NBA free agency takes center stage with the 2022 NBA Finals and draft behind us. Of Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook making all of their player options decisions and John Wall working on a buyout with the Houston Rockets, the focus is now on James Harden, Bradley Beal† Zach LaVine and Deandre Ayton. Decisions on player options must be made at 5:00 PM ET on Wednesday, and the free agency opens at 6:00 PM ET on Thursday. Here’s a primer on everything you need to know leading up to free agency.
When does the NBA free agency 2022 start?
Thursday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET.
Which NBA teams have room for a salary cap?
Only the Detroit pistons (just over $40 million), San Antonio Spurs (about $33 million), Orlando Magic ($28 million), Indiana Pacers ($26 million) and New York Knicks ($25 million) is expected to have significant cap space this summer. The Memphis Grizzlies could join them if they lose important free agents.
A boon in sign-and-trade transactions for star players in recent years leaves room for other teams to negotiate with free agents, but they face the prospect of parting with assets for their seat at the table.
Who are the most famous NBA free agents?
It depends on.
The 32-year-old one-time MVP could become an unlimited free agent, but that would mean turning down his $47.4 million option to play for the Philadelphia 76ers next season. he is not expected to do† Multiple reports suggest the Sixers will offer him a two-year extension once he signs up.
The 29-year-old three-time All-Star for the Washington Wizards could turn down a $36.4 million option for next season and seek a starting salary of $43 million in free agency. While other suitors can offer a four-year contract of up to $184 million, the Wizards can sign him to a five-year contract of up to $248 million. Beal, with his 64 million guaranteed reasons to stay in Washington, is expected to stay this summer.
The 27-year-old two-time All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls will be unrestricted when free agency begins. Marc Eversley, Bulls general manager, told reporters last week: “We are ready to do whatever it takes to bring Zach back into the fold,” which essentially means giving him a five-year contract offer of up to 212 million dollars. Multiple reports indicate that LaVine will accept that offer to remain in Chicago.
The 23-year-old No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft is a restricted free agent for the Phoenix Suns. He didn’t get the maximum contract extension he wanted – and many of his class of 2018 colleagues received – prior to last season, which caused some friction between him and his incumbent team. He now has one of four options: 1) re-sign with the Suns; 2) sign an offer sheet elsewhere, which Phoenix can (and should) match; 3) find a sign-and-trade deal with another team; or 4) play the final season of his rookie contract with a qualifying offer of $16.4 million and become an unlimited free agent next season.
The 25-year-old former second round picker is an unrestricted free agent. His stock is peaking on the heels of a prolific playoff performance. The New York Knicks, who opened $18 million in salary caps on draft night and could release more this summer, are expected to make Brunson a sizable four-year offer at the start of the free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Dallas Mavericks, who drafted Brunson No. 33 overall in 2018, are the only team that can give him a fifth year on his next contract.
The 24-year-old 20-point goalscorer for the Charlotte Hornets, is a restricted free agent. He reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million renewal offer from the Hornets prior to last season and submitted a one-year audition to be paid twice as much by potential suitors. Charlotte is the only team to offer him a fifth guaranteed year, but the Hornets may be hesitant to match a four-year offer in the $120 million range should Bridges find one elsewhere, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania†
The 31-year-old five-time All-Star agreed to a last-year buyout of his contract with the Houston Rockets, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes† Wall, who did not play at all in Houston last season and has only played 40 games since calendar year 2018 due to both injury and tank-related reasons, is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers once he approves the waivers, Haynes reported.
Who are the other intriguing NBA free agents?
While the tent may not be filled with headliners, there are plenty of potential playoff team contributors available in free agency. That also depends on the needs that a team wants to meet and at what cost. Many of these players will compete for the available salary cap or one of the league’s 30 mid-level exceptions, typically ranging from a starting salary of $10.2 million (non-taxpayer) to $6.33 million (taxpayer).
