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10 players who may be restricted free agents for first time in career

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Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Harris agreed to contract extensions with their respective teams. TJ Warren and Josh Richardson also agreed to smaller-scale deals to stay put.

Other first-round picks who have not yet agreed to a contract extension with their teams have until 6 p.m. EST, though it does not seem like anything will be struck last minute.

As such, the following players will most likely become restricted free agents during the 2018 NBA offseason. This means their teams can match any offer given by other franchises, which could eventually increase their pay, or they can let them walk.

Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Parker was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft but has already had two major knee injuries.

While he is healthier after missing time last year, his injury plays a role in why he has not yet received an offer from the Bucks, according to GM Jon Horst (via Journal Sentinel):

“The injury part of it is a factor in the discussions, of course. We’re having great discussions with his representative; we’re going to continue to work through that.”

Horst added that Parker is someone the franchise “values significantly” and they will assuredly negotiate with him and try to retain him if and when he does become a restricted free agent.


Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers

This is less a knock on Nurkic and more due to the fact that Portland does not have much available cap space. He has also struggled to stay healthy during his first few years in the league, but he has lost significant weight during the recent offseason.

When he plays more than 36 minutes per night, Nurkic has dominated on the court. This will effectively become a “prove it” year for the Bosnian-born big man.

For the same reason, Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier of Portland will also likely become restricted free agents.


Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers

Even though Los Angeles has plenty of cap space, they hope to save it for the 2018 offseason when top players like Paul George and LeBron James will become free agents.

Even if Randle had shown himself as one of the top young players in the league, he likely would not have received an extension. The front office has made their plans of pursuing max contracts deliberately clear.

Randle, 22, could remain a part of the organization. Or, if the team knows they do not plan to re-sign him, they could package him with Jordan Clarkson in a potential trade before the deadline in February 2018.


Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz

As the Jazz move on from Gordon Hayward and George Hill, we predict Hood may exceed expectations next season. The 6-foot-8 wing could become a centerpiece for the offense in Utah.

Even though he and teammate Dante Exum will likely not receive contract extensions before the season begins, both have the potential to stay with the franchise moving forward. Exum was improving before his recent injury setback.

Meanwhile, if Hood wins the NBA’s Most Improved Player, expect him to chase a big contract.


Clint Capela, Houston Rockets

If he plays as many minutes as expected next season, Capela could be one of the more serviceable big men in the league.

Rahul Lal of Rockets Wire thinks if Houston is letting him test the market, it could be because they are still interested in adding a third star to join Chris Paul and James Harden. Earlier this offseason, they were in play for both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Zach Lowe of ESPN believes the Rockets are also a “serious contender” to land LeBron James.


Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

While he is just 23, he is the longest-tenured member of the Celtics. Smart has come into the new season in much better shape and will be a valuable two-way player for Boston.

Once selected No. 6 overall, he will be a key role player for Boston off the bench this season. On defense, his 2.3 steal percentage is in the 95th-percentile for those who play at the wing. On offense, his 22.5 assist percentage is in the 97th-percentile for those at his position.

He has a “desire” to remain with the team, but the roster has been completely rebuilt in recent years.


Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic

During the preseason, Gordon has looked phenomenal. Per 40 minutes, he averaged 30.3 points and 12.8 rebounds.

He made 83 percent of his shots at the rim last season, a stark improvement from the 64 percent accuracy he had during 2015-16. But he has also improved his confidence from beyond the arc and will shoot more three-pointers for Orlando.

Gordon may make himself a ton of money with an impressive season for the Magic.


Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Danny Leroux writes that if Chicago does not extend LaVine, they will have enough cap space to add a max player and a lottery pick (via The Athletic):

“Without an extension for LaVine, the Bulls are looking at around $43 million in space before accounting for their first-round draft pick, so they would have enough space to fit in a max free agent even if they win the lottery.”

He is recovering from an ACL tear and is set to become the current face of the franchise for the Bulls. He is expected to re-sign with Chicago, even if it isn’t a rookie scale extension.


Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs

Anderson does not have a clear role on the Spurs, but his stats per 100 possessions (12.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks) are legitimately impressive.

If he does not sign a contract extension, Anderson could become a trade target for a team like the Pelicans who need a wing. He would have value with more playing time, which is something that he will need to prove as he heads into a contract year looking for a long-term deal.


Doug McDermott, New York Knicks

During the final preseason game for New York, their newest addition Doug McDermott had 21 points in 24 minutes.

He shot 49 percent on all midrange shots while with the Thunder last year, which was better than all but two percent of wings in the NBA. McDermott also turned the ball over on just 4.7 percent of possessions, which was better than all but two percent of players at his position as well.

It doesn’t make sense for the team to extend him before he plays a regular season game for the Knicks. But he may with the team if he keeps up his impressive play.





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