Players Who Can Carry Middling CBB Teams to the 2015 NCAA Tournament

No one considered North Carolina State a contender in the ACC last season, but the Wolfpack put together just enough of a resume to reach the NCAA tournament. Credit for every win that pulled the Pack into the Big Dance had to start with star forward T.J. Warren, who was awarded ACC Player of the Year honors for dragging his team as far as he did.

As the 2014-15 season nears, there are teams just like last season’s NC State squad. They’re neglected groups of young men who carry in their midst one exceptional talent, a player who may be garnering notice from NBA scouts and college analysts but who also draws sympathetic sighs for being “stuck” on a team that lacks promise.

If Warren can pull his team into March, though, these 10 guys very likely can, too. Now, most shouldn’t be expected to card 24.9 points per game like Warren, but they’re still powerful engines that can drive a team a long way if they receive even the slightest bit of support.

While “middling” may seem a harsh term for these teams, the fact remains that none of them are listed as part of Bleacher Report bracketologist Kerry Miller’s field of 68 projections from July 22. His inbox is the one to fill with the angry complaints, not mine.

Remember, this is an optimistic look at these 10 teams.

 

Players are presented in alphabetical order. All KenPom.com links should be assumed to require subscription.

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How Many NBA Players Does Each 2014 FIBA World Cup Team Have?

Though there are plenty of fantastic basketball players who haven’t played in the NBA and likely won’t for either their entire careers or a significant portion of them—Argentina’s Facundo Campazzo and Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas immediately spring to mind—the Association tends to have the sport’s largest collection of talent. 

So, how is that being distributed out among the 24 teams set to play in Spain at the 2014 World Cup, an international competition that begins at the end of August?

As John Schuhmann explains for NBA.com, “With the four free agents and 46 guys under contract, there will be a total of 50 current NBA players, representing 22 different teams and 18 different countries, at the World Cup, unless there’s an unexpected roster change in the next four days.”

Let’s break those players—as well as the dozens who used to play in the sport’s top league—down by country, using some visual aids. 

Will any team come close to touching Team USA’s number of NBA talents?

 

The Argentines would normally have Manu Ginobili on their side, but without the crafty 2-guard who has retired from international competition, they’re left without as much NBA talent.

Though Walter Herrmann and Andres Nocioni both have experience in the Association on their resumes, Pablo Prigioni and Luis Scola are the only current players. Yes, that means there are no projected NBA starters who will suit up for Argentina at the World Cup. 

 

We’re being generous here. 

Dante Exum hasn’t played for the Utah Jazz yet, though the lottery pick will likely have a large role with his new team when the NBA season kicks off. Aron Baynes (currently a free agent) and Cameron Bairstow (another rookie, this time with the Chicago Bulls) are also included as current NBA players, joining Matthew Dellavedova to make it four. 

In the realm of former players, the Boomers are limited to David Andersen and Nathan Jawai, neither of whom should resonate with anyone but the most hardcore NBA fans. 

 

It’s all about the strength of the frontcourt, as Tiago Splitter, Nene and Anderson Varejao will all be sharing time at center for Brazil throughout the 2014 World Cup. Though all are capable starters for their respective teams—the San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers—they aren’t All-Star-caliber players at this stage of their careers. 

Leandro Barbosa, though he hasn’t yet found a home for the 2014-15 season, counts as a current NBA player, but Raul Neto does not as there’s been no indication he intends to play in the Association, despite being controlled by the Utah Jazz. 

As for former players, that pool is limited to Alex Garcia and Marcus Vinicius, whom you might know better as Marquinhos.

 

Damjan Rudez and Bojan Bogdanovic both count as current players, as they’re under contract with and expected to play for the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, respectively. Though he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers and is certainly an NBA talent, Dario Saric does not gain eligibility for that classification yet. 

Sadly, he doesn’t count as a player with NBA experience either, unlike Roko Ukic, Oliver Lafayette and Damir Markota

Consider this one of the graphs that’s a bit misleading, given the inability to qualify Saric as anything but a non-NBA player thanks to his decision to remain abroad for at least one more season. 

 

Alphabetically, the Dominican Republic is the first participating nation with only one player who has ever suited up in the NBA. 

That would be Francisco Garcia, who spent an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign with the Houston Rockets. He’s a veteran and has fared well during prior international competitions, but he’s literally the only NBA talent on the roster. 

