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Some Of The Best, Worst And Big Money FA Deals of The NBA in 2021

Image Source: Lauri Markkanen @ Instagram

At least one 2021 NBA free agent who remains unsigned – Lauri Markkanen – is a candidate to receive an eight-figure annual salary this offseason, but it’s probably safe to assume that any deal Markkanen signs won’t crack this summer’s top 10 free-agent contracts.

Based on information from our free-agent tracker, there have been 10 free-agent contracts signed this offseason that include at least $75MM in guaranteed money. They are as follows:

  1. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers: Four years, $176.27MM (fourth-year player option)
  2. John Collins, Hawks: Five years, $125MM (fifth-year player option)
  3. Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers: Five years, $100MM
  4. Norman Powell, Trail Blazers: Five years, $90MM
  5. Duncan Robinson, Heat: Five years, $90MM (fifth-year early termination option)
  6. Kyle Lowry, Heat: Three years, $85MM
  7. DeMar DeRozan, Bulls: Three years, $81.9MM
  8. Lonzo Ball, Bulls: Four years, $80MM (fourth-year player option)
  9. Chris Paul, Suns: Four years, $120MM ($75MM fully guaranteed)
  10. Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks: Four years, $75MM

While some teams come to regret their long-term, big-money-free agent commitments within a couple of years, several of these deals have the potential to age pretty well. Collins, Allen, and Ball, for instance, are all still just 23 years old, meaning they still have many prime years ahead of them and could even continue improving.

Signing a two-time NBA Finals MVP and a perennial All-NBA candidate like Leonard to a long-term contract is also rarely a bad move, even if it’s for maximum-salary money. However, it’s a riskier proposition when the player in question is recovering from ACL surgery and isn’t a lock to play at all during the first year of the deal. The Clippers are confident that Leonard will make a full recovery, but his health issues – both past and present – create some cause for concern.

Lowry and Paul earned significant guarantees, given their respective ages (35 and 36). The Suns, at least, will get some protection in the third and fourth years of Paul’s contract, but if they waive CP3 before his third year fully guarantees, they’d end up paying him $75MM for just two seasons.

Powell, Robinson, and Hardaway are all talented contributors, but they’re role players, not stars. If their production falls off at all, those deals could become onerous in their later years.

Finally, DeRozan is one of the league’s most talented mid-range scorers and has improved as a facilitator, but he doesn’t stretch the floor and is a below-average defender. A three-year deal worth $27MM per season is a significant price to pay for a Bulls team that also surrendered a first-round pick to acquire DeRozan via sign-and-trade.

We want to know what you think. Which of these big-money 2021 contracts would you feel most comfortable about having on your team? Which do you view as the riskiest or most misguided investment?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Image Source: Lauri Markkanen @ Instagram


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