As NBA teams get eliminated, more players become free agents.
And with free agents comes big money.
In an 82-game season, the best way to become an elite player with a big salary is by proving you belong.
Players who become free agents are usually restricted or unrestricted, and as a part of their deal, they could reach an opt out.
The opt-out is either a player’s option or the team’s, and one or both sides will make that decision.
For those players who are unrestricted, they can choose what team they want to join, and their former team has no control over it.
Many other players may be restricted free agents which means that the player’s current team has the right to match the offer sheet made by another team and could keep that player on their roster with that deal in place.
We have seen this happen to some of the premier All-Stars in the league and it could very well happen again this season.
Some may even choose to opt out of their current contract to look for a new and better deal.
We can assume that this will be the case for the bigger name free agents like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Despite those big names, we have several young players who are looking to continue to make a name for themselves. Coming off the last season of their rookie contract, we can expect them to get paid.
Some of these names are Julius Randle, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, and Zach LaVine.
Randle is a 6-9 power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is also a restricted free agent once the free agent period opens up. This season he went through the ups and downs that his team went through.
He lost his starting job and then earned it back. That forced the Lakers to move former teammate Larry Nance Jr. to create more minutes for both Randle and rookie forward Kyle Kuzma.
Randle will be part of an important offseason for the Lakers as they also traded Randle’s draft class teammate Jordan Clarkson with Nance Jr. to open up cap space. The Lakers will only have five players on their roster entering the free agency period.
Randle could resign with the team on his qualifying offer for 5.5 million, or he could join another team who’s in need of an athletic forward like Randle; teams who could be interested are Dallas, Phoenix, and Indiana.
He averaged 16.1 ppg, 8.0 RPG, and 2.6 APG this past season with the Lakers and hopefully, he could stay where he’s at.
Nurkic is a 6-11 center for the Portland Trail Blazers. He will be a restricted free agent as well and may want to get a deal done fast.
Nurkic was drafted by the Denver Nuggets where he played until being traded in the 2016-2017 season to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers made all kind of space for Nurkic to grow into one of the best young stars in the league.
He helped the Blazers capture the third spot in the 2018 playoffs with an average of 14.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 1.8 APG.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to help the Blazers stop Anthony Davis and they were eliminated from the playoffs.
Unlike Randle’s situation, Nurkic may be finding another team. However, the Blazers could still get him back if they can figure out how to dump some of their unwanted contracts on other teams and make room for Nurkic.
His qualifying offer with Portland is 4.1 million, and that should be matched or negotiated to keep him in Portland.
Capela is a 6-10 center for the Houston Rockets. He has played an enormous role in the Rockets success this season as they look to make it to the finals after finishing with the best record in the NBA.
He has continued to prove that he deserves the money with his dominant performance in the playoffs.
That comes as no surprise as Capela lead the team in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage during the regular season. Teammate James Harden leads the team in minutes, points, and assists.
If the Rockets didn’t bring Capela back, Harden and the Rockets fans would be upset.
Capela averaged 13.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG during the regular season and that is expected to increase over the course of his career.
The biggest question is where Capela will play next season and many years to come. The Rockets have to figure out several things financial to keep the squad they have. Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza have been huge pieces in the Rockets success this season, and they will also be free agents. Capela’s qualifying offer is 3.4 million, but that’s likely to go up once other teams start showing interesting.
Gordon is a 6-9 forward for the Orlando Magic. He has proven he could be one of the best forwards in the league. He also showed that he could dunk and electrify the crowd.
With Orlando always being a bad team, Gordon doesn’t get the recognization that he deserves from the media.
In only 58 games, Gordon posted more numbers this year than his previous three seasons. Gordon’s season was cut short because he was in and out of the lineup dealing with a calf injury. He still managed to average 17.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 2.3 APG.
The Magic roster doesn’t seem like it’ll change much, they are expected to have a top 10 lottery pick in the draft this summer. They still plan to keep last year’s pick, Jonathan Isaac, with Gordon and another young piece in hopes to start getting back in the playoff picture.
The Magic could give Gordon a qualifying offer between 7.3 to 9.7 and Gordon is very well deserving of it.
Parker is a 6-8 forward for the Milwaukee Bucks. When he’s healthy, he is a critical piece to the Bucks.
It would be easy to see him stay in Milwaukee to play with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the young core that they created to help them be a playoff team.
It doesn’t seem like Parker is much of an impact player because he hasn’t even played a full season since being drafted in 2014.
Parker’s best season was in 2016 where he averaged 20.1 PPG while playing the most minutes. This past season Parker averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG while only playing in 31 games.
In their search for a new head coach, the Bucks will have to make the tough decision on whether or not they should retain Parker. Parker’s qualifying offer with the Bucks is 7.4 million. Is a healthy Parker an excellent addition to the Bucks team with whoever the new coach maybe?
Lavine is a 6-5 guard for the Chicago Bulls. Lavine was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves where he became the two-time slam dunk champion.
He was traded to the Bulls before the 2017 NBA draft for Jimmy Butler. Lavine, along with Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen were a part of that trade.
In his lone season with the Bulls, Lavine averaged 16.7 PPG and 3.0 APG in just 24 games.
When healthy Lavine paired with Dunn and Markkanen for the Bulls future, they could be back in the playoff picture.
Lavine’s qualifying offer from the Bulls could be anywhere between 4.4 and 5 million. If the Bulls were to retain Lavine and he could stay healthy, we could see a pretty exciting Bulls team.
What’s your list of underrated free agents look like? Do you like these guys deserve to get more prominent bucks?
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