The future of the NBA could be on a tilt, especially if Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul decide to opt-out. The 2021 free-agent class was once upon a time deemed as one of the top classes in recent years. However, contract extensions and the pandemic have forced some stars to sign early and for less money for more job security.
With that said, there is going to be some star power out there for various teams looking to make an upgrade. Anyways, here are the top talents available this summer.
30. Talen Horton-Tucker - Restricted
8.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
We should expect the Los Angeles Lakers to be aggressive in resigning Horton-Tucker. In flashes, Horton-Tucker has shown that he can be a successful swingman scorer in this league. The writing on the wall was when we found out that the Lakers turned down a deal for Kyle Lowry that featured Horton-Tucker. Since the Lakers were not willing to part with the 20-yeard old to help them contend for a championship this season, we can likely assume that he will be back.
29. Richaun Holmes - Unrestricted
14.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG
The 27-year old center is making about $4.8 million this season for the Sacramento Kings. Holmes was dangled in trade talks but the Kings elected to keep him. That could be an indicator that the Kings will try and keep him but why would Holmes want to return? He can likely double his salary after averaging a career-high in rebounds this season. There will be some teams looking for a double-double capable center on the market.
28. Lou Williams - Unrestricted
12.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
When Williams was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, it was reported that he nearly retired from the league. Instead, it appears he is going to play out this season. The 34-year old is averaging one of his worst seasons statistically, which means that a deal for the former three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year could come cheap. Expect Williams to receive attention from teams like the Bucks, Lakers, and Nets in the offseason.
27. Spencer Dinwiddie - Player Option
6.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Dinwiddie played three games this season and was expected to be a contender for Sixth Man of the Year after averaging over 20 points in 2019. If Dinwiddie picks up his option, he will make over $11 million. Given that this was not his best season in his career, we will likely see him exercise that option.
26. Duncan Robinson - Player Option
12.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.6 APG, 0.2 BPG
Robinson is coming off a season where he averaged 44.5 % from the three-point range. This season he is shooting 39.5% from the field outside the three-point arc. If Robinson exercises his option, he will only make over $1.0 million. Robinson is expected to decline his option because he is definitely worth more than that. Robinson could be brought back by the Heat, but if not, there are plenty of teams willing to spend close to $10 million for a sharpshooter.
25. Gary Trent Jr. - Restricted
15.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Speaking of sharpshooters, Trent Jr. is having one of his best seasons statistically in his career. That is why the Toronto Raptors asked for Trent Jr. in their trade with Norman Powell. Since Trent Jr. is a restricted free agent, the Raptors can match any offer sheet presented to him. Powell was 27 years old, while Trent Jr. is 22, so maybe the Raptors wanted to get younger.
24. Mitchell Robinson - Team Option
8.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Robinson will 100% be back with the New York Knicks next season. The team option is worth just over $1.5 million and Robinson is the anchor of the NBA's best defensive unit. New head coach Tom Thibodeau found a role for Robinson, who is playing like a young DeAndre Jordan. Robinson could average a double-double next season for a fraction of the price.
23. Paul Millsap - Unrestricted
9.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG
In his career, Millsap has made quite a large amount of money, so at this point, it could boil down to winning a championship. At 35 years old, Millsap doesn't have much time left. We have seen players like Pau Gasol join franchises in hopes of helping the team contend, so Millsap could join a title contender as a key piece off the bench. Millsap remains a strong defensive presence in the post, which will help his case in making a couple of million next year.
22. Kelly Oubre Jr. - Unrestricted
15.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG
The Golden State Warriors made it clear that they would like to bring Oubre Jr. back but mentioned that it will also be up to him. The Warriors dealt a first-round pick for the 25-year old swingman but how will he fit with next year's lineup? With Klay Thompson back, Andrew Wiggins will shift back to small forward. That means Oubre Jr. would have to play a role similar to Andre Iguodala during the dynasty days. Would he be open to that and at what cost?
