Restricted Free Agents Pekovic, Jennings, Teague (And Others) Wait Their Turns

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The oxymorons of the NBA offseason – restricted-yet-free agents – yielded most of the spotlight to the bigger and freer names through the first week of July or so. But with fellows such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala and more reaching agreements on new deals, those tethered to their incumbent teams will get more run now.

It’s not exactly garbage time. Last summer, nine of the top RFAsRoy Hibbert, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, George Hill, Nicolas Batum, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields – landed deals worth a total of $366.4 million. On a per-season basis, their salaries over three to five years averaged $10.8 million.

That’s not far from where this year’s RFA market sat after its two highest-profile commitments: Tyreke Evans to New Orleans’ four-year, $44 million offer sheet and Tiago Splitter four years and $36 million to stick with San Antonio. But that’s a small sample size, with the likes of Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, Gerald Henderson, Timofey Mozgov and several others still with business pending.

The dynamics of restricted free agency clearly are different from those in play for the truly free. The chilling effect that an incumbent team can have on its guy’s options is considerable, simply by pointing out to one and all its intention to match any offer. And yet, a team that expresses too much love can drive up an RFA’s price, leading rivals to touch up their offer sheets in the hopes that overpaying might pry him loose.

There are other risks. Teague, for instance, was said to be growing impatient in recent days, frustrated by what might be perceived as the Atlanta Hawks’ lack of urgency in pursuing a deal, when all it really is is Atlanta letting the market play out. There really should be no harm in that, unless the guy’s feelings get hurt at what he mistakes as an absence of pro-active negotiations.

The three-day period incumbent teams get to match or not on RFAs doesn’t stymie a club’s offseason strategy quite the way the old seven-day decision period used to. But it still can hang up a team to have cap space committed, at precisely the wrong time, to an offer sheet that goes nowhere.

Fans get antsy with restricted free-agency, too, waiting for updates on players who often loom large in their current teams’ plans. Yet there they sit “on the market” longer than seems comfortable. (We’re talking days, not weeks, but everyone’s shelf life/attention span is sped up these days.)

Oh, and woe to the players who try to assist the process by professing love for a new market — as Gordon and Batum did last summer — or some disdain for an old one, thinking that might tilt the process and short-circuit the “restricted” label in front of their status. That rarely, if ever, changes a team’s business decision, but it does risk bad blood while accomplishing nothing positive.

So it probably is a good thing that Pekovic, Jennings, Teague and the rest — and their representatives and their teams — have mostly stayed mum to this point. They’ll get theirs sooner or later, almost certainly in the next week or two.

And even if they don’t, the option of playing for one year on a qualifying offer, with its no-trade provision, wouldn’t seem to be the worst thing. That would turn a 2013 RFA into a 2014 UFA, with a heavy list of teams looking to rebuild, improve their draft chances, shed salaries and open cap space.

The buzz around some RFAs, however, is beginning. Minnesota apparently tried to pre-empt any head-turning overtures from outside teams, putting together a formal offer to Pekovic on Friday, according to Timberwolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda:

As of Sunday, he is not believed to have been offered [a competing] deal and the number of teams who have the cap space and desire to sign him had dwindled to one or two.

Pekovic repeatedly last season said he wanted to return to Minnesota, and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has said all along that he believes the two sides will reach a deal.

The price might rise to $11 million to $12 million per year for four years, insiders have estimated. Specifics of the Wolves’ offer weren’t known.

Then there was the prospect of Jennings and Teague having their negotiations settled almost in an old-fashioned, non-free agent way: If the two point guards were signed and traded for each other, would it even seem like they were free agents?

That’s a scenario reported by ESPN.com’s Mark Stein, driven at least in part by former Hawks coach Larry Drew’s familiarity with Teague. Such a move, coincidentally, could have a ripple effect on Jennings’ backcourt mate in Milwaukee, Monta Ellis, who opted-out of an $11 million salary for 2013-14 in hopes of doing better, longer, in a multi-year deal.

ESPN.com reported early in free agency that the Bucks, at Drew’s behest, had interest.

If those sign-and-trade talks progress to the serious stage, sources said, Atlanta would inevitably have to rescind its long-standing interest in Ellis, knowing he and Jennings realistically couldn’t play together again given how poorly they functioned as a backcourt duo in Milwaukee last season.

As for other notable RFAs, Charlotte’s Henderson is a solid two-way player who likely will be affordable, Denver’s Mozgov might wind up with Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia on a four-year offer and Gary Neal may have gotten bumped off San Antonio’s depth chart with the Spurs’ signing of veteran Marco Belinelli.

