5 restricted free agents worth chasing

Smaller guards Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe could get some looks this summer. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Despite their stature, Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe are big-time guards. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

The unrestricted free agents are the ones that draw the most attention every summer, and for good reason. You pick your team and you go there. It’s all clean and simple.

It’s those restricted free agents that muddy the waters. The would-be new team has to overpay to get their attention and then the current team is put on the spot to match. Think the Pacers wouldn’t like to re-think that $58 million commitment they made to Roy Hibbert two summers ago when the Trail Blazers put them on the spot with an offer to their big man?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five restricted free agents who’ll be available on July 1:

Eric Bledsoe, Guard, Phoenix Suns — After the Big Three of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, the 24-year-old shooting guard is the top player available in free agency, though he will come at a cost. He missed 39 games with injury, but averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in the half season played and makes a great slashing backcourt combination with Goran Dragic. The Suns were 28-15 with him in the lineup and GM Ryan McDonough says the team will match any offer out there to keep him. Since Phoenix has plenty of salary cap space, he’ll be able to do it, even if McDonough has to grit his teeth.

Greg Monroe, Forward, Detroit Pistons — He might as well have spent the past four seasons pedaling on a stationary bicycle, getting nowhere fast with the Pistons. He’s a solid big man who gives you the feeling he might turn into an All-Star level performer with the right coaching on the right team. Since he arrived in Detroit, the Pistons added Andre Drummond and Josh Smith on their front line and there simply wasn’t room for all three in the rotation. With Joe Dumars — the GM who drafted him — gone, Drummond a foundation player and Smith perhaps untradeable (or is he?), it would seem the Pistons won’t want to lay out big money to keep him. If the Rockets strike out shooting for the big names, he’d be a good consolation prize. The New Orleans native might also fit nicely with the Pelicans, if they could find the salary space.

Chandler Parsons, Forward, Houston Rockets — Houston rolled the dice on the Parsons, choosing not to pick up his option in an attempt to clear the most salary cap space to pursue James, Anthony or Bosh. The 6-foot-9 leaper and shooter has been a high-energy gem since the Rockets plucked him in the second round in 2011. He can get to the basket, fill it up from behind the 3-point line and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in on defense. He won’t lead a team, but is a solid third option, exactly the role he’s been playing in Houston. If the Rockets get a name-brand star, he’d go to fourth option and that could make a pricey offer from another team too rich to match. There are a lot of teams where he could slide right into the lineup and really blossom.

Gordon Hayward, Forward, Utah Jazz — After four seasons, it’s pretty clear the Jazz aren’t completely convinced, as evidenced by not agreeing on a contract extension prior to last season. It seems Hayward thinks he should be paid as part of a 1-2 punch, but the truth is he’s probably more of a No. 3 type, just like Parsons. When he was put into the primary scorer role last season, his shooting numbers went down. He needs to land in a spot where he can play off his teammates, especially passers, and get back to being a very solid complementary part. Chances are, he wants to be paid a good bit more than the Jazz think he’s worth and therefore could be “gettable.” The trick will be not to overpay him by too much.

Isaiah Thomas, Guard, Sacramento Kings– The 5-foot-9 dynamo put up 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals last season. He’s a hard worker, but definitely a score-first point guard at a position that requires spreading the ball around. His biggest deficiency is on defense, where his lack of size makes him too easy for opponents to pick and exploit. The Kings go through point guards faster than pairs of basketball shoes and now they seem to be leaning heavily toward the new flavor of the month in Ray McCallum. His lack of stature will limit the size of the stack of big bills placed in front of him in an offer, but still could be enough to land him in a new home.


  1. asdf says:

    I watched alot of kings games this season, and I actually thought Isiah was one of the better defenders on their team.

    Only problem is that bigger guards can shoot over him. but Isiah is actually a pretty good onball defender.

    he plays hard, brings alot of energy, any team would be lucky to have him at a good price.

  2. jibs911 says:

    i would love to see parsons/hayward and monroe get signed by the lakers….they would have a solid starting lineup if they resign pau and farmar (i honestly think farmar is way better than marshall)…


  3. drew says:

    They should just go ahead and sign him now, if they going to keep him.

  4. imissthethunder says:

    The Houston Rockets continue dangling Chandler Parson’s name around like a rag doll. Let him go, he deserves a better home and team. They aren’t getting Lebron. Have a better chance of landing Carmello Anthony. As far as the Sacramento Kings, they are a joke right now, all immature misfits (McLemore, Cousins, Gay, Thomas). But I will be having a change of heart come next season. I think they will make good trade decisions and this team will probably make playoffs via 8th seed. Rondo and J Smoove are coming to the rescue. You heard it 1st here. LOL.

    • Kingslyfe says:

      You’re stupid, they may be young and immature and they have potential, and the kings don’t need smith or rondo to make the playoffs

  5. Lakers-Warriors-Suns says:

    PHX better keep Bledsoe.

  6. ken says:

    As a kings fan it would be a horrible move letting I.T. go if anything we need to get rid of Jason thompson thanks m aloofs for giving a max contract to a player that plays only when he wants and cries after every call and non call and also trade Mclemore he plays like a little puppy on the court piddling all over the court from excitement and start thomas and mcallum at the guards or thomas and jason terry. Either get doug McDermott in the draft if possible or make trade for parsons plus our defense cannot be worse than last year so things are looking up if the reffs swallow their whistles or atleast call games both ways for a change then they have a great chance of stealing the 8 spot

  7. If the Knicks really need a PG than Isaiah Thomas would be a great opportunity.

    But I don’t know if the fans at MSG would appreciate it…..cause his name really ring some horrible bells there…..!!

  8. good article LEBRON TO SIXERS!