As NBA Free Agency 2022 begins, here are the top 25 players available

The thing about free agency 2022 is that we’ve already had a lot of action considering we haven’t even gotten to the “free agency” part of the program yet. Despite this, player transactions in the form of player swaps and contract extensions are going back and forth, although no one can agree on a deal until June 30th at 18:00 GMT. (wink, wink.)

Also, this time we have a bit more mystery. There’s no guarantee that at 6:01 p.m. we’ll know the destination of every significant free agent like we did a year ago. For one, some parties are at least slightly chastised because the league docked second-round picks from the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat after the 2021 debacle. More importantly, however, some of these situations may require a little more time to play out.

Above all: the future of Deandre Ayton. The top restricted free agent in this year’s class has no obvious candidates for maximum contracts right now, as cap-room teams like the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs have become dumping grounds for others’ unwanted contracts over the past two days. Those should be the two main stalking horses for getting other teams to pay to sign their own players. Pull them off and there’s little room in the market to push free agents past the $10 million a year mark. Without such an offer sheet, Ayton’s employers in Phoenix also have no overwhelming motive to give him a budget-busting contract. The Suns would be on the verge of, if not beyond, the luxury tax with another top or near-max deal on their books.

With so little cap space in the market, where could a competing supply for it come from in the first place? With their not-quite-max space, the likely recovering but maybe not Indiana Pacers could race into Ayton or in a sign-and-trade for Myles Turner? What about the Orlando Magic, who have money and motives but seem to need more local help than another great? Could the Memphis Grizzlies come into play with their wealth of assets and $22 million in cap space? (The Grizzlies’ front office, already settled in its familiar Utah Summer League bunker, isn’t tapping into the myriad options the team faces this summer.)

Ayton’s folks will beat the bushes for sign-and-trades, but is there one that actually works? Will Ayton just sign the qualifying $16.4 million offer and try again next summer? It’s a bizarre condition. No one really thinks Ayton will be back in Phoenix… but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to construct scenarios where he’ll end up somewhere else. Something has to give way, one would think, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The other Premier Restricted Free Agent in that class, Miles Bridges, was arrested the day before free agency began. It’s unclear how that will affect interest from other teams. The Hornets made him a qualifying $7.9 million offer to return to Charlotte.

Meanwhile, some teams on the sidelines are still trying to squeeze into the game at the moment. The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to work on D’Angelo Russell deals. The Sacramento Kings could have $20 million in play if they find a home for Richaun Holmes. The Oklahoma City Thunder have 24 hours to use $23 million in leeway. Philly’s Matisse Thybulle is widely known for being available for the right fortune; You can have Furkan Korkmaz by just asking nicely. And of course Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn. He almost broke the internet before settling on his $36.5 million contract from 2022-23, but that doesn’t mean the situation there has gone away. Just because the monster is sunk under Loch Ness at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t reappear later this summer.

In contrast, some other free agent goals are already well known. Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, James Harden, Mitchell Robinson, Jusuf Nurkić and Nicolas Batum will almost certainly re-sign with their respective teams. Jalen Brunson, not so much. Donte DiVincenzo didn’t receive a qualifying offer, though Sacramento traded draft equity for him at the close, perhaps as part of a Kings cap room game contingent on another trade being made first. (Or not…but it’s the best reason I have.)

There is also activity further down the market food chain. John Wall has been bought out and will likely become a mid-level clipper through the taxpayer exemption, which in turn likely means Isaiah Hartenstein will get his payday elsewhere. The Clippers will bring back Batum and Amir Coffey, but like the Heat, they won’t let a tight situation and few draft assets stop them from circling the waters for other loot.

Harden’s opt-out in Philadelphia and subsequent re-signing to a lower cap, as reported by the athlete, is also important in this part of the market. It likely opens the door for the Sixers to sign PJ Tucker with their mid-level non-taxpayer exemption, even if the 37-year-old’s rumored three-year deal seems to tempt fate. (I say that as someone who once signed a 37-year-old to a three-year contract for full MLE.) It also opens up the Sixers’ semi-annual exception and maybe some sign-and-trades.

So, with all that being said…who is actually available to sign at the moment?

I’m glad you asked. I’ve already listed my top 25 free agents by BORD$ before free agency, as well as the BORD$ values ​​for each likely free agent at point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. These links also contain some descriptions of how the player ratings came about and where the market may differ for specific players.

This list has changed slightly due to decisions made in the past few days. Heading into the free agency opening minute, here’s what the “BORD$ board” of the top 25 free agents (and BORD$ predictions) looks like after a few opt-ins and extensions. We’ll be following this as free agency goes on:

  1. James Harden, SG, Philadelphia: $46,617,283 (up from: 2)
  2. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington: $38,520,130 (3)
  3. Zach LaVine, SG, Chicago: $31,716,188 (4)
  4. Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix (restricted): $31,406,061 (5)
  5. Miles Bridges, PF, Charlotte (restricted): $30,940,550 (6)
  6. Jalen Brunson, PG, Dallas: $29,371,294 (7)
  7. Chris Boucher, C, Toronto: $19,782,672 (8)
  8. Bruce Brown, SF, Brooklyn, $19,043,654 (9)
  9. Kyle Anderson, PF, Memphis, $18,990,342 (10)
  10. Mitchell Robinson, C, New York: $18,862,212 (11)
  11. Jusuf Nurkic, C, Portland: $17,414,518 (12)
  12. Otto Porter Jr., SF, Golden State: $16,603,510 (13)
  13. Malik Monk, SG, Lakers: $16,511,722 (14)
  14. Bobby Portis, C., Milwaukee: $15,793,989 (15)
  15. Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Sacramento: $15,551,549 (16)
  16. Montrezl Harrell, C, Charlotte: $14,730,416 (17)
  17. Delon Wright, PG/SG, Atlanta: $14,546,800 (18)
  18. Tyus Jones, PG, Memphis: $13,791,316 (19)
  19. Nicolas Batum, SF, Clippers: $13,734,340 (20)
  20. Jae’Sean Tate, PF, Houston (Restricted): $13,343,341 (NR)
  21. Kevon Looney, C, Golden State: $12,533,705 (21)
  22. Cody Martin, SG, Charlotte, (restricted): $12,366,850 (22)
  23. Anfernee Simons, PG, Portland (restricted): $11,467,484 (23)
  24. Collin Sexton, SG, Cleveland (restricted): $10,816,788 (25)
  25. Isaiah Hartenstein, LA Clippers: $10,549,849 (NR)

(Photo by Deandre Ayton: John Hefti / USA Today)

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