Basketball

Hollinger: An early look at the top 25 NBA free agents for 2022 (spoiler: No. 1 might surprise you)


Is free agency dead?

Perhaps not quite. It’s certainly changed in recent years thanks to the advent of supermax contract extensions and less restrictive rules on extending deals in general. That has resulted in a partial shutoff of the pipeline of big names into unrestricted free agency and some underwhelming free-agency classes.

That point was emphatically driven home in 2020-21, when several teams lined up cap room a year ahead of time in a futile effort to lure Giannis Antetokounmpo … who promptly signed a five-year supermax extension to stay in Milwaukee.

Instead, 2021 got a little weird. The big prize of some previous free-agency summers was Kevin Durant or LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard. This past summer, the guy everyone clamored for was … Kyle Lowry?

For those who love offseason chaos, the good news is that last offseason appears to be a bit of an outlier. Even with recent changes, we’re now seeing that All-Star-caliber players might nonetheless become unrestricted free agents. Yes, their current teams will still have the advantage in a bidding war, but player movement feels a bit more possible.

Take a case like Bradley Beal, for instance.





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