The 2020-21 NBA season is complete, and that means free agency is right around the corner.
After signing with the Clippers just two years ago, Kawhi Leonard could once again become an unrestricted free agent and send NBA Twitter into a frenzy. He has a player option for the 2021-22 season, but he could decline that option in order to sign a new contract. The most likely scenario is Leonard reaching some sort of agreement with Los Angeles as he continues to recover from an ACL injury he suffered during the 2021 playoffs, though no one truly knows what he will do.
Beyond Leonard, this year’s class of free agents is filled with talented point guards who should earn big paydays, including Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley. There are a few general managers with cap space that will be trying to pry those guys away from their current teams and elevate their franchises.
And don’t forget that trade rumors will be lingering in the background. Will the 76ers move Ben Simmons? Will Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard request a trade? As Kevin Garnett once said, “Anything is possible.”
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of NBA free agency, including the top available players and teams with the most cap space.
When does NBA free agency start?
NBA free agency will kick off on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET. Teams can begin negotiating with free agents at that time, though the reality is many of those conversations have already happened.
Most contracts can’t officially be signed until Aug. 6 at 12:01 p.m. ET. However, many players will agree to the terms of a contract verbally before putting pen to paper.
NBA free agency 2021: Player rankings
|Free agent||Current team||Contract status|
|1. Kawhi Leonard||Clippers||Player option|
|2. Chris Paul||Suns||Player option|
|3. Kyle Lowry||Raptors||Unrestricted|
|4. John Collins||Hawks||Restricted|
|5. Mike Conley||Jazz||Unrestricted|
|6. DeMar DeRozan||Spurs||Unrestricted|
|7. Lonzo Ball||Pelicans||Restricted|
|8. Jarrett Allen||Cavaliers||Restricted|
|9. Dennis Schroder||Lakers||Unrestricted|
|10. Duncan Robinson||Heat||Restricted|
NBA free agency 2021: Teams with most projected cap space
The salary cap for the 2021-22 season is expected to jump up by only three percent, which would put the cap at approximately $112.4 million. If that number holds, the luxury tax would be around $136.6 million.
There are pathways to creating significant cap space for a few teams this offseason, but keep in mind they would have to let their own free agents walk in order to maximize flexibility.
(Estimates courtesy of ESPN’s Bobby Marks)
|Team||Possible cap space|
|1. Spurs||$50 million|
|2. Knicks||$47 million|
|3. Pelicans||$36 million|
|4. Thunder||$36 million|
|5. Bulls||$32 million|
|6. Heat||$21.5 million|
|7. Hornets||$20.5 million|
|8. Mavericks||$19 million|