The NBA Trade Deadline is approaching faster than we know. That means that some players are going to be on the move and some teams are going to solidify their identity. The deadline doesn’t always mean players are going to be on the move. Some teams would rather test their luck in free agency, so we will have to wait until the offseason to see some real movement.
Not all teams like to take a risk on upcoming free agents either. There is no guarantee that they will stay and you don’t want to pack up the future for them either. These 20 players could be free agents in 2022 and are likely top trade targets for the next few weeks. If they don’t get moved now, they could be on the move in the summer.
These are the top 20 free agents in the class of 2022.
20. Thaddeus Young - Unrestricted, San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 Stats: 6.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Before you look at Young’s stat line and his 13.9 minutes per game, you have to understand that Young is in a tough draw. He was traded to the Spurs, who are playing their young players for their development. When Young is on the floor, he is making 57.3% of his shots despite there being a small quantity.
Last year, Young was a key part of the Bulls’ offense and he is only 33 years old. He turns 34 years old in June. Young may not get a huge payday this offseason, but expect a team like the Nets, Lakers, or even Bulls to look to offer a veteran’s minimum to have him help them contend for a championship, just like Jeff Green did for the Nets last year.
19. Ricky Rubio - Unrestricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Rubio was a very nice addition to the Cavaliers. He ran the second unit exceptionally well when he subbed in the game for Garland. The Cavaliers will need to make it a priority to re-sign Rubio for next season, assuming that he is healthy from a knee injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Rubio is finishing a contract that paid him $17 million this season. Rubio is likely not going to be worth that type of money to a lot of teams, but maybe the Cavaliers can get a discount given his injury this season and if they offer a multi-year deal. If not, Rubio is only 31 years old and can still play at a fairly high level.
18. Gary Harris - Unrestricted, Orlando Magic
2021-22 Stats: 11.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Harris was a prospect sent to Orlando in the Aaron Gordon trade last season. It remains unseen how interested the Magic are in retaining Harris, who is 27 years old. Harris has proven to be a starter on a non-contending team. If he was willing to take less money, some likely contenders would love to bring in his outside shooting.
Harris has similar traits as a player like Bryn Forbes. Harris could return to help with a young Magic franchise, but the team is not going to be contending for a few more years. For now, it seems more likely that Harris is going to leave than stay.
17. TJ Warren - Unrestricted, Indiana Pacers
2021-22 Stats: None
When Warren played in the bubble, he showed that he is a dangerous scorer on offense. His 19.8 points per game at the age of 26 gave the team hope of moving forward with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Now, the team is looking towards the lottery and could be mounting a fire sale at the deadline.
Warren has played only four games since the end of the 2019-2020 season. With his injury history, Warren is likely going to be offered a one-year deal to prove his worth. Given his history, which is an average of 15.5 points per game, this could be a low-risk, high-reward situation for a team needing offense.
16. Malik Monk - Unrestricted, Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG
After a 33-point outburst from Monk against the Hawks, he is playing some of his best basketball right now. That one-year deal will likely pay off for Monk down the line. Monk is shooting career-highs from the field and three-point range this season, which means he is on track to receive a multi-year deal from a team.
Monk is shooting 41% from three-point range this season as the lefty has finally looked the version that the Hornets wished he would turn into when they burned a lottery pick. Monk was brought in for these exact reasons, so he is worth every penny spent this season. Now, he should get a raise.
15. Robert Covington - Unrestricted, Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 Stats: 7.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 BPG
When the Trail Blazers traded a first-round pick to get Covington, he was supposed to be the missing link to get the team to the Finals. Covington was a 3-and-D player that would fit right next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. While Covington’s defense has been sound, his scoring has significantly dropped.
With that said, Covington has consistently shot 40% from the field and around 35% from the three-point range. He is only 31 years old, so a two to a three-year deal seems likely. Resigning in Portland seems unlikely given that the team has not been competing at a high level. There will be many suitors for his services.
14. John Wall - Player Option, Houston Rockets
2021-22 Stats: None
Before the season began, the Rockets had intentions of moving on from Wall. They believed that they could find a trade partner for the veteran guard. After all, Wall was coming off a somewhat successful season where he averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. The only problem was that Wall’s contract was worth $44 million, so we stand here today with Wall not appearing in a single game this season.
