NBA free agency predictions: Who signs the biggest restricted free agents?


P.J. Washington (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

With NBA free agency on the horizon, several high-profile players are set to hit the restricted free agent market. Which teams will hand out big offer sheets? 

Restricted NBA free agency is the league’s great double-edged sword. It allows a team to match any offer sheet signed by a young player, keeping recent draft picks under team control. A team can also spend hours, days, weeks agreeing to terms with a player, only for that player’s former team to match the contract and vanquish any new partnership.

The summer of 2023 will feature several high-profile names testing the restricted free agency market. A handful of teams are expected to have enough cap space to really make a splash: Houston, Indiana, Detroit, Utah, San Antonio, Orlando, and Oklahoma City.

While virtually every expiring rookie contract leads to restricted free agency, this article will focus on the heavy-hitters — most of whom could receive upward of $20 million per year if the right team comes knocking. Important to note, of course, is that there is a difference between signing an offer sheet and joining the team, for the reasons mentioned above. Some predicted offer sheets are likely to be matched.

NBA free agency prediction: Who will sign P.J. Washington?

The Hornets’ recent draft history is uneven at best, but P.J. Washington is a genuine success story. He’s the prototypical modern big — capable of toggling between the wing or small-ball five depending on the matchup. He’s quick enough to guard on the perimeter and strong enough to wage battle in the post.

On the offensive end, Washington has gradually expanded the breadth of his skillset in recent years, exploring his face-up game and spending more time targeting mismatches inside. He’s a good three-point shooter (34.8 percent last season, 36.6 percent for his career) and his versatility will make it easy to plug him in to any system.

The Pistons have really placed an emphasis on size and physicality in recent years. Washington can space the floor for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, and he’s a tremendous fit next to Jalen Duren or James Wiseman in the starting frontcourt if Detroit selects a wing on draft night.

The Pistons feel like the least desirable destination for “big money” free agents, which could lead them to throw money in Washington’s direction instead of, for example, Grant Williams or Rui Hachimura (more on them soon).

Prediction: Pistons offer sheet — four years, $65 million 

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