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 NBA 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 impact contracts as much as they 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 for Paul, but if he was hoping to secure a multi-year commitment, 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 about $30 million per.
4. Kyle Lowry
Lowry, DeRozen’s former Raptors teammate, is likely headed for a change of scenery after nine seasons in Toronto. Lowry, 35, 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 for a younger option.