NBA free agency gets underway on Thursday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET and while most players can’t officially sign their contracts for another week, there will be a number of agreements made not long after the period begins.
On the surface, this year’s free agency might not have the same luster as years past, with the few big names that are involved likely to stay put. However, there is always the prospect of big trades capable of shaking up the outlook of the league.
Before the flurry of signings gets going, it’s only right to go through the exercise of attempting to predict where some notable names will land.
Here are The Sporting News’ predictions for 13 players this offseason — some are bold, some … maybe not so much.
NOH: Ranking the top 25 free agents from Zach LaVine to Deandre Ayton
NBA free agency predictions 2022
Bulls re-sign guard Zach LaVine
No real surprises here. SN’s top-ranked free agent will stay put in Chicago, where he’s earned an All-Star selection in each of the past two seasons. LaVine and the Bulls have a good thing going, and there’s no situation out there worth leaving that for.
76ers re-sign guard James Harden
After acquiring Harden at the trade deadline, Daryl Morey will ensure his guy is a part of the Sixers’ future plans. Harden won’t likely get another max deal, but he’ll likely get around $100 million to remain a part of Philadelphia’s title pursuit for the next few years.
MORE: James Harden, Jalen Brunson among best PGs available in free agency
Knicks sign Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson
The Knicks are all-in on Brunson and they’ve already started the process to clear up cap space to sign him. It’s hard to see Brunson passing up an opportunity to play for the same franchise as his dad, Rick, who was recently hired to Tom Thibodeau’s staff.
Hornets re-sign forward Miles Bridges
There were rumblings that Bridges would move on, but general manager Mitch Kupchak shut them all down with a simple statement.
“We love Miles. We’re going to bring him back.”
Mitch Kupchak on Miles Bridges ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/FYvJw98hkE
— Bally Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnBally) June 28, 2022
The market for Bridges to receive the max deal he sought may be drying up, but he and the Hornets should be able to reach an agreement that leaves all parties happy.
MORE: Where does Miles Bridges rank among best SFs in free agency?
Hawks trade for Spurs guard Dejounte Murray
The Hawks are seemingly eager to pair Murray with Trae Young and have expressed a willingness to do what it takes to make that happen. San Antonio isn’t actively shopping Murray, but it could soon get an offer that’s hard to refuse, making way for such a deal to be pulled off.
Suns retain center Deandre Ayton
The use of the word “retain” is intentional here. It’s hard to envision Ayton making the almost-unprecedented move of signing a qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, but it doesn’t seem like the internal issues between him and the franchise have been repaired.
The market for Ayton is drying up quickly, meaning he might begrudgingly make his return to the Suns on a deal that is not quite what he had in mind.
76ers sign Heat forward P.J. Tucker
Morey rides for his guys, and he’ll look for Tucker to bring his championship DNA to Philly. While Tucker recently turned 37, reports indicate that the Sixers might be willing to pay him $30 million over three years. Tucker wouldn’t hesitate to sign a deal that pays him $10 million annually through his 40th birthday.
Wizards trade for Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon
The Pacers have a lot of guards and the Wizards do not have a point guard. That makes sense, right? Brogdon is in the final year of his deal and if Washington wants to compete for a playoff spot around Bradley Beal, it would benefit from a heady veteran guard like Brogdon.
Celtics trade for Knicks guard Alec Burks
It’s well-documented that Burks and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum are good friends and Burks can partially fill Boston’s need for more steady playmaking. The Celtics have very little time to use their trade exception from last year’s Evan Fournier deal and Burks’ $10 million salary for the 2022-23 season would fit right in.
MORE: Malik Monk among most intriguing free agent SGs
Lakers re-sign guard Malik Monk
Monk helped himself with an impressive 2021-22 campaign in LA and he’s recently indicated that money isn’t the biggest priority in his free-agent negotiations. At least for the short-term future, the 24-year-old has found a home with the Lakers and will likely stay as a result.
76ers trade for Rockets guard Eric Gordon
Leave it to Morey to get the band back together. Gordon has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract and could bring his shooting and veteran presence to Philadelphia, where he’d reunite with Harden and Tucker in this instance.
Knicks re-sign center Mitchell Robinson
Robinson might not be the biggest household name, but he is a key part of the Knicks building for the future. If New York does indeed sign Brunson, it will have a young core to build towards becoming a power in the East.
Raptors acquire Magic center Mo Bamba
The Raptors drafted a center but that won’t stop them from being active here. With the number of bigs in Orlando’s frontcourt, Bamba is looking like the odd man out. Toronto will have a chance to get a former lottery pick with plenty of upside to continue to build for the future.