Not since Carlos Boozer jettisoned the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz in 2004 has restricted free agency garnered so much attention as to what’s on the horizon this upcoming summer. It’s for good reason, though, because the 2019 RFA class is especially good.
Headlined by Kristaps Porzingis and featuring guys like D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon, and Kelly Oubre Jr., a handful of NBA franchises are going to have some awfully tough decisions when it comes to retaining key pieces of their teams … or making an aggressive play and hoping to add a young standout to their roster.
Here are some of the top restricted free agents of 2019, and the situation their current squads find themselves in.
The prize of the 2019 restricted free agent class, Kristaps Porzingis has yet to play this season as he continues to rehab back from the torn ACL he suffered last year. There’s already been reports of tension between Porzingis and the Knicks organization over whether or not Three 6 Latvia should play this season, with Porzingis expressing his desire to return to the hardwood and the Knicks remaining hesitant to play him at all this season. That’s like blood in the water for teams interested in signing Porzingis to an offer sheet this summer, and it’s already been reported that the San Antonio Spurs have significant interest in doing just that.
Of course, the Knicks can match any offer sheet presented to their star, and can offer Porzingis a five-year, $158 million contract, per Bobby Marks, compared to the max offer sheet of four years and $122.1 million other teams can bring to the negotiating table. The reports of tension may be something to monitor, but barring something unforeseen, it’s hard to imagine Porzingis ending up anywhere other than the Big Apple.
When Terry Rozier and the Boston Celtics couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension for the backup point guard in October, it set the stage for a potential departure this summer. Rozier, who was vocal early on in the 2018-19 campaign about his dismay over a lack of playing time, is shooting just 37 percent from the floor and averaging fewer than three assists in only 22.7 minutes per game, down from the 26 a night Brad Stevens game his last season. It’s a justified move, though, as the Celtics offense grinds to a halt when Rozier is on the court, dropping from an offensive rating of 113.9 when he sits to 103 when he plays. That’s brutal.