NBA Free Agents 2021: Top Rumors and Predictions Before NBA Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

NBA Free Agents 2021: Top Rumors and Predictions Before NBA Draft

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    It's about to be a busy time in the NBA world. The 2021 draft is Thursday, and free agency will officially start on August 6.

    We don't know exactly how the draft will unfold, though it's looking like Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham will be the No. 1 selection.

    "Sources across the NBA feel, by far, the most likely outcome is that the Pistons select and keep Cunningham," Sam Vecenie of The Athletic wrote.

    Trades are likely to be a piece of the draft-day equation too, and free agency will hinge heavily on what transpires in the next 48 hours. Some teams will fill their biggest needs on draft night, but others will be left looking to the open market.

    Here, we'll take a look ahead at the looming free-agency period—which unofficially begins at 6 p.m. ET on August 2, when teams and players can begin negotiations—and examine some of the latest buzz.

Mavericks to Have Interest in Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    The Dallas Mavericks finished the 2020-21 season with a 42-30 record and made the postseason. However, they lost in the opening round to the Los Angeles Clippers and head coach Rick Carlisle resigned following the playoff run.

    Now, Dallas will look to reload under new head coach Jason Kidd—and it appears the Mavericks already have a couple of free-agent targets in mind.

    According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Mavs are expected to pursue both Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley and Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry.

    "According to sources, the Mavericks, looking to ease the burden on Luka Doncic, have shown interest in both Conley and Lowry, the latter of whom stands to have his pick of money and championship contenderand potentially both," Windhorst wrote.

    While Lowry seems destined to depart Toronto after nearly a decade, there's a good chance that Conley returns to the Jazz.

    "League executives believe Conley is most likely to stay in Utah, with the Jazz investigating the possibility of reducing payroll to make room next to Donovan Mitchell's new max contract coming onto the books," Windhorst wrote.

    However, we can expect Dallas to make a run at both players.

Sixers, Pelicans, Knicks Among Other Teams In on Lowry

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Dallas is far from the only team looking to pursue Lowry in free agency. The 35-year-old six-time All-Star can practically choose his next destination.

    According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia 76ers are also interested in Lowry—and they have company.

    "The New York Knicks are interested in pursuing Lowry once free agency begins at 6 p.m. on Aug. 2, according to multiple sources," Pompey wrote. "The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Miami Heat are also reportedly expected to be top suitors for the North Philly native."

    This coincides with what Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer recently reported.

    "The Lakers, Sixers, Mavericks and Heat all remain linked by league sources as potential Lowry suitors, which will be just one element of a cluttered point guard market," Fischer wrote.

    Per Fischer, the Pelicans could also be interested in Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie if the pursuit of Lowry falls through.

    According to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat are also looking at Dinwiddie as a Plan B to Lowry. Like Lowry, Dinwiddie is going to have more than just a couple of suitors.

Knicks Showing Interest in Dinwiddie

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Knicks are eying Lowry and will pay heavily to land him. However, money won't be the only potential factor in their chase.

    "The Knicks appear willing to offer him a two-year deal somewhere between $20 and $30 million per season, according to a source," Pompey wrote. "However, the Knicks want to make sure Lowry isn't just concerned with securing another lucrative contract."

    Dinwiddie appears to be a second option for New York as well.

    "New York is looking for a lead guard in the draft and free agency. Dinwiddie is rehabbing a torn ACL, so signing him comes with some risk," SNY's Ian Begley wrote. "But he's expressed confidence in his ability to bounce back from the injury because he suffered the same ailment in college. At least one key decision-maker for New York has embraced the idea of signing Dinwiddie, per SNY sources."

    While Dinwiddie may not be New York's top choice at guard, the presence of multiple options could keep the Knicks from going overboard in their bid for Lowry. According to Pompey, Lowry's asking price remains $90 million over three years.

    According to Begley, the Knicks would also be interested in Damian Lillard—should he demand a trade—and DeMar DeRozan.

    "Some with the Knicks see DeRozan as a player who can address a weakness of the 2020-21 team: shot creation," Begley wrote.

    Expect New York to be very active in the coming days.