The machinations of NBA free agency have undergone a face-lift in recent years. Fewer big names are hitting the market, let alone leaving. Players are orchestrating exits while still under contract or signing extensions with, perhaps, the intention of figuring out the rest later.

That's a relative bummer when thinking about the avalanche of marquee surprises and movement free agency used to be.


Fewer fireworks doesn't mean no fireworks. Most offseasons still contain a shock or five.

This summer might actually be good for more wild scenarios than usual. And it goes beyond just the much-ballyhooed, extensively rumored James Harden and Houston Rockets reunion.

A handful of big names face uncertain futures in their current digs, and a smattering of teams may be both positioned and driven to explore nuclear acquisitions to speed up or fortify their current timelines.

Our mission, that I have accepted and carried out on your behalf, is to identify what could be the splashiest shakeups. These are not predictions, just so we're clear. They're more like "If free agency gets vigorously turned upside, this might be why" possibilities we should all closely monitor.


Kyrie Irving Leaves the Mavericks

Kyrie Irving returning to the Dallas Mavericks is the most likely outcome of his free agency. They can offer him more years and money than anyone else (up to five years, $272 million) and remain optimistic about his desire to stick around, according to The Athletic's Tim Cato.

Money figures to speak volumes in this situation. Kyrie clearly cares—or, at least, cared—about having his Bird rights transferred to another team. He needn't have agitated for a trade out of Brooklyn otherwise.

Then again, money could be part of the Mavs' hesitance. How high are they willing to go? To his starting max of $46.9 million? And for how many years?

For as talented as Kyrie remains, he is notoriously mercurial—to say the absolute least, in the kindest way possible. If Dallas isn't offering the full boat, he might bolt. And while the Mavs just forked over Dorian Finney-Smith and a 2029 unprotected first-rounder to get him, they have to consider whether they're prepared to tie the next "X" number of seasons in Luka Doncic's heyday to a 31-year-old wild card.

This says nothing of Kyrie's potential desire to just leave. Maybe he agrees to take significantly less than the max—around $15 million or so—to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the event they choose cap space over depth. Maybe the Rockets strike out on Harden and pivot to maxing Kyrie as part of their we-have-almost-$60-million-in-cap-space plan.

Hell, maybe the Washington Wizards go full Washington Wizards and enter the fold as a sign-and-trade landing spot.

This is Kyrie we're talking about, after all. Quite literally anything seems on the table.


Draymond Green Leaves the Warriors

Envisioning a world in which Draymond Green wears another jersey is pretty difficult. All 11 seasons of his career have been spent donning a Golden State Warriors uni, and at 33, it's exceedingly tough to identify teams that'll fork over a lump sum to poach him.

Green could pick up his $27.6 million player option or accept a handsome pay cut in exchange for a longer-term deal. Neither outcome guarantees the Warriors run it back.

Bringing back Green at his player-option number would still have Golden State on track to pony up nearly $500 million in salary and luxury taxes. That's before factoring in any minimum-contract additions to the roster.

Whether the Warriors will let dollars and cents bust up a dynastic core is debatable. A lot depends on how the postseason shakes out. And even if team governor Joe Lacob gets pocket-shy, Green isn't a lock to become collateral damage.

Jordan Poole is about to start a four-year extension that guarantees him $123 million and, with the season he's having, feels more expendable. But Green has always felt like the core player most likely to explore his options.

Could the Lakers and Dray's fellow Klutch Sports Group stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, come calling? Would the Rockets consider paying Green in tandem with another huge acquisition? Should the Indiana Pacers consider offering a windfall to pair him up front with Myles Turner? Might other suitors from left field back up the Brink's Truck as part of sign-and-trade scenarios? Portland? Dallas? Chicago?

Don't rule out Green's free agency turning into chaos just yet.