Qualifying Offers And The Starter Criteria

With the summer approaching, new details of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement figure to become relevant over the next few weeks, slightly modifiying the usual process for free agency. One such change will impact the qualifying offers teams extend to free agents this offseason, based on a newly-defined "starter criteria."

The new 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 2008 class of rookies will be hitting restricted free agency this season, the 2008/09 rookie scale will dictate the qualifying offers received. Using RealGM's rookie scale chart for 2008, we can calculate the qualifying offers as follows:

  • 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick is $4,385,416.
  • 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick is $4,001,917.
  • 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick is $2,695,391.

So which players will be affected by this new rule this summer? Using our list of restricted free agents, 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 criteria1 and will be eligible for a QO of $4,001,917:

Players picked between 10th and 30th who met the starter criteria1 and will be eligible for a QO of $4,385,416:

Other free agents with three years or less in the NBA who met the starter criteria1 and will be eligible for a QO of $2,695,391:

1 Starter criteria are assumed to be prorated for the lockout-shortened 2011/12 season. For instance, Courtney Lee played 1,757 minutes in the 66-game season. In a typical 82-game season, that number prorates to 2,183 minutes, exceeding the necessary 2,000 minutes.

Note: Thanks to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports for confirming information in this post.

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