NBA free agency is right around the corner and we’ve ranked the top-48 players who could be available ahead of it.
Without further ado, check out the list of players who could sign new contracts later this summer.
1. Zach LaVine – G – Bulls
LaVine is a player that can thrive in the right system and the Bulls provided him with a respectable gameplan but the star wing may have “more interest in leaving Chicago than initially presumed,” which has resulted in several teams emerging as candidates to acquire him in a sign-and-trade deal including the Hawks, Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Mavs, according to NBA insider Marc Stein. The Blazers have been linked to LaVine as well as the Lakers. Ultimately this all loops back to why LaVine is atop this list as he can be one of the most lethal second scoring options in the league, or the top scoring option if he was to join the Spurs, and push these fringe contenders into title contention.
Sure, it’s not indubitable that LaVine sits atop this list with guys like Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden part of this free agency class, but ultimately he seems like the most likely of the stars on the move this offseason, which means he sits atop this list. On top of that, it’s worth noting that wherever LaVine ends up, he will be complimenting another superstar and instantly push a team into title contention. That’s no shot to Beal, Irving, or Harden, but Beal is on a Wizards team that has failed to put the proper pieces around him to make a deep playoff run, Irving has had some kind of turmoil on every team he’s been with, and Harden’s play looks like it’s declined to a point where we know what to expect out of him.
2. Bradley Beal – G – Wizards (Player Option)
It seems like a never-ending cycle for Beal to be involved in trade rumors every season and ahead of free agency, he has the option to opt-out of his contract but his loyalty to the Wizards seems to be unwavering. Beal is “leaning toward” signing a five-year max contract extension worth around $250M. Money may be a key factor in staying but perhaps Beal trusts the Wizards to build around him and Kristaps Porzingis sooner than later.
3. Kyrie Irving – G – Nets (Player Option)
It would be a crime to leave Irving outside of the top three when discussing the upcoming free agency period. The Nets star does have a player option but it may make sense to opt-out and push for an extension, however, that’s where things seem to get a bit complicated. Irving’s inconsistent availability and refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine has left Brooklyn “outright unwilling to give him a long-term extension” ahead of his 2022 free agency. Things could get really interesting if there’s more going on behind closed doors that could lead to an abrupt Irving exit and dare I say a Kevin Durant exit to follow if that were to happen…
4. James Harden – G – Sixers (Player Option)
Although he was one of the most feared players in the NBA at one point, it’s not rocket science to know that Harden simply isn’t the player he once was. Does that mean he never will be that former MVP we all knew him to be? Not necessarily, but you can’t blame Philadelphia’s reluctance to offer Harden a max contract this offseason. It seems likely he picks up his player option and treats it as a “prove it” (I use those words very loosely with Harden) sort of deal to come back next offseason in hopes of landing a lucrative extension on the backend of his career. Even if Harden decides to opt-out of his player option, there’s a belief he is willing to accept less money than the max to stay with the 76ers…
5. Deandre Ayton – C – Suns (Restricted)
After a disappointing postseason exit for the Suns, it looks like Ayton could be the next exit from Phoenix. Although the organization has some control with Ayton set to be a restricted free agent, the big man “did not feel valued by this Phoenix organization,” per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s worth noting that buzz around the league is that the Suns brass simply doesn’t view Ayton, or any center, “as a player worth greater than $30 million annually,” sources told B/R’s Jake Fischer. Fortunately, the Hawks, Hornets, Blazers, Spurs, and Pistons are among teams that may value a guy like Ayton and pay him a formidable amount.
6. Miles Bridges – F – Hornets (Restricted)
Apart from being LaMelo’s right-hand man, Bridges has certainly risen to stardom and will be coveted by a handful of teams. At just 24 years of age, the highlight walking forward averaged career highs in points (20.2 PPG), rebounds (7.0 RPG), and assists (3.8 APG) over the course of the 2021-22 campaign. He is a restricted free agent so Charlotte will have the last say in letting him walk, but it will be a steep price as league execs believe Bridges could earn up to $25 million annually or more in free agency, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Ultimately, all of it may depend on the Hornets’ ability to move Gordon Hayward this offseason to have the money to pay Bridges.
