The starter criteria requires an RFA-to-be to start at least half of his team’s games in the two seasons leading up to his free agency. Collins started 41 of Atlanta’s 67 games in 2019/20 and has now started 29 of 72 this season, for a total of 70 starts out of 139 games, surpassing that halfway point.
As a result of meeting the criteria, Collins’ qualifying offer in restricted free agency will now be worth $7,705,447 instead of $5,899,793.
For some players, the difference between meeting the starter criteria and not quite getting there can make a significant difference in how their free agency plays out, as it did a year ago for Kris Dunn. When he met the starter criteria, Dunn ensured his qualifying offer was worth $7.09MM instead of $4.64MM — the Bulls subsequently declined to tender that QO, making him an unrestricted free agent, a move the team may not have made if the financial commitment was smaller.
In Collins’ case, the value of his qualifying offer is almost irrelevant, as he’ll certainly be able to sign a far more lucrative long-term contract than the one-year, $7.7MM QO. Barring a very surprising development, his qualifying offer will essentially be a placeholder.
Six 2021 RFAs – Collins, Jarrett Allen, Lonzo Ball, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Devonte’ Graham – have now met the starter criteria. Once he returns from his shoulder injury, Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is the best candidate to get there next, as he needs just five more starts.