Don't be surprised if Thomas stays with Kings
Not everyone will be paid their market value in free agency. With the rules that dictate the restricted free agency game, some players are at a serious disadvantage on the financial front because of logistics that come into play.
While deals can't officially be signed until the moratorium ends on July 10, teams have until July 13 to match offers that were given to their restricted free agents. That means teams pursuing restricted free agents must be willing to have their business (and their salary cap space) tied up for some 36 hours while waiting to hear whether they'll get their man. Yet still, this is a vast improvement from the pre-lockout days, as the waiting period used to be seven days before the new collective bargaining agreement was put in place in Dec. 2011.
Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, to focus on one such player, may find himself in this sort of situation. The 25-year-old is coming off a career year (20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game), and the Kings — who issued a qualifying offer of $1.1 million Wednesday to officially make him a restricted free agent — certainly want to keep him (though there's some disagreement between the two sides about whether he's best used as a starter or a super sixth man).
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But unless Thomas can find a suitor who's willing to pay him so much that they can spend those three days confident that the Kings will let him walk or if a sign-and-trade possibility arises that could be seen by the Kings as a win-win, he may very well find himself staying put on a deal far below the one he may have envisioned. One person with knowledge of this situation estimates his market value at between $4 million and $6 million per season.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the matter.
The Kings are on the lookout for a starting point guard, and one name to keep an eye on is the Brooklyn Nets' Shaun Livingston.
The 28-year-old free-agent-to-be whose career looked all but over in 2007 when he had a devastating leg injury while with the Los Angeles Clippers had his best season yet in 2014-15, helping the Nets turn their season around when he started in place of the injured Deron Williams and remaining a vital part of their program even after he returned.