Qualifying Offers And The Starter Criteria

April 19 2013 at 11:48am CST By Luke Adams

As we explained a year ago when the 2011/12 regular season ended, new details of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement have slightly modified the usual process for restricted free agency. The qualifying offers teams extend to potential restricted free agents are now based, in some instances, on a newly-defined "starter criteria."

The CBA describes a "starter" as either starting 41 games or playing 2,000 minutes in a season, and rewards players for meeting those criteria. If a player achieved one of those benchmarks in the season prior to his free agency, or averaged one of those benchmarks in the two seasons leading up to his free agency, his qualifying offer will be affected as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter critera will receive a same qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick.
  • A played picked between 10th and 30th who meets the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick.

Because the 2009 class of first-round picks will be hitting restricted free agency this season, the 2009/10 rookie scale will dictate the qualifying offers received. Using RealGM's rookie scale chart for 2009, we can calculate the qualifying offers as follows:

  • 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick is $4,531,459.
  • 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick is $4,135,391.
  • 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick is $2,785,146.

So which players will be affected by this new rule this summer? Using our list of free agents (restricted FAs are marked with R), the above calculations, and the starter criteria, this offseason's modified qualifying offers are listed below. Teams will have to offer these free agents a one-year contract worth the listed amount to make them restricted — otherwise they'll become unrestricted and can freely sign with any club.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet the starter criteria and will now be eligible for a QO of $4,135,391 (previously anticipated QO in parentheses):

Players picked between 10th and 30th who met the starter criteria and will now be eligible for a QO of $4,531,459 (previously anticipated QO in parentheses):

Other free agents with three years or less in the NBA who met the starter criteria and will be eligible for a QO of $2,785,146:

  • None. Although restricted free agents like Nikola Pekovic (Timberwolves) and Tiago Splitter (Spurs) also met the starter criteria, both players are already in line for higher QOs because they were signed to larger deals using cap space (Pekovic) or the mid-level exception (Splitter).
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