Thunder Rumors

Magic Win 2022 NBA Draft Lottery; Thunder, Rockets, Kings In Top Four

With Tuesday night’s lottery results now official, the top 14 slots for the 2022 NBA draft have been set. The lottery order is as follows:

  1. Orlando Magic
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Sacramento Kings
  5. Detroit Pistons
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s great news for the rebuilding Magic, who finished dead last in the Eastern Conference this season and had the NBA’s second-worst record (22-60). They entered the night tied for the best odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick at 14.0%, and will be picking first in the draft for the first time since 2004, when they selected Dwight Howard.

This time around, the Magic appear likely to draft a big man once again. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, all power forwards or centers, are widely considered to be the top prospects in the 2022 class. Orlando could add one of them to a core that includes 2021 lottery picks Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs.

The Thunder are one of the night’s other big winners, moving up from fourth in the pre-lottery order to No. 2 overall. The rebuilding squad is loaded with first-round picks over the next five years, and will have the opportunity to draft a potential franchise player next month to complement guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Oklahoma City is the only team with two picks in this year’s lottery, having acquired the No. 12 overall selection from the Clippers.

The Rockets will have a top-three pick for a second straight year after nabbing Jalen Green second overall in 2021. They’ll be followed by the Kings, who moved up from seventh in the pre-lottery order to No. 4 in the draft, making good on their 31.9% chance to jump into the top four.

It’s the fourth consecutive time that the seventh team in the lottery standings has moved into the top four. The Pelicans (Zion Williamson), Hornets (LaMelo Ball), and Raptors (Scottie Barnes) did it in 2019, 2020, and 2021 after the NBA revamped its lottery format ahead of the 2019 event.

The Pistons, Pacers, and Trail Blazers were among the biggest losers on lottery night. Detroit moved down two spots, from No. 3 to No. 5, while Indiana and Portland both dropped one spot from their place in the pre-lottery order, landing at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

Since the Lakers’ first-round pick stayed at No. 8, it will head to the Pelicans rather than the Grizzlies — Memphis would have received it if it had fallen out of the top 10.

The rest of the lottery played out as expected, with the Spurs, Wizards, Knicks, Thunder, Hornets, and Cavaliers rounding out the top 14.

Thunder’s Derrick Favors Picks Up 2022/23 Player Option

Thunder center Derrick Favors has officially exercised his player option for the 2022/23 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move had been expected, with Favors telling reporters after Oklahoma City’s season ended last month that he planned to opt in. The $10.18MM option will pay him more next season than he could realistically expect to earn if he turned it down and sought a new contract as a free agent.

Favors, who was traded from Utah to Oklahoma City last July, didn’t play a ton for his new team in 2021/22, averaging a modest 16.7 minutes per game in 39 appearances. His season came to an early end due to a back issue.

When he did play, Favors averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG. Although he’s still a solid rebounder and can score around the basket, the 30-year-old didn’t have much of a role on a rebuilding Thunder team that was more focused on developing its young players.

Now that he’s on an expiring contract and presumably isn’t in OKC’s long-term plans, Favors should be viewed as a trade candidate this offseason. However, it doesn’t sound like he’d be opposed to returning to the Thunder.

Favors recently said that playing with the young club brought back the “joy of playing basketball and not worrying about the business part,” and told the media during his exit interview that he expected to be back with the Thunder next season.

We’re tracking all of this year’s player option decisions right here.

2022 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2022 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics. The half-hour event will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 7:00 pm central time.

This year’s draft pool features a group of four prospects generally considered by experts to be a level above the rest of the class: Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey. Teams that move into the top four on Tuesday night will have the opportunity to snag one of those potential future stars.

Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s lottery:


Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2022 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Orlando Magic
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)
    • Note: The Grizzlies will receive this pick if it falls to No. 11 or No. 12.
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

For the full pre-lottery draft order, click here.


Draft Lottery Odds:

The Rockets, Magic, Pistons, and Thunder have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick. Each of those four teams has a 14.0% chance to pick first overall.

