2022 NBA Free Agents: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Jalen Brunson and More
The NBA free-agent market is always moving.
Long before it officially opens midsummer, the market sees player's potential earnings rise and fall amid playoff breakouts or ill-timed flops.
Jalen Brunson, for instance, might hear a cash register's ring as he nets one big basket after the next for the Dallas Mavericks this postseason. Someone like Juan Toscano-Anderson, on the other hand, can only hope no one has noticed that he's been squeezed out of the Golden State Warriors' playoff rotation.
With the playoffs helping to bring the upcoming free-agency period further into focus, we'll spotlight some of the latest rumors and piece together some predictions for a few hoopers-for-hire.
Whichever financial institution handles Brunson's banking might want to consider getting started on expanding its vault.
The 2018 second-round pick was always poised to cash in this summer, but his performance under the bright lights is taking his earnings potential next-level. Through four games, he is averaging 29.8 points while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three.
The market has obviously noticed. ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported scouts and executives see an average annual salary of $20 million being Brunson's floor and his ceiling sitting closer to a $25 million salary. The New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons are expected to pursue the point guard, while the Dallas Mavericks have voiced their plans to bring him back.
The Knicks might be the most discussed suitor, but they'd need to trim their payroll first, as MacMahon reported the Mavs "have no intention" of facilitating a sign-and-trade. That should be music to the ears of the Pistons, who shouldn't have trouble creating enough flexibility to sign Brunson outright.
Prediction: Pistons lure Brunson to Detroit with near-max money.
There are myriad reasons why the Memphis Grizzlies not only survived without Ja Morant this season, but thrived to the tune of a blistering 20-5 mark when their All-Star point guard couldn't go.
Morant's backup, Tyus Jones, is one of them.
Long established as a sure-handed reserve, Jones succeeded in part by becoming more of an offensive threat himself. His decision-making still shines brightest—he had an absurdly wide gap between his assists (4.4) and turnovers (0.6)—but the fact he forced defenses to respect him as a scorer and shooter helped open everything up. His 8.7 points, 1.1 threes and 39.0 three-point percentage were among his many career highs.
Jones has actually increased his output this postseason (10.3 points on 48.3/63.6/85.7 shooting), which should only help his pay rate going forward. He is clearly one of the top reserve floor generals in the business, and he is flashing enough that a point guard-needy shopper could even give him consideration for the starting five.
Prediction: Jones signs a three-year contract with the Knicks.
Wall didn't suit up at all in 2020-21 while awaiting his exit from the future-focused Houston Rockets. Injuries have limited the 31-year-old to just 72 appearances since the start of 2018-19, and there's no way of knowing how much he has lost to time and the injury bug. Exercising an option that delivers a Powerball-sized option is the no-brainiest of no-brainers.
Where the story gets interesting, though, is what happens next. Fischer reported if the Rockets can't find a way to trade Wall ahead of the June 23 draft, then "all signs" point to them discussing a buyout with the point guard's representatives ahead of free agency.
If Wall is bought out, he would join the pool of unrestricted free agents, and league sources have mentioned the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat as possible landing spots. The Clippers have more question marks at point guard, which could mean he'd get more minutes and exposure there.
Prediction: Wall gets bought out and signs a one-year, minimum contract with the Clippers.