Hollinger: Trail Blazers Understand Restricted Free Agency
Nicolas Batum's status as a restricted free agent is one of the hottest topics of conversation in Portland this offseason. Will the team now have to overpay to retain him? What other teams are interested? How much is too much? And so on and so forth.
But I think what fans question the most is the decision to let Batum enter restricted free agency in the first place. It's a fair question to ask. If the team like Nic, and if Nic likes the team, why not just settle on a number and skip the whole process all together? Chad Buchanan addressed that question in detail a few weeks ago on Trail Blazers Courtside
, but I think some might have written that explanation off as something a general manager has to say to validate the team's course of action.
But there are people outside of Trail Blazers HQ, people who actually understand how free agency in the NBA works, know the benefits of restricted free agency for teams trying to retain their players without breaking the bank. ESPN.com's John Hollinger notes as much in a chat today
Assuming Portland will have to over pay to keep Batum. Any reason why they shouldn't?
Not sure they'll need to. As a restricted free agent for a franchise that most assume will match, other teams will be reluctant to tie up their cash waiting for Portland's response while other players are disappearing off the market. That's the leverage restricted free agency gives, unfortunately a lot of teams still don't get this and get played by agents into giving what are basically unrestricted free-agent type deals.
Exactly. Why negotiate against yourself? Restricted free agency gives you the option of letting the market, not the player, his agent, or even the team, set the price. There are rare situations -- the Wesley Matthews' restricted free agency with Utah, for instance -- in which a team can get burned by not locking up a player in advance of the free agent signing period, but when you've got cap room and a desire to re-sign said player, as the Trail Blazers currently do, there's little to no benefit of NOT going into restricted free agency.
Also worth mentioning that Hollinger questions scuttlebutt pertaining to San Antonio's interest in signing Batum as a free agent this summer, or at least he questions the economic feasibility of such a move.
A lot could happen roster-wise between now and then, but as it stands right now, Hollinger is dead on. We'll see this summer.