: He has shown some real promise and he will have some suitors next summer if Orlando lets him get all the way to restricted free agency (and the way they are rebuilding I would think they do). If Harris has another strong season you can bet a number of teams will see him as a guy they can poach, a quality forward they can get for years to come. In that situation, the Magic may have to open up the wallet and pay a little.

  1. 00maltliquor - Aug 16, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Kawhi Leonard and max deal in the same sentence?!?!?

    I know he’s everyone’s flavor of the month but this is just getting stinking ridiculous!

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 16, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      a lot of it is malt…

      Klay Thompson’s a good young player and I know Steph Curry had injury concerns with his ankles when they signed him…

      but still, production puts Curry at an all star level as his career PER is over 20.

      Klay has a career PER BELOW league average of 15.0

      Curry’s playing on a 4 yr $44 million deal and somehow I see Klay getting at least 4 and $48… if not more.

      Klay doesn’t do as much as Curry does yet he’s gonna get paid more.

      • antistratfordian - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM

        Yeah but from what I understand the Dubs are high on Thompson because of his defense which wouldn’t be reflected in his PER much. For good defensive players I believe you’d need to add a few points (exactly how many is tbd) to their PER to get a more realistic estimate of their contribution.

      • zoomy123 - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:14 PM


        Thompson’s defense is criminally overrated. He’s slightly above average going by the eye test, but his DRPM is -.17. Yes, it’s negative.

      • antistratfordian - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:29 PM


        Yeah but I believe DRPM has Paul Pierce 30 spots higher than Kawhi Leonard. It’s a relatively new stat and I think it still needs refinement. In any case, the point is that if you’re GS and you think Thompson is a good defender and you also know that PER underrates defenders, then you’re not going to put much stock into his PER.

    • elecblues - Aug 18, 2014 at 7:10 AM

      Well, the spurs don’t give out max contracts so I don’t think Kawhi is expecting that. He may not get a max but he definitely deserves more than 1.8 million that’s for sure. Also I don’t think Rubio, Faried or Thompson will leave their teams. They are in good “situations” as Jalen Rose has said before.

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:42 AM

        Respectfully, you must not follow basketball.

  2. csbanter - Aug 16, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    Klay is not as good as everyone make him out to be. Put him in the eastern conference where defense is played at a higher premium his numbers would go down significantly. Playing numerous games against the Clippers, Lakers, Suns, Warriors, Kings, and Trailblazers will do wonders for one shooting percentage.

  3. cbking05 - Aug 16, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Seems like yesterday that these guys were in college…except for Ricky, he was too cool for school…

  4. haaaaasoooooo - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    And then there was Tobias…. Remember when everyone was watching free agency??? Thanks for an exciting off season Lebron.

    • milkcan44 - Aug 17, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Bucks were shortsighted giving Harris away for rent-a-player Redick.

    • muhangis - Aug 18, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      Tobias is a young great player, only 21 last season! He could easily be ’15 draft pick material due to his age, but 3 productive years into the league.. look how far ahead of the curve he is!!!

      How do such birdbrain’s consistently ignore a kid’s age? This is why the common perception or opinion is so imprudent and nearsighted!

    • muhangis - Aug 18, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      Trust me.. Tobias is going to be a great, great pickup for a team for their long future! [If you knew basketball..] You’d know that he might be good enough to head next year’s class

  5. elcaminobilly - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Considering that the Warriors wouldn’t even consider trading Klay for Love tells me there is no way at all they will let him leave.

    While he may not have the stats, as mentioned in the comments above, he brings something to the Warriors that don’t show in statistics- team chemistry. Look how the Pacers folded up when Danny Granger was traded away. Trading Klay Thompson would do the same to the Warriors.

  6. themagicfanguy - Aug 16, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Isn’t Vucevic a RFA as well? The Magic will probably match any offer but still, probably a better player to watch than Harris.

    • spursareold - Aug 18, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Vuvevic is one of the bottom 3 or 4 rim protectors in the league.

  7. saint1997 - Aug 17, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    Man I’m just fascinated to see who the Knicks will throw their cash at. They’ll want a frontcourt player and a point guard. Bledsoe? Dragic? Monroe? Harris? You can bet they’ll throw their money around to get a partner for THJ, Shump and Melo

  8. danielgmz - Aug 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    IMO Rubio is nowhere near a max guy. He should get 9 to 10 million a year MAX. His lack of scoring ability has put the timberwolves in an extremely difficult position.

  9. tomtravis76 - Aug 18, 2014 at 5:07 AM

    Would like to see Rubio on a contending team/ bigger market team. His skill set has the potential to capture the fair weather fan into viewing.

  10. mcsuave - Aug 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    None of those names strike fear in anyone. So much for the 2015 free agent crop which was suppose to be so good. Knicks will have to spend all their cap space on buckets of chicken due to lack of great players on market.

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