The 2023 free-agency period gets underway in less than a month.
Heavy Sports recently caught up with a number of NBA executives to get their thoughts on the 2023 free-agent class.
Below, we’ve ranked the top players who are poised to hit the open market. Here’s a look at the notable free agents who could be on the move come July 1:
JAMES HARDEN, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (PLAYER OPTION)
James Harden is a 10-time All-Star and former NBA MVP, but he will be 34 years old next season. He proved that he can still play at a high level this season with the Sixers, averaging 21.0 points, 10.7 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 threes and 1.2 steals on 44.1/38.5/86.7 shooting splits. Harden has a player option worth $35,640,000 for next season, and he’s expected to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent.
Reports have linked Harden to the Houston Rockets, where he played for eight-and-a-half seasons and enjoyed the most productive years of his career. Sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey that “the franchise expects to reunite with” Harden. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his May 23 “Hoop Collective” podcast that he believes Harden is using Houston as “one giant leverage play … to elicit the biggest offer out of the Sixers.” Houston has the most projected cap space of any NBA team ($61 million).
KYRIE IRVING, DALLAS MAVERICKS (UNRESTRICTED)
Kyrie Irving’s stint with the Brooklyn Nets was full of drama, but he landed with the Mavericks prior to this year’s NBA trade deadline and got a fresh start. After arriving in Dallas, Irving appeared in 20 games, averaging 27.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 threes and 1.3 steals, while shooting 51.0% from the field, 39.2% from three and 94.7% from the free-throw line.
While Irving put up solid stats, Dallas plummeted down the rankings over the second half of the season and ultimately missed the Play-In Tournament. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said during an April 5 press conference that he “would love to have [Irving] stay.” Irving is incredibly talented, but his antics and reputation will likely scare away some potential suitors. It remains to be seen what kind of interest he receives on the open market.
FRED VANVLEET, TORONTO RAPTORS (PLAYER OPTION)
Over the last year, Fred VanVleet’s name was constantly surfacing in trade rumors, but the Raptors ultimately decided to keep him beyond the deadline. He finished the season averaging 19.3 points, 7.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 3.0 threes and 1.8 steals, but his efficiency dipped a bit (as he shot just 39.3% from the field and 34.2% from three-point range).
Now, VanVleet has a $22,824,074 player option for next season, and according to TSN Raptors reporter Josh Lewenberg, he plans to opt out and seek a deal similar to the four-year, $130 million contract that Tyler Herro inked with the Miami Heat last October. There were plenty of teams pursuing VanVleet prior to the deadline, so don’t be surprised if he garners a lot of interest this summer.
KHRIS MIDDLETON, MILWAUKEE BUCKS (PLAYER OPTION)
After the Heat stunned the Bucks in the first round, it quickly became clear that big changes were coming in Milwaukee. Mike Budenholzer was fired and the team was moving to hire former Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin as their new head coach, The Associated Press reported on May 27. Will the Bucks look to shake up their roster too? Khris Middleton has been a key two-way contributor for Milwaukee and he’s close with Giannis Antetokounmpo, so it would be shocking if the Bucks decided to move on from him.
It doesn’t sound like Middleton wants a change of scenery either. In September, when he was asked about his player option and the possibility of leaving, he responded: “I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay. But also, you know it’s a business. Things change, things happen. You just never know. For sure I would love to stay, if everything works out.”
This season, Middleton was limited to just 33 regular-season games due to a wrist surgery and knee soreness, and he averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 threes on 43.6/31.5/90.2 shooting splits. During the playoffs, he looked more like himself, contributing 23.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.6 threes on efficient 46.5/40.6/86.7 shooting splits. Middleton has a player option worth $40,396,552 for next season, and it seems likely that he’ll opt out and try to lock in a new multi-year deal prior to his age-32 season.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS (PLAYER OPTION)
Kristaps Porzingis played the best basketball of his NBA career this season with the Wizards, averaging a career-high 23.2 points to go along with 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 blocks, 2.1 threes and 0.9 steals on 49.8/38.5/85.1 shooting splits. His ability to protect the rim and knock down threes makes him an intriguing option for teams.
