The three certainties in life are death, taxes and the NBA becoming completely unhinged as it approaches the free agency window. On the eve of Friday's official start, it was reported that James Harden -- widely expected to either remain with the Philadelphia 76ers or rejoin the Houston Rockets --in order to facilitate a trade, with the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks rumored as potential suitors.
Yup, here we go.
With Harden removed from the list of free agents, Kyrie Irving now takes the crown as the top player available. Reports indicate that he'll head back to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks but, after the Harden bombshell, we have no idea what to believe. And that's what makes NBA free agency so much fun.
Another free-agent point guard to keep an eye on is Fred VanVleet, who is expected to draw serious interest from the Rockets to help shepherd the youth movement into relevancy.
Outside of the top names, there are also key players who may not make the biggest splash over the summer but can lead to wins once the 2023-24 season tips. Here is a list of the top 30 potential NBA free agents this offseason.
Kyrie Irving Dallas Mavericks PG
Irving finished another tumultuous season by averaging 27 points, six assists and five rebounds in 20 games with the Mavericks, who punted on a play-in spot in the final week. Despite Dallas' lack of success after the trade, the team was actually a plus-four in net rating with both Doncic and Irving on the floor, which will perhaps lead the front office to make him an enticing offer. If not, there will certainly be teams willing to put up with any off-court drama to secure a player of Irving's caliber.
Khris Middleton Milwaukee Bucks SF
Middleton returned slowly from injury in 2022-23, but looked like his old self in the playoffs averaging 24 points per game on 47/41/87 shooting splits. It's hard to believe Milwaukee would let him go considering how crucial he is to the team, but there will be plenty of bidders after Middleton declined his player option. It should be noted that Middleton after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs. He is expected to be cleared to return by training camp.
Fred VanVleet Toronto Raptors PG
VanVleet will reportedly decline his option, making him one of the most attractive free agents on the market given his production and championship mettle. He would be a great stabilizer and mentor on a rebuilding team or potentially the final piece of the puzzle for a contender.
Draymond Green Golden State Warriors PF
It's hard to imagine Green not in a Golden State uniform, but after last season's disappointment that began with his infamous punch during training camp, a mutual parting of ways isn't totally out of the question. Green's value outside of the Warriors' system he helped build is hard to gauge, but after he declined his option there will likely be plenty of teams willing to pay up to find out.
Jerami Grant Portland Trail Blazers PF
Grant was exactly what the Blazers needed last season, playing strong defense while averaging over 20 points per game and shooting a career-high 40% from 3-point range. If Portland decides to rebuild and let Grant walk, he'll get some significant offers in the free-agent market.
Brook Lopez Milwaukee Bucks C
Lopez has become one of the best defensive players in the NBA and is coming off of arguably the best all-around season of his career. With the premium put on rim protection, he should have at least a handful of suitors this offseason.
Kyle Kuzma Washington Wizards PF
The likelihood was always that Kuzma would choose not to exercise his option and test the open market, where he'll have plenty of suitors as a big wing who can defend multiple positions and also drop 30 points on any given night. The direction of the new Wizards front office could sway Kuzma one way or another.
Jakob Poeltl Toronto Raptors C
Poeltl was excellent after being traded to the Raptors, as they outscored opponents by 9.1 points per 100 possessions in his minutes. They'll likely look to bring him back, but should they change course he'll have no shortage of offers from contenders around the league.
Austin Reaves Los Angeles Lakers SG
Reaves evolved from a useful rotation player to a nightly starter to an essential playoff performer in a matter of months for the Lakers, who have the ability to match any lucrative offer that comes his way. A return to L.A. seems likely given the Lakers' financial restrictions, but there's also a chance that Reaves' price tag simply gets too high.
Cameron Johnson Brooklyn Nets SF
Brooklyn's direction is a bit uncertain at the moment, but it has the right to retain Johnson for whatever price another team is willing to offer. A sharpshooting wing with size who can run the floor is a hot commodity, and he should be paid accordingly.
Bruce Brown Denver Nuggets SF
Brown proved himself to be an essential part of the Nuggets' championship run, and now Denver finds itself in a precarious position since it can only offer him a $7.8 million starting salary on a new contract. He's clearly worth much more than that, so the question is whether Brown wants to take a major discount to keep things rolling with the Nuggets.
D'Angelo Russell Los Angeles Lakers PG
The marriage between Russell and the Lakers looked great until the playoffs when, once again, he became unplayable in certain matchups. He's a reliable option for the Lakers if they choose to run back what worked so well to close last season, but a player of Russell's shooting and playmaking ability would also be useful on many other teams around the league.