Wall being traded before the trade deadline is extremely unlikely. At this point, a buyout seems just as unlikely. We could see Wall go the full season without playing a game. If that happens, he will have to make a choice. Money or playing time. If he chooses money, he will be compensated very nicely as his $47 million player’s option could make him a very rich man.
13. Andre Drummond - Unrestricted, Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 Stats: 6.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG
When Drummond left the Cavaliers, he had all the momentum of a max contract happening last summer. Then, he never really fit with the Lakers and it showed some weaknesses. Drummond took a one-year deal with the 76ers and he is showing numbers that are backup center equivalent.
Here’s what we know about Drummond. Last year, Drummond was averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds with the Cavaliers. He is only 28 years old, which means he has plenty of prime left in him. Those are teams that could use an athletic bruiser like him, so we shouldn’t take much stock into these numbers. He is backing up Joel Embiid on a team that could play in the Eastern Conference Finals this season.
12. Dennis Schroder - Unrestricted, Boston Celtics
2021-22 Stats: 14.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Schroder, the runner-up in the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year voting, thought he was going to get a high-paying contract last year. It didn’t happen and he settled for a one-year deal with Boston. Now, his recent play has soured his stock somewhat, which means a team could get him for cheap. It depends on what he values himself.
When on the floor, Schroder is a very athletic guard that could lead a second unit. He needs to get back to being an option off the bench because that is where he plays his best basketball, as evidenced by his 18.9 points per game with the Thunder two years ago. Someone is looking at that year and thinking we need that for our bench.
11. Montrezl Harrell - Unrestricted, Washington Wizards
2021-22 Stats: 13.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Since winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2020, Harrell has seen his play somewhat drop in the last few years. Last year, Harrell didn’t fit in with the Lakers group. This year, Harrell is pushing for a new career-high in field goal percentage and is currently shooting above 65% from the field. He is also pushing a new career-high in rebounds as well.
Harrell is a high-energy guy that could give a team a boost off the bench. Harrell remains in his prime years at 28, so that is appealing too. The market for Harrell will be intriguing because backup centers that cannot shoot the three don’t always get lucrative multi-year deals.
10. Bobby Portis - Player Option, Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 Stats: 14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
If Portis left Milwaukee, many fans would be disappointed. Portis is the energy bunny that has turned into a starting-caliber small-ball center for the Bucks. Portis has a player option worth $4.5 million and he is averaging numbers that surpass that total. This decision could come down to what Portis ultimately wants.
Portis has a chance to cash in on an opportunity if he declines his option. However, he is in a very good situation. The fans in town love him. He has a role that he flourishes in. He is winning and could contend for another title down the line. Then again, money can sometimes do all of the talking.
9. Jusuf Nurkic - Unrestricted, Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 Stats: 14.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
When looking at options around the league, you could see a team like the Hornets, Mavericks, and Grizzlies gauge interest in Nurkic. The most realistic option is that he returns to the Trail Blazers. There are not a lot of options for centers that are only useful inside the paint and close to the rim.
While Nurkic is a great rebounder and strong, physical player, he lacks shooting in today’s modern game. The Trail Blazers will need to be careful. They already overpaid for Norman Powell. They cannot afford to do it with Nurkic too.
8. Collin Sexton - Restricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.0 BPG
The direction of Collin Sexton and the Cavaliers is a mystery that many of us are trying to figure out. Sexton was once seen as the foundational player for when the team wanted to compete. Now, the team is competing without him and his future looks murky. The team seems to be fine with Darius Garland moving forward, who they will have to play next season.
Sexton getting hurt this year hurt the chances of trading him and getting value in return. Now, Sexton will likely walk with nothing in return. The chances of him getting a max contract are slim but possible. With that said, the Cavaliers could offer him a one-year qualifying offer to retain his rights and allow him to prove his worth.
7. Miles Bridges - Restricted, Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 Stats: 20.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Bridges is the frontrunner for Most Improved Player of the Year. Now, Michael Jordan will have an important decision to make. Jordan has a rough past of paying too much money for players that give little value in return. Bridges is having a great season, but what if that is all it is. Luckily, it’s not our call.
