Ranking the top 30 NBA free agents in 2022

Top 30 NBA free agents in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The 2022 NBA free agency period may not be defined by player movement, but it certainly has a lot of talent, especially in the backcourt. Of the 30 free agents presented in these rankings, 13 are guards.

Free agency is set to start on June 30, starting at 6 p.m. ET. Teams will be able to agree to contracts with free agents at that point, but can’t make those deals official until July 6.

PO = Player option | RFA = Restricted free agent

1. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (PO)

Update: Irving picked up his player option and will play the 2022-23 season in Brooklyn

Irving has stated his desire to re-sign with the Nets and continue to play alongside Kevin Durant. The contract length and value will be interesting to see after a tumultuous season for the Nets, which included Irving’s stretch as a part-time player after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

2. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (PO)

Update: Beal agreed to a five-year, $251 million contract with the Wizards

Beal is another star guard free agent expected to re-up with his current team. Beal can opt out of the final year of his contract and will be eligible for a five-year, $245 million max contract with the Wizards. Washington is the only team that can offer him that kind of deal.

3. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (PO)

Harden’s had an uneven stint in Philadelphia so far, but if he decides to decline his player option and become a free agent, the Sixers won’t have much of a choice but to pay him what he wants. The Sixers can’t afford to lower their ceiling with Joel Embiid after sending away Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks for Harden at the trade deadline.

4. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

LaVine is the best player who’s guaranteed to his unrestricted free agency on August 2. He helped lead the Bulls to their first playoff berth since 2017 and collected back-to-back All-Star selections over the last two seasons. A max contract is likely in order for the 27-year-old.

5. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (RFA)

The Suns had a chance to sign Ayton to a rookie-scale extension before this season began, but the two sides couldn’t agree on terms. Whether the Suns go deep into the luxury tax for Ayton to keep their core together long-term is one of the bigger storylines of the 2022 offseason.

6. Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks

Update: Brunson agreed to a four-year, $104 million contract with the Knicks

There isn’t another player in the playoffs who’s made more money for himself than Jalen Brunson. He carried the Mavericks’ offense through most of their first-round series win over the Jazz as Luka Doncic nursed a calf strain. Brunson is now a crucial piece to the Mavs’ success and he won’t be cheap come negotiation time.

7. Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (RFA)

Bridges was arrested on a felony domestic violence warrant on the eve of free agency. He was released Wednesday on $130,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on July 20. The Hornets released a statement a day later, stating they are aware of Bridges’ situation and are gathering information on the matter. The 24-year-old wing averaged a career-high 20.2 points per game in 2021-22 and was expected to command near a max contract in restricted free agency.

8. Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (RFA)

Update: Simons agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract with the Trail Blazers

With CJ McCollum gone, Simons is the Blazers’ best backcourt partner for Damian Lillard. Whether Lillard is long for Portland, the Blazers would be keen to get Simons signed as a core piece moving forward.

9. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers (RFA)

Depending on what happens with Ayton, Sexton may be the best restricted free agent who’s likely to change teams this offseason. His injury allowed Darius Garland to take full control of the offense and while the Cavs need to add more talent, a small scoring guard isn’t exactly a need for them. A sign-and-trade for Sexton, similar to how the Bulls acquired Lonzo Ball, could be a way for Cleveland to address a few needs and get Sexton in a better situation.

10. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers

Nurkic is a good player, a bonafide starter who can provide value in the post, on the glass and as a passer. His defense and perimeter shooting have kept him from ascending as one of the league’s best big men, but he’ll still have plenty of suitors this summer.

11. Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets

Update: Brown agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract with the Nuggets

Brown was one of the few sources of stability for the Nets all year. He’s a guard, but he plays the game more like a playmaking big man, setting screens and making plays out of the short roll when defenses send help toward Durant or Irving. He’s also a great defender on a team in need of great defenders, so there’s a good chance Brown lands himself a nice payday this summer.

12. Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers

Update: Monk agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract with the Kings.

Monk was probably the only successful 2021 offseason acquisition by the Lakers, but is he going to be too expensive for them now? He averaged a career-high 13.8 points while shooting 47.3% from the floor and 39.1% on threes. The Lakers need shooting and athleticism, but they might get priced out on Monk unless they want to go even further into the tax for a team that failed to make the postseason this year.

13. John Wall, Houston Rockets

Update: Wall reached a buyout agreement with the Rockets and will be an unrestricted free agent

Wall has only played in 40 games over the last three seasons and has a player option for $47 million. If he opts out or takes a buyout from the Rockets, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to contribute elsewhere. Wall at a $9 million salary is probably a lot more palatable for teams than Wall at $47 million.

14. Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers (PO)

Westbrook picked up his option to return to the Lakers for 2022-23

Westbrook has the same $47 million player option Wall does, and after an objectively bad debut season in LA, it’s possible the Lakers trade him to reshuffle their roster. If he opts in, it’ll be difficult for the Lakers to find a trade partner. If he opts out, he could find a new team and role that better suits his skill set.

15. Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (PO)

Update: Portis agreed to a four-year, $49 million contract with the Bucks

Portis took a little less money than expected last summer after helping the Bucks win a title as a key reserve. He was solid once again this season, so opting out wouldn’t be the worst idea from a financial perspective. Whether the Bucks would pay a lot to keep him remains to be seen.

16. Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks: Matthews agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks

17. JaMychal Green, Denver Nuggets (PO): Green picked up his player option for 2022-23.

18. Joe Ingles, Portland Trail Blazers: Ingles agreed to a one-year, $6.3 million deal with the Bucks

19. PJ Tucker, Miami Heat: Tucker agreed to a three-year, $33.2 million deal with the Sixers 

20. Donte DiVincenzo, Sacramento Kings

21. Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat: Oladipo agreed to a one-year, $11 million deal with Miami.

22. JaVale McGee, Phoenix Suns: McGee agreed to a three-year, $20.1 million deal with the Mavericks

23. Montrezl Harrell, Charlotte Hornets

24. Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies: Anderson agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal with the Timberwolves

25. Andre Drummond, Brooklyn Nets: Drummond agreed to a two-year, $6.6 million deal with the Bulls

26. Thaddeus Young, Toronto Raptors: Young returned to the Raptors on a two-year, $16 million contract

27. Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets (RFA): Claxton agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Nets

28. Goran Dragic, Brooklyn Nets

29. Marvin Bagley III, Detroit Pistons (RFA): Bagley agreed to a three-year, $37 million contract with the Pistons

30. Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards

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