 

Make it two in a row.

With Drew Gooden failing to gain clearance on his dual citizenship in time for the World Cup, per Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, the NBA connections are just dwindling. 

As a kid you always dream of winning the gold medal,” Gooden told Castillo prior to his ineligibility ruling. “You think you’re going to be on the Dream Team or one day it be possible that you can do something like that during your career.”

Perhaps he’ll have a chance somewhere down the road, but for now, Erik Murphy (part of the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Hanno Mottola (played two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks over a decade ago) will have to do some heavy lifting for Finland. 

 

Interestingly enough, France doesn’t have any former NBA players other than Mickael Gelabale, who last played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012-13. 

But even without Tony Parker suiting up for his country this offseason, choosing to rest and prepare for 2014-15 instead, the French boast a bevy of current members of the Association—Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert and Ian Mahinmi

That’s not including Joffrey Lauvergne, who was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 and should eventually make his NBA debut sometime down the road, though it won’t come this next season. 

There are no All-Stars who call France home, but Diaw is coming off a sensational run with the Spurs, and Batum is versatile enough that he could sneak onto the team in the future if he continues improving for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

 

It’s three current players and one former for the Greeks. 

Andreas Glyniadakis, the 33-year-old 7-footer who played a baker’s dozen games with the Seattle SuperSonics back in 2006-07 (you knew it had to be awhile ago, given that he played for the Sonics) counts as the former, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nick Calathes and Kostas Papanikolaou make up the current group.

Antetokounmpo is the most exciting of the bunch, given his rising stock with the Milwaukee Bucks, but the other two can’t be overlooked.

Calathes was a valuable piece for the Memphis Grizzlies before a drug suspension knocked him out of the playoffs, and Papanikolaou—in addition to torturing American spellers—is set to join the Houston Rockets in 2014-15. 

 

The Iranians only boast the services of one former NBA player—Hamed Haddadi

A 7’2″ center, Haddadi last played for the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns during the 2012-13 season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game during his split time with the two squads. He’s a big presence in the paint, and at 29 years old, he should have plenty left in the tank for the World Cup. 

Arsalan Kazemi should eventually make it to the Association after becoming the first Iranian-born player to be drafted into the NBA when he was selected at No. 54 in 2013 and traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. However, he’s not there quite yet. 

 

Somewhat surprisingly, given Lithuania’s profile in the international world and the enjoyable nature of the team, there are only two NBA players on this squad. 

The first is Donatas Motiejunas, a big man on the Houston Rockets who hasn’t really blossomed in the NBA quite yet. Then there’s Jonas Valanciunas, a promising center on the Toronto Raptors who should one day be an All-Star, perhaps as soon as this coming season. 

But that’s it. 

There aren’t even any former NBA players on the roster. Not a one. 

 

The Mexican team might not be as strong as the Lithuanian squad, but there’s just as much NBA talent on the roster. Well, at least from a quantity perspective. 

Motiejunas and Valanciunas win the quality battle in a landslide, of course.

But at least Jorge Guttierez and Gustavo Ayon are players in the Association, though the latter technically remains an unrestricted free agent. 

 

New Zealand is another country with only one NBA player to its credit. 

Unfortunately, it’s one of the former variety.

Kirk Penney is the lone representative, as the roster is primarily comprised of NBL talents, NZNBL players and three guys in the NCAA—Isaac Fotu (Hawaii), Rob Loe (St. Louis) and Tai Webster (Nebraska). As for Penney, he played a combined six games during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

That’s it. 

 

 

Believe it or not, the only NBA player on the Philippines roster is…wait for it…Andray Blatche

The former Brooklyn Nets big man is still working to find a home for the 2014-15 season after an up-and-down 2013-14 campaign, but we’ll consider him an NBA talent for all intents and purposes. After all, he hasn’t played anywhere else between then and now. 

Other than Blatche, though, there are no other NBA players, whether current or former. 

 

J.J. Barea may be a bench player in the Association, but he’s a superstar whenever he puts on that Puerto Rico uniform. 

Seriously.

He’s consistently averaged impressive figures in international competition. At the 2014 Centrobasket Championship, he put up 17.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Before that, he averaged 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.2 dimes at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship and 18.2 points, 4.0 boards and 7.8 assists per game at the 2013 Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. 

