NBA Free Agents 2022: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Market's Top Names

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVJune 15, 2022

NBA Free Agents 2022: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Market's Top Names

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    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    Things will change during NBA free agency.

    It happens every summer, and the 2022 iteration will be no different.

    There may not be a ton of cap space to go around, and the market isn't quite bristling with top-shelf talent, but there are enough spenders and high-level hoopers-for-hire to keep free agency active and important.

    With summer plans starting to leak out, let's dive into the latest rumblings.

Zach LaVine Expected to Stay

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    Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

    Zach LaVine's free agency may wind up being drama-free after all.

    Despite recent rumblings about possible suitors prying him out of the Windy City, the All-Star guard "is expected to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls," B/R's Jake Fischer reported.

    This was always the likeliest scenario, particularly once the Bulls spent big to surround LaVine with talent and saw an instant return on that investment. While Chicago stumbled down the stretch, it still closed the campaign with a 46-36 record and helped LaVine make his first-ever playoff performance.

    It's hard to sniff out a potential suitor that is definitely in better basketball shape than the Bulls, which more or less blocks any realistic exit. While anything can technically happen before a contract is signed, all signs point to a swift reunion.

    Prediction: LaVine re-signs with the Bulls.

'Skepticism' Suns Re-sign Deandre Ayton

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    Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

    Since selecting Deandre Ayton with the first pick of the 2018 draft, the Phoenix Suns have watched him become a walking double-double and two-way force.

    If you think that makes him a franchise building block, think again, apparently.

    Despite his success (and the team's), there is "considerable skepticism" the Suns will re-sign the restricted free agent, per B/R's Eric Pincus. A sign-and-trade seems Ayton's likeliest ticket out of town, since Phoenix wouldn't lose him for nothing that way, but an aggressive, top-dollar offer sheet could also do the trick.

    If Ayton looks elsewhere, he should generate considerable interest as a 23-year-old who makes a major impact at both ends. He won't sniff out a basketball situation better than the one he's in now, but he could find an elite running mate, like Cade Cunningham in Detroit or Damian Lillard in Portland.

    Prediction: Ayton is sign-and-traded to the Detroit Pistons.


T.J. Warren Could Sign a Prove-It Pact

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    It has been a while—nearly two years—since T.J. Warren was breaking out in the Orlando bubble.

    He has produced almost zero film since. Consecutive stress fractures in his left foot limited him to four games in 2020-21 and none this past season, as the Indiana Pacers were well outside of the playoff picture by the time he was ready to play.

    He now heads into free agency at a strange time, since he has essentially missed back-to-back seasons. That's why "talk has picked up" about him potentially taking a short-term, prove-it contract with a rebuilder, according to PhillyVoice's Kyle Neubeck.

    If Warren returned to (or even approached) his old form, this contract setup would allow him to re-establish his value before re-entering the market, and perhaps give his new club a chance to shop him to win-now buyers at the trade deadline. The win-win potential here is strong.

    Prediction: Warren signs with the San Antonio Spurs.

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