Editor’s note: NBA free agency opens Friday at 6 p.m. ET. See what trades and moves were made before the deadline in our Thursday tracker.
The Houston Rockets want to use and have the salary cap space to do so. The Phoenix Suns want to add more high-level talent, but don’t have the salary cap space to do so without another major trade. The Los Angeles Lakers would like to pry Bruce Brown from Denver, the team that defeated the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Free agency opens Friday at 6 p.m. ET, and several teams will look to improve their rosters in hopes of elevating to the playoffs or the championship. They may have to do that via trade, as may be the case for James Harden, who opted out of the final season of his Philadelphia contract with the idea that the Sixers will trade him.
Who will take the right actions? It will unfold during free agency via signings or trades.
Let’s take a look at free agent news as USA TODAY Sports keeps you updated:
Forward Jerami Grant reached an agreement to return to the Portland Trail Blazers on a five-year, $160 million contract, a person familiar with the terms told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity.
Bruce Brown, who played a central role in Denver’s championship run, agreed to a two-year, $45 million deal with the Indiana Pacers, a person familiar with the terms told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity. The Nuggets couldn’t offer Brown that much, and other teams that wanted to sign him, such as the Lakers, only had the mid-level exception at $12.4 million per season to offer Brown.
Kyle Kuzma returns to Washington. Kuzma agreed to a four-year, $102 million deal Friday to stay with the Wizards, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports. Kuzma averaged 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season on the Wizards, a team that appeared to be in rebuilding mode after offloading several players this offseason, including Bradley Beal. But Kuzma will not be one of them.
Forward Trey Lyles will return to the Sacramento Kings on a two-year, $16 million deal, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity to speak freely before the deal is official.
Guard Caris LeVert is staying in Cleveland after agreeing to a two-year, $32 million contract with the Cavaliers, according to ESPN.
Guard Coby White has agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract to stay with the Chicago Bulls. according to ESPN.
Draymond Green agrees to new deal with Warriors
Forward Draymond Green, one of the best defenders in the league and a four-time All-Star, plans to sign a four-year, $100 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official.
The Detroit Pistons acquired guard Joe Harris from the Brooklyn Nets in a trade, a person familiar with the details told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly until the deal is official. The Pistons will also acquire two second-round picks (2027 and 2029) in a deal that removes the final season of Harris’ $19.9 million deal from Brooklyn’s books. Harris will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. The Nets created a $19.9 million trade exception for use in the offseason or next season.
Who is available?
Controversial guard Kyrie Irving, who spent the latter part of 2022-2023 with the Dallas Mavericks after a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, is an unrestricted free agent. Golden State’s Draymond Green and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet are also available. See the other great free agents here.
James Harden will not be a free agent
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden will opt into the final season of his $35.6 million contract with the idea that the Sixers will trade Harden, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly until there is a resolution. Harden, the 2017-18 regular season NBA MVP, was expected to become a free agent with the option to re-sign with Philadelphia or return to Houston.
Harrison Barnes, Kings agree to extension
Forward Harrison Barnes reached a three-year, $54 million extension to stay with the Sacramento Kings. Barnes averaged 15 points and 4.5 rebounds and shot 47.3% from the field last season. The 31-year-old Barnes started every game last season – one of only three NBA players to do so – and helped the Kings reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Josh Hart commits to Knicks for 2023-24
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart, who had a productive season, including some strong games in the playoffs, got the option year on his contract for $12.9 million, ESPN and The Athletic reported. Hart averaged 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds and shot 47.9% from the field in 11 playoff games.
What we hear about free agency
Harden’s decision not to become a free agent and find a trade from Philadelphia will change the landscape for the 2023-24 season. …
Irving plans to meet with the Phoenix Suns when free agency opens, but the Suns don’t have the salary cap space, according to Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report. It should be a significant sign-and-trade, and regardless of Irving, who could also return to Dallas, watch for Phoenix center Deandre Ayton’s name to come up in trade scenarios as well. …
VanVleet will be paid. The Rockets are willing to offer a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $80 million, and while the Raptors have interest in keeping the All-Star caliber guard, the Raptors are closer to a deal in the three-year, $90 million range as they weigh others financial obligations, present and future. …
The Rockets are willing to spend as they try to speed up their rebuild under first-year coach Ime Udoka. They also have interest in Brook Lopez, but as veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein reported, it looks like Lopez will re-sign with Milwaukee, who also wants to bring back Khris Middleton. …
The Magic are an interesting team to watch. They have solid young players in 2022-23 Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero and 2021-22 All-Rookie performer Franz Wagner, and they had a strong 2023 draft, picking Anthony Black No. 6 and Jett Howard No. 11. The The Magic were in the play-in hunt until late in the season and were close to a .500 team in the second half of the season. Don’t be surprised if they spend some money on a short-term deal to preserve the salary cap beyond 2023-24. …
Green plans to keep an open mind in free agency as Golden State wants him back. Figuring out salary and contract length are the most important questions. Three or four years at $25 million per season could get that deal done between Green and Golden State. Outside of the Warriors, Sacramento and Detroit are expected to have interest. New Suns owner Mat Ishbia, who like Green played basketball at Michigan State, would love to add Green, but that would require a significant sign-and-trade. …
On the night Denver won the title, key reserve Brown said money wasn’t the only thing. However, he opted out of the final season of his deal to become a free agent this summer and will have interest, including some from the Lakers, who lost to the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals. …
It’s out there to some extent, but the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George pairing may be coming to an end as the Clippers explore trade options, especially now that Harden is available via trade.
Which teams have a significant salary cap?
san antonio tracks
Oklahoma City Thunder
What is an unlimited free agent?
The most common free agent is an unlimited one. Simply put, an unrestricted free agent can sign with any team they want. Once this contract is officially signed, the player is part of the new team.
What is a restricted free agent?
This is where it gets a little complicated. A restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with any team, but the player’s original team has the chance to keep the player by matching the offer.
For example, if restricted free agent Austin Reaves is offered a contract by the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers have the right to match the offer and retain Reaves. The NBA says the original team has the “right of first refusal.”
Restricted free agents exist in these situations: after the fourth year of a rookie contract for former first-round picks; veteran free agents who have three seasons or less of experience; and a player coming off a two-way contract who previously spent at least 15 days on an NBA roster the previous season. (A two-way contract allows a player to suit up for an NBA team or its G League affiliate).