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2021 NBA Free Agency Tips Off Tonight

Who are the top free agents the Wizards might target?

Brooklyn Nets v Charlotte Hornets
Could Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie be Washington’s top offseason target?
Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA’s 2021 free agency period tips off tonight at 6 p.m. ET and there will be a spending binge as teams go shopping for the talent they dream will bring them success — however, each franchise measures it.

Eight teams enter the offseason with at least the potential for significant cap space:

  1. New York Knicks — $53.5 million
  2. San Antonio Spurs — $48.9 million
  3. Dallas Mavericks — $34.3 million
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder — $30.9 million
  5. Toronto Raptors — $23.1 million
  6. Miami Heat — $20.5 million
  7. Detroit Pistons — $17.5 million
  8. Charlotte Hornets — $8.8 million

The bottom four from the list above could use cap holds and exceptions to operate as over the cap teams. The Heat, for example, are likely to pursue big-ticket free agents aggressively. If they get a bite, they would renounce players (and possibly make a trade) to clear cap room for the signing.

The Hornets will almost certainly opt to keep their midlevel exception, rather than renounce it to create a smaller piece of cap room.

The Wizards have a full roster and significant lineup holes. At a minimum, they need a starting point guard and backcourt depth. NBC’s Dan Feldman reports that Washington is “likely” to acquire Nets PG Spencer Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade. That’s potentially an okay move, depending on how much they pay him.

In my analysis, Dinwiddie’s been basically average the past several seasons. He’s not a terrific shooter or defender, and it’s difficult to know what he’ll be able to do after missing most of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. A healthy Dinwiddie is likely to provide solid, professional guard play.

If Washington isn’t already locked on Dinwiddie, they’d be wise to consider spending on New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. Ball, coming of his second above-average season, will be entering his age 24 season with markedly improved shooting (37.5% from three-point range two seasons ago, and 37.8% this season). In addition to being terrific in transition, Ball’s a quality playmaker who crashes the boards and defends.

Using Caldwell-Pope at SF even though he’s just 6-5 seems reasonable given the paucity of wing options in free agency. The SF market is so weak that former Wizard Otto Porter Jr. could get full MLE even though his last healthy season was 2017-18. He played just 28 games last year.

The Wizards have enough space under the luxury tax to spend their full midlevel and biannual exceptions. They could also be players in the sign-and-trade market for Dinwiddie, Ball or another offseason target. They should have sufficient ammunition to add talent and production to the roster, if they use their available player acquisition resources wisely. The Westbrook trade gives them several tradable salaries.

Below is a list of prominent free agents, their age next season, their PPA and their status — unrestricted free agent, restricted free agent, player option or team option. This list is not comprehensive. If you’re interested in someone specific, put the name in the comments or email me at kevinbroomwrites at gmail.

PPA is my overall production metric. It’s pace neutral and includes accounting for defense and “degree of difficulty” based on the level of competition faced when the player is on the floor. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and 45 is replacement level.

2021 NBA Free Agents

F Kawhi Leonard 30 LAC 238 POPT
G Chris Paul 36 PHO 194 POPT
F John Collins 24 ATL 167 RFA
F DeMar DeRozan 32 SAS 156 UFA
C Jarrett Allen 23 CLE 138 RFA
C Richaun Holmes 28 SAC 137 UFA
G Lonzo Ball 24 NOP 135 RFA
G Bruce Brown Jr. 25 BRK 131 RFA
G Kyle Lowry 35 TOR 129 UFA
G Devonte' Graham 26 CHO 129 RFA
F Danny Green 34 PHI 127 UFA
G Evan Fournier 29 BOS 126 UFA
F Nicolas Batum 33 LAC 124 UFA
F Lauri Markkanen 24 CHI 121 RFA
G Norman Powell 28 POR 119 UFA
C Andre Drummond 28 LAL 118 UFA
G Derrick Rose 33 NYK 117 UFA
G Kendrick Nunn 26 MIA 115 RFA
F Doug McDermott 30 IND 112 UFA
C Cody Zeller 29 CHO 109 UFA
F Tim Hardaway Jr. 29 DAL 108 UFA
G Reggie Jackson 31 LAC 108 UFA
C Nerlens Noel 27 NYK 106 UFA
G Spencer Dinwiddie 28 BRK 104 UFA
F Duncan Robinson 27 MIA 103 RFA
F Otto Porter Jr. 28 ORL 102 UFA
F Kelly Oubre Jr. 26 GSW 102 UFA
G Alec Burks 30 NYK 96 UFA
G Raul Neto 29 WAS 93 UFA
G Dennis Schroder 28 LAL 91 UFA
F Will Barton 31 DEN 91 UFA
G Victor Oladipo 29 MIA 90 UFA
G Josh Hart 26 NOP 89 RFA
F Blake Griffin 32 BRK 87 UFA
C Robin Lopez 33 WAS 87 UFA
F Tony Snell 30 ATL 80 UFA
F Gary Trent Jr. 23 TOR 80 RFA
G Patty Mills 33 SAS 77 UFA
G Malik Monk 23 CHO 76 RFA
G Goran Dragic 35 MIA 72 TOPT
F Carmelo Anthony 37 POR 71 UFA
G Ish Smith 33 WAS 69 UFA
F Andre Iguoudala 38 MIA 69 TOPT
G Elfrid Payton 27 NYK 65 UFA
G Frank Ntilikina 23 NYK 35 RFA
F Justise Winslow 25 MEM 3 TOPT