Like every year, just about 40 percent of the league’s players become free agents on July 1 at 12:01 a.m. ET. Six hours earlier, those players and their agents are free to talk to any team in the league about a new contract.
They can’t SIGN anything until July 6 (see below), but they can talk, they can be wined and dined, and they can verbally commit.
About 90 percent of those free agents are unrestricted, free to commit to any team of their choosing with no strings attached by their incumbent team and no chance of it falling apart later.
All-Stars like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler, plus high-level starters including Tobias Harris, Kris Middleton and Nikola Vucevic will all commit to their new teams before the July Moratorium ends. In fact, almost all of the good ones will commit to some team by the end of the Moratorium.
What’s the July Moratorium?
Oh, that’s the completely unnecessary six-day period between the “start” of the league year and the first day on which transactions can become official. The league uses this six-day period to close their books on the prior season (final calculations on things like BRI) and make final adjustments to the salary cap and related figures for the new season. Yes, they could have done all this already. The Finals have been over for two weeks now!
But it is what it is. July 6 is the first day that transactions can officially occur.
Which is when many of those draft-night trades can be finalized, those that included NBA players, like the Suns’ two draft-night trades to bring in Aron Baynes and Dario Saric.
That’s also when draft picks can officially sign, which unfortunately is a whole day after Summer League games begin. Draft picks can work out with their teams prior to SL starting, but cannot participate in any games until they are under contract.
And that’s also when the two-day clock starts on restricted free agent offer sheets, for incumbent teams to decide whether to match an RFA offer or let the player go.
You read that right. If a desirous team wants an RFA badly — like D’Angelo Russell or Malcolm Brogdon or Kelly Oubre Jr. — they have to sign the player to an offer sheet which opens a 48-hour window in which the offer can be matched by their incumbent team (Nets, Bucks, Suns, respectively).
But thanks to the July moratorium, the earliest any incumbent team has to make that decision is July 8 — two days after the moratorium ends. Two days after the offer sheet can officially be signed.
That’s EIGHT AND A HALF DAYS after all the unrestricted free agents can begin committing to new teams!
So any team that ties up money in an offer sheet for Russell, Brogdon or Oubre, for example, has to sit around until at least July 8 to know if they will get that player after all.
By that time, the top 80 or so available free agents will have already come off the board!
By that time, you’re stuck with weighing an offer to Frank fricking Kaminsky.
I know you all want Russell badly. And if not Russell, you probably want Brogdon. So do I.
But because of the way this league works, the Suns would be playing a bad game of poker by freeing up and then tying up $20-27 million in cap money just to make the offer to D-Lo or Brogdon, and won’t be able to spend it on anyone else while they wait to see the Nets/Bucks decide.
You want Pat Bev or Cory Joseph as a backup plan to D-Lo? Too bad. Those guys aren’t waiting around till July 8 to “get that bag.”
You want a Thaddeus Young + Ricky Rubio combo if the D-Lo or Brogdon offers get matched? Tough nuts. Those guys are definitely already gone by July 8.
Guess who were hot topics as of July 8 last year? Greg Monroe. Michael Beasley and Jonas Jerebko.
If you really really want D-Lo or Brogdon and want to sign one of them to an offer sheet during the moratorium, here’s the perfect-world outcome:
- Get D-Lo/Brogdon, Kaminsky-ish PF, keep Oubre: Dump almost all of Josh Jackson, Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton, Tyler Johnson somehow for nothing but cap space, sign D-Lo/Brogdon to offer sheet, watch Nets/Bucks fail to match, pick up some leftover PF like Frank Kaminsky in mid-July, re-sign Oubre last
But here are some of the more likely outcomes.
- Get D-Lo/Brogdon, Kaminsky-ish PF, but lose Oubre: Dump only some of the Jackson/Okobo/Melton/Johnson money, be forced to use Oubre’s cap hold as part of cap space used for D-Lo/Brogdon offer, get D-Lo/Brogdon which forces Suns to renounce rights to Oubre, add some leftover PF like Frank Kaminsky in mid July
- Lose D-Lo/Brogdon, get Kaminsky-ish PF, T.J. McConnell-ish PG, keep Oubre: If the Nets/Bucks match the Suns offer sheet on July 8, the Suns are left holding $20-27 million in cap space to spend on a pu-pu platter of remaining options. They’d certainly keep Oubre at that point, but filling out PG and PF positions would be slim pickings likely resulting in low one-year deals for uninspiring players.
On the other hand, the Suns could decide that playing the RFA game of roulette is a loser, and instead spend their time focusing on the mid-tier of unrestricted free agents.
Should the Suns tie up money in a big offer sheet?
This poll is closed
Yes, the high upside of D-Lo or Brogdon is worth it!
No, the Suns cannot afford to screw this up. Go after UFAs like Bev, Thad, etc.