Pelicans and rest of NBA await 2015 free agency

Some of what you may need to know about 2015 free agency, as the New Orleans Pelicans and the rest of the NBA brace for one of the most frenzied portions of the offseason:


The free agency period officially begins on July 1 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time, but for our purposes here in the Central time zone, it actually commences June 30 (Tuesday) at 11:01 p.m. Central. One of your best options to follow all of the breaking news and rumors is to tune in to NBA TV, which will broadcast a series of specials leading up to and into the often-hectic pursuit of players. NBA TV’s coverage begins in earnest Tuesday with a “Free Agent Fever” show at 6 p.m. (all times Central), followed by a 10:30-11:30 p.m. update, as teams can begin contacting players.


Although NBA teams can begin talking to free agents July 1, players cannot officially sign until the moratorium period has ended. This year that timeframe is July 1-8. On July 9, teams and players can begin to announce and reach official agreements. NBA teams are prohibited from making public announcements of signings until July 9, a restriction that also applies to team sites such as this one. It has been widely reported by numerous media outlets that New Orleans will offer a five-year maximum contract extension to Anthony Davis the moment free agency begins; contracts cannot be officially consummated before July 9. Players on rookie deals who have the option of signing an extension have a deadline of Oct. 31 to do so.


Roughly half of New Orleans’ roster currently is under contract for the 2015-16 season, including the team’s top five scorers from a year ago: Davis, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon (Gordon opted in to the final year of his deal June 18). Quincy Pondexter and Toney Douglas are also under contract for next season, with the latter holding a non-guaranteed deal.


There are two types of NBA free agents: restricted and unrestricted. For restricted free agents, teams have the ability to match any offer from another team and retain that player. Unrestricted free agents can sign with any team for any contract, which gives them the opportunity – for example – to sign with a team for less money than what other clubs may be offering. The Pelicans have a pair of restricted free agents: Norris Cole and Jeff Withey. The team’s unrestricted free agents include Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, Luke Babbitt, Dante Cunningham and Jimmer Fredette.

Generally speaking, NBA teams often pursue unrestricted free agents first, because if you agree to an offer sheet with a restricted free agent from another team, his incumbent club has three days to decide whether to match the offer. A risk of waiting for a restricted free agent is that during that three-day “waiting period,” other free agents may quickly become unavailable by agreeing to contracts, reducing a team’s options.