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Restricted Tag To Narrow Riley’s Focus

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Rudy Gay is this offseason's best, and most expensive, free agent small forward money can buy. But he's restricted.

Rudy Gay.

By all accounts, he’s far and away the best true small forward available in free agency. He will command a starting salary of $10 million or more.

It may surprise you (but if you read my CapRoom tab it shouldn’t) to know the Heat can actually sign a max contract power forward and still have the leftover shekels to give it to him. Awesome, right?

But he’s restricted.

That means the Grizzlies would have seven days to match any potential Heat offer and steal him away.

Whatever proposal the Miami makes Memphis has the right to match. Don’t believe they will? Don’t believe they can afford it?

Who cares! That’s not the point! The point is that those $10 million are now tied up and unavailable for seven whole days. An offer to a restricted free agent cannot be rescinded. So Pat Riley will need to sit on his hands for an entire week while the Grizzlies decide on the fate of Rudy Gay… and the Miami Heat.

Pat can’t go shopping for alternatives just in case. Which top tier free agent is going to be willing to sit idly by and wait for the Heat to discover whether it can – or cannot – even make him an offer? Free agency spans a long, long time – many months in fact from its start on July 8 to the start to the regular season in late October. But it could be over in less time than it takes for you to utter the words, what the heck just happened. The best free agents could be gone in days… minutes…

If you were Pat Riley, would you be willing to gamble your organization’s entire future by making an offer to a restricted free agent, giving his existing team the unbridled incentive to shop around for alternatives for the better part of a week?

What if, by some off chance, Memphis exercised its right of first refusal? What if Riley looks up and there’s nobody else around? As a Heat fan, how pissed off would you be?

Of course, this is less of an issue for the less talented players. The lower the offer, the lower the amount of money the Heat will have tied up. But we’re all slowly learning that every dollar counts, so it’s something to keep in mind as you ponder the best alternatives for the Heat.

With that in mind, if you’re wondering how certain players get to be restricted, here’s a brief description. There are only two types of free agency: unrestricted and restricted. Restricted free agency exists only on a limited basis. It is allowed following the fourth year of rookie “scale” contracts for first round draft picks (i.e., Gay). It is also allowed for free agents who have been in the league three or fewer seasons. All other free agency is limited to unrestricted free agency.

For a complete list of free agents, including those that are restricted (marked with an (R) at the end of their names), click here and then click “FreeAgents.”

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