Every year, the NBA free agency period creates a lot of buzz and excitement. Fans are anxious to see which players will be signing with their favorite team, and everyone is trying to figure out who the contenders and the sleepers are. This year is no different, and there are plenty of top-notch players available on the open market. Here’s a look at the 10 best NBA free agents this year.
1. Bradley Beal, guard, Washington Wizards (Player Option)
Bradley Beal is one of the most sought-after free agents in the NBA. The Wizards guard is coming off a career year in which he averaged 30.5 points per game. Beal has a player option for next season, but it is widely expected that he will decline it and become a free agent. There are a number of teams that are interested in signing Beal, but the frontrunners are the Trailblazers and the 76ers.
Both teams have the salary cap space to sign him and are in dire need of a guard. Beal would be an instant upgrade for either team and could help them contend for a championship. The decision on where Bradley Beal will play next season is one of the most anticipated moves of the offseason.
2. Kyrie Irving, guard, Brooklyn Nets (Player option)
Kyrie Irving has opted out of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, making him a free agent. Kyrie is a 6-time All-Star and was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2012. He is considered one of the best guards in the league and has a career average of 22.2 points per game. Kyrie was limited to 20 games this past season due to injury and Covid-19, but he is still expected to command a max contract on the open market. The Nets are hopeful that they can re-sign Kyrie, but with so many teams having cap space, it will be a tough competition.
Kyrie is eligible for a 5-year, $205 million contract with the Nets or a 4-year, $141 million deal with another team. There is also speculation that Kyrie could sign a short-term deal with another team and then join forces with LeBron James in Los Angeles next season. Wherever Kyrie ends up, it will be interesting to see how his decision affects the landscape of the NBA.
3. Zach LaVine, guard, Chicago Bulls
Zach LaVine is one of the most intriguing free agents in recent memory. A two-time slam dunk champion, LaVine has established himself as one of the league’s premier scoring guards. After being traded to the Chicago Bulls in 2017, LaVine has worked diligently to develop his all-around game. He’s coming off a career year in which he averaged 28.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.
With fellow All-Star guard Demar Derozan also hitting free agency, the Bulls have a big decision to make. Do they resign LaVine and try to win now, or do they let him walk and rebuild for the future? Zach LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
4. Deandre Ayton, center, Phoenix Suns (restricted)
Deandre Ayton is one of the best young centers in the NBA, and he is set to become a free agent in 2022. The Suns have already made it clear that they want to resign him to a max contract, and they are expected to offer him a deal worth over $100 million. However, Ayton will have plenty of suitors if he hits the open market, as several teams will be looking to add a win-now piece like him.
The Raptors, Nets, and Clippers are all expected to make a run at Ayton in free agency, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Deandre Ayton is a talented young player who has the potential to be a star in this league, and it will be exciting to see where he ends up next season.
5. Miles Bridges, forward, Charlotte Hornets (restricted)
Miles Bridges is a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Charlotte Hornets are expected to do everything they can to keep him. Bridges has emerged as an young star over the past few years, and he’s only going to get better. The Hornets would be wise to resign him to a max contract now and lock him up for the next four or five years. If they don’t, another team will almost certainly swoop in and offer him more money.
Bridges is eligible for a five-year, $170 million extension this offseason, and it’s hard to see him passing that up. The Hornets need to act fast if they want to keep their emerging young star
6. James Harden, guard, Philadelphia 76ers, (Player option)
James Harden may be the most controversial player in the NBA. After being traded to the Nets in 2020, he proceeded to have one of the worst seasons of his career, culminating in a first-round playoff exit. However, Harden’s struggles didn’t stop there. He was recently spotted partying with rapper Lil Baby, further fueling rumors that he is out of shape and uninterested in basketball. As a result, many fans and pundits are now questioning whether the 76ers should resign him when he becomes a free agent in 2022.
While it’s true that Harden’s play has declined in recent years, it’s important to remember that he is still one of the best scorers in the league. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 76ers give him a max contract when his current deal expires.
7. Jalen Brunson, guard, Dallas Mavericks
Jalen Brunson is a free agent this offseason and there is no doubt that the Mavericks will resign him. Brunson has been a key part of the Mavericks offense ever since he was drafted in 2018 and has only gotten better each year. He averaged 15.6 points per game last season and shot 47% from three-point range. Brunson is also a great defender, something that is extremely important to the Mavericks. With Luka Doncic leading the way, the Mavericks are one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA and Jalen Brunson is a big part of that. The Knicks are apparently interested in signing Jalen Brunson, but it is very unlikely that he will leave Dallas.
Jalen’s father, Rick Brunson, was a member of the Knicks coaching staff from 2014 to 2016, so Jalen has always had a soft spot for the Knicks. However, Jalen’s loyalty lies with the Mavericks and it is expected that he will sign a max contract with them when free agency begins. Jalen Brunson is one of the best young point guards in the NBA and his future is extremely bright. There is no doubt that he will be a Maverick for many years to come.
8. Collin Sexton, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers (restricted)
Collin Sexton is set to become a free agent in 2022. The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to decide whether to sign him to an extension or let him go. Sexton is a talented young player, but the Caviliers also have Darius Garland under contract through 2022. If they can’t reach an agreement on an extension, the Cavaliers may opt to sign-and-trade Sexton in order to get something for him before he leaves for nothing.
However, Sexton is a key part of the Cavaliers’ offense, and they may not be willing to part with him without getting something significant in return. Only time will tell what the Cavaliers will do with Collin Sexton.
9. Anfernee Simons, guard, Portland Trailblazers (restricted)
Anfernee Simons has been a Trailblazer since he was drafted in 2018. He’s only 22, but he’s already had a huge impact on the team. Dame Lillard is the undisputed leader of the Trailblazers, but Anfernee is right there with him, both on and off the court. Anfernee is set to become a free agent in 2022, and it’s imperative that the Trailblazers resign him. He’s a big part of their future, and they need to keep him in Portland for the long term.
Anfernee is an excellent shooter and a phenomenal athlete. He has all the tools to be one of the best players in the league for years to come. The Trailblazers need to do whatever it takes to keep Anfernee in Portland. It’s imperative for their future success.
10. Jusuf Nurkic, center, Portland Trailblazers
Jusuf Nurkic is a free agent after his contract with the Portland Trailblazers expired. He is eligible to sign a new deal with any team starting in 2022. However, he is rehabbing from a serious injury that he suffered during the 2020-2021 season. It is unclear when he will be ready to return to the court. Despite the injury, Nurkic is expected to receive strong interest from several teams. He is a talented center who has averaged over 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over his career. The 27-year-old will likely have multiple suitors when he becomes a free agent.
The NBA offseason is always an exciting time as teams try to improve their rosters in order to compete for a championship. This year’s free agent class is especially intriguing, with many top players hitting the open market. July 1st is the first day of free agency. Where do you think these guys will land this offseason? Let us know in the comments!