With the 2023 NBA Draft taking place last week, the NBA world now turns their attention to free agency. While considered a weaker free agent class compared to previous years, quite a bit of movement is expected as many playoff contending teams look to finally get over the hump with one key addition. There are a few players who can sign extensions with their current team, and then there are a handful of star players who may return to their team on a new contract. 

Draymond Green is one of those stars.

The Golden State Warriors find themselves in a bind this offseason, as change has already altered the future of what many have called the NBA’s latest dynasty. Longtime executive Bob Myers has stepped away, leading to Mike Dunleavy Jr. being named the Warriors’ new general manager. The organization has also begun cutting long-term costs by trading Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards for future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. 

Aside from lowering their long-term tax bill, one of the main reasons why the Warriors looked to move Poole so urgently before this year’s draft was to open up room for another high-paying contract on their payroll. This contract spot is being reserved for Green, as league sources told ClutchPoints the Warriors are solely focused on keeping their eight-time All-Defensive forward. After opting out of his $27.6 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent, there has been plenty of chatter on if Green would consider leaving the Warriors after 11 seasons. Despite interest from rival teams and players from around the league, sources say Green is expected to sign a new contract that aligns with that of Stephen Curry’s deal, which is set to run through the 2025-26 season. 

The Warriors have never been a team afraid to pay a high tax bill, and owner Joe Lacob has made his stance on keeping this team’s core together abundantly clear. Regardless of the price, Golden State is focused on competing for and winning championships right now. Losing Green in free agency is not an option this organization is bracing for, and they fully expect the veteran forward to be back on a new contract. 

Raptors running it back?

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Trade conversations continue to spread across the league, and the Toronto Raptors once again find themselves at the forefront of many teams' minds. Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. were all pursued ahead of the trade deadline this past year, yet the Raptors kept their core together and showed no real willingness to tear this group apart.

This notion has carried over to the offseason, as Toronto is still not ready to give up and go through some sort of rebuild, sources say. Rival teams have continued to contact the Raptors about trades focused on both Siakam and Anunoby, though Toronto is asking for a “king's ransom” in return, as one league source told ClutchPoints. 

Decisions still remain for the Raptors outside of trade discussions, with both VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl being unrestricted free agents. The Houston Rockets have been heavily connected to the Raptors guard in recent weeks and seem prepared to offer him a max contract to help lead their young core highlighted by Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr. and recent top pick Amen Thompson.

As outlined before the draft, the Rockets have no interest in discussing trades involving Green and are committed to him being a focal point of their roster for many years to come. VanVleet leaving Toronto and joining Houston is certainly a possibility, with Marc Stein even reporting it's expected by many around the league. The Raptors are still trying to persuade him to stick around though and the organization remains confident they can retain both him and Poeltl. 

VanVleet’s decision will come down to whether or not he wants to remain in Toronto. The Rockets can offer him a massive deal, but he has spent his entire career with the Raptors after going undrafted in 2016. This will very likely be a selling point when Toronto meets with VanVleet ahead of the start of free agency on Friday. Re-signing Poeltl will be a much easier task for this franchise, as the center market as a whole is down this offseason. 

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The Rockets' big NBA free agency plans

Circling back to the Rockets, in addition to VanVleet, they have interest in a number of other free agents across the NBA after a successful draft. The night could not have gone better for them, as Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore were two names at the very top of their draft board, sources say. With a young, dynamic core in place, the Rockets are expected to be aggressive when free agency begins on Friday evening. This organization wants to make a big splash with its $60-plus million in cap space.

Dillon Brooks has been heavily linked to the Rockets, per various reports, as is Milwaukee Bucks center Brooks Lopez. Kyle Kuzma is another name Houston is looking at, league sources told ClutchPoints. Recent rumors have connected Kuzma to the Sacramento Kings, but Sacramento still holds internal interest in bringing back veteran forward Harrison Barnes. As Kings insider James Ham recently reported, Barnes and the Kings are once again discussing new deals. Similar to Sacramento, Houston has a lot of cap space to play around with in free agency this year and could certainly use a younger player with championship experience like Kuzma out on the wing. 

Bucks in good shape

Coming off arguably his best overall season in the NBA at 35 years old, Brook Lopez is the top big man available after Nikola Vucevic agreed to a new contract with the Chicago Bulls. After leading the league in total blocks this past season and proving to be an effective three-point shooter, Lopez will have several suitors when free agency begins. 

Nonetheless, the Bucks anticipate Lopez returning, along with three-time All-Star Khris Middleton, who opted out of his $40.4 million player option earlier this month. As Stein first reported, Middleton’s new deal in Milwaukee is “all but assured at this point.” Lopez will likely return as well.

Should Milwaukee’s big man depart in free agency, though, Christian Wood is a player they could quickly turn their attention to, sources said, as the Bucks are a team actively looking for ways to improve their overall roster. Grayson Allen or Pat Connaughton could eventually be leveraged this offseason or even ahead of the trade deadline during the 2023-24 season. Connaughton is under contract through at least the 2024-25 season due to a player option he owns for the 2025-26 season, while Allen is entering the final year of his deal. 

NBA free agency guards and wings 

Major questions revolve around Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Donte DiVincenzo and Bruce Brown in NBA free agency. After reaching the NBA Finals this season with the Miami Heat, both Strus and Vincent are expected to see multiple offers come their way when the free agency period begins. Teams such as the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers could pursue Strus using their full mid-level exception, or cap space in regards to the Pistons and Pacers. 

