Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 7/24/12

We have already gone over our list of the top ten 2013 unrestricted NBA free agents.  Here are the best restricted free agents who are scheduled to hit the market next summer.  Don’t forget, a team has the right to match any offer sheet a restricted free agent signs which makes it difficult to sign away a player.  

1. James Harden, Thunder
OKC enters next off-season as one of the more intriguing teams to watch.  They have already given well-deserved monster extensions to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook but have both Harden and Ibaka coming up as restricted free agents.  With Harden, it will be interesting to see if he chooses to stay with the Thunder (assuming they are willing to pay him in the ballpark of $13 million per year which is the max contract for a restricted free agent) or if Harden desires to go elsewhere where he can maybe be the go-to option.  My guess is the Thunder extend his deal during the season.

2. Serge Ibaka, Thunder
Ibaka has developed into a well-rounded player as his offensive game gets more polished.  He can be a force on the glass and as a shot blocker, and at 22 years old will only get better with time.  He will cost at least $10 million per year which would certainly put OKC in a tough salary cap situation moving forward.  I would not at all be surprised to see the Thunder get rid of Kendrick Perkins and try to keep both Harden and Ibaka.

3. Stephen Curry, Warriors
Injuries really held Curry back last season and as a result, Golden State has been in no hurry to extend his deal.  We all know Curry can stroke it from deep but he still has not fully grasped what it takes to be a true NBA point guard.  This up-coming season will be a huge measuring stick to see what types of offers Curry might generate next summer.

4. Tyreke Evans, Kings
After an insane rookie campaign, Evans’ production has dipped off in each of the past two seasons.  He still doesn’t have a true NBA position but his versatility and size does allow him to play either the one, two, or three.  Still, there are question marks about his ability to be a teammate which might turn teams off from throwing a monster deal his way.  Evans will need to have a solid bounce back season to get his market value higher.

5. Brandon Jennings, Bucks
There were already rumblings last season that Jennings wanted to test the market once his rookie contract expired.  He certainly runs the show and it would be a huge loss for MIlwaukee to just let him walk without getting anything in return.  However, I am not sure they would be willing to cough up anywhere near max money to extend Jennings.  I would not at all be shocked if Jennings accepted his qualifying offer, played out his contract, and became an unrestricted free agent in 2014.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Bucks dealt him at some point during the season.

6. Ty Lawson, Nuggets
The former Tar Heel is the sparkplug of Denver’s offensive attack and has consistently improved every season.  He is massively under-paid as he is only slated to make $2.5 million in 2012-13 so look for the Nuggets to extend him sooner rather than later.

7. DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Having just signed Landry Fields and drafting Terrence Ross eighth overall, DeRozan might actually become expendable in Toronto.  For the right price, I think some team could actually pry him away from the Raptors but I can’t see any team overpay a shooting guard who is a career 21% three-point shooter.

8. Taj Gibson, Bulls
Seeing that Omer Asik just received a three-year, $25 million contract from the Rockets, Gibson could follow suit next summer.  He has become extremely valuable off the Bulls’ bench and was one of the steals of the 2009 NBA Draft as the 26th overall pick.  Asik’s contract was too rich for Chicago to match and a similar type offer sheet could yield the same result for Gibson.  Another possibility that wouldn’t shock me is if the Bulls amnestied Carlos Boozer in an attempt to keep Gibson and maybe add another piece.

9. Jrue Holiday, 76ers
I am nowhere close to being sold on Holiday as a franchise NBA point guard.  He is just 22 years old but this up-coming season will be a huge determining factor into what his worth will be next summer.  As you can see from this list, there are several point guards ahead of him on this list so Holiday might not be too highly coveted unless he has a breakout fourth season.

10. Darren Collison, Mavericks
More than likely, Collison will not be extended a qualifying offer from Dallas as they look to clear as much cap space as possible for next off-season in hopes of making a run at Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.  Unless he really shines with the Mavs, he could be had for a very affordable rate next summer for a team looking for a cheap starting point guard or a very talented young reserve.

Other Restricted Free Agents of Notice: Tyler Hansbrough, Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington, Roddy Beaubois, Jeff Teague

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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