Barea is the only current NBA player on the Puerto Rico roster, but Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman aren’t too far removed from their careers in the Association. The former last played for the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics during the 2010-11 season, while the latter was part of the New York Knicks in 2011-12. 

 

There’s one each for Senegal. 

Hamady N’Diaye did play for the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14, but he was waived by the team and ended up with the D-League’s Delaware 87ers. Here, we’re counting him as a former NBA player, but the 27-year-old 7-footer could certainly work his way back onto an NBA roster.

Gorgui Dieng doesn’t have to worry about that, though. 

The big Louisville product broke out at the end of his first season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he should play far more for Senegal than he did under Rick Adelman, who notoriously avoided playing rookies. 

 

Remember how Bojan Bogdanovic is playing for Croatia? 

Well, Bogdan Bogdanovic—who isn’t related to Bojan—will be suiting up for Serbia. And he’s the better player, as the 22-year-old has consistently been one of the better scorers in European basketball for a few years now. 

Miroslav Raduljica, whom Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported was being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, is the other current NBA player who will be on the Serbian roster. 

In terms of former players, though, Nenad Krstic counts. The 6’11″ center has been one of his country’s better players for a while now, and that should continue even though he’s been out of the NBA ever since he played for the Boston Celtics in 2010-11. 

 

Slovenia really should be the first country with a 2013-14 All-Star on the roster. 

After all, Goran Dragic played well enough to earn a selection last season, but he was kept off the roster partially because he’s massively underrated and partially because the Western Conference was ridiculously stacked. Nonetheless, he was often a one-man team for the Phoenix Suns and deserves to be considered an All-Star-caliber talent. 

Alas, Dragic still has to be listed under current players, and he’s the only one who earns such a designation. Uros Slokar—who played 20 games for the Toronto Raptors in 2006-07—is the former NBA player, and that’s where the Association ties draw to a conclusion. 

 

Now we get to one of the big guns. 

Up until now, no team has had more NBA players than non-NBA players, even if you combine the current and former players to create one mega-category. But Spain changes that, as it has as many current NBA players as non-NBA guys, and the former Association members push that group over the top. 

Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are all All-Star talents, though none made the team in 2013-14. Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Victor Claver are lower-tier players, but they’re still on NBA squads heading into the next season. 

Even without Alex Abrines (drafted in 2013) and Sergio Llull (2009) counting, that makes six. And once the roster is trimmed to its final format, the current NBA players should take the lead. 

As for the former players, we’re looking at Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Sergio Rodriguez. 

 

Though Furkan Aldemir could one day join an NBA squad, there’s only one representative, whether talking about the current or former category. 

That would be Omer Asik, who sat on the bench for the Houston Rockets last year and will fill a much larger role for the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2014-15 season. The big man is a defensive specialist, and he’ll be quite adept at protecting the rim and pulling down rebounds whenever he’s on the court. 

Of course, he’ll be doing so without any other NBA talents alongside him. 

 

Between Pooh Jeter and Viacheslav Kravtsov, the Ukrainians have a pair of former NBA talents, though neither found too much success in the sport’s top league. The former played 62 games for the Sacramento Kings in 2010-11, though he came off the bench and wasn’t exactly a standout, while the latter played 20 games for the Phoenix Suns this past year before he was waived. 

Beyond that, there’s no one with NBA experience. 

Oleksandr Lypovyy, who last played for BC Donetsk in the Ukranian Superleague, and Sergii Gladyr, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, are both worth watching, but neither qualifies as anything other than a non-NBA player. 

 

What’s that? A new color? 

Every player on the Team USA roster is a current NBA player, so we have to break things down even further. It’s time to separate them into All-Stars and players who weren’t able to earn that designation during the 2013-14 season. Remember, only 2014 All-Stars qualify in that category, so past berths are irrelevant for these purposes. 

Of the 12 players, five were on the roster for this past midseason classic—Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

That’s a pretty impressive figure for the United States, and it bodes well for the country’s chances at a gold medal and a successful defense of the top honors that were earned at the 2012 Olympics. 

 

Note: Angola, Egypt and Korea were not represented here, as none of those countries has a single current or former NBA representative. 

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NBA Announces Rule Changes to Make Baselines Safer for Players

The NBA has been in the spotlight more this summer than any in recent memory. Its latest move will also generate a lot of interest, though in a different way, as it’s focused on changing baseline rules and the safety of players. 

