The stretch run of the season matters a lot to members of this summer’s free agent class. But the effect of what happens between now and the end of the regular season will perhaps be more well-defined for Trevor Booker, Brian Roberts and Jordan Crawford than anyone else. That’s because all three have a chance to trigger the league’s starter criteria and boost the value of their qualifying offers.
Teams must extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents to reserve the right to match offers that other teams might make. Without a qualifying offer, a restricted free agent becomes an unrestricted free agent. For most players, the amounts of their qualifying offers are set in stone, and they’re usually determined by draft position. Whether or not the starter criteria come into play depends on whether or not a player logs at least 2,000 minutes or 41 starts during the season prior to his free agency, or hits those benchmarks over the average of the final two seasons before he becomes a free agent. Here’s what’s at stake:
- A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive the same qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick.
- A player 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.
These four players have already triggered higher qualifying offers for this summer:
- Avery Bradley, Celtics ($4,677,708) — would have been $3,581,302
- Greivis Vasquez, Raptors ($4,677,708) — would have been $3,203,780
- Isaiah Thomas, Kings ($2,875,131) — would have been $1,148,163
- P.J. Tucker, Suns ($2,875,131) — would have been $1,148,163
Conversely, three will likely see their qualifying offers reduced:
- Ekpe Udoh, Bucks ($4,268,609) — would have been $5,962,377
- Ed Davis, Grizzlies ($4,268,609) — would have been $4,361,788
- Patrick Patterson, Raptors ($4,268,609) — would have been $4,319,474
Booker, Roberts and Crawford are toss-ups, as we explain here:
- Trevor Booker, Wizards — This appears to be the most intriguing case. Booker could be in line for a higher qualifying injury because of Nene‘s injury. Booker has been starting in his place, and if he makes 10 more starts over Washington’s final 14 games, his qualifying offer increases from $3,420,443 to $4,677,708. Nene is already in the middle of his original four-to-six week timetable for a return, so if he comes back anytime soon, Booker will end up with the lower qualifying offer.
- Brian Roberts, Pelicans — An injury also affected Roberts’ case. He became the starter at point guard when Jrue Holiday went down with injury in January, and with Holiday lost for the season, it looks like Roberts will make the 41 starts needed to raise his qualifying offer from $1,115,243 to $2,875,131. He’s seven starts shy, and the Pelicans have 15 games left.
- Jordan Crawford, Warriors — He’d have to average 28.5 minutes over the last 12 games for the Warriors, or start half of those contests. Both are long shots, but if he accomplishes either, his qualifying offer would escalate from $3,206,867 to $4,677,708.