21. Evan Fournier - Unrestricted
19.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
The Boston Celtics took a chance by acquiring Fournier at the trade deadline as the Celtics continue to trend downwards out of the playoff standings. Fournier is in the midst of another successful scoring season and is viewed primarily as a rental in Boston. Fournier could be worth between $15 million to $20 million and the Celtics are struggling to find role players. Enjoy the ride of Fournier for this last stretch Boston fans.
20. Norman Powell - Player Option
19.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
This is a very interesting option. Powell's option for next season is worth around $10 million. He is in the midst of a career season in scoring and is shooting the ball very well. Due to the pandemic, the salary cap is going to be lower, so how much more does Powell view his worth. If he declines, he could get close to $15 million on the market; what if he doesn't? Powell could play it safe for one more season. He is only 27 years old after all and Portland has a strong team for now.
19. Tim Hardaway Jr. - Unrestricted
16.8 PPG, 3.4 RPB, 1.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG
The experiment with Hardaway Jr. is not working in Dallas, so it's time for the Mavericks to move on. When Kristaps Porzingis was out in last year's playoffs, Hardaway had a respectable postseason. However, the team's success is not showing. Luke Doncic is going to get a huge contract soon, so the team has to find supporting cast members at a fraction of the cost. Paying Hardaway Jr. $20 million does not help nor or later.
18. Goran Dragic - Team Option
13.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG
If I was a betting man, which I am, I would bet all of my money on the Miami Heat declining Dragic's team option. Dragic is beloved in Miami, especially for his grit in the NBA Finals, but for his production, he is not worth $18 million. With that said, we could see a reunion with Miami. Dragic knows his role, is well-respected, and could help Miami contend. Keep an eye on a reunion party in Miami.
17. Jarrett Allen - Restricted
11.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't acquire Allen and let Andre Drummond walk for nothing to not bring him back. Allen is 22 years old and averaging a double-double. Whatever any team in the league offers him, the Cavaliers are going to match. Case closed.
16. Lauri Markkanen - Restricted
17.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG
This is one of the biggest mysteries in basketball right now. Will the Chicago Bulls bring Markkanen back or not? The Bulls were reportedly in talks with the Phoenix Suns before the trade deadline but likely were unable to get a first-round pick in exchange. Former head coach Jim Boylen ruined one season last year but it appears that he has found his groove under Billy Donovan. With Nikola Vucevic in the fold, there are some matchups with these two that could be successful for the price, but everything comes at a price and the Bulls may not be ready to pay that.
15. Montrezl Harrell - Player Option
15.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year does not have similar numbers compared to last season, which diminishes his value. A lot of that has to do with the role he plays for the Lakers. Harrell's option is around $10 million and he is on a championship-contending team. Harrell will likely return to the Lakers.
14. Dennis Schroder - Unrestricted
15.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Schroder, the runner-up to Harrell in the Sixth Man of the Year voting, is the real mystery. Schroder has started in every game this season. His ability to run the point has allowed LeBron to return to his natural position at small forward. Schroder is going to likely ask for $20 million and that is a steep price for a Lakers team trying to win this year and next. Schroder returning is around 50/50.
13. Lonzo Ball - Restricted
14.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The New Orleans Pelicans nearly traded Ball before the trade deadline but then decided that the trade packages were not worth it. Does that mean that Ball is going to return? The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are both going to be interested, with the Bulls likely to be extremely aggressive. If New Orleans was not planning on matching any offers, then why would they keep him? Keep an eye out for this developing story.
12. LaMarcus Aldridge - Unrestricted
13.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG
As noted earlier with Millsap, Aldridge is in the part of his career where he is going to try and title chase. He couldn't get to the NBA Finals with either Portland or San Antonio, so joining the Brooklyn Nets was an easy decision. At 35 years old, the former No. 2 overall pick in 2006 has a lot of miles. The seven-time All-Star can still play and he will be sought out by contending teams this offseason.
11. Blake Griffin - Unrestricted
12.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG
His buyout companion is in a similar boat. After failing to make the Finals with the Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin had a forgettable time with the Detroit Pistons. In a career-low season statistically, Griffin would also look to help the Nets win a championship this season. Griffin, a six-time All-Star, could be worth more than Aldridge but it will be interesting to see how much the 32-year old views his worth, especially given his injury history.
