In the modern era of basketball, we often see players move from team to team. There have been plenty of superteams that have formed throughout the last few years, and part of that is due to the ability of players to leave in free agency to a different franchise.
The 2022 free agency class could be one of the best that we have seen in recent memory. Basketball News has reported an agent's words on the free agency class, as well as compiling a list of stars who will be free agents this summer.
The 2022 free-agent class could be loaded with star players, including Kevin Durant, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Zach LaVine, Julius Randle, Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Chris Paul and John Wall, among others.
Durant, Harden, Leonard, Beal, Irving, Westbrook and Wall have player options, so it’s possible that they’ll opt-in and put off free agency. But Curry, Butler, LaVine, Randle, Holiday and Paul are unrestricted free agents and poised to be available (barring an extension).
“If all of the stars hit the market, it’ll probably be the best free-agent class ever,” one anonymous NBA agent told BasketballNews.com. “If that happens, the balance of power would likely shift immensely once again.”
As if the list of unrestricted free agents wasn’t crazy enough, the class could also feature restricted free agents such as Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Porter Jr., Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Collin Sexton, Mikal Bridges, Marvin Bagley III and others from the 2018 NBA Draft currently on rookie-scale deals. However, some of those players will surely be extended around the start of the 2021-22 season.
There are many big names that will be in free agency in the summer of 2022, and as the agent pointed out, there NBA could look like a very different league if there will be multiple stars on the move.
The Brooklyn Nets' big three will all be free agents if they all decline their player options: James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving look like the championship favorites this season, but if they don't end up winning a title either this season or the next, then there is a chance they could decide to split up once they hit free agency. However, if they do win a title, there would be no reason for them not to keep dominating the league.
Zach LaVine and Julius Randle are young players who will be entering their prime soon, and their teams will surely do everything in their power and try to keep them in 2022. Julius Randle has led the New York Knicks to a 4th seed position this season, while Zach LaVine became an All-Star in Chicago, and showed himself to be a top-tier scorer in this league. A lot of the time, teams want to retain talent, and these players have shown themselves worthy of a big contract.
Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry are both league-changers if they move. Both are superstars of the highest caliber, and both have shown that they can lead a team to the championship as the No. 1 option. Stephen Curry is an iconic player for the Golden State Warriors and with Klay Thompson back, they will certainly be a top-tier Western Conference team. There is no reason for Stephen Curry to leave the Warriors unless they're doing poorly. If Kawhi Leonard opts into his player option for 2021-22, then he will delay his free agency until 2022. That would allow him to try and compete for a ring with the Los Angeles Clippers next season, and re-evaluate his position after seeing the results over the course of 3 years.
Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal could potentially move if the partnership in Washington doesn't work out this season or the next, but it definitely seems like they have gelled together well this season and like playing with one another. Jimmy Butler is a good fit in Miami, and it seems unlikely that he will leave a team that he made a Finals run with especially with Bam Adebayo not yet reaching his prime. There will be other elite options for the guard position as Chris Paul and John Wall. Of those two, it seems like John Wall is more likely to leave, as he doesn't fit with a rebuilding Houston Rockets team. While Luka Doncic is a restricted free agent and will 99.9% not leave the Dallas Mavericks, it would definitely be crazy if he did. However, a lot of young restricted free agents do end up staying with their franchises.
It seems as though the 2022 free agency class could alter the NBA as we know it currently. The NBA is an exciting league in part due to the player movement, and it is fun to see different stars team up with another. When the 2022 offseason happens we could potentially see some big league-changing moves.