Free Agency 2021

2021 NBA Free Agency: Ranking the best players available

Free agency will be here before you know it.

At 6:00 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 2, teams can begin negotiating with free agents. At 12:01 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, teams can begin signing free agents.

MORE: Free agency tracker

This free-agent class isn't as loaded as it once had the potential to be, but it features three All-Star veterans in Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Mike Conley. Additionally, two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has until Aug. 1 to decide if he wants to test free agency, as does 11-time All-Star Chris Paul.

With that in mind, who are the best players set to hit free agency this offseason?

1. Kawhi Leonard, F, LA Clippers

Status: Player option

Leonard has a $36.0 million player option in his contract for the 2020-21 season. If he declines it, he will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

A five-time All-Star, two-time champion, two-time Finals MVP and one-time Defensive Player of the Year, our NBA.com Staff had Leonard as the league's fifth-best player entering the second half of this season. He's expected to miss some of next season after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn ACL, but that shouldn't prevent him from getting the contract he's looking for if he does decline his player option.

MORE: Expert medical analysis on Leonard's injury | Leonard's contract options with Clippers

2. Chris Paul, G, Phoenix Suns

Status: Player option

Like Leonard, Paul has a player option in his contract for the 2021-22 season worth $44.2 million. The expectation is that he'll remain with the Suns, whether he opts into his player option or declines it to sign a new deal with the franchise, but there will be no shortage of interest in Paul if he does choose to become a free agent.

A future Hall of Famer, Paul earned his 11th All-Star selection and 10th All-NBA selection this season.

3. Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors

Status: Unrestricted

Lowry's streak of six straight All-Star appearances came to an end this season, but he's still one of the league's best point guards. There are a number of teams that would benefit from his playmaking, shooting, defence and leadership.

In his exit interview, Lowry said that his family will be a major factor in his free-agent decision, adding "money talks and years talk" and that championships are "a big key to why I play this game." The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to pursue Lowry in free agency, and the Miami Heat were reportedly interested in him at this season's trade deadline.

MORE: Free agent destinations for Lowry

4. DeMar DeRozan, G/F, San Antonio Spurs

Status: Unrestricted

DeRozan enters free agency following one of the best seasons of his career, leading the Spurs with 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field. What he lacks in 3-point shooting and on defence he makes up for with his efficient playmaking, both as a scorer and passer. In the right situation, he can provide a big boost offensively to a team.

MORE: Free agent destinations for DeRozan

5. Mike Conley, G, Utah Jazz

Status: Unrestricted

Conley earned the first All-Star selection of his career in 2020-21 with averages of 16.2 points, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He had the best 3-point shooting season of his career, knocking down 2.7 3-pointers per game at a 41.2 percent clip.

Conley has long been one of the league's steadiest point guards.

6. John Collins, F, Atlanta Hawks

Status: Restricted

Collins played a key role in Atlanta's run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Though his scoring dropped from 17.6 points per game in the regular season to 13.9 points per game in the playoffs, he was an efficient source of offence for the Hawks and took on some tough defensive matchups.

A high-flyer who has grown as a shooter and post-up scorer since entering the league, NBA.com's Juan Estevez ranked Collins as the best power forward in this class.

7. Lonzo Ball, G, New Orleans Pelicans

Status: Restricted

The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Ball hasn't become the star many thought he had the potential to be coming into the league, but he's developed into a reliable 3-point shooter (37.6 percent on 7.2 attempts per game over the last two seasons) and disruptive defender, in addition to being a gifted passer.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, New Orleans is "unlikely" to match a significant offer sheet for Ball, who will be a restricted free agent.

8. Jarrett Allen, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

Status: Restricted

Standing at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, Allen is a massive presence in the paint. He uses his size well to protect the rim and finish around the basket, helping him post averages of 10.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 61.1 percent shooting from the field through four seasons of his career.

The Cavaliers acquired Allen from the Brooklyn Nets as a part of the James Harden deal and he quickly replaced Andre Drummond as the team's starting center. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com expects Allen's extension to be in the $100 million range, adding that the Cavaliers have "sent clear signals" that he isn't going anywhere.

9. Norman Powell, G/F, Portland Trail Blazers

Status: Player option

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Powell will decline his player option for next season, paving the way for him to be an unrestricted free agent. While re-signing him is said to be Portland's "top priority," he will reportedly have a number of suitors.

Powell averaged a career-best 18.6 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting from the field and 41.1 percent from 3-point range in the 2020-21 season. One of the best bucket-getters in this free-agent class.

10. Duncan Robinson, G/F, Miami Heat

Status: Restricted

Over the last two seasons, only two players have made more 3-pointers than Robinson (520): Damian Lillard (545) and Buddy Hield (553). Not only that, but Robinson made them at a 42.7 percent clip. An elite spot-up threat who is as good as it gets at scoring off of screens, Robinson is the best shooter in this free-agent class.

Other notable free agents

  • Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Brooklyn Nets (PO) - Averaged a career-best 20.6 points per game in 2019-20 but appeared in only three games this season due to a partially torn ACL. Would otherwise be higher on this list.
  • Dennis Schroder, G, Los Angeles Lakers (UFA) - Last season's runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year, Schroder remains one of the best point guards in this free-agent class despite an inconsistent season with the Lakers.
  • Derrick Rose, G, New York Knicks (UFA)
  • Devonte' Graham, G, Charlotte Hornets (RFA)
  • Goran Dragic, G, Miami Heat (TO)
  • Victor Oladipo, G, Miami Heat (UFA) - A two-time All-Star and one-time All-Defensive First Team selection, but injuries have limited Oladipo to 88 games over the last three regular seasons.
  • Will Barton, G/F, Denver Nuggets (PO)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., G/F, Dallas Mavericks (UFA) - Stepped up in a big way for the Mavericks in the playoffs, ranking second on the team in scoring with 17.0 points on 40.4 percent shooting from 3-point range.
  • Evan Fournier, G/F, Boston Celtics (UFA)
  • Kelly Oubre Jr., Golden State Warriors (UFA)
  • Lauri Markannen, F/C, Chicago Bulls (RFA)
  • Serge Ibaka, F/C, LA Clippers (PO)
  • Richaun Holmes, C, Sacramento Kings (UFA) - Holmes has become one of the league's better rollers and cutters at the center position. He's also a solid rim protector, swatting 1.4 blocks per game over the last two seasons.
  • Montrezl Harrell, C, Los Angeles Lakers (PO)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Los Angeles Lakers (UFA)
  • Kelly Olynyk, C, Houston Rockets (UFA)

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