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How 2013’s Restricted Free Agents Fared

After eight of this summer's most intriguing restricted free-agents-to-be signed contract extensions last offseason, and plenty more potential restricted free agents didn't receive qualifying offers, we ended up with fewer than usual restricted players last month. Only 12 players were tendered qualifying offers, and two of those QOs were withdrawn before the players signed contracts.

While there weren't many restricted free agents on the market in 2013, the ones that were on the board ended up making out fairly well. No players landed max contracts like Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, and Brook Lopez did a year ago. But conversely, no players ended up like D.J. Augustin did last summer, ultimately having to sign for a salary that paid less than a qualifying offer would have.

Let's take a closer look at how this year's restricted free agents fared….

Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves: Five years, $60MM (plus incentives)
Tyreke Evans, Pelicans: Four years, $44MM
Tiago Splitter, Spurs: Four years, $36MM
Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets: Three years, $14MM (third-year team option)
Robert Sacre, Lakers: Three years, $2.69MM

These five guys make up our first group because they should have no real complaints about how the free agent process turned out. Pekovic was the only restricted free agent to land a five-year deal, and easily scored the biggest payday of the bunch. Evans was voted by Hoops Rumors readers as the worst $40MM+ signing of the summer, but if his deal is considered an overpay by the Pelicans, then it looks pretty good from Evans' perspective.

Meanwhile, Splitter received a lucrative long-term deal to return to a championship contender, while Mozgov and Sacre both signed three-year pacts that will certainly pay them a higher annual salary than what they were worth in 2012/13 — both players have upside, but they won't necessarily have to realize that upside to earn very good salaries for the next two or three years.

Jeff Teague, Hawks: Four years, $32MM
Chris Copeland, Pacers: Two years, $6.14MM

It'd be hard for either Teague or Copeland to complain about the pay checks they'll have coming based on their new contracts, but it's not clear if either player ended up with his preferred team. Teague signed an offer sheet with Milwaukee and talked about looking forward to joining the Bucks, but had that sheet matched by the Hawks. As for Copeland, a few early reports hinted that his first choice was the Knicks, and that he may be willing to accept a discount to make a reunion happen. Ultimately though, it's hard to fault him for choosing the Pacers when Indiana offered more than the Knicks could afford.

Brandon Jennings, Pistons: Three years, $24MM
Gerald Henderson, Bobcats: Three years, $18MM (third-year player option)
Pablo Prigioni, Knicks: Three years, $4.9MM (third year is partially guaranteed)

Jennings, Henderson, and Prigioni seem perfectly happy with where they landed, but all three players may have hoped for a little higher salary. Jennings was reportedly looking for $12MM per year, while Henderson was said to be seeking $8MM annually. Prigioni's asking price wasn't reported, but I would guess he wouldn't have minded getting a larger portion of the Knicks' mini mid-level exception — that's just my speculation though, and that third year on his deal seems like a reasonable compromise.

Gary Neal, Bucks: Two years, $6.5MM
Tyler Hansbrough, Raptors: Two years: $6.5MM (second year is partially guaranteed)

Neither Neal nor Hansbrough was technically a restricted free agent when he signed, since both players had their qualifying offers rescinded by that point. But both guys still made out reasonably well. Hansbrough is the only player of this entire group who you could argue should have accepted his qualifying offer. If he had done so, he would've returned to the Pacers on a one-year, $4.14MM contract. Instead, he'll earn about $3.18MM from the Raptors in 2013/14. Still, that second season on his deal is partially guaranteed for $1MM, so his overall guarantee is just slightly larger than it would have been if he'd returned to Indiana.

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