According to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press, via NBA.com, the league is changing the amount of clutter around the baseline and opening up the stanchion:

The new regulations, calling for an extra foot of open space on both sides of the basket stanchion, were sent to teams Tuesday by league president of operations Rod Thorn in a memo that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The “escape lanes,” the unoccupied area on either side of the stanchion to the closest photographer spot, will increase to 4 feet. Only 20 camera positions, 10 on each baseline, will remain, down from 40 during the 2010-11 regular season.

The stanchion became a huge topic of conversation after Indiana Pacers star Paul George suffered that horrific leg injury with Team USA in a scimmage on August 1.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst noted on Twitter that the stanchion used during the Team USA scrimmage was noticeably closer to the baseline than the standard one used in an NBA game:

However, Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal spoke to Thomas & Mack Center director Mike Newcomb after George’s injury and said the stanchion was eight feet from the edge of the court:

Whether George’s injury could have been prevented or not is impossible to know. Mahoney’s report also notes that Thorn’s memo stated the changes were planned for “several years and teams were informed in July.”

If teams were informed in July, that means they knew before George’s injury happened on the first day of August. Therefore, all the conspiracy theorists have no arguments here. 

Whatever prompted the changes and however long they have been in the works, the good news is they happened. Even before George’s injury, there are countless times when you turn on an NBA game and a player crashes into the photographers sitting on the court. 

It wasn’t safe for anyone involved. Now, with more space on both sides of the stanchion and less clutter directly around the basket, players don’t have to worry about trampling over anyone and photographers can do their job without fear of having a human body come hurtling at them.

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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The five most important players in the NBA

Eddie Johnson breaks down which players are most crucial to their team’s success in the upcoming season.

      
 

 

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College Basketball Recruiting Rankings: B/R’s Top 20 Players in Class of 2015

Every class has its strength. From what I saw this summer keeping tabs on the top prospects in the 2015 class, this is the year of the big man.

Based on Bleacher Report’s recruiting rankings—picked using my observations and discussions with college coaches throughout the summer—12 of the top 20 players in this class are big men.

That’s good news for coaches chasing a national title. A lot is made of guard play in the NCAA tournament, but it’s hard to win without a big guy. Going into last season, only one national champ in 13 years had won the title without a big man who would eventually get drafted in the first round of the NBA draft.

Connecticut likely bucked that trend unless one of the Huskies’ bigs ends up getting drafted in the first round down the road. Their lack of talent in the post made their run all the more unbelievable.

Most champs are built inside out. And with that in mind, let’s take a look at which 2015 big fellas landed in my top 20 prospects.

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Ranking the top five most important players in NBA

Eddie Johnson breaks down which players are most crucial to their team’s success in the upcoming season.

      
 

 

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5 NBA Players That Need a Trade to Fulfill Complete Potential

The NBA is a dream come true for the players who work hard enough to make it, but plenty still find themselves one trade away from being in the right situation.

For the five in this slideshow, reaching their full potential may be just around the corner, but getting there will be next to impossible with the teams they currently represent.

Whether it’s a logjam at the player’s position, an issue with management or just the need for a fresh start, there’s a reason to believe each one would be better off individually somewhere else.

They’re in order by age, and each has qualified for the list by being involved in some kind of trade rumor during the last year.

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Kobe Bryant Believes NBA Players Like Him, LeBron James Are Underpaid

Kobe Bryant believes that elite NBA players, including him, are underpaid.
The Los Angeles Lakers star told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard — who wrote the most recent cover story on Bryant — that he doesn’t think that the league’s maximum contracts are fair or that players should be pressured to take pay cuts to create more cap room for their team.
KB believes players like him & LeBron are underpaid (put LBJ free market at ~ $75 mil). Believes important to set an example in contracts…— Chris Ballard (@SI_ChrisBallard) August 22, 2014
But, “that being said, I took a pay cut. I’m very very lucky to be w/ LA. They could have lowballed me, but that’s not what they stand for.”— Chris Ballard (@SI_ChrisBallard) August 22, 2014
KB:”As athletes, you get the pressure of playing for the love of the game.Of course we do.But do owners buy teams for the love of the game?”— Chris Ballard (@SI_ChrisBallard) August 22, 2014
As ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin pointed out, B

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Is Restricted Free-Agency Status Backfiring on NBA Players and Teams?

If it seems odd that two of the league’s brightest young talents are still available in free agency, that’s because it is. 

