Spotrac’s Free Agent by Position Series
2022 NBA free agency is right around the corner. This isn’t considered to be a blockbuster free agent class, but there are several impact players available. In these rankings, we took a similar approach to the one many teams use when it comes to ranking available players. Each position was broken down into tiers. The tiers are:
- All-Star: These aren’t all necessarily All-Stars, but they have the ability to be an All-Star
- Starters: These players are either starters or they produce at a starter-level of impact
- Rotation: These are solid players that should be in a team’s regular season rotation
- Fringe: These are players at the end of the bench or Two-Way players largely in the G League
Players were then ranked within their tiers. All potential free agents have been ranked, including those with pending options.
- Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets (unrestricted – player option): It was assumed Irving would opt out and re-sign with the Nets. That’s now in question after some recent reporting of a contract impasse between Irving and Brooklyn. He may be the top free agent who is actually available, if those reports prove to be true. UPDATE: Irving has opted into his $36.9M player option
- Jalen Brunson – Dallas Mavericks (unrestricted): Brunson has proven himself to a quality starter. The question now is if he’s up to the task of leading an offense himself. If so, Brunson might be a $100 million player.
- Tyus Jones – Memphis Grizzlies (unrestricted): Jones is the best backup point guard in the NBA. He’s so good that Memphis didn’t miss a beat when he stepped in as a starter for Ja Morant. He’s basically a second starter-level point guard for the Grizzlies. Or, if he was to leave Memphis, a true starter on another team.
- Russell Westbrook – Los Angeles Lakers (unrestricted – player option): Westbrook is coming off his worst NBA season, but he’s still a talented player. He’s no longer an All-Star, but Westbrook could still turn in a quality starting season. It just might not happen in Los Angeles.
- Gary Payton II – Golden State Warriors (unrestricted): Payton proved himself worthy of a nice payday by helping the Warriors to another title. He’s the best defender of this group and he’s got a better offensive game than you probably realize.
- Ricky Rubio – Indiana Pacers (unrestricted): If Rubio was healthy, he’d rank in the Starter Tier. As it is, he’s one of the better backup options available this summer. Whoever gets Rubio just may need to wait until January to see him on the floor.
- Patty Mills – Brooklyn Nets (unrestricted – player option): Mills is coming off another productive season. He’s one of the better reserve scoring guards available this summer, even if he’ll be 34 years old next season. The Nets would like to keep Mills, even if he opts out for a longer deal.
- Delon Wright – Atlanta Hawks (unrestricted): Wright’s production was down last season, but that was a function of his role vs his ability. Whoever signs him will get a high-end backup that can play both guard positions.
- John Wall – Houston Rockets (unrestricted – player option): Wall is going to opt in, because he won’t pass up on over $47 million. However, he may then work a buyout. How much he has left, after not playing for a year-and-a-half, remains to be seen. Look for Wall to eventually land with a contender as a backup/spot-starter. UPDATE: The Rockets will buyout Wall at around $41M
- Frank Jackson – Detroit Pistons (unrestricted – team option): If you believe Jackson’s shooting from 2020-21 is real, he’s a good backup. If you don’t, move on down the list. He’s also only 24 years old, so Jackson may have some untapped upside left.
- Dennis Schroder – Houston Rockets (unrestricted): If you need a scoring guard that can get you 15 PPG off the bench, Schroder is your guy. He’s also perfectly capable of being a spot-starter. The challenge comes if your team, or Schroder, wants/needs his role to be bigger than that.
- Jevon Carter – Milwaukee Bucks (unrestricted): Carter was a nice player for the Bucks. He’s one of the better defenders on this list, a better shooter than you think and he can run the offense. Carter might be a steal in free agency.
- Goran Dragic – Brooklyn Nets (unrestricted): Dragic is clearly slowing down at age-36. He struggles to stay in front of his man on defense, but he’s still crafty enough on offense to make it worth giving him a rotation spot.
- D.J. Augustin – Los Angeles Lakers (unrestricted): Augustin is a perfectly capable backup point guard. He can run an offense and his jumper is reliable. He’ll get overextended on defense if he plays too much, but for 10-15 minutes, he’s fine against backup units.
- Cory Joseph – Detroit Pistons (unrestricted – player option): Joseph will probably opt in with Detroit. He’s carved out a nice role playing as an off-ball point alongside Cade Cunningham.
- Raul Neto – Washington Wizards (unrestricted): Neto really struggled to shoot from deep last season, or he would have been higher on this list. As it is, you could do worse for a backup or third point guard.
- Kendrick Nunn – Los Angeles Lakers (unrestricted – player option): Nunn will opt in after missing the entirety of last season. If healthy, he’ll give the Lakers some scoring and ballhandling off the bench.
- Isaiah Thomas – Charlotte Hornets (unrestricted): After bouncing around from 10 Day contract to 10 Day contract, Thomas found a home in Charlotte. He’s still got some scoring and playmaking chops for a team’s bench.
- Lou Williams – Atlanta Hawks (unrestricted): Williams says he still wants to play, as he enters what will be his 18th NBA season at age-36. Williams can still do a little scoring, but he doesn’t offer much else.
- Rajon Rondo – Cleveland Cavaliers (unrestricted): Rondo is battling some off-court issues, which could keep him off a roster. If signed, he can still run an offense and make some plays as a driver.
Fringe Tier (unranked and presented in alphabetical order)
- Ryan Arcidiacono – New York Knicks (unrestricted)
- Facundo Campazzo – Denver Nuggets (restricted)
- Chris Chiozza – Golden State Warriors (restricted – Two-Way)
- Sharife Cooper – Atlanta Hawks (restricted – Two-Way)
- David Duke Jr. – Brooklyn Nets (restricted – Two-Way)
- Trent Forrest – Utah Jazz (restricted)
- Brandon Goodwin – Cleveland Cavaliers (restricted – Two-Way)
- Jared Harper – New Orleans Pelicans (restricted – Two-Way)
- Aaron Holiday – Phoenix Suns (restricted)
- Markus Howard – Denver Nuggets (restricted – Two-Way)
- Mac McClung – Los Angeles Lakers (unrestricted – Two-Way)
- Xavier Moon – LA Clippers (restricted – Two-Way)
- Elfrid Payton – Phoenix Suns (unrestricted)
- Myles Powell – Philadelphia 76ers (restricted – Two-Way)
- Lindell Wigginton – Milwaukee Bucks (restricted – Two-Way)
- Cassius Winston – Washington Wizards (restricted – Two-Way)
- McKinley Wright IV – Minnesota Timberwolves (restricted – Two-Way)
- Gabe York – Indiana Pacers (unrestricted – Two-Way)