NBA free agency 2022: who are the best available free agents?
There are a couple superstars that could be on the move this offseason as MVPs, scoring champs and NBA champions hit the free agent market on Thursday.
Some of the biggest names in the NBA over the last decade are hitting the free agent market and we can expect a feeding frenzy as teams look to lock up some of the league’s biggest stars.
When free agency starts
The floodgates will open on Thursday, June 30th at 6:00 p.m. ET. That’s when the free agency period will officially begin, as teams scour the market in search for their next super star. While talks, negotiations and some times even agreements are had, nothing can be officially signed until the end of the moratorium. Once the moratorium ends, at 12:01 p.m. ET on July 6th, teams can then officially put pen to paper with their newly acquired player.
Stars who are looking at new deals
This class of free agents is a bit top heavy with some legendary players of the last decade on the verge of moving teams to shake up the landscape in the NBA.
Russell Westbrook has the choice to pick up his $47 million player option with the Los Angles Lakers before the market opens on Thursday. While the former didn’t become a fan favorite in LA last season, that is a lot of money to pass up for a player who probably won’t get a contract with that figure for the rest of his career. Using the player option could be his chance to get paid, and redeem himself at the Crypto.com Arena.
James Harden is looking at just about the same deal as Westbrook. He is due to make around $47 million if he stays with the the Sixers. The two time scoring champ has played for three different teams in the last two years, and could be on his way out of Philly. He seemed to develop a strong chemistry with Joel Embiid, but the money could talk, and if that’s the case, then Harden will walk.
Bradley Beal is has lived in relative anonymity in Washington for the last decade. While the casual NBA fan may not know much about the runner up for the scoring title two years ago, he has a $36.4 million player option on the table, but staring down perhaps the last big money contract of his career, he may pass up the one year deal to sign something more long term.
Kyrie Irving looks more on the way out than in at the Barclays Center. There are reports of talks stalling between the Nets and the former NBA champion. He has a $36.9 million player option, but Irving has earned the right to want want what some of the leagues best players are making. He has already named the teams on his wish list if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.
Zach Lavine has looked like a guy on the verge of making that jump from being a good player with steady production, to star for the the last couple of years. He had his audition for free agency this year, and averaged 24.4 points and 4.6 rebounds which should fetch him a pretty penny over the next few weeks.
Jusuf Nurkic could be a part of the Trail Blazers rebuilding process. They have tons of cap space to spend in this free agent period, and they could use some of that to resign their big man who averaged 15 points and 11.1 rebounds over the course of last season.
Dennis Schroder passed up a big money offer from the Lakers last season, and signed a one-year, $5.8 million deal with the Boston Celtics. He was traded in the middle of the season, and sent to Houston where he ended the season averaging 10.9 points and 5.9 assists. He may not get an offer like the four-year $84 million Lakers deal he rejected.
Bobby Portis quickly became a fan favorite in Milwaukee and was a big part of their title run last season. He is a fantastic defender, that will bring energy and a tenacity to any team that picks him up. He made $4.4 million last year, and the Bucks will have to cough up more cash than that if they want to keep one of the hearts and souls of the team.
Up-and-comers in free agent
While most of the list above are guys who have established themselves household names, there are a number of guys who showed up in their contract years, which will get them paid this offseason.
Jalen Brunson was one of the standouts of the postseason. He shined when the Mavericks lost Luka Doncic for a few games in the playoffs. The fourth year man earned $1.5 million last year. He should be preparing for some offers that are exponentially bigger than that after averaging 16 points and 4.8 assists a game last season.
Miles Bridges had a breakout season in the final year of his contract with the Charlotte Hornets. The high-flying former Michigan State Spartan put up 20 points and 7 rebounds a game last season, and should be in line for a contract worth much more than the $4.4 million he was making last season.
Deandre Ayton has established himself as one of the top big men in the league over the last few seasons. He now has a choice to make after the Suns missed out on the NBA title following a season in which they were the top team in the West. He was the top pick in the 2018 Draft and made $10 million last season. The Suns don’t have an abundance of cap space, so Ayton will have to choose between a fat pay day or staying on board in Phoenix and keeping a contender intact.
Caleb Martin was a big part of the Miami Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals. While his numbers were’s eye popping, he was a great role player who would give production off the bench. He made just over a half million dollars last in his first year in Miami. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Heat last year, so he will be looking to get a pay bump and a chance to play more than he did for Eric Spoelstra.