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June 30, 2008

2008 Restricted Free Agent List

joshsmith.jpgMIKE ZARRILLI / GETTY IMAGES
A restricted agent in the NBA means that the team that holds the player has a chance to match the offer that the opposing team offers. However there are not many teams in the NBA who have significant cap room to sign the best restricted free agents. The cap has been set at 56.7 million for 2008-09 and the only team to be significantly below that for the time being is Philadelphia. Also, most of the teams with the lowest salaries for 2008-09 have their own restricted free agents to worry about like the Bobcats, Hawks, and the Warriors.

Restricted free agents

Atlanta Hawks
Josh Childress - Childress has been an extremely efficient player since coming into the league. Does not shoot threes, but has a terrific % from the floor and the line (and a high volume shooter at the line to boot). In addition to solid perimeter defense. Other teams probably notice this, and if there were more teams with cap room he would have plenty of suitors. The Hawks may luck out if Childress does not get a big offer, because if some team jumps at him with a high price tag, the Hawks likely will have to choose Smith and let Childress go.

Josh Smith - Smith is certainly one of the best players available, restricted or not restricted free agents. He is young and emerging superstar who plays electric defense, racking up steals and blocks. His shot selection can be poor at times as he is a terrible 3 point shooter, but to his credit he cut down on that a bit in 2007-08. Smith is a better player finishing at the hoop. Because he is probably the best free agent available he may get an offer, but the Hawks are more than likely to match no matter what. Smith was an unstoppable force at times against Boston in the 2007-08 NBA Finals playoffs despite his inconsistency. However, Atlanta may be forced to let Childress go.

Also: Salim Stoudamire

Charlotte Bobcats
Emeka Okafor
- Okafor turned down a big deal from the Bobcats for 13+ million a year. It is unlikely he will find a team looking to pay him more than that with his limited offensive game and injury history. No doubt he is a rock defensively in a weak center market, but again it is an issue with the lack of teams having room for him. Philadelphia already has Sam Dalembert and the Grizzlies are really the only team with a low enough cap to offer Okafor anything. But the Bobcats also have a decent amount of room and you can bet they'd match the highest offer, since they were already planning on overpaying him.

Chicago Bulls
Luol Deng
- Deng was offered 5 years 50+ million from the Bulls, as was Ben Gordon below. They both rejected, hoping to build off solid seasons in 2006-07. Then the entire Bull team laid an egg in 2007-08. Deng was less efficient from the floor and he missed 20 games, so it is unlikely he will find a deal that beats the one he didn't sign the year before.

Ben Gordon - Gordon at times can score at a superstar rate and has been noted for his late game scoring surges. He doesn't have the all around game that Deng has though and definitely should have committed to that 5 year 50 million dollar deal last year. He lost about 3 points off his scoring average and the Bulls have about 15 guards on the team including one with a huge contract in Larry Hughes. The Bulls may not be willing to give him a lot of money but not a lot of other teams have money to throw around either, so he may be forced to take a 1 year deal and hope for a better situation next year.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Daniel Gibson
- Will Gibson ever escape his identity as a three point specialist? The Cavaliers run to the playoffs showed he could be put up 20, 30 points a game in key games. He was a huge beneficiary of Lebron's driving and kicking ability and in turn will need to work on creating his own shot consistently. Cleveland might be more infatuated with Delonte West, who came over in a previous trade and was the #2 guy for the 07-08 Cavaliers with LeBron.

Delonte West - West's proven versatility make him a lock to stay in Cleveland. He was able to play off Lebron well, driving to the hoop and the free throw line at an impressive clip. Delonte can play d as well, but he may get a qualifying offer and have to sustain his play for another year to get a huge contract. His current numbers make him a mid-level signing.

Denver Nuggets
JR Smith
- JR is erratic but can be a high volume three point scorer with the athletic ability to get to the rim and create his own shot (though he is much better catching and shooting). He can play d also. His attitude is suspect and he played less than 20 minutes a game in 2007-08, so he may just have to accept the qualifying offer sent to him by Denver to prove himself again in 2008-09.

Golden State Warriors
Monta Ellis
- This guy is an underrated talent who won't get paid as much as he deserves. The Warriors know this guy is a big part of their future with his terrific finishing ability and speed in the open court. He also gets to the line at a decent rate and only his long range jumper needs work offensively.

Andris Biedrins - Another guy who has not been appreciated for his work in recent years. Biedrins is an athletic double double every night, and he can provide some blocks. He has a thin frame so he can be muscled around and his offensive game is not much besides putbacks. Still, a tall and athletic center is a valuable commodity. Nellie has not played him as much as he probably should have, but that should keep the money down that is thrown at him. Expect both of these guys to be in Golden State next year.

Houston Rockets
Carl Landry
- Per minute, this guy was an absolute monster the first half of the year. His play slowed down towards the end of the year including a rash of injuries. A cheaper restricted free agent option but another guy who will likely stick around Houston for a little while longer in hopes of receiving more playing time to prove his high PER was not a fluke.

Memphis Grizzlies
Juan Carlos Navarro
- Juan Carlos Navarro will be returning to Europe to play. Despite his claims to be fine with playing in Memphis, there was no point to stay once his friend Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Ryan Gomes
- A solid player on a bad team last year. Possibly the most consistent all around player for the Twolves, not necessarily great at any one thing but was an efficient scorer with an occasional breakout game. Another guy who might get some cheaper offers to see if the depth-packed Wolves will let him walk.

New Jersey Nets
Nenad Krstic
- Krstic at times has looked like a solid 16 points - 8 rebounds per night offensive player, but has battled injuries the last year and really throughout his career. Nenad does not play much defense but can be a solid big option for scoring, while Brook Lopez or Sean Williams focuses on interior defense. Because of his questionable health you'll likely see the Nets extend a qualifying offer for Krstic to give himself a chance to earn more money.

Philadelphia 76ers
Andre Iguodala
- Arguably the best player on this board with Okafor and Josh Smith. Probably would have been if this was rated in 2006-07 where Iguodala was a fantastic player. But Iggy has shown his offensive deficiencies, namely a poor jump shot and being prone to turnovers. For a guy looking for superstar type money, he is more of a solid #2 guy who relies on someone else to create driving / finishing opportunities. In turn Iguodala probably should have signed the big deal the Sixers offered him previously and like Okafor he will need to accept more money than he probably thinks he should be worth.

Seattle Supersonics
Robert Swift
- Swift has been one of the most injury prone players in the NBA in recent years. Long ago he was a top high school prospect, but has never panned out for a long period of time in the NBA (though he has had flashes of brilliance). His 7+ million would open things up for the Sonics, and he likely won't find that much money per year anywhere else.

Toronto Raptors
Jose Calderon
- Calderon's situation looked to be a confusing one heading into the off-season. But with the TJ Ford trade, it is more clear than ever that Calderon is the PG of the future in Toronto. Jose Calderon defines efficiency. He finished the season with a 78 assist - 2 turnover ratio, and that pretty much summed up his year. A 6 to 1 assist / turnover ratio is unheard of. Calderon's scoring was explosive earlier in the year but then he became more of a one dimensional point guard towards the end of the year. Still, he would shoot threes at a scorching 43% and 52% from the floor. He is injury prone too like Ford, but the Raptors made the right choice in trading Ford. Don't expect them to let Ford get away.