Porzingis has a player option worth $36,016,200 for next season, and he’s expected to opt out. The Wizards and Porzingis’ camp have been discussing a contract extension over the last month, according to The Athletic, and it’s possible that the two sides come to an agreement before free agency begins on July 1. If not, the 27-year-old shouldn’t have any trouble finding interested teams following his career-year.
DRAYMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (PLAYER OPTION)
Draymond Green has helped Golden State win four championships, and his unique skill set fits really well with the Warriors. This season, the 33-year-old averaged 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and a steal, while shooting 52.7% from the field. Earlier this season, Green made headlines when he acknowledged that his days with the Warriors were likely numbered, telling Bleacher Report that “the writing is on the wall” because he understands how the luxury tax works. Green was referring to the fact that the Warriors owe Stephen Curry ($51,915,615), Klay Thompson ($43,219,440), Jordan Poole ($28,705,357) and Andrew Wiggins ($24,330,357) a combined $148,170,769 next season. That means the Warriors will be over the cap ($134 million) just from paying those four players alone. And because the Warriors went over the luxury tax in three of the last four years, they’ll have to pay the repeater tax, just like they did this year.
Green has a player option worth $27,586,224 next season, and it seems very likely that he’ll opt out to sign a new multi-year deal. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said during a May 16 press conference that Golden State won’t be a championship contender without Green and added: “I absolutely want him back.” Green has said that he would love to return too. It remains to be seen whether the two sides can figure out a deal or if the Warriors’ ownership will sign off on paying another enormous luxury-tax bill (after paying the most expensive tax bill in NBA history this season).
BROOK LOPEZ, MILWAUKEE BUCKS (UNRESTRICTED)
Brook Lopez is 35 years old, but he’s still one of the best two-way big men in the NBA. He’s a terrific rim protector, averaging 2.5 blocks per game and finishing as the runner-up in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year race. However, he’s also one of the best shooting centers in the league, knocking down 37.4% of his threes and draining 1.7 triples per game. Lopez’s skill set makes him a perfect fit for today’s NBA and a very attractive free agent for numerous teams.
CAMERON JOHNSON, BROOKLYN NETS (RESTRICTED)
Cameron Johnson has established himself as one of the best shooters in the NBA, knocking down 2.5 threes per game on 41.6% shooting from deep over the last two seasons. This season, he became an every-night starter and responded by posting career-highs in points (15.5), rebounds (4.4), threes (2.5), assists (1.9), steals (1.2) and field goal percentage (47%).
The Phoenix Suns traded Johnson to the Nets prior to the deadline as part of the Kevin Durant blockbuster, and he played well in the second half of the season. Johnson elevated his game even further in the Nets’ first-round series against the 76ers, averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 threes and 2.8 assists, while shooting a terrific 50.9% from the field, 42.9% from three and 85.7% from the free-throw line. Even though the Nets had only 25 games to evaluate him, one would think that retaining Johnson is a top priority given that they just acquired him.
JAKOB POELTL, TORONTO RAPTORS (UNRESTRICTED)
Leading up to the trade deadline, all eyes were on the Toronto Raptors. They were weighing whether to be a buyer or seller, pursuing numerous players and shopping several of their own pieces (including O.G. Anunoby and VanVleet). Masai Ujiri ultimately decided to re-acquire Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs, bringing the big man back to Toronto (where he spent the first two years of his NBA career). The Raptors gave up Khem Birch, a 2024 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2023 and 2025, which suggests that Poeltl is part of their long-term plan rather than just a half-season rental. This year, Poeltl averaged 12.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 blocks, while shooting 62.9% from the field.
NIKOLA VUCEVIC, CHICAGO BULLS (UNRESTRICTED)
The two-time All-Star has produced whether he’s a team’s No. 1 option (as he was in Orlando) or a complementary piece (as he was in Chicago). This season, Nikola Vucevic played all 82 games and averaged 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 threes, .7 blocks and .7 steals, while shooting 52% from the field, 34.9% from three and 83.5% from the free-throw line. The 32-year-old has expressed interest in re-signing with Chicago, according to NBC Sports, saying the Bulls are his “priority” and that he “would like to stay.” Bulls GM Artūras Karnišovas told NBC Sports that Vooch is “an iron man,” “a double-double machine” and “a huge part of this team,” adding: “We hope to retain him.”
