As the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics winds down, it’s never too early to look towards the 2023 season as the Offshore Sports Books are already looking towards the next winner. Some of next year’s success will come via a good draft, but free agency is the primary thing to watch as teams transition into the offseason.
NBA free agency starts on June 30th, when teams can begin negotiating deals. Contracts can’t officially be signed until early August, so we’ve still got a whole Summer of rumors and gossip. Let’s take a look at the players that will be highly coveted in the coming weeks:
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (UFA)
Most of the talk in the Windy City – even as the Bulls made the playoffs for the first time in 5 years – was whether or not LaVine is a max contract player. He’s a 24.4 ppg scorer and still just 27 years old, but he also battled knee injuries this season and throughout his career. There were rumors of LaVine wanting to return to the West Coast where he is from (Washington), but Chicago can also offer five years and $200 million.
Kyrie Irving, Nets (Player Option)
With COVID hopefully in the rear view mirror and New York lifting its testing requirements late last season, Irving can return to being a full-time player. He has a $36.5 million player option for next year, which would be his fourth in Brooklyn. Irving could decline and be eligible for a 5-year, $246 million deal from the Nets, but he hasn’t liked to stay with a team that long so far in his career.
James Harden, Sixers (Player Option)
Harden and Philadelphia are in an interesting spot from both sides. Harden has a player option for $47.4 million next year, which he won’t get on the open market after averaging just 22.0 ppg last season and looking all of his 32 years of age. The 76ers also can’t let him go, though, as they would have gotten essentially a ½ year of work for giving up Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, and Seth Curry at the trade deadline.
Bradley Beal (Player Option)
At what point does Beal get sick of losing in Washington? Probably never as long as he’s able to cash a $248 million check which only the Wizards can offer him if he decides not to exercise a $36.4 million player option. Beal could be the chip a team needs to get them over the hump if he does go into full free agency, but by all reports, that’s a big ‘if’ right now.
Jalen Brunson (UFA)
Dallas could have re-upped Brunson for 4-years, $55 million last offseason, but they rolled the dice – and it came up craps. Brunson proved he could be option 1A for a team by scoring 72 points in the playoffs in two games that Luka Doncic missed. Brunson may have earned himself an extra $30 million with his play this season – and on a side note, the Knicks just hired his dad as an assistant coach.