NBA

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan among best players in 2021 free agent class

2021 NBA free agency will begin on Monday, Aug. 2 but the 2021 free-agent class has lost a lot of star power heading into the 2020-21 season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to a five-year extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, keeping him out of free agency until 2025 at the earliest, and Paul George has also agreed to a four-year extension with the LA Clippers. Rudy Gobert joined those two in reaching an extension before the season, signing a five-year max deal with the Utah Jazz and Jrue Holiday inked a four-year deal with the Bucks in early April.

Well before the season, LeBron James came to terms on a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers before his All-NBA teammate Anthony Davis signed a five-year contract with the franchise.

So ... who does that leave?

Here are the best guards, forwards, centres and restricted free agents set to be free agents this offseason.

Guards

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (unrestricted)

In his 15th season in the NBA, Lowry is still one of the league's best point guards and is posting averages of 17.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.5 rebounds at 35 years old. It'll be interesting to see if he returns to the Raptors or signs elsewhere, whether it's in pursuit of another big payday or a better opportunity to win a title.

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (player option)

Paul has a $44.2 million player option in his contract for the 2021-22 season. At his age, it's hard to see him turning down that amount of money, making it unlikely that he'll be a free agent in 2021.

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (team option)

Dragic is in his mid-30s, but he proved he still has plenty of gas left in the tank in Miami's run to the Finals in 2019-20. Prior to tearing his plantar fascia, he led the Heat in scoring with 20.9 points per game through three rounds of the playoffs.

Dragic has a $19.4 million team option in his contract for 2021-22, so it'll be the Heat's decision if he becomes a free agent or not.

Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat (unrestricted)

Oladipo took the NBA by storm in 2017-18, earning the first All-Star selection of his career with averages of 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a league-leading 2.4 steals per game. After being traded twice in the 2020-21 season, Oladipo has landed in Miami, where he could be a part of the long-term plan should the franchise think he can return to that form.

Mike Conley, Utah Jazz (unrestricted)

After not living up to expectations in his first season with the Jazz, Conley has proven himself, earning the first All-Star appearance of his career in a contract year. As the Jazz have legitimate title hopes for a few seasons to come, they could work to ensure the 33-year-old is a part of the plan.

Others: Tim Hardaway Jr. (UFA), Will Barton (PO), Derrick Rose (UFA), Lou Williams (UFA), Dennis Schröder (UFA), JJ Redick (UFA), Evan Fournier (UFA), Danny Green (UFA), Norman Powell (PO), Spencer Dinwiddie (PO)

Forwards

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers (player option)

Leonard has a player option worth $36.0 million for the 2021-22 season. He enters the 2020-21 season with four All-Star selections, four All-NBA selections, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, two championships and two Finals MVPs to his name. If he decides to test free agency, every team in the league will be interested in signing him.

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs (unrestricted)

DeRozan is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 22.1 points and 5.6 assists per game on a career-best 53.1 percent shooting from the field. DeRozan has stopped shooting 3s to double down on what he does best, but he remains one of the NBA's best scorers and continues to improve as a passer.

Blake Griffin, Brooklyn Nets (unrestricted)

After a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons, Griffin signed a pro-rated deal with Brooklyn that will make him an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason. While not as explosive as he once was, Griffin could prove to be a valuable asset to the Nets in the postseason, thus, increasing his market as a free agent.

Others: Otto Porter Jr. (UFA), Paul Millsap (UFA), Kelly Oubre Jr. (UFA), P.J. Tucker (UFA)

Centres

Andre Drummond, Los Angeles Lakers (unrestricted)

Drummond's greatest asset is his rebounding. He's led the league in rebounding four times in his career, peaking in 2017-18 with an average of 16.0 rebounds per game. He's not a big-time scorer, but he's improved as a passer and free throw shooter in his career.

Others: Montrezl Harrell (PO), Serge Ibaka (PO), Dwight Howard (UFA), Hassan Whiteside (UFA), Aron Baynes (TO)

Restricted free agents

John Collins, F, Atlanta Hawks

Duncan Robinson, G/F, Miami Heat

Devonte' Graham, G, Charlotte Hornets

Lonzo Ball, G, New Orleans Pelicans

Jarrett Allen, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

Gary Trent Jr., G, Toronto Raptors

Lauri Markkanen, F, Chicago Bulls

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