Toronto Raptors: Three restricted free agents for fans to keep an eye on this season

Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors vs Brandon Ingram (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

2020 free agent class

The 2020 free agency class isn’t particularly strong. However, there are a number of restricted free agents that the Raptors might want to keep an eye on. That list includes Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield, Caris LeVert, Dejounte Murray and Domantas Sabonis.

NBA teams have until mid-October to come to terms on rookie-scale extensions. If both sides are unable to come to an agreement, then the player will enter restricted free agency the following summer (assuming the incumbent team extends a qualifying offer).

Once a team has extended a qualifying offer, it gives them the right of first refusal. Any other team has the ability to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet. The incumbent team then has three days to match an offer sheet. If they decline to match it, the restricted free agent signs with the new team.

Historically, teams have been hesitant to chase restricted free agents. Once an offer sheet has been extended that team’s cap space is put into a state of limbo. The team may have to wait up to three days before there is a decision. If the incumbent team matches, the new team might have missed out on other potential free agents.

The other reason teams avoid restricted free agents is because poaching one of these players generally requires an over-payment. A new team must offer enough money to make the incumbent team think twice about matching an offer sheet. If the contract is too reasonable, there is no reason not to match it.

The trend may be shifting when it comes to restricted free agents. This summer we saw three restricted free agents change teams. But instead of signing an offer sheet, the interested new team was able to work out a sign-and-trade with the incumbent team in exchange for draft compensation.

The Golden State Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell as part of the Kevin Durant deal, which saw the Warriors send a protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets. The Indiana Pacers traded a lottery-protected first-round pick and two future second-rounders for Malcolm Brogdon. Finally, the Chicago Bulls acquired Tomas Satoransky in exchange for a future second-round pick and a pick swap.

If teams are willing to facilitate trades involving restricted free agents, it could lead to even more player movement and more activity during free agency.

Of next year’s restricted free agents, the three that the Raptors should focus their attention on Dejounte Murray, Jaylen Brown and Caris LeVert.