NBA Free Agents 2022: Top Rumors and Predictions Before NBA Draft


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    Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    The NBA world is buzzing with the draft fast approaching and free agency coming shortly thereafter.

    Since most teams have been in offseason mode for a while now, they are starting to form clear plans of attack for the summer.

    Luckily, some of those plans are starting to leak, so let’s dig into the latest from the rumor mill.

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Kyrie Irving has between now and June 29 to make a decision on his $36.9 million player option for next season.

    Ideally, he and the Brooklyn Nets would sign off a contract extension that keeps him around longer than next season, but a gulf currently sits between them, as B/R’s Jake Fischer reported:

    The Brooklyn Nets and the All-Star guard still have ground to cover for both sides to emerge content on extension conversations, sources told B/R. The Nets naturally prefer a shorter-term, incentive-laden agreement that includes benchmarks such as games played, sources said. Irving, having missed significant time because of injuries in recent seasons, has prioritized a longer-term contract.

    The Nets and Irving probably both need this to happen. Brooklyn doesn’t have the assets needed to find Kevin Durant a better co-star, and Irving would have trouble finding a better basketball situation.

    So, who blinks first? Probably Irving. He has simply missed too many games in recent seasons due to injuries and personal decisions for anyone to comfortably offer the kind of contract he is reportedly after.

    Prediction: Irving opts in and signs a two-year extension to stay in Brooklyn.

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    Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

    For months, we’ve heard how the New York Knicks could target Jalen Brunson this summer to fix their longstanding problems at point guard.

    Now, it sounds like the Knicks are ready to make that move.

    “The Knicks are said to be targeting roughly $25 million in room to be able to chase Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, and they are expected to find new homes for Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, among other moves,” Fischer reported.

    That would be a healthy sum for Brunson, who had never averaged 13 points or four assists before this season, but he earned a massive raise. He not only broke out during the regular season, he then upped the ante by raising his production in the playoffs.

    Could New York actually reel him in? It doesn’t sound likely, as Fischer reported “league personnel widely believe” Brunson will stick with the Dallas Mavericks.

    Prediction: Brunson signs a four-year deal to stay in Dallas.

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    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    As soon as Deandre Ayton received just 17 minutes of action in the Phoenix Suns’ biggest game of the season, it seemed his days in the desert were numbered.

    While that could still be the case, it hardly sounds as if the Suns are definitely ready to move on from 2018’s top pick.

    ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Phoenix has examined trade scenarios for the No. 8 pick and considered “possibly including a player like Cameron Johnson in order to free up salary-cap flexibility to keep Deandre Ayton.”

    The Suns would be smart to keep Ayton around. He’s a walking double-double at 23 years old and an impact player at both ends.

    However, sacrificing a key contributor like Johnson in order to do it feels counter-intuitive. Phoenix has a small contention window with Chris Paul at the helm and should put all of its resources into trying to maximize this opportunity. The fact it’s already hedging suggests some type of sacrifice is coming, and Ayton’s contract cost could make him the odd man out.

    Prediction: Ayton signs with the Detroit Pistons.

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