Believe it or not, there’s more talent hitting the open market in 2021 than we saw this summer.
Basketball fans knew the summer of 2019 would be exciting, but not this exciting.
The Lakers sent a major haul to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, the Clippers became a super team and quite a few franchises have begun massive rebuilds.
But if you like this summer, just wait. There could be even more in store in two years.
Here’s why 2021 could be the best summer yet:
Believe it or not, there’s more talent projected to hit the open market in 2021 than we saw this summer. Of course, the ever-popular player options that have become so common will come into play, as well as extensions. But there genuinely could be an abundance of stars available when the free agent market doors swing open at 6 p.m. ET June 30 (clear your calendars: it’s a Wednesday).
Paul George signed a four-year, $137 million deal with the Thunder in 2018-19 and can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his player option for 2021-22 — just like his new teammate (and recruiter) Kawhi Leonard, who opted to sign a three-year contract instead of a four-year max this summer. The two are locked in to play with the Clippers for only two seasons, and both could explore their options pretty soon if things don’t pan out. Other notable names with All-Star experience and player options for 2021-22 include Chris Paul, LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Jrue Holiday.
But wait, there’s more.
Two of the most coveted young talents in the league will be approaching their primes in a few summers. It just wouldn’t be right to leave out Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If Davis elects to accept his player option in 2020-21 and finishes the final year of his current five-year, $127 million deal with the Lakers, he’ll be due for a serious raise. But that contract won’t be close to the five-year, $247 million extension ESPN reports Antetokounmpo could command in 2020. But should the 2019 MVP decline at age 26, he’ll certainly be flooded with enthusiastic suitors. (Maybe even the Knicks could figure out the logistics.)
Those are some of the biggest names, but there are likely to be other key players out there, as well. They’re no slouches, either. Among them are Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan, CJ McCollum, Bradley Beal, Rudy Gobert and others who have yet to emerge into the spotlight.
Simply put, there’s a lot to be excited about in the NBA. You can only imagine what kind of shocking team-ups and trades lie ahead.
The NBA’s salary cap has continued to rise, and it’s doing so at the right time.
The cap for 2019-20 will be $109 million, which is up from the previous season’s $101 million. That’s not a huge jump, but the 2020 class of free agents won’t come close in talent to 2021, anyway. Franchises looking to make big-time moves will sit on their wallets for two summers, when things really get interesting.
RealGM projects the 2021-22 salary cap to be around $125 million and a luxury tax of a whopping $151 million. If those marks are reached, the salary cap will be nearly $31 million more than it was in 2015-16 — and nearly $38 million more than that year’s luxury tax. Mike Conley, who has never been named an All-Star, signed a five-year, $153 million deal with the Grizzlies that season. It was the biggest deal in NBA history at the time.
You can’t help but wonder what a six-time All-Star entering his prime could ask for in this golden age of superstardom.
You’re sure to see some huge offers thrown around, and teams should have flexibility to put together some interesting squads if they play their cards right.