Here's a guide for what you need to know:
When does free agency start?
At 12:01 a.m. ET, Saturday what is called the NBA moratorium period officially begins. In that time, no one can actually "sign" players, but teams can come to agreements on deals and offer sheets. The moratorium lasts until 12:01 p.m. ET on July 6, at which point teams can actually formally sign players and hold their introductory press conferences. But July 1 is when the madness begins. There will be meetings as early as 12:01 a.m.
If a team signs another team's restricted free agent to an offer sheet, the player's original team has 72 hours to match the contract.
Who are the big players on the market?
- Paul was arguably the biggest name that could actually change teams but he was Paul George to pair with their All-Star backcourt.
. The Rockets are expected to pursue another star, possibly
- Blake Griffin in the next biggest name who could actually switch jerseys. He , then , according to reports. L.A. is expected to make him their top priority, but Griffin's position in the wake of Paul's departure is as yet unknown.
- Meanwhile, the other big name headed into Friday night is Gordon Hayward. Hayward is set , then the Jazz on Monday and the Celtics after that. Hayward declined his player option for 2018 on Thursday.
- Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both opted out of their contracts with the champion Golden State Warriors, but both are considered locks to re-sign with the juggernaut.
- Paul Millsap is one of the most underrated players in the class, and he's expected to draw interest from the Hawks to re-sign him, as well as Denver.
- Speaking of Denver, Danilo Gallinari will be a heavily-recruited wing, with the Los Angeles Clippers reportedly in pursuit.
- The Raptors' future is up in the air with Masai Ujiri being recruited by the Knicks for their front-office job, but they also have some big free agents up for new deals. Both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka are expected to re-sign with Toronto, but a departure for either wouldn't come out of left field.
What will the big-name teams do?
Boston Celtics: Boston is expected to pursue a max star, either Hayward or Griffin. They still have all the assets in the world to be able to make a deal for a star trade as well. The Celtics may be the team to watch in free agency. Boston could have up to $30 million in cap space to sign free agents.
Cleveland Cavaliers: They have no GM, just an acting one, and yet they are reportedly still pursuing a George trade. There is also talk of buyouts for Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony which could lead to a potential Banana Boat team-up. Their free agency options are limited by their cap sheet.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are keeping the powder dry for 2018 to allow them to sign George who reportedly have interest. But if they become concerned about George signing elsewhere and getting attached, it could cost them, and that has led to ongoing trade talks. Meanwhile, in free agency, they hope to sign additions that won't eat up their cap and who can contribute. So basically, the exact opposite of what they did last summer. They could have up to $25 million in cap space.
New York Knicks: The Knicks, like the Cavaliers, are without a head of basketball operations after "parting ways" with Phil Jackson earlier this week. But they also could have as much as $25 million in cap space. They're reportedly interested in free agent point guard Jeff Teague.
Golden State: The Warriors are expected to return their championship core, including Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, but some of that may be in jeopardy if serious offers come in or ownership gets skittish about an extreme luxury tax bill.
Los Angeles Clippers: They're going to have more flexibility after the Paul deal to reshape the roster if Griffin re-signs. If he doesn't, it could be a complete tear-down. They could have as much as $30 million in cap space.
What to expect starting Saturday
Some players will hold meetings first thing at 12:01 a.m. with teams. Most of the big names will take several days to make their decisions after visiting with several teams.
There will, however, be several early deals, like the monster deal the Lakers gave Timofey Mozgov in the first hour last year. Those deals are typically not great.
The George situation could cause some hangups if talks heat up again and teams trying to acquire him don't want to tie up space before adding him because of how that could determine their approach.
Many of the restricted free agents, due to the ability of their teams to match any offer for them, may not be signed immediately. It depends on the team and the player, but often teams will force the free agent to generate an offer sheet first.
Teams don't have to spend their cap space, or even hit the so-called salary floor. If a team doesn't hit the floor, they simply pay the difference to the players on roster. So if a team swings out in free agency on who they want, they don't have to spend their available space. But teams often do feel the need to do something, which can lead to disappointing Plan B's.