Typically, only the top three teams in the lottery standings would have a 14.0% shot at the No. 1 overall pick, but the Thunder join that group by virtue of holding two lottery picks — there’s a 12.5% chance that their own pick will move up to No. 1 and a 1.5% chance the Clippers’ pick, which they also control, will be No. 1.

From there, the Pacers (10.5%), Trail Blazers (9.0%), Kings (7.5%), and Pelicans (6.0%) have the best odds to receive the first overall pick.

For the full draft lottery odds for all 14 spots, click here.


Trades Affecting The Draft Lottery:

The Clippers and Lakers are the only non-playoff teams that have traded away their lottery picks this year, and neither team put protections on its traded first-rounder.

The Thunder will receive the Clippers’ pick, as detailed above.

The Lakers’ pick technically still remains up for grabs, depending on the lottery results, due to a trade between New Orleans and Memphis. Here are the details on that deal:

Pelicans/Grizzlies

The Pelicans will acquire the Lakers’ pick if it lands in the top 10, while the Grizzlies will receive it if it ends up at No. 11 or 12.

Since the Lakers finished eighth in the lottery standings, there’s approximately a 99.5% chance that New Orleans will hang onto the pick. At least three teams in the 9-14 range would have to jump into the top four in order for Memphis to receive it.


Draft Lottery Representatives:

The representatives for each of this year’s lottery teams are as follows, according to a pair of announcements from the NBA:

  1. Houston Rockets
    • On stage: Rafael Stone (general manager)
    • Lottery room: Clay Allen (general counsel)
  2. Orlando Magic

    • On stage: Jeff Weltman (president of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: Joel Glass (chief communications officer)
  3. Detroit Pistons

    • On stage: Richard Hamilton (former Pistons player)
    • Lottery room: George David (assistant GM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder

    • On stage: Nick Collison (former Thunder player / special assistant to GM)
    • Lottery room: Sam Presti (executive VP / general manager)
  5. Indiana Pacers

    • On stage: Kelly Krauskopf (assistant GM)
    • Lottery room: Chad Buchanan (general manager)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers

    • On stage: Damian Lillard
    • Lottery room: Dewayne Hankins (president of business operations)
  7. Sacramento Kings

  8. New Orleans Pelicans

    • On stage: Swin Cash-Canal (VP of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: David Griffin (executive VP of basketball operations)
  9. San Antonio Spurs

    • On stage: David Robinson (former Spurs player / strategic partner)
    • Lottery room: Niraj Mulji (director of basketball strategy)
  10. Washington Wizards

    • On stage: Wes Unseld Jr. (head coach)
    • Lottery room: Tommy Sheppard (president of basketball operations / general manager)
  11. New York Knicks
    • On stage: William Wesley (executive VP / senior basketball advisor)
    • Lottery room: Brock Aller (VP of basketball and strategic planning)
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Cleveland Cavaliers

    • On stage: Anderson Varejao (former Cavaliers player / team ambassador)
    • Lottery room: Jon Nichols (VP of basketball strategy and personnel)

Lottery Format:

This will be the fourth year that the NBA uses its revamped lottery system, which reduces the odds that the league’s very worst teams will land a top pick and makes the top four selections available via the lottery, instead of the top three.

Before the NBA changed its lottery format, there was a 60.5% chance that one of the league’s bottom three teams would secure the No. 1 pick, and only a 27.6% chance that a team in the 5-14 range of the lottery standings would do so. Now, those odds are 42.0% and 45.5%, respectively.

The results since the new format was implemented have shown that the smoothed-out odds have the potential to create a little more mayhem on lottery night.

In 2019, the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Lakers claimed three of the top four picks despite ranking seventh, eighth, and 11th, respectively, in the lottery standings. In 2020, the Hornets and Bulls each moved up four spots, from Nos. 7 and 8 to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

A year ago, the results were more by-the-numbers. However, the seventh spot in the lottery standings was lucky again, this time for the Raptors, who moved up to No. 4 and grabbed eventual Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.

For full details on the revamped lottery format, click here.

Northwest Notes: Favors, Barton, McLemore, Gobert, Mitchell

At age 30, Derrick Favors may seem out of place on a rebuilding team, but he said spending this season with the Thunder helped him enjoy the game again, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Favors, who was acquired from the Jazz in a salary dump trade last summer, only played 39 games and sat out the final month of the season with back soreness, but he still says the experience was important.

