On an annual basis, at least one restricted free agent is left languishing without an obvious market and, in 2018, it seems to be Rodney Hood. There were some rumblings that the Houston Rockets and Clint Capela were at a stalemate but, eventually, the talented big man re-signed a lucrative (yet below-market) contract to remain with a title-contending franchise.
In Hood’s case, the market is almost entirely bare and, given that he operates at a lower level than Capela on a team without immediate title aspirations, it is a tough spot for all parties. For starters, there seems to be no market for Hood’s services at this moment. Only one (yes, one) NBA team has significant cap space to offer at this juncture and it is the Sacramento Kings. While an argument could be made that teams “can’t have too many wings” in today’s league, the Kings already employ a bevy of options with an offensive focus and, simply put, it seems far-fetched that Sacramento would pony up the dollars needed to lure Hood away from the Cavs.
That brings us back to Hood’s incumbent team and, well, there are some interesting dynamics in play. For starters, Hood was acquired mid-season and one of the great unknowns of the situation is just how much Cleveland’s front office actually values the talented swingman as a player. Beyond that, Hood had a bizarre incident involving a refusal to enter a playoff game and, even after a fun breakout in the NBA Finals, it is tough to pin down what his standing actually would be within that locker room.
Furthermore, Hood isn’t as young as one might think. Because he was “old” as a draftee, Hood will turn 26 in October and that complicates matters. The Cavs appear to want to win this season on the heels of the Kevin Love contract extension but, in the same breath, even an optimistic view of Cleveland’s current prospects places the team in a battle for the No. 8 seed in the East and with only one potentially premium young asset in the form of Collin Sexton.
Could Rodney Hood help the Cavs win now and also in the future? Absolutely. After all, he’s a very talented scorer that averaged nearly 17 points per game (and shot 39 percent from three) in 39 games with the Jazz before the deal that landed him in Cleveland. The issue, though, is that Hood offers very little aside from scoring and the Cavaliers likely aren’t tempted to overpay for a player of his age and skill set at this juncture in a potential rebuild.
In the end, the most likely scenario may be that Hood simply accepts his qualifying offer from Cleveland with the intention to impress in a one-year sample and re-enter the market in the summer of 2019. There have been a number of one-year contracts handed out this summer with that same desire. The approximately $3.5 million available to Hood through that medium may not be tantalizing, but it is enough to justify the pursuit. The obstacle there would be the uncertainty from Hood’s side, especially if he is not guaranteed a relatively prominent role in Cleveland that would allow him to showcase the considerable talent he brings to the table.
This is a situation that could drag on into September without resolution, particularly given the lack of buzz in play at this moment. It might be beneficial for the Cavs to attempt to lock Hood into a multi-year deal at a below-market cost but Hood is fully within his rights to avoid that and, in short, this is a situation that those who oppose the concept of restricted free agency could point to as a cautionary tale.
Rodney Hood will likely suit up for the Cleveland Cavaliers in October but the specifics of his next NBA contract will be interesting to monitor, both for his individual case and what it might say about the market at-large.