Why 2021 is the NBA's Next Big Summer of Free Agency


The NBA may not have to wait long until its next big free agent summer.

Details of Kawhi Leonard’s contract with the Los Angeles Clippers were released on Wednesday, and the two-time NBA Finals MVP signed a three-year, $103 million max deal, but the final year is a player option.

That means Leonard, who just turned 28, could become a free agent again as soon as the summer of 2021, joining another loaded class that could rival this year’s free agents.

In addition to Leonard possibly being on this list, the following players could become eligible for free agency after the 2020-21 season:

• LeBron James

• Paul George

• Giannis Antetokounmpo

• Blake Griffin

• Bradley Beal

• CJ McCollum

• Victor Oladipo

• Rudy Gobert

• Jrue Holiday

• Mike Conley

All of those players, with the exception of James, Griffin and Conley, will still be in their prime years between the ages of 28 and 31. Antetokounmpo could have multiple MVPs under his belt by then, while Oladipo, Beal and possibly even McCollum and Gobert could be in line for max deals.

Even Griffin will only be 32 years old, although he has an unsavory injury history, and a 36-year-old James will surely still be coveted around the league.

The next two seasons will dictate the paths many of these potential free agents take. If the Leonard-George experiment is a success in Los Angeles, perhaps they stay with the Clippers. What will James do if the Lakers are not a championship team in the next two years? Could Antetokounmpo win a title with the Milwaukee Bucks or will he have to head somewhere else?

Whatever happens, 2021 is shaping up to be another free agent bonanza in the NBA.