Both Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe are restricted free agents, and that’s something that hasn’t worked in their favor this offseason.

Bledsoe and Monroe have both had to sit on the sidelines this offseason while they watched their fellow draft classmates get paid. After the market dried up and all the money went elsewhere, Bledsoe and Monroe now face the unenviable position of negotiating a long-term contract with almost no leverage whatsoever.

Here’s Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports with a good breakdown of how restricted free agency works, and how sometimes it doesn‘t:

As BDL Editor Kelly Dwyer wrote in November, restricted free agency exists largely to help front-office decision-makers, allowing them to pass on bidding against themselves for players near the end of their rookie-scale contracts in favor of exploring the league-wide market for a player’s services before making a long-term decision.

This can come back to bite you. The Utah Jazz, for example, now probably wish they’d given Gordon Hayward the “deal in the four-year, $50-million plus range” he sought last summer, rather than letting him hit restricted free agency and eventually having to match a four-year, $63 million offer sheet.

But while the Jazz might be kicking themselves for not getting a deal done early after having three years of time to weigh the value of a player they drafted, the Suns had seen Bledsoe in purple and orange for all of one game before the deadline to offer him an extension of his rookie contract. First-year Suns general manager Ryan McDonough decided instead that he’d use the leverage afforded him by restricted free agency…to let Bledsoe sing for his supper.

If McDonough didn’t like the tune, then he would have avoided larding up the books with a pricey deal for a player who didn’t take well to an increased role. If everything sounded sweet, he could match any offer a competitor made, keeping a valuable contributor at the market rate.

As it turned out, things broke just about perfectly for McDonough; he does like Bledsoe, and a month into the offseason, nobody has tested just how much he wants to keep his rising star guard in the fold.

The reason restricted free agency exists in the first place, aside from the benefit of teams not having to negotiate against themselves, is to keep players in the same market they were drafted.

It’s beneficial to the league to give small-market teams the option to retain star players after their rookie deals are up in order to create both familiarity and league-wide parity. While it’s not a guarantee that all big names would leave a city like Milwaukee after their first four years, it’s understandable that the league doesn‘t want to test that by making all free agents unrestricted.

Most players and teams understand the risk of entering restricted free agency instead of negotiating an extension in the offseason prior to that final year. Young players are usually wise to bet on themselves and hope that they’ll perform better than ever in a contract season.

If it were just the players getting burned in restricted free agency, it would be easy to rally for a change to the current system. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Teams can get hurt by restricted free agency through creative offer sheets designed to make matching undesirable, and the acceptance of a qualifying offer can spell trouble as well.

Still, the teams hold most of the cards. They can match, decline or even find a sign-and-trade to benefit all parties. One of those three options happens much more often than not. Who is the last high-profile player to accept a qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent the next season? Exactly.

Bledsoe and Monroe are rare examples of when things can go wrong.    

Here’s Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:

Given the stalemates that have gone on with Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe and Pistons forward Greg Monroe, the best option for both players would seem to be some sort of sign-and-trade. Bledsoe has been shopped around the league for the past month, while the Washington Post’s Michael Lee reports that Monroe’s agent, David Falk, has sought sign-and-trade deals to get his client out of Detroit.

But, as one league general manager told Sporting News this week, their potential free agency next summer has cooled the market for each.

‘I think any one of us would be wary of getting involved in a trade for either player,’ the GM said. ‘Their teams overvalue them in terms of making trades, they don’t want to give them away for nothing. There’s no reason to give up significant assets for players who probably will be available next summer. That doesn’t mean a deal can’t get done, but it is complicated.’

A stalemate really is the best word to describe what’s happening for Bledsoe and Monroe, but eventually, it will get solved. Although this situation can breed a lot of bad feelings going both ways, in this particular scenario, both sides seem to understand the realities of the business.

Here’s what Bledsoe told Kyle Burger of WVTM-TV in his hometown of Birmingham:

‘First off, I’m going to let my agent handle it,’ Bledsoe said [of the contract negotiations] while attending a ‘Ball Up’ streetball tournament in Birmingham. ‘I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using restricted free agency against me. But I understand that.’

There is another solution for both Bledsoe and Monroe, even if it’s undesirable for them and their teams. By accepting the qualifying offers available to them, both players can play one more season with their respective teams, then become unrestricted free agents in the 2015 offseason. At that point, finding a suitor would no longer be such a hassle.