7. Russell Westbrook – G – Lakers (Player Option)
Russell Westbrook: Say what you will but Russell Westbrook is still a starting-caliber player with the ability to lead a team. Sure his play through the years hasn’t exactly translated to deep playoff runs, but playing alongside LeBron James and hopefully, a healthy Anthony Davis with a new head coach is all the change you can hope for in Los Angeles. In fact, the hiring of Bucks assistant Darvin Ham is interesting as the Lakers sought after a coach that would get the most out of Westbrook, who will likely exercise his $47 million player option to stay put with the purple and gold.
It’s possible for the former MVP to ultimately hit free agency in 2023 if the upcoming year yields similar results to the 2021-22 campaign. But the $47 million price tag makes a trade unlikely as teams would want the Lakers to sweeten the deal by adding first-round draft picks and/or eat a fair share of the salary, something the organization has been reluctant to do.
8. Jalen Brunson – G – Mavericks (Unrestricted)
Dallas may need another star alongside Luka Doncic to be a true contender for years to come, but it all starts with keeping Jalen Brunson around. Mavericks governor Mark Cuban is confident in re-signing the guard to a deal that will pay him more than any other team and added Brunson “wants to stay” in Dallas. It would be a bit surprising to see Brunson jump ship, especially after a deep playoff run to the conference finals, but the Knicks have been connected to the guard and it’s worth noting that Rick Brunson, Jalen’s dad, was Leon Rose’s first-ever client which could give New York a fighting chance in pursuing the much-coveted free agent.
9. Collin Sexton – G – Cavaliers (Restricted)
Once deemed as the face of the franchise for Cleveland, Sexton could soon be on his way out of the city that drafted him. Although he’s a restricted free agent, the Cavs may not fight to keep their former top pick, especially with the emergence of Darius Garland in the backcourt alongside a supporting cast of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley. The Wizards and Knicks have been linked to Sexton, but a sign-and-trade would need to be facilitated in order to land the star guard.
10. Tyus Jones – G – Grizzlies (Unrestricted)
Tyus Jones: It’s tough to not look at this list of upcoming free agents and not turn your attention to Tyus Jones. The young guard showed what he could do at the next level with his postseason play in Ja Morant’s absence. Memphis would most certainly like to welcome him back, but interestingly enough, that may depend on what happens with Jalen Brunson. As I previously stated, the Knicks have interest in Brunson but if they are unable to pry him away from the Mavs, they may turn their attention to pursuing Jones.
11. Victor Oladipo – G – Heat (Unrestricted)
It may seem early to introduce Oladipo, who in my eyes sits just outside the list of the top-ten names in the upcoming free agency period, making this feel like an honorable mention in tier 2. Quite frankly though, it’s tough to deny that Oladipo isn’t a name that carries some kind of weight around the league. Miami most certainly wouldn’t want to let the electrifying guard walk away, but teams that could pay more and offer a starting job to Oladipo may be a more enticing destination for the star guard.
12. John Wall – G – Rockets (Player Option)
There really isn’t the “perfect” place for John Wall on this list as he is expected to opt into his lucrative $47.4 million player option but his situation with the Rockets still seems to be at crossroads. Houston sure seems open to trading him, something Wall likely won’t be opposed to, however, it’s tough to find any takers with such a hefty price tag on Wall. If a buyout is somehow reached, Wall should draw a formidable amount of interest and could even be open to a Wizards reunion.
13. Malik Monk – G – Lakers (Unrestricted)
14. Gary Payton II – G – Warriors (Unrestricted)
15. Anfernee Simons – G – Blazers (Restricted)
16. Bruce Brown – G – Nets (Unrestricted)
17. Bobby Portis – F – Bucks (Player option)
18. Pat Connaughton – G – Bucks (Player option)
This part range of players, like Malik Monk, Gary Payton II, Anfernee Simons, Bruce Brown, Bobby Portis, and Pat Connaughton, all could stay with their respective teams or either opt to head elsewhere with lucrative deals ranging up to three years.
19. Patty Mills – G – Nets (Player option)
Patty Mills is an interesting one to watch, a name to keep close attention to in this group (to say the least) of players as he has a player option. Mills is unlikely to get a lucrative deal or see some big-time starting minutes elsewhere, however, he could be tied to the entire Kyrie Irving situation.
If the Nets are unwilling to extend Irving and the star point guard somehow finds himself on the move as early as this offseason, that means Kevin Durant may want out which would send Brooklyn crashing and burning. Then it would make sense for Mills to opt-out and go play for a contender if he wants that. The most likely scenario still feels like he will stay in Brooklyn and perhaps Irving’s spotty availability is something Mills is fine with as he will see just the right amount of minutes over the course of the season.