Anfernee Simons and Collin Sexton
A few prolific 23-year-old scorers are limited free agents of the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. Either may charge $20 million annually.
Kevon Looney† Gary Payton II† Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica
They rounded out the rotation for the reigning champions of Golden State Warriors and are all unrestricted free agents. “We’ve kept all the players we want to keep, so I don’t see that changing,” said Warriors general manager Bob Myers. told Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwilleven if a contract they sign will cost team ownership multiples in luxury tax penalties.
Goran Dragic† Andre Drummond and Victor Oladipo
The trio of former All-Stars turned veterans for hire are unlimited free agents at various stages of careers in decline. Dragic is 36 years old and nearing the twilight of his career. Andre Drummond is still only 28, maning center in a league that values his position less and less. Oladipo turned 30 and has played no more than 36 games in a season since 2017-18.
Kyle Anderson† Bruce Brown† Jevon Carter† Montrezl Harrell† Gary Harris† Isaiah Hartenstein† Daniel House Jr.† Tyus Jones† Malik Monk† Jusuf Nurkic† Bobby Portis† Mitchell Robinson and TJ Warren
All unlimited free agents that have yet to reach their 30th birthday and could command real playoff minutes.
Nicolas Batum† Wesley Matthews† Ricky Rubio† PJ Tucker and Thaddeus Young
All 10-year-old experienced unlimited free agents who have meaningfully contributed to playoff teams for several years.
Nic Claxton† Donte DiVincenzo† Caleb Martin and Cody Martin
Any free agents under 27 who earned minutes for winning teams on their rookie contracts likely justified raises on their subsequent deals.
Which NBA players will get a contract extension?
That list is richer than any other.
• Members of the 2019 draft class are eligible for entry-level contract renewals, led by emerging All-Stars Darius Garland† Yes Morant and Zion Williamson† They are eligible to sign for five years and $186 million, a number that would rise to $223 million for anyone making an All-NBA team by 2023.
• Other conscripts from the class of 2019 who could receive major expansions this summer: Tyler Herroz† Jordan Poole† RJ Barrett† De’Andre Hunter† Cameron Johnson† PJ Washington† Keldon Johnson and Grant Williams†
† Nikola Joki, the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP, is eligible for a five-year supermax extension worth $260 million. The Denver Nuggets have said they will offer him that deal, and he has said he will accept it.
† Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Townswith All-NBA rosters from last season, both are now eligible for $211 million four-year supermax extensions from the Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively.
• Most veterans are eligible for renewals if they have two or fewer years left on a long-term contract. That list includes: LeBron James, which is eligible for a two-year, $97.1 million extension from the Los Angeles Lakers. He could also instead use his free agency for 2023 as leverage against the struggling Lakers.
• Other notable players eligible for nine-figure expansions: Harden, Damian Lillard† Kyrie Irving† Jaylen Brown† Khris Middleton† Draymond Green† Klay Thompson† Andrew Wiggins† D’Angelo Russell† Pascal Siakam† CJ McCollum† Fred Van Vleet† Nikola Vucevic† Kevin Love and Jerami Grant†
What’s up with Kyrie Irving?
The short answer: Irving exercised his $36.9 million option for the 2022-23 season, meaning he will most likely play for the Brooklyn Nets this season and become an unrestricted free agent next year.
He had previously secure permission to search sign-and-trade opportunities elsewhere, which would have questioned Kevin Durant’s commitment to the Nets, but the lack of interest outside a paltry Lakers package made the decision for Irving. The mercurial seven-time All-Star, who has turned his back on every NBA franchise he’s ever known, seemingly on a whim, now has one more season to revive his worth.
Let’s not get too deep into the long answer. The Nets can still trade or renew Irving. His partnership with fellow unpredictable stars Durant and Ben Simmons could land a championship or another first round in Brooklyn. Everything is on the table for a player who, when signing his contract, said to us: “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us to tomorrow.”
And that, my friends, is your free NBA primer for 2022.
Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Mail him to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach