The tippy top of NBA free agency has lacked movement and even genuine flight risks over the past few years. Most marquee names have either re-signed or not reached the open market at all, instead opting for long-term extensions and windfalls over the chance to be wined and dined by prospective suitors.
That might change this summer.
No, this year's free-agency class is neither the starriest nor deepest. But a hefty share of the most notable names expected to be available seem, well, actually available. Among the top 10 players scheduled to hit the open market, roughly half profile as legitimately poachable.
In pretty much every case, the potential for changes in scenery has nothing to do with on-court returns. The players who appear here remain really good, even if they've regressed a tad. Their gettability rating is driven almost entirely by alternative factors.
Certain squads may be ready to start anew. Others might just get pocket shy in the face of punitive luxury-tax forecasts. Nearly every one of these players may prefer the chance to try out new digs and different roles, end up seduced by more aggressive admirers or some combination of both.
Please do not interpret this list as predictive gospel. These cream-of-the-crop free agents aren't guaranteed to suit up elsewhere next year. But they could. And that's the entire point.
Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant essentially has a standing four-year, $112 million extension offer on the table from the Portland Trail Blazers, according to The Athletic's Jason Quick. His decision not to sign it doesn't necessarily portend departure. He could just know that he'll land more on the open market.
Which, in the end, might actually portend departure.
Putting pen to paper now would leave Grant with a salary next season of around $25.2 million. Based on the current cap projections, entering free agency would allow him to sign for a starting salary up to $40.2 million—the equivalent of a 30 percent max.
No team is paying Grant over $40 million per year. At least, no team should. But something in the ballpark of $30 million or slightly more could prove obtainable.
Grant will be 29 when next season tips off, still firmly in his prime. The combination of his three-point shooting (40.3 percent this year), positional defense and bandwidth to generate looks for himself going downhill will leave him in high demand.
That mark is bound to include Portland—which, despite its hazy trade-deadline activity, must weigh all win-now possibilities to maximize what's currently the best version of Damian Lillard we've ever seen. But we have seen Grant leave an interested party for a higher-profile role before. And while the Blazers don't deploy him as the pure accessory the Denver Nuggets did, others may be able to offer a more central offensive focus.
In the event role isn't the issue (it probably won't be), the money eventually has to matter. The Blazers already have nearly $87 million allocated to Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons next season. Tacking on another $30-plus million for Grant will make it difficult to duck the luxury tax while retaining Cam Reddish (restricted), Matisse Thybulle (restricted) and actively looking to make other upgrades.
Portland might just also have a walk-away number. The Blazers are amply motivated to keep Grant after not moving him at the deadline, but there is always a walk-away number on non-stars. And other teams might be open to hitting it.
Potential Suitors to Watch: Houston, Indiana, Oklahoma City
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (Player Option)
Let's get this out of the way: Draymond Green is not here because of #ThePunch. Well, not entirely.
Green told Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks in January his relationship with Jordan Poole is a work in progress, but the fallout from this incident has not come close to defining the Golden State Warriors' season. Any subtle podcasting digs or admissions and irritated mid-game glances are merely part and parcel of both The Draymond Green and Jordan Poole Experiences.
This is more about the Dubs. More specifically, it's about their wallet.
Green has a $27.6 million player option for next season. If that salary holds in his next deal, Golden State's roster could rise north of $450 million after factoring in the repeater tax. That number will only climb if Green costs more on a per-year basis and/or the Warriors use their mini mid-level exception.
Whether Golden State's collective C-Suite has the stomach to foot such a gargantuan bill remains to be seen. This franchise is obligated to go all-in on Stephen Curry's prime, which continues to be alive and well. But the crux of its roster is aging.
Green just turned 33. Ditto for Klay Thompson, who will be entering the final year of his deal next season. Steph turns 35 on March 14. The Warriors have also already recommitted to Poole and Andrew Wiggins. They might be flush, but are they flush enough to carry $24-plus million salaries for five players?
Maybe the Warriors gut it out for another year and confront the awkward and tough questions later. Perhaps Green re-signs for cheaper than we think. More likely, maybe Thompson is the one accepting a hometown discount in his next deal.
Collateral damage still feels inevitable. That could come in the form of a Poole trade over the summer. But it could—it might—manifest with Green shopping around for more lucrative opportunities than Golden State is prepared to offer.
Potential Suitors to Watch: Houston, Indiana, Lakers