The free agency period officially begins at midnight ET on Sunday and that is also the deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers to their own free agents in order to retain the ability to match any offer they receive on the open market. The Atlanta Hawks have two candidates for qualifying offers in starting point guard Jeff Teague and reserve big man Ivan Johnson.
In order to make their free agent a restricted free agent, a team must submit a qualifying offer to the player between the day following the last game of the NBA Finals and June 30. The qualifying offer is a standing offer for a one-year guaranteed contract, which becomes a regular contact if the player decides to sign it. This ensures that the team does not gain the right of first refusal without offering a contract themselves. The amount of the qualifying offer for players on rookie "scale" contracts is based on the player's draft position. The qualifying offer for all other players must be for 125% of the player's previous salary, or the player's minimum salary (see question number 16) plus $200,000, whichever is greater. However, a player may qualify for a higher or lower qualifying offer based on whether or not he met the "starter criteria" in the previous season, or in the average of the previous two seasons. The starter criteria are based on starting 41 games or playing at least 2,000 minutes in the regular season1.
A lot of teams have announced qualifying offers for many of their free agents but I am not positive that it is required. There was some initial confusion last season regarding whether or not Ivan Johnson had received a qualifying offer or not from the Hawks. So both players could have already been given one but it was not talked about in yesterday's press conference.
If Atlanta doesn't issue a qualifying offer to Teague and Johnson tonight then they will become unrestricted free agents and will be free to sign with any team while Atlanta will lose the ability to match offers. Particularly in Teague's case, this would signal that Atlanta will be looking elsewhere for a point guard next season.