“It brought back that fun,” Favors said, “that joy of playing basketball and not worrying about the business part, not worrying about personal life stuff, just having fun and … feeling that energy of being around 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds.”

Favors has already indicated that he will pick up his option for next season, which is worth $10.18MM, much more than he would make in free agency. However, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll back. Mussatto expects Oklahoma City to explore a trade this summer and possibly waive Favors to open a roster spot for one of its four picks in this year’s draft. However, Favors said at his exit interview that he “expects to be back.”

“I’m glad I’m here,” he said. “It opened my eyes to a lot of things. I just enjoy watching these young guys. I enjoy watching them come out and improve every game. I enjoy talking to (coach) Mark (Daigneault), and I enjoy being in this atmosphere.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets might have to consider trading Will Barton this offseason to help upgrade their defense, suggests Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barton, who has spent eight years with the team, has an expiring $14MM contract for next season and Denver may need a stronger defensive guard to pair with Jamal Murray as he returns from his ACL injury. Singer identifies Monte Morris and JaMychal Green as other players who might be moved.
  • The Trail Blazers could be tempted to re-sign Ben McLemore to serve as a veteran shooter, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. McLemore averaged 10.2 points per game and connected at 36.2% from three-point range after signing with Portland last offseason, and he can provide valuable roster depth for a team that hopes to bounce back next season.
  • It’s time for the Jazz to break up the combination of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, argues Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports, who examines the potential trade market for each player.

2022 NBA Offseason Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

It may feel as if the Thunder have been mired in the rebuilding process forever, but it was less than two years ago that the Chris Paul-led version of the team was competing in the bubble playoffs as a No. 5 seed. Since then, of course, Oklahoma City hasn’t come close to sniffing the postseason and has shown little inclination to try, shutting down a series of players due to injuries after the All-Star break in both 2021 and 2022.

Still, the Thunder haven’t been the NBA’s worst team in the last two years, and they’ve uncovered some potential gems during that stretch. Last year’s No. 6 overall pick, Josh Giddey, looks like the closest thing to a home run so far, but OKC has some other promising young players under contract and has done well to get value out of a player like Kenrich Williams, a throw-in in the Steven Adams sign-and-trade two offseason ago.

Given how many draft picks the Thunder have stockpiled and how few games they’ve won since leaving the 2020 bubble, there will be some fans anxious to see them start pushing their chips into the middle of the table this summer. But Sam Presti, who has no concerns about his job security, won’t be rushed, and appears satisfied to spend at least one more year in the lottery, focused on player development, before he begins to put his foot a little further down on the gas pedal.


The Thunder’s Offseason Plan:

The Thunder will be a team worth watching close before and during the draft, since they still have a ton of unused cap room for the 2021/22 league year. That cap space will essentially disappear at the start of July when the new league year begins and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s maximum-salary extension hits the team’s books, but it’ll be available in June and could be useful to accommodate a salary-dump trade.

Of course, the fact that the Thunder are once again loaded with valuable draft picks will also make them one of the most intriguing teams of the first half of the offseason. Oklahoma City controls four of the top 34 picks of 2022 and will have two lottery selections.

The Thunder didn’t have great lottery luck a year ago, slipping from fourth in the lottery standings to sixth in the draft itself. But with their own pick and the Clippers’ pick in this year’s lottery, their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick are as good as anyone’s, and they’ll have a better chance than any other team of ending up in the top four. That bodes well, considering some draft experts believe there’s a drop-off after the consensus top four prospects (Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey).

All 15 of the Thunder players who finished the season on standard deals remain under contract for next season, so the front office won’t technically have any free agent decisions to make. But the team will still have to make several keep-or-cut calls on players who have team options or non-guaranteed salaries. Some of those decisions will be simple – Williams and Luguentz Dort, both earning $2MM or less, obviously won’t be cut – but I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to be back.

