The NBA’s 2021 free agent class may not have the headliners there have been in the past, but there are still a number of high-impact players who could hit the open market.
We ran through 10 of the top players that could do so when free agency begins Aug. 2. And for our exercise we included a handful of those set to hit the restricted free agent market, as well as a few who have player options.
Anyway, here we go:
1. Kawhi Leonard
The Los Angeles Clippers forward has a $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season. Leonard, 29, is recovering from a torn ACL, but the reality is that injuries don’t hinder interest as much as they once did. Of course, Leonard could opt to remain with the Clippers, who advanced to the Western Conference Finals without the two-time champion, but teams like the Mavericks and Heat reportedly are among those interested.
2. Chris Paul
The 36-year-old point guard, who just helped the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals, has a player option worth $44.2 million heading into the upcoming season. It’s probably going to be hard pass on that amount of money, but if Paul was hoping to secure a multi-year deal, or join a team posed for a NBA title (cough, cough Lakers), it could happen.
3. DeMar DeRozen
DeRozen, 31, could have be the headliner for last summer’s free agent class, but opted into his final season with the San Antonio Spurs amid an uncertain climate. He earned just shy of $28 million during the 2020-21 season, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get a two- or three-year deal worth $30 million per.
4. John Collins
The Hawks’ 23-year-old big is a restricted free agent so it’s no certainty he moves on from Atlanta. He concludes his rookie contract as one of the best available young players, averaging 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in his four-year career.
5. Kyle Lowry
Lowry, DeRozen’s former Raptors teammate, is likely headed for a change of scenery after nine seasons in Toronto. The 35-year-old is a six-time NBA All-Star who continues to be productive. He’s arguably the best point guard on the open market, though teams could opt to go younger.
6. Lonzo Ball
Ball, 23, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft which landed Jayson Tatum with the Boston Celtics. A true point guard, Ball is a restricted free agent and was reported to be in trade talks at the NBA trade deadline. He was drafted and traded by the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal for Anthony Davis.
7. Mike Conley
Conley, 33, has concluded a contract which paid him $152.6 million over five years, the final two campaigns of which he spent with the Utah Jazz. He was named a NBA All-Star for the first time in his 14 year career last season, averaging 16.2 points and 6.0 assists per game.
8. Dennis Schroder
Schroder, 27, reportedly turned down an extension for four years and $80 million from the Lakers, perhaps setting his expectations on what he hopes to get in free agency. He’s among the best two-way guards set to hit the open market after earning $15.5 million last season, but still could regret turning down a deal to remain in LA.
9. Jarrett Allen
The Cavaliers center, 23, is a restricted free agent and it is likely Cleveland doesn’t let him go elsewhere after acquiring him in the James Harden trade that also pushed Andre Drummond out of town. Allen averaged a double-double of 12.8 points and 10 rebounds per game during the 2020-21 season.
10. Norman Powell
Powell, 28, is among the question marks in Portland this offseason. A shooting guard who played for both the Raptors and Blazers last season, Powell scored a career-best 18.6 points on 41 percent from long range last season. Could he opt to re-sign in Portland, who traded for him, if the Damian Lillard situation works out?
— Spencer Dinwiddie ($12.3 million player option)
— Richaun Holmes
— Evan Fournier
— Lauri Markkanen (restricted)
— Kelly Oubre Jr.
— Tim Hardaway Jr.
— Victor Oladipo
— Duncan Robinson (restricted)
— Gary Trent Jr. (restricted)
— Devonte Graham (restricted)