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NBA Free Agency

Last Modified Oct 21, 2021 10:51 IST

In the NBA, a free agent refers to a player who is not contracted to any particular franchise and is free to sign for any team that he may have entered into an agreement with.

2019 NBA Finals - Game Five

NBA free agency thus becomes an important source of recruitment for teams that have adequate cap space and do not want to give up any assets in order to acquire a player. NBA free agency also helps marquee players get adequately paid for their services.

NBA Free Agency Date

In the NBA, any particular season follows a July to June yearly cycle, i.e., a new season begins on 1st July and ends on 30th June of the following year. NBA free agency begins officially every year with the start of the new official season. Up until the 2018-19 season, NBA free agency would begin every year on 1 July 12:00 AM ET. However, for the 2019-20 season, free agents were allowed to enter into agreements with teams from 30 June 6:00 PM ET itself. For the 2021 Season, Free Agency were allowed to enter into agreements with teams from the 2nd of August and the deals could be made official from the 6th of August at 12:01 PM ET.

How does NBA free agency work?

When it comes to NBA free agency, free agents can either be restricted or unrestricted. For unrestricted free agents, they can enter into a contract with any team of their choice. For restricted free agents though, a concerned player can enter into an agreement with any team that he wants. However, the said player's previous team can retain him by matching the terms of the aforementioned agreement.

What is a restricted free agent?

Restricted free agents are generally players that have certain restrictions with regards to how they can sign contracts with other teams or maintain employment status with their current team. If the team the player is on matches the offer of the other team, the player remains with the original team on a new deal. These are generally players with lesser league experience of up to 4-5 years with expiring or expired rookie contracts heading into NBA free agency.

Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans was one of the top restricted free agents this season. He ended up signing with the Chicago Bulls.

What is an Unrestricted Free Agent?

Unrestricted Free Agents are generally players that are not binded to any team by a contract. This is either the result of being waived or a non-renewal of their contract. They are free to sign with any team that wants them regardless of the amount offered by their current suitors. Teams can sign UFAs all the way until the trade deadline. These players are normally NBA Veterans with more than 4-5 years of experience.

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns re-signed, an Unrestricted Free Agent, during the 2021 NBA Free Agency period to run it back with his team that got to the finals.

Who are the top free agents in the NBA?

Although the 2021 free agency class wasn’t as crazy as the 2019 period, There were definitely a few notable names in the class.


The free agency class was highlighted by NBA Finals 2019 MVP Kawhi Leonard as well as other heavyweights of the modern NBA such as Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan. All these players signed large contracts a few days (a few hours for some cases) into the 2021 NBA free agency.

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