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Jun 28, 2024 4:08 pm

2024 NBA Free Agency Primer

Paul George

When the green flag drops on NBA free agency on Sunday, the queue of general managers ready to spend will depend on which players actually reach the open market.

Changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement permitted players to re-sign with their current teams and a number of coveted potential free agents are already off the board. Pascal Siakam ($189.5 million) returned to the Indiana Pacers, OG Anunoby ($212.5 million) is back with the Knicks, Immanuel Quickley ($175 million) agreed to stick with the Raptors, Nic Claxton (four years, $100 million) grabbed a bag in Brooklyn and Malik Monk ($78 million) re-upped with the Kings after his runner-up Sixth Man of the Year award finish.

Several other would-be free agents in line for significant paydays also signed new contracts during last season, including Grayson Allen (Suns), Mike Conley (Timberwolves) and Jrue Holliday (Celtics).

The good news for pending free agents: there’s plenty of money left. Whether teams find much talent to offer their pot of gold isn’t as certain.

Teams are permitted to negotiate with all free agents as of 6 p.m. ET on Sunday. We won’t include restricted free agents such as 76ers point guard Tyrese Maxey with the full expectation he’s ticketed for a max deal in Philadelphia.

Here’s a look at the players potentially available by expected salary tier.

Baseline of $30 million per season:
SF DeMar DeRozan, Bulls
Season 16 for DeRozan might be a new start given the emphasis he placed on being with a winning team after Chicago’s season-ending loss to the Miami Heat in the play-in round. A pairing with Joel Embiid in Philadelphia could be enticing unless the Lakers or Clippers find themselves looking to replace an All-Star of their own this summer and welcome DeRozan home.

SF Paul George, Clippers
If the Warriors are holding the door with a max contract, George might be compelled to hit the exits. He was a beneficiary of an All-Star supporting cast in L.A., but no doubt could thrive in a lineup led by Steph Curry and Draymond Green.

PG James Harden, Clippers
Pass-first Harden brought tremendous value and, dare we say, chemistry to the Clippers last season. At age 35, he can be a playmaker and floor-spacer. If there’s cause for concern, it’s durability and, in turn, longevity. He made 44 percent of his 3-pointers before the All-Star break but finished at 38.1 percent for the season.

SF LeBron James, Lakers
A perimeter shooter and elite passer at age 39, James can’t possibly be leaving the Lakers after GM Rob Pelinka selected Bronny James in the second round of the draft this week. If he does take his talents elsewhere, the list of teams LeBron James would consider at this stage is miniscule.

From the $15 million-20 million rack:
C Isaiah Hartenstein, Knicks
At 26, Hartenstein earned his reward by proving he’s an award-worthy role player for a title contender. Re-signing Anunoby and acquiring Malik Bridges from the Nets puts the Knicks in a precarious position where the options are trading Julius Randle or letting Hartenstein walk.

SG Klay Thompson, Warriors
On a short-term deal, would some team be willing to pay more? Maybe. But Thompson might not see a two-year, $48 million offer like the one he received from the Warriors last year. He’s not the same defender but can still shoot, and there’s a demand for his ultra-competitive, championship brand.

SF Buddy Hield, 76ers
If it’s 3s you need, we have just the Buddy. Hield doesn’t attack the basket or get to the foul line which causes efficiency scoring police to sound the alarm. He’s the fundamental definition of a shooter, with more 3s than anyone in the NBA the past five seasons.

F Tobias Harris, 76ers
He turns 32 in July and legions of Philly fans would be glad to drive him to the airport, but their disdain for Harris is over the top for a player who ranked in the top 56 in field goal percentage (48.7), points per game (17.2) and rebounds per game (6.5).

Best of the rest:
G D’Angelo Russell, Lakers
SF Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Nuggets
SG Gary Trent, Raptors
PG Markelle Fultz, Magic
C Jonas Valanciunas, Pelicans

–Field Level Media

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