Christian Wood Dallas Mavericks C
Wood was expected to make a big impact with Luka Doncic in Dallas, but things didn't turn out the way he or the franchise planned. As a result, he'll likely find a new home this summer. Wood's talent is obvious, as a 7-footer who can stretch to 3-point range and finish at the rim, but his defensive deficiencies kept him off the floor at times for the Mavericks.
Russell Westbrook Los Angeles Clippers PG
Despite his struggles with the Lakers, Westbrook proved with the Clippers that he can still be effective as a lead guard when he has the ball in his hands. The question is whether there are many teams out there, particularly contenders, who are ready to fork over so much responsibility to a former MVP whose efficiency continues to wane.
Dillon Brooks Memphis Grizzlies SF
It's strange to picture Brooks in a uniform other than the Grizzlies, but reports indicate that he's not going back to Memphis. His offense is occasionally cringeworthy, but he earned Second Team All-Defense honors this past season for a reason -- he's tenacious, physical and aggressive. The question is what his skill set and demeanor will command on the open market.
Max Strus Miami Heat SG
Strus was one of the many unheralded members of the Heat that came into the spotlight during their run to the Finals. He's a knock-down shooter who more than held his own defensively in the postseason, which should make him an intriguing option in free agency.
Donte DiVincenzo Golden State Warriors SF
DiVincenzo fit perfectly on the Warriors, but he's going to have to take less than his value if he wants to stay. He opted out of his $4.7 million player option, and the Warriors can't offer much more than that on a new contract. We'll see if he prioritizes fit over compensation this off-season.
Herbert Jones New Orleans Pelicans SG
The very strong likelihood is that Jones isn't going anywhere, as the Pelicans are expected to work on a long-term deal with the defensive wizard. But technically he is a restricted free agent, so he deserves to be on the list.
Gabe Vincent Miami Heat PG
The starting point guard for the Eastern Conference champions, Vincent is due for a major pay increase from the $1.8 million he made last season. If Miami goes star-hunting and lets Vincent go, he would be a seamless addition to pretty much any NBA team.
Rui Hachimura Los Angeles Lakers PF
Hachimura raised his stock considerably with an incredible playoff performance for the Lakers, who are likely crunching the numbers on how high of an offer they're willing to match for the 25-year-old forward. After struggling from 3-point range throughout his career, Hachimura shot 49% in the postseason with L.A.
Kelly Oubre Jr. Charlotte Hornets SG
Oubre is one of those rare players who can average 20 points per game but still seems like he's hurting your team. But if teams are looking for production and volume shooting -- and are willing to live with the inefficiency -- Oubre fits the bill.
PJ Washington Charlotte Hornets PF
Washington was one of the few bright spots on a struggling Hornets team last season, averaging a career-high 16 points per game. As a plug-and-play stretch four, Washington should get plenty of attention this summer.
Caris LeVert Cleveland Cavaliers SG
LeVert was miscast with the Cavaliers last season as a starting small forward when his skill set is more of a scoring/playmaking guard off the bench. He shot a career-high 39% from 3-point range last season, so he should be an attractive option for teams looking for bench pop if Cleveland isn't interested in a reunion.
Seth Curry Brooklyn Nets SG
It was somewhat surprising that Curry remained with the Nets to finish last season, and the 32-year-old can make an impact on any team given his elite 3-point shooting ability. If Brooklyn decides he's not part of its future, Curry shouldn't have a problem finding a home.
Grant Williams Boston Celtics PF
Williams fell out of the rotation at times for the Celtics, but he's a proven playoff performer who could be attractive in the free-agent market as a big who can stretch the floor and defend multiple positions. Boston will be put in an interesting situation if Williams receives a significant offer sheet.
Mason Plumlee Los Angeles Clippers C
Plumlee is a serviceable starting center and an above-average backup with his athleticism, playmaking and rebounding ability. The market for centers has declined in recent years, so Plumlee could be a great low-cost option for a contender looking for another big.
Dennis Schroder Los Angeles Lakers PG
Schroder rehabilitated his value in the league with an impressive postseason performance and is a strong candidate to return to the Lakers in a run-it-back scenario. If L.A. decides to go in a different direction, however, Schroder could be a helpful backup or part-time starter on another contender.
Eric Gordon Los Angeles Clippers SF
Gordon was waived by the Clippers, clearing the way for him to become an unrestricted free agent. While not the player he once was, Gordon can still be extremely helpful after shooting 42% from 3-point range last season with Los Angeles.
Josh Richardson New Orleans Pelicans SG
Richardson is just the type of veteran who can fit into an existing culture or help build one on a young team. He shot 38% from 3-point range in 23 games after being traded to the Pelicans last season.
Jalen McDaniels Philadelphia 76ers PF
McDaniels didn't play a huge role after being traded to the 76ers last season, but he's exactly the type of wing that nearly every team is looking for. If he can become a more consistent 3-point shooter, he could work his way into a starting role somewhere.