Vincent, on the other hand, is being viewed as one of the better free agent guards available behind the likes of Kyrie Irving and VanVleet. As more and more interest is shown in the former undrafted guard, the more likely it appears as if he will also be departing the Heat this offseason. Keep an eye on the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Raptors as potential landing spots for Vincent, as these four teams have a need for backcourt talent. 

DiVincenzo opted out of his $4.7 million player option with the Warriors and is expected to receive offers from teams utilizing most of their mid-level exception, if not all of it. The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Cavaliers have been mentioned as possible suitors for DiVincenzo, sources said, with the New York Knicks also coming up in multiple reports around the league. After winning a championship with both Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson at Villanova, New York may be a very appealing destination for DiVincenzo personally. 

Coming off a championship with the Denver Nuggets, Brown is one of the better, high-impact players available as an unrestricted free agent. Brown opted out of his $6.8 million player option to seek more money following Denver’s title run, and he can contribute in multiple ways as a versatile, 3-and-D wing. The Nuggets remain confident in their ability to retain the 26-year-old swingman, but they can only offer him a max of $7.8 million for the 2023-24 season. Various teams with their full MLE available can easily lure Brown away from the Nuggets should he seek financial security this offseason, with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly targeting him. This decision is one that will truly come down to money versus vying for back-to-back titles in Denver. 

Damian Lillard's dance with the Blazers

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Perhaps the biggest question around the NBA right now revolves around the Portland Trail Blazers and what the future holds for superstar guard Damian Lillard. As he continues to stand firm on wanting to stay in Portland, Lillard has been nothing but loyal to the only NBA franchise he has ever known.

Unfortunately, the Blazers have had a very hard time coming up with ways to meaningfully improve the roster around him. Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little are their two best trade assets that do present value and upside, but there are very limited options available on the trade market right now. The Atlanta Hawks also find themselves in a similar spot as the Blazers in terms of trying to improve their roster, even though they are willing to discuss trades pertaining to any player besides Trae Young. 

The Raptors have been unwilling to negotiate in trade talks surrounding Siakam and Anunoby, as mentioned previously, and very few star players around the league are viewed as “gettable” this offseason. Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are also a part of this group of stars that could be on the move soon, yet the Timberwolves and Bulls have been reluctant to discuss their top talents in trade talks. 

Sixers on the clock?

Looking ahead to the future and what is in store around the league following the offseason, teams are monitoring the Philadelphia 76ers and reigning league MVP Joel Embiid closely. There are no indications pointing toward Embiid’s departure from Philadelphia, but there is talk among league circles that the Sixers are on the clock to find championship success.

If things go south during Nick Nurse’s first season with the 76ers and James Harden’s potential return in free agency does not move the needle for this franchise, there is a strong belief that Embiid could eventually ask out of Philadelphia as soon as next offseason. A player of his caliber hitting the trade market would surely result in teams disregarding stipulations and restraints that the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement presents. 

What's next for the Wizards? 

The Washington Wizards have been extremely busy under Michael Winger’s new leadership, trading away Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Chris Paul in the span of a week. The Wizards are not done making moves just yet, sources said, as they continue to gauge the trade market for 28-year-old guard Monte Morris.

Entering the final year of his contract and set to make $9.8 million, Morris is being viewed as a key point guard target for various teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Bulls, Timberwolves and Bucks have all been mentioned as possible suitors for Morris, and the Raptors are an interesting team to watch as well if VanVleet departs in free agency. 

Contract guarantee updates

Guarantee dates on contracts continue to come and go across the NBA ahead of free agency, as a few veterans remained with their teams on Wednesday night instead of hitting the open market. The Dallas Mavericks did not waive Reggie Bullock, making his $10.4 million contract guaranteed for the upcoming year, and the same can be said about Kelly Olynyk and the final $12.1 million on his contract. Olynyk, who is being viewed as a potential trade target after the Utah Jazz acquired John Collins from the Hawks, could provide a ton of value in the frontcourt for a playoff contender if he was to be traded.

The Los Angeles Clippers did waive Eric Gordon instead of guaranteeing his $20.9 million contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Bucks, 76ers, Knicks and Suns all showed interest in Gordon ahead of him being traded to the Clippers this past season. If he is willing to take a minimum-like deal, both Milwaukee and Phoenix are realistic landing spots for the 34-year-old guard in NBA free agency.

Other notes and intel from around NBA ahead of free agency

  • The Clippers remain interested in signing Russell Westbrook and the nine-time All-Star would like to remain in Los Angeles, sources say. As HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan stated recently, the Clippers can re-sign Westbrook up to a $3.8 million salary using his Non Bird rights as opposed to a $5 million mid-level exception deal. 
  • Keep an eye on the Spurs and what they plan to do. Looking to upgrade their roster around Victor Wembanyama, both Doug McDermott and Khem Birch could be leveraged for value since they both enter the final year of their respective contracts. 
  • There is a belief that veteran center Mason Plumlee will be willing to take a discount this offseason to play for a contender. Traded to the Clippers at this past season’s trade deadline, Plumlee made just under $9.1 million in the final year of his contract. 
  • As many could come to the conclusion, the Timberwolves are preparing to offer Anthony Edwards a max contract worth upwards of $200 million over the next five seasons. 
  • The Celtics have had zero conversations about splitting up their All-Star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, sources say, especially after acquiring Kristaps Porzingis. 
  • There is an expectation that Cleveland will retain free agent win Caris LeVert this offseason. A “1+1” contract containing a player option is certainly in play, as is a three-year contract that Cavs reporter Chris Fedor states could be in the $15 million to $18 million per year range.