If the Hornets wanted to offer a max contract, Bridges could make up to five years and $172 million. That is a strong pitch that his agent can sell given his success this season. With that said, the Hornets will likely look to push back based on his success the previous three seasons. Either way, the combination of Bridges and LaMelo Ball could be a growing All-Star tandem.
6. Russell Westbrook - Player Option, Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Westbrook could try and sign a max contract by declining his player’s option, but we are not going to get into any of that. There is no word that Westbrook will or should decline his option. With the way that he is playing right now, all indicators point to Westbrook exercising his $47 million player’s option.
Now, you can never say never. There is always that idea of Westbrook choosing to take less money to help the Lakers create a contender or join a contender. Remember, Westbrook has not played in the NBA Finals since 2012 and does not own a ring. If Westbrook decided to forget the money, that will make everything very interesting.
5. Deandre Ayton - Restricted, Phoenix Suns
2021-22 Stats: 16.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG
In the middle of the year, we heard that contract talks with the Suns had ended with no new deal on the table. Ayton saw fellow draft classmates Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all sign deals with their teams for max contracts. What we heard through the rumor mill was that the Suns and Ayton had different ideas about the price tag.
That means that the Suns have not committed to giving Ayton a five-year, $172 million contract. The Suns can offer Ayton the most money, but the question is do they want to? Ayton has blossomed with Chris Paul at the helm. That is clear. However, if Ayton doesn’t feel valued, he could look to see a max contract elsewhere, which would be worth four years and $127 million. This will be an interesting development for a player that has rising All-Star status.
4. Bradley Beal - Player Option, Washington Wizards
2021-22 Stats: 23.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Beal has the option of exercising his $36 million player’s option, but we should assume that he is going to decline it. Here is why. Beal is finishing up his 10th season in the league, which means that if he opts out, he will qualify for a max contract extension worth five years and $207 million if he remains with the Wizards.
For parts of the last two seasons, Beal has been under speculation of leaving Washington via trade. Now that the Wizards have fallen from the top ranks, he is back under that microscope. If Beal is not traded, all eyes will be on contract extension talks. If he chooses to leave Washington, there will surely be a team looking to offer the four-year $179 million max contract they can offer.
3. Kyrie Irving - Player Option, Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 Stats: 25.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Irving is in a similar position as James Harden as he could opt for free agency to sign a max contract with either the Nets or another team. He could pick up his player option worth $36 million for next season. There is a lot to go into this decision though.
For starters, Irving is only a part-time player, so it’s unlikely the Nets want to sign a supermax contract with him. There’s also the idea that Irving could quit basketball altogether. We have seen him nearly walk away back-to-back seasons now. This decision is going to come solely on Irving, but if he remains in the free-agent pool, he will be highly coveted.
2. Zach LaVine - Unrestricted, Chicago Bulls
2021-22 Stats: 24.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 BPG
The Bulls made a major financial commitment to DeMar DeRozan over the offseason and that worked tremendously. Could they do the same for LaVine for next year? LaVine will be eligible to earn a five-year, $207 million deal if he stays with the Bulls. If he chooses to leave, he can sign a four-year, $153 million deal elsewhere.
The ideal situation is that he stays with the Bulls for money and team purposes. The combination of DeRozan and LaVine is working and both are likely going to be All-Stars this month. The team has the right pieces and superstars, so the Bulls should make it a priority to keep one of their top players, who will be turning only 27 years old this season.
1. James Harden - Player Option, Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 Stats: 23.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 10.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Harden will have a big decision to make. He can exercise his player's option for $47.3 million next season to remain with the Nets. If he does that, he will play on a one-year deal and likely not resign with the team in 2023. However, he could stay with the team on a longer basis for more money down the line if he opts for free agency.
Harden will be eligible to sign a five-year, $241 million contract that starts paying him $42.6 million with a final salary of $54.9 million if he resigns with the Nets. If he joins another team, he can sign a max contract worth four years, $179 million. With Kevin Durant already signed a supermax contract, decisions will loom for both Harden, Irving, and the Nets down the line.