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A Restricted Free Agent Summer

NBA Restricted Free Agents

Move over “short king spring,” it is a restricted free-agent summer. The new name doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but it definitely is a way of drawing more attention to the current class of not-so-free agents. 


A descendant of the MLB’s practice of controlling professional athletes, restricted free agency has had its fair share of headline moments in the NBA. Just two years ago, three players, Lonzo Ball, Lauri Markkanen, and Devonte’ Graham, used restricted free agency to their advantage, earning contracts that exceeded their former team’s valuations. 


Historically, restricted free agency has been used more as a threat than anything else. In light of the current free agent class being perceived as weaker than usual, the younger and cheaper restricted free agents could be the best available option for teams with cap space. With the free agency window officially opening on Friday, June 30th, 2023, here is a breakdown of the restricted free agent group.


Top Restricted Free Agents


Cameron Johnson (F) 


Johnson is the best available player in the group. His shooting and size make him a desirable piece for any roster, especially teams on the come-up. Johnson will command attention from teams like the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings, who are looking to solidify their forward rotations. It can’t be ruled out that Johnson will return to the Brooklyn Nets, but with his age (27) and how his price tag seems to climb by the day, it’s doubtful they will retain him. 


Prediction : Four-year / $100,000,000 (Indiana Pacers)


Austin Reaves (G)


With his scoring and shot creation, Reaves showed how important he was to the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs. Relatively young at 25, Reaves’s best years are ahead of him. His three-point shooting improvement (31% in 2021-2022 to 39% in 2022-2023) could be a great sign of things to come. But what is unknown is how effective Reaves will be as the primary guard on a team. Still, there is so much to like (attitude, build, and playoff performance) that shelling out a bag to Reaves is more than acceptable. 


Prediction: Four-year / 80,000,000 (Utah Jazz


Grant Williams (F)


After an up-and-down season for Williams, his market has suddenly opened up recently. Much of that has to do with the team that controls his rights (the Boston Celtics) making trades for players to fill Williams’s role. What Williams will provide to teams is three-point shooting and defensive versatility. A wrist injury that needed surgery after the season can explain the fluctuation in his three-point shooting (41% before the All-Star break compared to 34% after, according to data from The final selling point of Williams is his experience. In Boston, Williams played in 61 playoff games. A number of teams want that sort of veteran presence.


Prediction: Four-year / 70,000,000 (Sacramento Kings)


Wild Cards


Rui Hachimura (F)


Although this player seems polarizing, his performance in the playoffs raised the eyebrows of general managers around the league (in the best way possible). Only a few people expected that level of play from Hachimura after he was used infrequently with the Lakers during the year. Why Hachimura is cast as polarizing relates to how his production varies. He thrives against particular matchups, not so much against others. If teams are looking for a one-size-fits-all player, he’s probably not it. That being said, his improvement in areas like shooting are encouraging and make him desirable. 


Prediction: Four-year / 75,000,000 (San Antonio Spurs)


Jaxson Hayes (C)


Since he was drafted, the high-flying Hayes has been stuck behind endless bodies in New Orleans. His overall development hasn’t been great, but his skill set as a rim runner is wanted around the league. Hayes’s athleticism is still around the best of his position.  What teams are concerned with is that his activity dipped defensively last season. To stay on the floor, he needs to, at the very least, survive on defense. It might be the reason why Hayes only appeared in 47 games. A flyer on Hayes could be worthwhile if he returns to his production of two years ago. 


Prediction: Two-Year / 15,000,000 (Houston Rockets) 


P.J. Washington (F)


P.J. Washington is a lot like Hayes in that a change of scenery could do them some good. However, things are never as simple as they seem with the Charlotte Hornets. Washington provides a lot of versatility as a player. Offensively, he shoots the ball well enough to play at either of the forward positions. He’s also big enough to play as a small ball center at times.

P.J. doesn’t rebound the ball well enough yet to play high minutes at center, but his motor wears down opposing bigs in transition. Not having LaMelo Ball (or really any playmaker) last year hurt his percentages. Charlotte should probably use whatever money they were thinking of giving to Miles Bridges over to Washington. 


Prediction: Four-year / 80,000,000 (Charlotte Hornets)




Nickeil Alexander-Walker (G)


Alexander-Walker has been traded five times. He’s 24. Some stability and trust in his career would be nice. Teams are looking for his size at the guard position in the modern NBA. So theoretically, there is a market out there. But, to stay on the court, his shooting, in general, needs to continue to develop so teams don’t defend him passively. Alexander-Walker still has the potential to be an elite two-way player. Similar to his cousin in Oklahoma City. 


Prediction:  Four-year / 32,000,000  (Toronto Raptors*)


*would need to be a sign and trade


Matisse Thybulle (F)


The hype from his days as a Philadelphia 76er has worn off, but Thybulle is still in the top 10 of perimeter defensive players in the NBA. The good thing is that Thybulle’s production and efficiency were higher after his trade to Portland, indicating they might believe in his offensive ability more. He started all 22 of the games he appeared in for the Portland Trail Blazers, and without adding another forward this offseason, he will have that spot again. At just 25 years old, plenty of teams would like, no, LOVE to have him. However, he stays. 


Prediction: Three-year / 33,000,000 (Portland Trail Blazers)


Coby White (G)


A new team for White is much needed because the Chicago Bulls haven’t been able to figure out their guard rotation since Derrick Rose tore his ACL. That being said, White has underperformed his expectations as the former 7th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. White had a career-low in minutes per game last year (23.4 MPG) on a team with very few guard options. The positives are that White is a consistent three-point shooter and, at times, has shown his defense is good enough to match up against elite guards on the perimeter. 


Prediction: Three-year / 30,000,000 (San Antonio Spurs)


Stay Aways


Cam Reddish (F)


Reddish has had ample opportunities in the league but hasn’t yet broken through. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but he is too inconsistent and raw as it stands. After his trade to the Trail Blazers, Reddish got a substantial increase in playing time. Nothing really jumped off the screen. When he left Duke University and entered the draft, Reddish’s shooting was supposed to carry him, but it’s been pulling him down so far.


Prediction: Two-year / 10,000,000 (Detroit Pistons


Romeo Langford (G/F)


Unfortunately, Langford might not even be an NBA player. It is ridiculous to say that about a 23-year-old lottery pick, but the evidence is hard to ignore. With the Celtics, Langford needed help staying healthy, and playing time was scarce with a crowded room of talented stars. In San Antonio, it was thought that Gregg Popovich and the Spurs system could tease out whatever was left of the former lottery pick. Langford again struggled to stay on the court and was not a plus player in the minutes he did play. Hopefully, he gets another chance, but it’s hard to see.


Prediction: One-year / Minimum (*shrug* TBD)



Matt Strout is a contributor to Back Sports Page. Matt studied Journalism and Sociology at Temple University for four years and graduated in May of 2022. While there, Matt wrote for multiple student and professional publications covering sports and the City of Philadelphia. Matt is originally from Maine and now resides in California. He has written content primarily for the NBA and PGA Tour. You can catch Matt frequently as a guest on the “Cut The Nets” podcast featured on the Back Sports Page network. When Matt is not writing, he enjoys cooking and playing golf. Follow Matt’s social media on Twitter @TheRealStrout or Instagram @matt_strout96 


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