Presti could also be active on the trade market, if only to help make room for the incoming rookies. Derrick Favors is the most obvious trade candidate on the roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some young players shopped if they’re not considered long-term cornerstones. Darius Bazley and Ty Jerome, for instance, are both entering contract years and could be trade candidates if OKC doesn’t want to lock them up with extensions.

Among the Thunder’s extension-eligible players, Dort and Williams are the best candidates to receive new deals. The team would be able to offer either player a four-year extension worth up to approximately $60MM.

If the Thunder are concerned about their ability to extend Dort, they do have the option of turning down his team option for 2022/23 in order to make him a restricted free agent. That would make him more expensive in the short term, but would eliminate the possibility of him getting away in unrestricted free agency in 2023. In that scenario, Oklahoma City would also be able to go beyond the four-year, $60MM-ish limit that would apply to an extension.


Salary Cap Situation

Note: Our salary cap figures are based on the league’s latest projection ($122MM) for 2022/23.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • No. 4 overall pick ($7,901,280) 5
  • No. 12 overall pick ($4,283,400) 6
  • No. 30 overall pick ($2,164,560)
  • No. 34 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total: $14,349,240

Extension-Eligible Players

Note: These are players who are either already eligible for an extension or will become eligible before the 2022/23 season begins.

  • Darius Bazley (rookie scale)
  • Luguentz Dort (veteran) 7
  • Derrick Favors (veteran) 7
  • Ty Jerome (rookie scale)
  • Theo Maledon (veteran)
  • Isaiah Roby (veteran) 7
  • Kenrich Williams (veteran)

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

The Thunder only currently have about $84MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, but after accounting for the options most likely to be picked up and the cap holds for three first-round picks, that number jumps to about $115MM. That means the Thunder will almost certainly operate as an over-the-cap team once free agency opens.

It’s possible Oklahoma City will shed some salary in trades and try to gain some cap room, but there would need to be a specific purpose for that cap space. The Thunder showed in 2021/22 when they were only carrying $78MM in guaranteed money and still operated “over” the cap for much of the season that they won’t renounce exceptions and cap holds and go under the cap just for the sake of it.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $10,349,000 9
  • Bi-annual exception: $4,050,000 9

Footnotes

  1. Gilgeous-Alexander’s salary will be worth 25% of the salary cap. If the cap ends up above or below $122MM, this figure will be adjusted upward or downward.
  2. Roby’s salary will remain non-guaranteed until July 3 even if his option is exercised.
  3. Williams’ salary will become fully guaranteed after last day of offseason (mid-October).
  4. Maledon’s salary will become fully guaranteed after June 30.
  5. This pick is dependent on the lottery results. It could land anywhere between No. 1 and No. 8. The Thunder’s lottery odds can be viewed here.
  6. This pick is dependent on the lottery results. It could land anywhere between No. 1 and No. 4 or between No. 12 and No. 14.
  7. Dort, Favors, and Roby would only be eligible if their options are exercised.
  8. The cap holds for these players remain on the Thunder’s books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  9. These are projected values.

Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Presti, Nuggets, Ingles

Players who spent time with the Thunder this season will receive bonus checks because the team’s total salary is so low, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The current league-wide salary cap is $112.4MM and the minimum salary floor is 90% of the cap, which is roughly $101.2MM. Oklahoma City’s total salary was about $79MM, and the remaining $22MM will be distributed to the players.

The Players Association will vote on how the money will be divvied up, but Mussatto says players who were on the roster for at least 41 games are likely to receive full shares, while others will get half or quarter shares. The final determination is kept private.

“We lay a lot out on the floor and we work hard all year,” Luguentz Dort said, “and we’ve got to thank the organization for doing that for us, just all the players.”

General manager Sam Presti considered taking on extra salary at the trade deadline in exchange for draft assets, but ultimately decided to hold onto the team’s cap space.

