With the top 2021 NBA free agents off the market, it’s time to look forward to next year. Multiple future Hall of Famer players are set to hit the open market with two of them potentially coming from the Brooklyn Nets.
Meanwhile, rising NBA stars such as Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine and Mikal Bridges could hit the market. Bookmark. Save. Do your thing. Here’s our ever-evolving NBA free agent list for the summer of 2022.
NBA free agents: Future Hall of Famers
1. James Harden, guard, Brooklyn Nets (player option)
Harden is in an intriguing situation in that he’ll likely be one of the top NBA free agents in what promises to be an absolutely loaded class. The former MVP has an option for $47.37 million in 2022-23. If he were to re-sign with the Nets, the 31-year-old Harden would earn north of $50 million annually — joining Stephen Curry in that exclusive club. Last season saw him average 24.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 10.8 assists in stops with the Nets and Houston Rockets.
2. Bradley Beal, guard, Washington Wizards (player option)
There’s a decent chance that Beal will sign an extension with Washington ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. However, that doesn’t make a lot of financial sense for the high-scoring guard. It’s also important to note that Beal will want to see how the revamped Wizards look following the trade of Russell Westbrook before committing to the D.C.-based team long-term. Beal, 28, is averaging 30.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
3. Kyrie Irving, guard, Brooklyn Nets (player option)
Irving, 29, is in pretty much the same situation as Harden. He has a $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23, one that the NBA champion will certainly decline if he’s not given an extension. But unlike Harden, it remains to be seen how many teams will be willing to give him a long-term deal given the possibility he might hang em up while still in his prime. On the court, he’s as elite as they come. In his first full slate of action for Brooklyn last season, Irving averaged 26.9 points and 6.0 assists on 40% shooting from distance.
NBA free agents: The rising stars
4. Zach LaVine, guard, Chicago Bulls
Chicago is obviously in win-now mode after adding the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Nikola Vučević and Alex Caruso to pair with this high-scoring wing. It’s shocking in that previous rumors suggested LaVine would be traded this summer given his status as a pending free agent. Regardless, the 26-year-old former first-round pick will cash in big time next summer. Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, he’s averaging 26.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists on a resounding 40% shooting from three-point range. Whew!
5. Michael Porter Jr., forward, Denver Nuggets (restricted)
There’s absolutely no chance that Denver lets Porter Jr. go after two tremendously successful seasons, right? Right? Well, there’s little clarity on this situation with the star set to become one of the top restricted NBA free agents next summer. He wants an extension. He deserves an extension. Unfortunately, continued injury issues have the Nuggets thinking twice. What we do know is that Porter Jr. can be a franchise cornerstone if healthy. Last season alone, the forward averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 45% from three-point range.
6. Deandre Ayton, center, Phoenix Suns (restricted)
Fresh off a stirring performance in Phoenix’ run to the NBA Finals, Ayton should be in line for a rookie-level max contract extension ahead of the 2021-22 season. The former No. 1 pick averaged 16.8 points and 11.8 rebounds on 66% shooting from the field during the postseason. He’s still only 23 years old and one of the top young centers in the NBA. Look for the Suns to take care of business here soon. If not, another team will back up the Brinks Truck next summer.
7. Collin Sexton, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers (restricted)
There’s a darn good chance that the 22-year-old Sexton will be traded ahead of the 2021-22 season. Cleveland does not want to pay him a max contract ahead of free agency. It also seemingly likes fellow former lottery pick and guard Darius Garland more than Sexton. Despite this, one team is going to get an absolute steal in the young guard. Last season saw the Alabama product average 24.3 points on 48% shooting.
8. Mikal Bridges, forward, Phoenix Suns (restricted)
In his third NBA season, Bridges was an unsung hero for the eventual Western Conference champions. The 24-year-old forward averaged career-highs in points (13.5), rebounds (4.3) and assists (2.1) while shooting 54% from the field. He also shot a robust 43% from three-point range. Short of signing an extension ahead of the 2021-22 season, Bridges will be able to prove that he can be a core guy and a near-max player.
9. Jaren Jackson Jr., forward, Memphis Grizzlies (restricted)
Injuries. Injuries. More injuries. That’s pretty much the only thing holding the 21-year-old Jackson back. He played in just 11 games a season ago after suffering an injury during the NBA restart back in 2020. That could impact whether Memphis gives Jackson Jr. an extension. If not, some team will be interested in paying for his potential. Back in 2019-20, the forward averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field.
10. Terry Rozier, guard, Charlotte Hornets
Vastly underrated in the grand scheme of things, the 27-year-old Rozier is aveaging 19.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 40% shooting from three-point range in two seasons since joining the Charlotte Hornets in a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics. However, there’s some question about his future in North Carolina after Charlotte exhausted a lottery pick on fellow guard James Bouknight in the 2021 NBA Draft.
11. Aaron Gordon, forward, Denver Nuggets
Some major struggles in Denver after being acquired from the Orlando Magic during the NBA trade deadline could impact Gordon’s market next summer. In fact, the Nuggets are going to push back against handing the athletic forward a huge extension. Gordon, 25, averaged a mere 10.2 points to go with 4.7 rebounds in 25 games with Denver. Over the course of his past three full seasons with Orlando, the forward averaged 16.0 points and 7.6 rebounds. One has to now wonder how empty those numbers were.
NBA free agents: Some grizzled veterans
12. T.J. Warren, forward, Indiana Pacers
Prior to missing all but four games last season, Warren’s career was seemingly on an upward trajectory. The former lottery pick averaged 19.3 points on a resounding 51% shooting from the field in his previous three seasons. He’s proven to be a tremendous three-and-D option. Depending on how Warren returns from injury this coming season, he could see his market take off during NBA free agency next summer.
13. Russell Westbrook, guard, Los Angeles Lakers (player option)
Heading into the 2020-21 NBA season, most figured that Chris Paul would have picked up his huge $44-plus million option. After a brilliant performance with the Suns, that did not happen. Instead, the veteran cashed in big time. There’s a decent chance that this former MVP could follow suit after a blockbuster trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. Westbrook has a $47 million option for the 2022-23 season. Should he show out with LeBron James and Co., said option will be declined with the expectation that the 32-year-old Westbrook cashes in with one final long-term contract.
14. Marvin Bagley III, forward, Sacramento Kings
Enigmatic. Unhappy. Whatever term we want to use to describe Bagley’s three-year tenure in California’s capital city, it’s likely going to come to an end here soon. The former No. 2 pick from Duke could actually be traded ahead of the 2021-22 season. Either way, some team will take a chance on the potential this 22-year-old big man still possesses.
15. Kemba Walker, guard, New York Knicks
Now a member of the New York Knicks after being bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Walker has a chance to prove that his two-year stint with the Boston Celtics was a mirage. He’s New York’s unquestioned starter ahead of Derrick Rose. A return to earlier-career form could set Walker up to be among the most underrated NBA free agents next summer. From 2015-19 with the Hornets, he averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 38% shooting from distance.
16. Gary Harris, guard, Orlando Magic
It remains to be seen how long Harris will be a member of the rebuilding Magic after being part of the blockbuster Aaron Gordon trade back in March. What we do know is that the 26-year-old shooting guard can be a nice complementary piece. He’s shooting 36% from distance throughout his career and averaged a career-high 17.5 points back in 2017-18.
17. Joe Ingles, forward, Utah Jazz
There’s a good chance that this Aussie sharpshooter will be traded by Utah ahead of the 2021-22 season in a cost-cutting move. Wherever he plays, Ingles should still perform at a high enough clip to warrant one more long-term deal. The forward shot an absolutely ridiculous 45% from distance last season and is averaging north of five assists since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
18. Jusuf Nurkic, center, Portland Trail Blazers
Nurkic’s value as an NBA free agent next summer will be determined by his ability to stay healthy. The big man has played in a grand total of 45 games since the start of the 2019-20 season. When on the court, he’s proven to be a starter-caliber center. The dude is averaging 11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds on 51% shooting during his seven-year career.
19. Miles Bridges, forward, Charlotte Hornets
Bridges, 23, might not have a ton of name recognition. But the former Michigan State star has proven himself to be a solid two-way forward. Over the course of the past two seasons, he’s averaging 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds on 36% shooting from distance. A stellar fourth season in the NBA would land Bridges a nice contract next summer.
20. Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans
Just recently acquired in a trade with the Grizzlies, Valanciunas has been nothing but a steady force throughout his NBA career. Dating back to the center’s days with the Toronto Raptors, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 11.0 rebounds since the start of the 2018-19 campaign. Should Valanciunas leave New Orleans next summer, he’ll be a highly sought after NBA free agent.
2022 NBA free agents by position
- Delon Wright, Atlanta Hawks
- Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors
- Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
- Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Aaron Holiday, Washington Wizards (restricted)
- Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
- Austin Rivers, Denver Nuggets
- Rajon Rondo, Los Angeles Clippers
- Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic
- Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets
- Josh Richardson, Boston Celtics
- Tomas Satoransky, New Orleans Pelicans
- Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks (restricted)
- Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers
- Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks (restricted)
- Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat
- Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets
- Tony Snell, Portland Trail Blazers
- Rodney Hood, Milwaukee Bucks
- Jeremy Lamb, Indiana Pacers
- Rudy Gay, Utah Jazz
- Trevor Ariza, Los Angeles Lakers
- Otto Porter Jr., Golden State Warriors
- Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks
- Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies
- Derrick Jones Jr., Portland Trail Blazers
- Juan Toscano-Anderson, Golden State Warriors (restricted)
- Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves (restricted)
- Kent Bazemore, Los Angeles Lakers
- Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers
- Montrezl Harrell, Washington Wizards
- Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
- Taurean Prince, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs
- Nemanja Bjelica, Golden State Warriors
- Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles Lakers
- Markieff Morris, Miami Heat
- Taj Gibson, New York Knicks
- James Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
- Cody Zeller, Portland Trail Blazers
- Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards
- Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
- Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors
- Aron Baynes, Toronto Raptors
- Bol Bol, Denver Nuggets (restricted)
- Andre Drummond, Philadelphia 76ers
- Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz
- Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic
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Author: Vincent Frank