Of course, taking on that low salary for a season ($3.7 million for Bledsoe, $5.5 million for Monroe) means punting away a year of significant earnings. More importantly, if a player gets hurt, there’s no guaranteeing his future financial health. It’s walking on eggshells for 82 games in a lot of ways.

While players can mitigate some of that by taking out massive insurance policies, it’s obviously not ideal to get paid much less than what you think you’re worth, even if it’s for a season. The backlash from a fanbase that knows you’re leaving isn’t exactly fun to deal with, either.

Here’s Brett Pollakoff at ProBasketballTalk explaining why it might be worth it to accept the qualifying offer, however:

Teams have all the leverage in the restricted free agency process, but playing for the qualifying offer turns things around to where the players have the advantage. The problem is the amount of risk associated with that decision, but for guys like Bledsoe and Monroe who feel like they deserve contracts at or near the max, they may see it as the only realistic option.

A player taking the one-year qualifying offer by the October 1 deadline is actually one of the worst-case scenarios for the team in restricted free agency. Restricted free agents that do that earn no-trade clauses, as Larry Coon explains in his CBA FAQ:

There are two additional circumstances in which a trade requires the player’s consent:

-When the player is playing under a one-year contract (excluding any option year) and will have Larry Bird or Early Bird rights at the end of the season. This includes first round draft picks following their fourth (option) season, who accept their team’s qualifying offer for their fifth season. When the player consents to such a trade, his Larry Bird/Early Bird rights are not traded with him, and instead becomes a Non-Bird free agent.

-For one year after exercising the right of first refusal to keep a restricted free agent. The player must consent to a trade to any team, although he cannot be traded to the team that signed him to the offer sheet.

What that means is that if Monroe or Bledsoe accepted their qualifying offers, they could reject any trade they wanted to.

It also limits the number of teams who would want to trade for the talented young players, as they couldn’t go over the cap to retain him the following offseason because they lose their Bird rights.

Basically, accepting the qualifying offer gives the player the power to choose his next destination from the moment he signs it, even if the freedom comes at a potentially steep price.

It all brings on an interesting question. If the player is unhappy, and if the team stands to lose an asset for nothing after a year, is the system broken?

Absolutely not.

It’s just a last resort for an ongoing negotiation that’s failed at multiple turns. If the team and player can’t come to a price in the middle, and if the market doesn‘t establish a price, and if a sign-and-trade can’t be found, this is the result. It almost never comes to what it has for Bledsoe and Monroe.

While it’s not pretty for either side, the outcome has to be a bit unsavory for both sides to provide incentive for teams not to try and get every young player coming off their rookie contract at a temporary discount and to not have players try and leave their original team relatively early on in their careers, even if the fairness of that for players is certainly more debatable.  

With that in mind, during the next collective bargaining agreement, you’d have to imagine that it’s the players who would buck against restricted free agency, if anything.

Perhaps they could push for a free-agency compensation system somewhat similar to major league baseball, where everyone is unrestricted and the original team would receive a compensation draft pick based on a set of qualifiers like stats or the size of the next salary.

That just seems incredibly unlikely to happen, as owners outside of the large markets would rally fiercely against that in the name of parity. There are no perfect solutions here, and again, this is a relatively uncommon circumstance in the first place and might not be viewed as a problem worth addressing. There will be bigger battles to fight, undoubtedly.

Restricted free agency, whether it be through qualifying offers or “poison pill” contracts, can potentially backfire on both teams and players.

It’s all part of the game, though, and when you consider the goals of the league and why it’s in place, it seems incredibly unlikely that any significant changes to the system will be made.

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10 NBA Players Entering Make-or-Break 2014-15 Season

Even players who once experienced top-10-pick fanfare can find themselves facing a make-or-break season just a few short years after entering the league.

And for the likes of Evan Turner, Deron Williams and others, the 2014-15 campaign could go down as the one in which they realized that NBA relevance has a short shelf life.

Each of the players on this list was once a rising star, draft darling, and in the case of one, a former MVP. But injuries, lack of consistency or just inability to grow into the NBA game has stalled all their careers.

Most are either on one-year deals or the final year of a longer contract in 2014-15. If they don’t prove they belong now, they could be on their way out, or at least on the way to a much different role.

The following slides will show where each of these players were when they entered the league, how they got to where they are now and what they need to do to get back on track.

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