“When we were sitting there at the deadline, we just didn’t like anything that was being thrown at us to use that space compared to the opportunity to roll it over to the draft,” Presti said. “Now, it doesn’t roll over to July 1, but we will have that room at the draft. I would put the odds of using that room pretty low. But I’d still rather have those odds than the things that were being presented to us (at the trade deadline).”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Presti is a strong supporter of an in-season tournament, Mussatto adds in a separate story. The proposal didn’t have enough support to receive an official vote last year, but it’s likely the Thunder would have voted yes. “I think it’s very future-oriented,” Presti said, “and it takes courage to put something out there that is going to probably be maligned a little bit, maybe won’t get the immediate love, but they’re thinking bigger picture.”
  • The Nuggets only got one playoff victory, but they consider this season a success because of all they had to overcome, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. In addition to playing almost the entire season without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver was missing PJ Dozier, who suffered an ACL tear in November. “I say we beat adversity a lot of the times,” Monte Morris said. “Without Mike and Jamal, two great players, we still found ways in tough, hostile situations to win. That shows the character and how good we can be.”
  • Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian examines whether Joe Ingles will have any value to the Trail Blazers beyond his expiring contract. The 34-year-old had a torn ACL when Portland traded for him in February, and he may not be ready to return until midway through next season.

Thunder Notes: Dort, Bazley, Giddey, Salary Cap, Draft

The Thunder are interested in reaching contract extension agreements with Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley but only if the price is right, GM Sam Presti told The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto and other media members on Monday.

“They’re both great guys,” Presti said. “I want to hear what they’re thinking, and I need them to understand we have to also balance the interest of the team as well.”

Presti indicated extension talks with Dort haven’t begun, Mussatto tweets.

“We’ll definitely have a conversation on that,” Presti said. “I don’t know when those conversations will pick up. We’ll have some different options. I don’t want to get into all of them.”

Here are some other highlights from Presti’s annual end-of-season press conference, via Mussatto:

  • Dort (shoulder), Bazley (knee) and Josh Giddey (hip), among others, didn’t finish the season due to injuries but Presti expects everyone on the roster to be ready for training camp.
  • The Thunder will play in two summer leagues, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Giddey and Aleksej Pokusevski will play in Salt Lake City.
  • The Thunder have only $54MM on the books for the 2023/24 season and will continue efforts to keep their salary sheet clean leading up to a new CBA in the summer of 2023.
  • If they’re not playing meaningful games as next season progresses, the Thunder plan to once again go into development mode as the season winds down. “We’re not just trying to figure out how to win two more games next year,” Presti said. “We could do that, but that solution doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best long-term solution for the team.”
  • There’s a slim chance the Thunder could hold onto all four picks it currently possesses in the draft. “One thing I don’t think has been explored enough in the NBA is just drafting everybody and then figuring it out,” Presti said.

Update On 2022 First-Round Picks

Cleveland fell to Atlanta in the East’s final play-in game, missing out on a playoff berth. However, there was one silver lining for the Cavaliers: they’re keeping their first-round pick in the 2022 draft.

If the Cavs had won and advanced to the playoffs, the Pacers would have received Cleveland’s lottery-protected pick. But now that pick will be pushed off until next season, with Cleveland owing its lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder to Indiana.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), if the Cavs fail to advance to the postseason in 2023, Indiana will again miss out on the first-round pick and will instead control Cleveland’s 2025 second-round pick.

The Cavs’ pick this season will be No. 14, unless they get lucky and move into the top four in the lottery. The Hawks, meanwhile, will move out of the lottery and will pick at No. 16.

The West’s final play-in tournament contest also had major first-round implications. The Pelicans defeated the Clippers, so the Hornets now own New Orleans’ first-round pick (No. 15), while the Trail Blazers will receive Milwaukee’s 2025 first-rounder (top-four protected; via NOLA).

All is not lost for the Pelicans, of course. In addition to making the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, there’s a 99.6% chance they’ll control the Lakers‘ first-round pick.

The Thunder also picked up an additional lottery pick from the Clippers, as they controlled LAC’s unprotected first-rounder. That pick will have the 12th-best lottery odds.

We’ll have a more complete picture of where things stand for the entire first round after the draft tiebreakers are conducted on Monday, at which point we’ll release a full breakdown of the lottery odds and draft order.

Potential 2022 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works in a typical year:

  • A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.
  • A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games one year and 32 the next, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

The thresholds for the starter criteria this year are a little different due to the truncated nature of the 2020/21 season. We outlined those tweaks at the start of the season.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • 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 other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Last offseason, for instance, Bruce Brown met the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, increasing the value of his qualifying offer to $4,736,102. The Nets decided to issue that qualifying offer and he accepted it. Had he fallen short of the starter criteria, Brown only would have been eligible for a qualifying offer worth around $2MM and his free agency could have played out very differently.


Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With all that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who did not meet the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $7,228,448.

Seven of the 14 players selected with lottery picks in the 2018 draft signed rookie scale extensions in 2021, meaning they won’t have to worry about the value of their qualifying offers this offseason.

Of the other seven, the three players listed above failed to meet the criteria. Bagley is the biggest loser in the trio — his qualifying offer would’ve been worth approximately $14.76MM if he had met the starter criteria. Sexton’s would’ve been about $8.56MM, while Knox’s would’ve been $7.92MM.

Even with the amount of his qualifying offer lowered a little, Knox likely won’t receive a QO at all, making him an unrestricted free agent. Bagley and Sexton are much safer bets for QOs.

Top-14 picks Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Mohamed Bamba (Magic), each met the starter criteria, locking in their QO amounts at $16.42MM and $10.1MM, respectively. Miles Bridges (Hornets) also met the starter criteria, as detailed in the next section.

Jerome Robinson was the only top-14 pick from ’18 who was waived before completing his rookie contract — he’s no longer on an NBA roster and won’t be eligible for a qualifying offer this summer.


First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

A player who fell into this category would see the amount of his qualifying offer increase to $7,921,300. Bridges, the No. 12 overall pick, was the only player to qualify.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Bridges’ qualifying offer will increase from about $7.46MM to $7.92MM, a modest bump. It shouldn’t change the outlook of his free agency, since he’ll almost certainly receive a lucrative long-term offer.

Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons looked like one of the best candidates to join Bridges in this group. He needed to make 41 starts this season for Portland, but only got to 30 before he was shut down for the season with a left knee injury. His qualifying offer will remain at $5.76MM, but that shouldn’t have a major impact on his free agency, since he’ll likely work out a multiyear deal with the Blazers.

Meanwhile, because Kings wing Donte DiVincenzo was a full-time starter for the Bucks in 2020/21, he only needed to make seven starts this season to meet the starter criteria. However, he ultimately started just once for Milwaukee and Sacramento, even when he was playing heavy minutes down the stretch for the Kings.

DiVincenzo’s qualifying offer will remain at $6.6MM, which actually could have a tangible effect on his free agency — if he doesn’t get a multiyear offer with a starting salary much higher than his qualifying offer, accepting the QO and reaching unrestricted free agency in 2023 may be DiVincenzo’s best option. Presumably, that’s why his camp reportedly wasn’t thrilled that he was still coming off the bench at the end of the season.


Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,869,012.

Of course, it’s very possible neither Dort nor Tate will even become a free agent this summer, since their contracts both include team options for 2022/23.

The Thunder could decide to turn down Dort’s minimum-salary option for next season in order to make him a restricted free agent this year instead of an unrestricted free agent next year, but there’s no guarantee they’ll go that route. If they do, his QO would be worth $4.87MM instead of $2.22MM.

Meanwhile, there’s no incentive for the Rockets to decline Tate’s option, since he’ll still be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023, so the amount of his potential qualifying offer this summer will be rendered moot.

Among other second-round picks and undrafted free agents, Hornets wing Cody Martin (1,866 minutes), Clippers swingman Amir Coffey (30 starts), and Trail Blazers forward CJ Elleby (28 starts) are a few who were in the ballpark of the starter criteria, but none got there. Martin, Coffey, Elleby, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Dort Expects To Be Ready By Camp

  • Thunder guard Luguentz Dort anticipates he’ll be fully recovered from shoulder surgery by training camp, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Dort believes he’ll be back to 100% during the next two to three months. Dort is eligible for a contract extension and could become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “I’m going to let my agent handle it,” Dort said of a possible extension.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is pumped about the franchise’s future, Mussatto writes in a separate piece. He’ll enter the first year of his five-year max extension next season. “We have that trust in each other,” Gilgeous-Alexander said, referring to the front office and coaching staff. “I can’t go into details, but we’re excited for the future.”