P.J. Washington Meets Starter Criteria, Increases QO Value

Hornets forward P.J. Washington made his 41st start of the 2022/23 season on Tuesday night in Toronto, ensuring that the value of his qualifying offer this summer will be a little higher than initially projected, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

By starting at least half of Charlotte’s 82 games this season, Washington met the “starter criteria” for players who are on track to reach restricted free agency.

Players who were drafted between 10th and 30th overall and meet the starter criteria become eligible for a qualifying offer worth the equivalent of what the ninth overall pick will receive. As the 12th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Washington had been in line for a QO worth $7,992,407, but that figure will be bumped to $8,486,620, per Marks.

For some players, the difference between reaching or not reaching the starter criteria can significantly impact how their free agency plays out, but the $500K increase will be negligible for Washington, especially since he’s a strong candidate to receive a lucrative multiyear contract as a restricted free agent.

If Washington can’t find a suitable offer sheet and can’t work out a multiyear deal with the Hornets, or if he simply wants to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024, it’s possible he’d accept his qualifying offer and play on a one-year, $8.5MM contract next season. But if he negotiates a longer-term agreement, that QO will essentially function as a placeholder.

Washington is the first of 2023’s projected restricted free agents to meet the starter criteria, though Spurs guard Tre Jones should be right behind him. Jones is on track to make his 41st start of the season for San Antonio on Wednesday night.

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