Why The NBA's Biggest Free Agents Might Not Go Anywhere This Summer

Marc gasol lamarcus aldridgeDon Ryan/APMarc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge are two big-name free agents this summer.

Several big-name players will hit NBA free agency this summer.

Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Millsap will all be unrestricted free agents, while talented young players like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Draymond Green will be restricted free agents.

Despite the glut of quality players, teams looking to make a big splash in free agency may be left empty-handed.

The NBA’s rules are set up to give a player’s original team an advantage in free agency. Restricted free agency gives a player’s original team the chance to match any contract offer he receives. The rules are also designed to give unrestricted free agents an incentive to re-sign with their original teams — which can offer an extra year and bigger raises than the other 29 teams.

We saw an example of this last summer with Carmelo Anthony. Anthony could have joined potential contenders like the Chicago Bulls or Houston Rockets for around four years, $US96 million, but ended up staying in New York for five years, $US124 million.

With restricted free agency, Leonard, Butler, and Green are all young, talented, two-way players that their franchises would miss dearly if they left for another team. Opposing teams will likely offer big contracts to all three, but the Spurs, Bulls, and Warriors, respectively, would be wise to match.

The summer of 2015 also offers another unique situation: the marque free agents are mostly on great teams. Here’s a look at the team situations for some of the top free agents:

  • Marc Gasol — Grizzlies, second in West, 33-12
  • Kevin Love — Cavaliers, fifth in East, 26-20 (and supposedly willing to put off free agency)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge — Blazers, third in West, 32-13
  • Rajon Rondo — Mavericks, sixth in West, 30-16
  • Paul Millsap — Hawks, first in East, 37-8

There are other talented players — like Goran Dragic, Greg Monroe, and Wesley Matthews — who will get attention from teams, but by and large, most of the best free agents are in good situations with the chance to earn more money.

There are exceptions to these rules. LeBron James and Dwight Howard both left good teams in the Heat and Lakers, respectively, and took less money to join other teams, but they do seem like the exceptions.

For the top free agents to leave their teams this summer, they’d risk joining lesser teams for less money — an all-around, unattractive situation.

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