49 Comments

  1. liam says:

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  2. What do u guys think? says:

    I think that Pek should stay with the twolves, kirlilenko shoud sacrifice some money to go to a contender, possibly the rockets or the pacers so he can be a good bench player and have a legit chance to win the championship. Jennings should go to the magic and ellis should go to the mavs cause he can be the scoring punch the mavs need

  3. TomKiloWatt says:

    Of course the the Wolves will keep Pekovic in Minnesota. If they really want to make the playoffs they couldn`t get a better center. Nikola is an important part of the future Wolves pack

  4. MrNBA says:

    Kirlenko and Mozgov, sign with the Mavericks. AK47 can switch starting roles with Matrix. And young Mozgov can be their center. Kirilienko can guide him, the way Vlade did to Peja. Perfect fit for the Mavs.

  5. BK says:

    Timberwolves will get Pek back

  6. BK says:

    Timberwolves will get Pek back.

  7. John says:

    Monta or Jennings are not fit for LA, Try to get PEKOVIC he’s good at rebounding and a great hustle on both offense and defense .. MAKE SENSE? and also it fit D’ANTONI’S plays..

  8. maki says:

    It’s funny how people are reacting about building something in L.A. by adding pieces with Kaman…I believe L.A. is just trying to get through with the season that’s why they only offered a 1 year deal with Kaman because their main target is the free agency of 2014 and they’re not gonna re-sign Kaman..they just don’t want to make the Lakers look so bad this season..if and if anything goes well this season with L.A. (miracle) before the all-star break (trade deadline) then they would try to gamble and take risk to trade something to make a great push to the playoffs (but I doubt it) …as much as I’m a Laker fan and a kobe fan..let’s get some common sense here people..LA is looking at the bigger picture and I hate to say this..the bigger picture Jim Buss and Mitch are looking is a portrait without Kobe in it anymore =( …Hate to admit it by I guess that’s what they are thinking now especially that Jim doesn’t have a good relationship with kobe…that day would be so sad =(

  9. Shawn K says:

    While i know the Timberwolves are gonna match almost any offer Pekovic gets, i’d like to see the Clippers try to get him. I think he’d be a perfect fit with the Clippers. He can give them defense in the paint(which the Clippers need), he can give them a better post game than Jordan, he can rebound and he makes way more free throws than Jordan. I doubt it’ll happen(plus I’m not sure if the Clippers have the cap-space to give him an offer that won’t be matched), but it’d be awesome if the Clippers did sign him.

  10. seanMoney19 says:

    i love these bright ideas with no possibility of them even happening lol its great. let me throw 1 out there lakers trade kobe to the rockets for asaik and lynn and draft picks let gasol contract run out this year and get ready for next summer. kobe get #6 over lebron

  11. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Otherwise, the Thunder could make a run at obtaining someone like Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings or even both.

  12. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    If Chris Paul did commit somewhat to re-signing, he still has time to change his mind.

    The OKC Thunder would be perfect for him, if the Thunder would stop being so frugal and cheap.

    The Lakers’ payroll? Close to 100 Million. Or it was.

    The Thunder’s payroll? Around 55 Million to 67 Million.

    Why can’t the Thunder spend up to 90 Million, at least?

    The CBA is bull corn because “smaller market” teams still suffer the most. Imagine if the Thunder would or could have a team payroll of 90 to 95 Million just like the Lakers. They would build a dream team that would dominate for the next decade.

    Yes, the Thunder will probably still get the #1 seed again and, if healthy, will return to the NBA Finals in 2014. But, it’s not guaranteed. If the Thunder would land a major FA or two with the great amount of cap space they have (being that the REAL CAP LIMIT apparently is 100 Million thanks to the Lakers), it would be guaranteed. Championships would be guaranteed; the Thunder would dominate. They would rarely lose season games or playoff games.

    But whatever. This CBA thing clearly is not working.

    • artifex says:

      No, their payroll is 70.4 Mio before they re-sign Kevin Martin. There is no space for any bigger name. 55, that was before last season, when Durant and Co were still on their rookie contracts. They decided on their roster before last season, signing Durant, Sefolosha and I guess also Perkins or Ibaka. That’s why Harden left, because they didn’t have room for him -as sad as it is.
      I agree, there is still no real balance on what teams can/want to spend but that’s the same for all pro sports.. At least the cap limits some of the big market abilities to “get all the good ones”.

    • artifex says:

      The Buss family payss A LOT !!! for getting over the cap – which is around 72, 73 (?) Mio.
      Only difference is that OKC is owned by a person who doesn’t want to spend so much out of own pockets.
      As I say with TV and every thing there is no exact balance, but if Prokhorov had bought Thunder he could have spend all that same money as he now does in NJ/Brooklyn…
      Otherwise you need a hard cap and it’s also the players interest against that, because it limits their income too, of course.

  13. nejko says:

    Pekovic is too expensive for the heat, For asik they would have to give up something probably more than they can afford to lose.

