While the NBA playoffs have just begun, it’s never too early to begin thinking about free agency. This offseason is expected to provide a whirlwind of activity, with several prominent players likely to hit the market and plenty of money for teams to spend. The league received quite a shake-up last season when LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and Kevin Durant’s decision whether or not to stay with the Golden State Warriors could have similar implications.
As is true with any collective bargaining agreement, there are some tricky details associated with free agency, so we’re here to help you get all the details and answer all your questions before the feeding frenzy begins. We’ve also picked out the Top 20 potential free agents so you can start figuring out which player fits your team best.
When does NBA free agency start?
Monday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. ET is the beginning of NBA free agency for the 2019-20 season, and players will then be free to meet with teams to discuss terms on a potential contract. However, no free agents can actually sign any contracts (with a few exceptions) until noon ET on July 6. Why? We’ll explain below.
What is the July Moratorium?
For the most pat, no contracts can be signed during the negotiation period between July 1 and July 6. This rule was presumably put in place to allow both players and teams to fully think through their decisions before putting pen to paper. There are very specific exceptions, which we’ll get into below. But first, let’s look at the top potential free agents.
Who are this summer’s top free agents?
- PO: Player option
- TO: Team option
- UFA: Unrestricted free agent
- RFA: Restricted free agent
What kinds of signings can take place during the Moratorium?
There are a few contracts that are allowed to be signed during the July Moratorium. The brilliant folks over at NBA CBA FAQ do a great job explaining it:
- Teams may sign their first-round draft picks (to a standard rookie “scale” contract).
- A second-round draft pick can accept a required tender, which is a one-year contract offer teams must submit to retain their rights to the player.
- A restricted free agent can accept a qualifying offer from his prior team.
- A restricted free agent finishing the fourth season of his rookie “scale” contract can accept a maximum qualifying offer.
- A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with a new team, although the 48-hour matching period does not begin until the conclusion of the Moratorium.
- Teams may sign players to minimum salary contracts for one or two seasons, with no bonuses of any kind.
- Teams may sign players to Two-Way contracts, convert a Two-Way contract to a standard NBA contract, or convert a standard NBA contract with an Exhibit 10 to a Two-Way contract.
- Teams may waive players or claim players waived by other teams.
Can players agree to contract terms during the Moratorium?
Yes, and they almost always do. Players generally like to get their free-agent decisions taken care of early by making verbal agreements, so that they can begin preparing with their new teams and enjoy a less stressful summer.
Are verbal agreements made during the Moratorium binding?
No. Any agreements made without pen officially going to paper are simply promises — both players and teams have the ability to go back on them. This is generally considered bad form and rarely happens, with the most recent major example coming back in 2015 with DeAndre Jordan, who famously rescinded on his verbal agreement with the Mavericks after being held hostage by the Clippers in his Houston home. .
What’s the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents?
Unrestricted free agents can sign with any team, and their previous team no longer has any rights to them. Restricted free agents can sign offer sheets from other teams, but their previous team has 48 hours to match the terms, therefore retaining the player.
Which teams are expected to be active?
Las summer, approximately 80 percent of NBA teams were over the salary cap, but this year is a different story. According to Spotrac, there are 12 teams with projected cap space of $20 million or more, and several teams have enough room for at least one max salary. Here are the teams with the most projected space, and could be the most active during free agency:
When does free agency end?
Never! Players can continue to be signed throughout the year if they haven’t found a team by the start of the 2019-20 season.