Countless free agents have had the opportunity to sign qualifying offers since their institution in 1995, but few have actually done so. Norris Cole, who reportedly signed his qualifying offer from the Pelicans, would be just the 20th ever to put pen to paper on a document that commonly serves merely as a placeholder of sorts.
Qualifying offers are the tenders that teams must make to restricted free agents to retain the right to match offers from other NBA teams. The value of the qualifying offer is tied to the rookie scale for former first-round picks, while most second-round picks and undrafted players are eligible for qualifying offers that are based on their previous salaries. They don’t often represent significant raises, and they cover only one season, so no long-term security is involved.
Of course, long-term security isn’t worth what it used to be with the salary cap projected to balloon to $89MM next season. It’s enough of a leap to offset the financial sacrifice that Tristan Thompson would make if he eschewed a reported five-year, $80MM offer from the Cavs to sign his qualifying offer this year if, as his agent believes he can do, he signs a maximum-salary contract with another team next summer.
This July, Greg Monroe became the first player to sign a maximum-salary contract after taking a qualifying offer the year before. Ben Gordon, who wound up with $58MM over five years on his first contract after signing a qualifying offer, had come closest before that. Monroe and Gordon were unlike most, since they inked lucrative deals following their qualifying offers, but both of them changed teams when they did so, which is typical after a signed qualifying offer. Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, has pledged that will be the outcome for his client in 2016 if he takes the qualifying offer from the Cavaliers this year.
The list below shows each player who has signed a qualifying offer over the years, with information on the value of the offer as well as the next contract each of them received.
- Norris Cole reportedly signed a qualifying offer of $3,036,927 from the Pelicans on 9/16/15.
- Matthew Dellavedova signed a qualifying offer of $1,147,276 from the Cavaliers on 7/25/15.
- Greg Monroe signed a qualifying offer of $5,479,935 from the Pistons on 9/3/14. He signed a three-year, $51,437,514 maximum-salary deal with the Bucks on 7/9/15.
- Kevin Seraphin signed a qualifying offer of $3,898,692 from the Wizards on 7/18/14. He signed for one year, $2.814MM with the Knicks on 8/6/15.
- Ivan Johnson signed a qualifying offer of $962,195 from the Hawks on 9/18/12. He signed a partially guaranteed two-year minimum-salary contract with the Mavericks on 7/29/14, but he didn’t make the opening night roster.
- Devin Ebanks signed a qualifying offer of $1,054,389 from the Lakers on 8/13/12. He signed a non-guaranteed training camp invitation from the Mavericks on 9/13/13, but he didn’t make the opening-night roster.
- Luke Harangody signed a qualifying offer of $1,054,389 from the Cavaliers on 7/3/12. Has not signed another NBA contract.
- Darius Morris signed a qualifying offer of $962,195 from the Lakers on 7/2/12. He signed a non-guaranteed training camp invitation from the Sixers on 9/13/13, but he didn’t make the opening-night roster. He later surfaced on a 10-day contract with the Clippers, signed 1/6/14.
- Nick Young signed a qualifying offer of $3,695,857 from the Wizards on 12/19/11. He was traded to the Clippers 3/15/12, and signed for one year, $5.6MM with the Sixers on 7/6/12.
- Marco Belinelli signed a qualifying offer of $3,377,604 from the Pelicans on 12/13/11. He signed for one year, $1.957MM with the Bulls on 7/24/12.
- Spencer Hawes signed a qualifying offer of $4,051,024 from the Sixers on 12/10/11. He re-signed with the Sixers for two years, $13.1MM on 7/12/12.
- Raymond Felton signed a qualifying offer of $5,501,196 from the Hornets on 9/23/09. Signed with the Knicks for two years, $14.56MM on 7/12/10.
- Ben Gordon signed a qualifying offer of $6,404,750 from the Bulls on 10/1/08. Signed with the Pistons for five years, $58MM on 7/8/09.
- Robert Swift signed a qualifying offer of $3,579,131 from the Thunder on 9/11/08. Has not signed another NBA contract.
- Mickael Pietrus signed a qualifying offer of $3,470,771 from the Warriors on 10/1/07. Signed with the Magic for four years, $21.2MM on 7/10/08.
- Melvin Ely signed a qualifying offer of $3,303,813 from the Hornets on 10/2/06. He was traded to the Spurs on 2/13/07, and agreed to sign for two years, $1,893,739 (minimum salary) with the Pelicans on 9/13/07.
- Vladimir Radmanovic signed a qualifying offer of $3,166,155 from the Thunder on 9/19/05. He was traded to the Clippers on 2/14/06, and agreed to sign for five years, $30.247MM with the Lakers on 7/12/06.
- Stromile Swift signed a qualifying offer of $5,993,105 from the Grizzlies on 9/30/04. Signed with the Rockets for four years, $22.4MM on 8/2/05.
- Michael Olowokandi signed a qualifying offer of $6,061,214 from the Clippers on 9/23/02. Signed with the Timberwolves for three years, $16,226,100 on 7/17/03.
- Rasho Nesterovic signed a qualifying offer of $2,436,813 from the Timberwolves on 8/25/02. Signed with the Spurs for six years, $42MM on 7/16/03.
- Retired team names (Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, Seattle SuperSonics) have been updated to the current names to avoid confusion.
- The Cavaliers and Matthew Dellavedova inserted a trade kicker into his contract, but it is, for all intents and purposes, a signed qualifying offer.