Top 5 NBA free agents of 2021

Unlike last offseason, we’re going to see a ton of top end NBA free agents in 2021. Players like future Hall of Famers Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul will likely opt out of their contracts.

Meanwhile, there’s a large amount of talented youngsters set to become restricted free agents. That list includes Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins and Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Below, we look at the top 25 NBA free agents of 2021.

When does NBA free agency start?

We don’t necessarily have a firm grasp on this due to the delayed nature of the 2020-21 season brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. What we do know is that the 2021 NBA Draft is slated to t

The Oladipo situation is complicated by the fact that he was acquired by Miami from the disastrous Houston Rockets on the cheap at the NBA trade deadline. Heading into the deadline, most figured Houston could get something for a player who acted the part of the centerpiece heading back to Texas in the James Harden blockbuster. It did not happen.

The question here is whether Oladipo will even hit the open market. He has been linked to these Heat for some time now. Pat Riley and Co. did not acquire him as some sort of a rental. However, another Eastern Conference team in the New York Knicks could also be interested. What does this all mean? Well, Oladipo will be highly coveted should he hit NBA free agency.

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ake place on July 29. If that is indeed the case, we can expect NBA free agency to start the week after.

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Who are the top-five NBA free agents of 2021?

We’re going to include those set to hit the restricted free agent market as well as individuals who have player options. For the most part, each one of these potential franchise-altering players will find a market this coming summer. Whether via sign-and-trade or teams using room under the 2021 NBA salary cap, expect a lot of movement.

1. Kawhi Leonard, forward, Los Angeles Clippers (Player option)

2021 NBA free agents: Kawhi Leonard

If Leonard decides to opt out of his $36.02 million salary for next season, he will obviously be the top player set to hit NBA free agency. A lot of this will depend on how the Clippers do in the playoffs after they were prematurely eliminated from the postseason in Leonard’s first season with the team.

To say that the 29-year-old Leonard will have his options on the open market would be an understatement. Here’s a guy who is averaging 26.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while playing elite-level defense since the start of the 2018-19 season. If he were to look at joining another contending team, a sign-and-trade would likely have to be in the cards.

2. John Collins, forward, Atlanta Hawks (Restricted)

2021 NBA free agents: John Collins

Still only 23 years old, there was talk of Atlanta moving Collins ahead of the in-season NBA trade deadline. That never came to fruition. It should lead to a huge sweepstakes as he becomes one of the top available NBA free agents this coming summer.

A first-round pick from Wake Forest in 2017, Collins is averaging 19.7 points and 9.3 rebounds on a resounding 56% shooting from the field since the start of his sophomore campaign back in 2018-19. He’s likely looking at a rookie-level max contract on the open market. If the Hawks don’t decide to match, they’ll attempt to pull off a sign-and-trade. That’s going to be a theme this summer.

3. Chris Paul, guard, Phoenix Suns (Player option)

2021 NBA free agents: Chris Paul

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any reason the 35-year-old Paul would decline his $44.21 million option for the 2021-22 season. Among expensive NBA contracts, his was seen as an albatross before the Phoenix Suns traded for the future Hall of Famer.

That’s no longer the case. Paul continues to play at an All-Star level and has joined Devin Booker in leading the Suns into legit championship contention. He’s also still averaging 16 points and north of eight assists on 48% shooting from the field. It might make sense for Paul to look for one final long-term deal, a contract that would undoubtedly pay him $30-plus million annually. Perhaps, he will finally join LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers. Who knows?

4. Jrue Holiday, guard, Milwaukee Bucks (Player option)

2021 NBA free agents: Jrue Holiday

The Bucks knew they were taking a chance when they traded multiple first-round picks and other draft assets to the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster deal for Holiday last offseason. The star guard has a player option for a mere $26 million in 2021-22, one that’s he’s virtually guaranteed to decline. If so, the former top-20 pick will be among the best upcoming NBA free agents.

Holiday, 30, is averaging 19.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists on 48% shooting from the field since the start of the 2017-18 season. He’s still in the back-end of his prime and will be paid like it on the open market. Look for the borderline All-Star to receive a near-max offer in free agency.

5. Victor Oladipo, guard, Miami Heat

2021 NBA free agents: Victor Oladipo

The Oladipo situation is complicated by the fact that he was acquired by Miami from the disastrous Houston Rockets on the cheap at the NBA trade deadline. Heading into the deadline, most figured Houston could get something for a player who acted the part of the centerpiece heading back to Texas in the James Harden blockbuster. It did not happen.

The question here is whether Oladipo will even hit the open market. He has been linked to these Heat for some time now. Pat Riley and Co. did not acquire him as some sort of a rental. However, another Eastern Conference team in the New York Knicks could also be interested. What does this all mean? Well, Oladipo will be highly coveted should he hit NBA free agency.

Read More: NBA playoff predictions: Projecting East and West top 8 seeds, 2020-21 postseason bracket

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