20. Jusuf Nurkic – C – Blazers (Unrestricted)
21. Mohamed Bamba – C – Magic (Restricted)
22. P.J. Tucker – F – Heat (Player option)
23. Dennis Schroder – G – Rockets (Unrestricted)
Meanwhile, guys like Jusuf Nurkic (unrestricted), Mo Bamba (restricted), P.J. Tucker (player option), and Dennis Schroder (unrestricted) could see a change of scenery this offseason. Tucker seems most likely of the bunch to stay with his current team, the Miami Heat. The rest of the names mentioned could be on the move this offseason as they will seek a bigger role, have that be on a contending team for less money or they chase a more lucrative deal on a non-contending team.
24. Nic Claxton – F/C – Nets (Restricted)
It’s worth noting that Brooklyn is comfortable matching contract offers for Claxton as he is a restricted free agent.
25. Lonnie Walker IV – G/F – Spurs (Restricted)
26. Mitchell Robinson – C/F – Knicks (Unrestricted)
Robinson has been linked to Pistons for quite some time and the 24-year-old is likely to receive offers from multiple playoff teams.
27. JaVale McGee – C – Suns (Unrestricted)
28. Wesley Matthews – G – Bucks (Unrestricted)
29. Otto Porter Jr. – F – Warriors (Unrestricted)
30. Nicolas Batum – G/F – Clippers (Player option)
It’s tough to pinpoint exactly where guys like Lonnie Walker, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews, Otto Porter Jr., and Nicolas Batum land until other dominos fall, though I expect Matthews and Batum to each remain with their respective teams. Porter Jr. might the most likely on the move given the Warriors’ young depth and his potential to land a deal for a starting-caliber salary.
31. Joe Ingles – G/F – Blazers (Player option)
It feels like Portland will try and re-sign Ingles despite having yet to play a game in a Blazers uniform after he was traded from Utah at the 2022 trade deadline. Pairing Ingles up with the likes of Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard is something Portland needs to see through especially after moving CJ McCollum at the trade deadline this past season.
32. Gary Harris – G – Magic (Unrestricted)
33. Ricky Rubio – G – Cavs (Unrestricted)
Ricky Rubio (unrestricted) is another veteran to keep an eye on as he can join a fringe contender or a team looking for a solid guard to come off the bench and be a facilitator. Speaking more on that, it may not be surprising to see Rubio return to Cleveland, especially if Collin Sexton ends up on the move this offseason.
34. Ivica Zubac – C – Clippers (Team option)
35. Montrezl Harrell – F/C – Hornets (Unrestricted)
36. DeMarcus Cousins – C – Nuggets (Unrestricted)
37. Andre Drummond – C – Nets (Unrestricted)
38. Chris Boucher – F/C – Raptors (Unrestricted)
39. Donte DiVincenzo – G – Kings (Restricted)
40. Rajon Rondo – G – Cavs (Unrestricted)
41. Austin Rivers – G – Nuggets (Unrestricted)
42. Derrick Jones Jr. – F – Bulls (Unrestricted)
43. Marvin Bagley III – F – Pistons (Restricted)
44. Blake Griffin – G – Nets (Unrestricted)
45. Juan Toscano-Anderson – F – Warriors (Restricted)
There’s clearly a drop off from Zubac but there are fitting names in this tier like Montrezl Harrell, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Donte DiVincenzo, Rajon Rondo, Austin Rivers, Blake Griffin, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Isaiah Hartenstein, Derrick Jones Jr., and Marvin Bagley III to name a few. Overall some are likely to receive for one-year contracts (on contenders if they’re lucky) while most of the younger guys in this section just need to have a change of scenery and hope to cash out in an offseason a few years down the road.
46. Caleb Martin – F – Heat (restricted)
47. Carmelo Anthony – F – Lakers (unrestricted)
The list goes on quite frankly, but to nearly conclude, Carmelo Anthony feels like a name that needs to be included mostly because of his legacy. We may also not see Anthony sign for a while, as he alongside many of the names listed in this range may wait things out to find the right scenario. Perhaps we will get some buzz linking Anthony to a Knicks again.
48. Lance Stephenson – F – Pacers (unrestricted)
At times last season, Stephenson looked like he could play another season or two coming off the bench for a team. Whether that will be with the Pacers or potentially for a fringe contender remains to be seen.