JERAMI GRANT, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (UNRESTRICTED)
Like Vucevic, Jerami Grant has shown that he can thrive in a variety of roles. Early in his career, he was a defensive stopper and jack-of-all-trades role player. During his stint with the Detroit Pistons, he emerged as the team’s No. 1 option and a 20-plus point-per-game scorer. This year with the Blazers, he had arguably his best season, averaging 20.5 points but drastically improving his efficiency – shooting 47.5% from the field, 40.1% from three-point range and 81.3% from the free-throw line. Portland has offered Grant a four-year, $112 million extension, according to The Athletic, but it remains to be seen if he’ll sign it. The 29-year-old may want to hit the open market and see what other options are out there before committing to the Blazers long-term.
HARRISON BARNES, SACRAMENTO KINGS (UNRESTRICTED)
While De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis got most of the credit for the Kings’ excellent season (and deservedly so), Harrison Barnes was also a key contributor for Sacramento. Barnes took advantage of his improved supporting cast by making teams pay with his catch-and shoot and catch-and-drive opportunities. This season, the 31-year-old averaged 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 threes on 47.3/37.4/84.7 shooting splits. In addition to being a remarkably consistent player, Barnes also provides leadership and championship experience, so he should receive interest from win-now contenders and young teams looking for a veteran presence.
KYLE KUZMA, WASHINGTON WIZARDS (PLAYER OPTION)
Kyle Kuzma has a player option for next season worth $13 million, but he intends to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. With that said, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that “there is mutual interest in a new deal.”
This season, Kuzma averaged career-highs in points (21.2), assists (3.7), threes (2.5) and steals (0.6), while also averaging 7.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks on 44.8/33.3/73.0 shooting splits. The Wizards acquired Kuzma as part of the Russell Westbrook trade with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021, and he continues to develop each year.
AUSTIN REAVES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS (RESTRICTED)
Austin Reaves arguably helped himself more than any other impending free agent in the second half of the season and playoffs. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.6 points, 5.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 threes, while shooting a ridiculous 57.8% from the field, 44.3% from three and 85.6% from the free-throw line. In the postseason, the 24-year-old continued to produce at a high level, contributing 16.9 points, 4.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 threes on uber-efficient shooting splits of 46.4/44.3/89.5.
After going undrafted in 2021, Reaves has taken advantage of every opportunity he’s been given and elevated his game in big moments. The Los Angeles Lakers obviously want to keep Reaves, but it’s possible that a team could extend him a significant offer sheet that makes this a tougher decision for Los Angeles.
JOSH HART, NEW YORK KNICKS (PLAYER OPTION)
Josh Hart is another player who earned himself a ton of money with his excellent production in the second half of the season. After the New York Knicks acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers, Hart caught fire. In 25 regular-season games with New York, Hart shot 58.6% from the field and 51.9% from three-point range, while averaging 10.2 points,7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 threes and 1.4 steals. Every team could use a player like Hart. The 28-year-old has a player option for next season worth $12,960,000, but he’s a virtual lock to opt out and cash in on his outstanding play.
D’Angelo Russell (UFA), Jordan Clarkson (PO), Gabe Vincent (UFA), Christian Wood (UFA), Russell Westbrook (UFA), Gary Trent Jr. (PO), Bogdan Bogdanovic (PO), Bruce Brown (PO), P.J. Washington (RFA), Rui Hachimura (RFA), Tre Jones (UFA), Caris LeVert (UFA), Grant Williams (RFA), Jalen McDaniels (UFA), Max Strus (UFA), Naz Reid (UFA), Donte DiVincenzo (PO), Alec Burks (TO), Dillon Brooks (UFA), Kelly Oubre (UFA), K.J. Martin (UFA), Mason Plumlee (UFA), Lonnie Walker (UFA), Dennis Schroder (UFA), Coby White (RFA), Ayo Dosunmu (RFA), Seth Curry (UFA), Pat Beverley (UFA), Dennis Smith (UFA)
Alex Kennedy is the Chief Content Officer at BasketballNews.com.