10. Serge Ibaka - Player Option
10.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG
Ibaka's player option is worth around $9.5 million. It feels like Ibaka is going to wait and see how the Clippers perform in the playoffs. If the Clippers can make a run towards the NBA Finals, it will be easier for Ibaka to return. Ibaka is having a fine season and the contract is team-friendly. But, he could leave if he feels he can win somewhere else.
9. Mike Conley Jr. - Unrestricted
16.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG
At 33 years old, Conley Jr. has made all the money he could wish. After making the All-Star team for the first time in his career, he could still make more by a team searching for a point guard. However, his fit in Utah is perfect. He completes the defense, allows Donovan Mitchell to get set up without the ball, and is the veteran that the young roster needs. Utah should be a top contender for his services.
8. John Collins - Restricted
18.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.1 BPG
It's widely expected that the Atlanta Hawks are going to match whatever offer Collins gets. Collins will likely be given a contract over $20 million. The 6-foot-11, 22-year old is having another solid season scoring and rebounding. He is shooting nearly 40% from the three-point range, while his field-goal percentage is over 50% for the fourth straight season.
7. Jrue Holiday - Player Option
16.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Update: Jrue Holiday signed a 4-year extension with the Bucks, worth up to $160 million
6. Victor Oladipo - Unrestricted
20.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
The Miami Heat has options with Oladipo. When the Heat acquired him, the team didn't give away too many assets. The Heat have been connected to Bradley Beal for months. The Washington Wizards elected to wait until the season is over to make a move. If the Heat can't swing a deal for Beal, the team could look to sign Oladipo as Plan B. Oladipo is not going to get max-contract level money, but he is around the Jrue Holiday price range.
5. Andre Drummond - Unrestricted
17.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG
Drummond has been reported saying that he will only sign a max-level contract, which makes sense given his stats this season. Drummond was benched after the Cavaliers could not find a trade partner, which led to the Lakers picking him up for a championship run. There is not a single team linked to Drummond's services but the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks are a few teams that could use a dominant center.
4. Kyle Lowry - Unrestricted
17.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Lowry wants to retire a Toronto Raptor but is bringing the 35-year old back for a premium the right idea? We have seen other franchises like the New York Giants with Eli Manning make emotional contract decisions that set the franchise back two to three years. Lowry will always be loved after his efforts for bringing a title to Toronto. The fact at hand is that the Raptors are a bad team right now and Lowry is older. The team nearly traded him but couldn't get the package they wanted. It might be time for both sides to move on.
3. DeMar DeRozan - Unrestricted
20.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
DeRozan was once linked to the Denver Nuggets at the trade deadline but it appears that Gregg Popovich wants to ride the playoffs at least one more season. DeRozan is only 31 years old and continues to put up solid numbers. He could command a max-contract after this season but where is his best fit? The New York Knicks could be a prime suitor given Thibodeau's liking for veterans and the team's need for offense.
2. Chris Paul - Player Option
16.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Who is going to turn down $44 million? That's all you need to ask yourself when wondering if Chris Paul is going to return to the Phoenix Suns or not. The Suns are the No. 2 teams in the Western Conference right now, so at least the team is winning. Is the team a title contender? Well, it's hard to build a supporting cast when that amount of money is geared at one player but the core of this year's team will be back to run it back at least one more time. We should not expect to see Paul hitting the market anytime soon.
1. Kawhi Leonard - Player Option
25.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
One of two things is going to happen here. Option one is the Clippers are going to make the Western Conference Finals, or preferably the NBA Finals if you are connected to the Clippers. If the Clippers lose anywhere here, then Leonard should pick up his $36 million option. If the Clippers lose in the first round or the second round like last season, there is going to be league-wide speculation that Leonard will not pick up his option. Leonard wants to win and he has made that very clear. This postseason is one of the biggest in team history. A title and their star player are both on the line.