We are now down to the last week of the trade deadline, and although we have grown accustomed to a much busier transfer market in the past, we expect great exchanges to happen in the next couple of days. In case you were wondering which NBA players were only months away from becoming free agents, we decided to create a list for the current best athletes in this situation.
The first, and probably the biggest name of a player who was involved in this predicament was former Nets star Kyrie Irving. And just as we suspected, he wasn’t going to survive as a Brooklyn player before the trade window closed, as now he has just become part of the Dallas Mavericks roster.
Key players such as James Harden, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Fred VanVleet each have player options in their contracts for the 2023-24 season, still giving them the choice of entering free agency. This means there will be no shortage of stars available, but whether or not there will be a lot of movement remains to be seen.
Furthermore, there are also numerous cases of players having career-high stats this season and are in demand as they are soon to become unrestricted free agents, such as Washington’s Kyle Kuzma and Jerami Grant from the Trail Blazers.
Here is our list of top players who could be available in free agency this year, along with their current salary and contract status:
James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden was one of the players who wanted out of Brooklyn just a year ago, but was only traded to the Sixers for a year-contract. Even though his deal has a player option so he can decide his future, his salary is still very high ($33 million), considering he is 33 years of age.
Although we haven’t heard about too many rumours surrounding his trade outside Philly’s borders, it hasn’t been because of his performances. Harden is currently in great form and extra-officially holds the best average for assists per game at 10.9.
Maybe the only thing we can complain about his stats this campaign, is the fact that he has only played 36 games so far this season, which is the direct reason why he isn’t the official best assister in the league, because for a player to be eligible for the stat leaders list, they must have played at least 70% of his team’s matches.
Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers
Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, is a player who’s been headlining the trade speculations news in the past week. The Lakers player has been breaking record after record lately, but mostly because of the fact that he is not a starter in the Los Angeles squad, but is considered the best sixth player of the league.
“I’ve known this is a business since I was 18, 19 years old. My dad taught me that… Whatever decision that they make, I make sure I’m ready professionally like I always have been and always will be.”
Russell Westbrook on being in trade rumorspic.twitter.com/AHesmOAoze
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 5, 2023
As he earns a sky-high salary of $47,063,478 and is soon to become an unrestricted agent, his team is said to be still openly willing to hear options for trading Westbrook before February 9th. In 51 games played this season for the Lakers, Russell Westbrook is averaging (15.7) points, (6.2) rebounds, and a team-leading (7.5) assists per game.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
32-year-old Draymond Green is another big name on this list. The Warriors player, who is currently earning $25,806,469, has a player option on his last months of contract with the Bay Area team. Although the foward has felt he is on his way out, the four-time NBA champion has spent the last seasons adjusting to whatever is needed from him to stick around.
For example, just recently Green was praised for willingness to sacrifice minutes for youngsters to gain experience. However, a month ago the Golden State star said he believes his trade is inevitable in the near future:
The veteran is averaging 8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 31.7 minutes per game, over 47 different contests this campaign.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Besides the fact that Khris Middleton has been constantly sidelined for injuries this season, Bucks’ star hasn’t really been involved in the whole trade speculation frenzy. Although he’s only played in 14 contests so far, the three-time All-Star is performing only a bit lower than what we are used to, averaging 12.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season.
We believe this is the main reason why teams aren’t behind him, considering he is months away of finishing his contract with Milwaukee. His high salary is probably another cause for his, as he is earning $37,948,276. The 31-year-old can still exercise his right to a player option once his contract is terminated.
D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves
As D’Angelo Russell is about to become an unrestricted agent this next summer, many team have been circling around him like crows looking to open up negotiations. This comes as no surprise, as the 26-year-old has been a crucial piece of the Timberwolves success this season.
When asked about the trade speculation around him three weeks ago, he indirectly gave the Timberwolves an ultimatum. “You either take advantage of me and my ability, or f**k up the opportunity with me. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “I’m an Alpha as well, you know what I mean? And I feel like I’m better than a lot of shooting guards and I’m better than a lot of point guards.”
One of D’Angelo Russell’s 10 AST in a 30-point win vs the Nuggets!
D-Lo’s Last 3 games:
18 PTS (14 in 1st Q), 10 AST
29 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST, 6 3PT
29 PTS, 7 3PTpic.twitter.com/QxWMjEFzgI
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 6, 2023
The Minnesota point guard, who is earning $31,377,750, has been on fire lately. His averages are 18.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in 33.2 minutes per game, after 53 matches this campaign.
Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards
Even though we had many other honorable mentions for his list (like Fred VanVleet or Jerami Grant), the last one on the list is Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian is earning $33,833,400 with Washington right now, and is only months away from becoming an unrestricted free agent with a player option below his sleeve.
The thing is, the 27-year-old is playing the best basketball of his career! Last month he scored his all-time high scoring game with 41 points to his name. Check out last night’s match with the Wizards, where he dropped 38 points and won two blocks against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Washington big man is the 24th highest scorer this season, averaging 22.5 points per game. He also has a 8.7 rebound and 2.5 assist per contest , after 44 matches so far.