The 2022 NBA offseason action is about to kick into high gear.
Just days after the Golden State Warriors parade around the Bay Area with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the 2022 NBA Draft will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And shortly following the draft will come one of the wildest periods on the NBA calendar: free agency.
To get ready for this year’s free-agent frenzy, here’s a look at the expected start date, top available players and much more:
When does 2022 NBA free agency start?
The NBA hasn’t released the official start date for free agency yet, but it’s expected to be June 30. In 2019, which was the last time the NBA had an offseason on its normal calendar, free agency opened up on June 30 at 6 p.m. ET.
What is the salary cap for the 2022-23 NBA season?
The salary cap for the 2022-23 season is set at $122 million, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. That’s up nearly $10 million from the $112.4 million salary cap in 2021-22.
Meanwhile, the luxury tax threshold has increased from $136.6 million to $149 million for next season. The luxury tax apron, which hard-capped teams must remain below, is $155,196,200.
Which NBA teams have the most cap space in 2022 free agency?
Despite the salary cap increase, there likely won't be too many teams operating under the cap this offseason. Spotrac's practical cap space projections have just five teams under the $122 million figure.
Here are the top 10 teams in projected practical cap space:
1. Orlando Magic: $27.52 million
2. Detroit Pistons: $27.4 million
3. Indiana Pacers: $25.75 million
4. San Antonio Spurs: $22.86 million
5. Portland Trail Blazers: $21.68 million
6. New York Knicks: -$2.49 million
7. Oklahoma City Thunder: -$2.53 million
8. Houston Rockets: -$12.9 million
9. Miami Heat: -$18.79 million
10. Memphis Grizzlies: -$19.67 million
How much is the NBA mid-level exception worth?
Teams without cap space will still have spending power to add external free agents though.
If an over-the-cap team operates below the luxury tax apron, it has access to the $10.35 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception. A non-taxpayer MLE contract can be up to four years in length. That type of team also has access to the $4.05 bi-annual exception (unless it was used last offseason). If a team uses the non-taxpayer MLE or bi-annual exception, it’s hard-capped at the apron for the remainder of the league year.
For a team operating above the apron, it has access to the $6.39 million taxpayer mid-level exception, which can be used for a deal up to three years in length.
Finally, if a team is below the cap, it has the $5.53 million room exception at its disposal, which can be used for a deal up to two years long.
It’s worth noting that exceptions can be split up to sign multiple players. For example, a team with the non-taxpayer MLE has the ability to sign two players to deals with a starting value of $5 million.
Who are the best available 2022 NBA free agents?
This free agency period could boast both a star-studded unrestricted class and a loaded unrestricted class. Here are the best players who could be available:
- Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets ($36.5M player option)
- Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (unrestricted)
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards ($36.4M player option)
- James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers ($47.4M player option)
- Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (restricted)
- Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (restricted)
- Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (restricted)
- Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (unrestricted)
- Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers (restricted)
You can check out an expanded list of the top free agents here.