  14. B Radd says:

    Monta to the Bulls! Jennings to the Kings and Teague to the Lakers… actually the Lakers should try prying Stoudemire from NY. Lakers are tanking and have nothing left for trades. Lakers should go after Lebron and Carmelo next year. Kirelenko together with Pekovic to Dallas. Dallas needs a 2nd star, I’d go after restricted free agents DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson and Tyler Hansbrough.

    • artifex says:

      Not agreed to all.
      Bulls have a ball handler in Rose so I don’t see anything with Ellis would work out.
      Jennings to Kings, OK since Evans is gone.
      Teague to Lakers, they have to trade Nash before they can do that, don’t see it.
      Go after LeBron and Carmelo? No way they get either of them.
      STAT is surely one NY should try to trade away, but he seems comfortable and I don’t see sign NY to make effort to do that.
      Pekovic would be a good one for Dallas after they didn’t get D12 or Jefferson, but I don’t know, who of the 3 you list would be a “2nd star” in Dallas…

      Basically, I don’t know any team to sign Ellis until Somecity Mad Team starts a new franchise around Jennings, Ellis, JSmith, Cousins and Bynum. Though there’s noone who could coach these together (maybe Eddie Franklin)…

  15. c0da says:

    I know that the Lakers haven’t got so much room or cash to deal but please guys sign PEKOVIC.
    You lost Earl Clark – a really really bad move. Sign Kirilenko or Pekman. NOW

  16. J says:

    great players still on the market restricted or unrestricted

  17. BIG WHITE says:

    Just as long as none of them go to Miami it’s all good , tired of all this superteam garbage .

  18. euro says:

    I like Kaman but Lakers should add Pekovic

  19. solomon says:

    lakers will die this season

  20. Cuban Miami Connection Stinger says:

    Mozgo,,,,Asik.Pekovics…somebody BIG
    I do not expect Ray’s miracles again ..HELOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  21. Cuban Miami Connection Stinger says:

    Riley-Spoelstra HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—-Pekovics , Please

  22. CJ says:

    Atlanta needs to resign Teague and not try and trade him either that’s first, then they need to try and sign Nikola Pekovic and stay away from Ellis if they want to try and make a trade it should be for Omer Asik. Then you would have a starting line up of PG=Teague, PF=Horford, SF=Millsap, SG= Korver or Lou Williams then one of the two big men named above I think that would make them a tuff team in the east.

  23. KImmy says:

    Although I think it’s time for Teague to move on from the Hawks, I’m shocked that nobody picked him up yet. He is an overall good player. I think Josh Smith’s lazy ways rubbbed off on Jeff a little. He also, like Josh, spent a lot of time in cool mode, postering not breaking much of a sweat. What about a team like Boston, Toronto or even the Lakers? Best wishes to him and I’m glad he’s away from Josh. Not a good look or good influence for him. I don’t think he should go to Milwakee w/ same coach. I guess he needs a job…..

    • Shawn K says:

      not to sound like a Laker fan, but I think Teague should go to the Lakers and play under and learn from Steve Nash. He could be Nash’s new prodigy/student. I think IF Teague did sign with the Lakers and played under Nash, he would become a better player professionally and personally. Nash could probably make Teague a hard worker and get him out of his lazy ways he inherited in Atlanta.

  24. ILOVEYOUJAM says:

    Lakers please get Andrei kirilenko =)

  25. ghe says:

    Rockets should sign Kirilenko to fill up the spot for the no. 4 position. He would probably fit well into the Rocket’s system.

  26. Mike says:

    yes! Pek to Minny! Wolves will have their comeback this coming season!!.. as long as they stay healthy

  27. jalsh31 says:

    for LAL; get Kirilenko in replacement for MWP…so starting 5 of LAL will be: Nash-G, Bryant-SG, Kirilenko-SF, P.Gausol-PF, and Kaman-C… :-)

  28. DoughBoy says:

    Charlotte, please resign Hedo to a deal!

  29. get the monta ellis to the lakers

    • kei says:

      Yea sure, I love seeing chaos! Pau will never touch the ball. They’ll need a 48 seconds shot clock for them ball hogs.

  30. ryan24 says:

    got monta ellis to L.A plzzzzzz

    • chigchig says:

      by LA u mean the lakeshow?
      which would mean monta and kobe on the same team?

      dont want pau touching the ball for another year i guess

      • BasketCase says:

        Haha exactly, anyone saying Monta Ellis would fit with the Lakers knows nothing about Kobe Bryant or Monta Ellis.

    • LA-AllTheWay@Manila says:

      I agree!! Monta or Jennings will fit LA!! LA need one of you.. Please come..

  31. Chief says:

    What and the family world are the Bulls waiting on!!!!!!!!