Update: Motiejunas and Galloway met the starter criteria, but Canaan suffered a torn left labrum that prevented him from doing so.
Original post: The playoff races and pending first-round pick exchange scenarios provide intrigue for the regular season’s final few days, but the games that remain have quantifiable financial implications for three players in particular. Donatas Motiejunas, Langston Galloway and Isaiah Canaan are all within striking distance of meeting the NBA’s starter criteria and upping the worth of the qualifying offers their teams have to make to match competing bids for them in free agency this summer.
Qualifying offers took on a new level of importance the past two years, when Greg Monroe, Kevin Seraphin, Matthew Dellavedova and Norris Cole all signed qualifying offers and others, notably Klutch Sports clients Eric Bledsoe and Tristan Thompson, have threatened to do so. The qualifying offer almost always represents a steeply discounted salary for a player of the likes of Monroe, Bledsoe, and Thompson, which helps explain why Monroe is probably the best player ever to have signed one. Still, for others, like Seraphin, Dellavedova and Cole, it represents a salary in line with their market value. That’s why the starter criteria, which help determine how much qualifying offers are worth, are key factors for many.
The starter criteria are fulfilled if a player eligible for restricted free agency makes 41 or more starts or plays 2,000 minutes in the season preceding the end of his contract, or in the average of the two seasons preceding the end of his contract. The following are the consequences for meeting or not meeting the starter criteria as they appear in our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry on qualifying offers and as informed by Larry Coon’s invaluable Salary Cap FAQ:
- A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
- A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
- A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
- For all others, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.
Here’s what’s at stake for Motiejunas, Galloway and Canaan, and what they need to do to lock in higher qualifying offers:
- Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets — He needs to make just one more start to reach 82 over the past two seasons, enough to trigger the starter criteria and lift the value of his qualifying offer from $3,278,998 to $4,433,683. Motiejunas has started every game since the beginning of March except for Wednesday’s, in which he picked up a DNP-CD. The Rockets elected to put him back in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game, but he played only 12 minutes.
- Langston Galloway, Knicks — Galloway is 60 minutes shy of 2,000, the number he needs to hit the starter criteria and lift his qualifying offer from $1,180,431 to $2,725,003. The Knicks have three games left, and he’s averaged 22.5 minutes per game since the beginning of March, so this one could come down to the wire.
- Isaiah Canaan, Sixers — Canaan is two starts and 34 minutes away from triggering the starter criteria, with four games left to go for the Sixers. He’s been a starter for every game since March 12th and has averaged 29.2 minutes per contest over that stretch, so he’s a strong bet to lift his qualifying offer from $1,215,696 to $2,725,003.
The following players are former second-round picks or undrafted players who’ve already triggered the starter criteria and are due qualifying offers of $2,725,003 this summer. Their previous qualifying offers are listed by their names.
These are the players selected with picks 10-30 in the 2012 draft who’ve triggered the starter criteria for qualifying offers of $4,433,683 in the offseason ahead. Again, the previous qualifying offers are listed next to their names.
Meyers Leonard is the only 2012 lottery pick who won’t meet the starter criteria, meaning his qualifying offer will decline from $4,210,880 to $4,045,894.
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.