2022 NBA Free Agents: Latest Jalen Brunson Rumors, John Wall Predictions, MoreApril 11, 2022
2022 NBA Free Agents: Latest Jalen Brunson Rumors, John Wall Predictions, More
The 2021-22 NBA regular season has ended. While much of the basketball world will now turn to the play-in tournament, which begins Tuesday, the 10 teams that have been eliminated are moving on to the offseason.
The rest of the NBA will be there soon enough, and while free agency is still months away, decision-makers are scouring the market for options.
Unfortunately, franchises looking for blockbuster acquisitions are short on options this offseason. Barring an influx of opt-outs, the free-agent pool will largely be headlined by quality role players and not perennial All-Stars.
We can still expect the proverbial fat cash to flow, of course, as teams gear up to compete during the 2022-23 season. Here, we'll dive into some of the top names potentially hitting the open market, the latest buzz and some free-agency predictions.
Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson might be the hottest unrestricted free agent headed to market. He's coming off a strong regular season in which he averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds while playing well on the defensive end.
We can expect multiple teams to show interest in Brunson this summer, with the New York Knicks among them. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported last month that Brunson would be the "top target" for the Knicks.
The Detroit Pistons have also emerged as a potential suitor for Brunson, according to The Athletic's James L. Edwards III.
"Jalen Brunson is a tremendous secondary ballhandler who can create his own shot, is a terrific spot-up shooter and possesses great basketball instincts. He's also a free agent this summer, and the Pistons have real interest in him, per sources," Edwards wrote.
Of course, Dallas will be in play as well. With a playoff-caliber roster and a legitimate star in Luka Doncic, the Mavs will be a difficult squad to walk away from. A lot will come down to the financials, but if Dallas is willing to pay the market price, a return would make a lot of sense for Brunson.
Prediction: Brunson returns to Dallas on a four-year deal.
Houston Rockets point guard John Wall isn't headed to the open market just yet. He has a player option for the 2022-23 season and is expected to exercise it, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
"As expected, John Wall is going to exercise his $47.4 million player option for next season, I'm told. After that, the Rockets will have time to look for a trade to move Wall. If Houston can't find a trade partner for Wall, his representation at Klutch Sports is expected to work with the Rockets on a buyout agreement before next season."
The caveat here is that Wall didn't play this past season after agreeing to sit out, and Houston was unable to find a trade partner before the deadline. This could lead to a buyout as the Rockets' only option, though Wall and the team are cooperating.
"Over the past weekend, The Athletic understands that Wall met with Houston as an exit interview of sorts. There has been a constant level of communication between the front office and Wall through the year," The Athletic's Kelly Iko wrote. "... Wall's side wants a buyout giving flexibility; the Rockets don't want to come up empty-handed."
Even if it's minimal, Wall will have some trade value—he averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists two seasons ago—and Houston is going to view a buyout as a last resort. Expect the Rockets to take what it can for Wall before hitting the panic button and paying Wall to exit.
Prediction: Wall is traded before getting a shot at free agency.
Donte DiVincenzo may be best known for helping Villanova win a national title in 2018 and being named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. However, he's been a solid role player in the NBA, averaging 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 26.6 minutes per game.
DiVincenzo, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, is looking for a bigger role and a better deal, though. He was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Sacramento Kings in February and is reportedly unhappy with his new home and Sacramento's plan for him.
"DiVincenzo and his group, his team, are not at all happy with the Kings. They believe that the Kings very specifically did not start him down the stretch of the season to limit his value in free agency," Kings insider James Ham said on the Kings Beat podcast (h/t Adam Hermann of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
It's worth wondering if DiVincenzo was promised a starting opportunity upon arriving in Sacramento because he wasn't starting before then. He has made just one start all season. His desire for a higher free-agent value isn't at all surprising, though.
Players have a limited earning window, and they can't be faulted for trying to maximize it.
It sounds like DiVincenzo may be willing to jump at the first offer he receives from a different team. According to Ham, DiVincenzo could make it "widely known" that he doesn't want to be back with the Kings next season.
If this transpires, a team interested in DiVincenzo will only need to make an offer that Sacramento is unwilling to match.
Prediction: DiVincenzo signs elsewhere as a restricted free agent this offseason.