2021 Free Agency

2021 Free Agency: Options and qualifying offers

Breaking down which players opted in, opted out and will be restricted free agents this offseason.

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

All-Stars Chris Paul (left) and Kawhi Leonard both opted out of their deals for the 2021-22 season.

Before free agency officially tipped off at 6 p.m. ET on Monday evening, players and teams had to make decisions on contract options, qualifying offers, and contracts that were either partially or non-guaranteed. Here’s the low down on who’s staying and who could be going.

Player options

Bobby Portis opted out of his deal for 2021-22 with the Bucks.

These players had an option in the final year of their contract. If they exercised it, they were in for one more year. If they declined it, they become free agents on Aug. 1.

Exercised (under contract for one more year)
Kris Dunn (ATL, reportedly traded to BOS)
Montrezl Harrell (LAL, reportedly traded to WAS)
Serge Ibaka (LAC)
Derrick Jones Jr. (POR)
Kevon Looney (GSW)
Josh Richardson (DAL, traded to BOS)

Declined (free agents)
Will Barton (DEN)
Spencer Dinwiddie (BKN)
Bryn Forbes (MIL)
JaMychal Green (DEN)
Isaiah Hartenstein* (CLE)
Kawhi Leonard (LAC)
Chris Paul (PHX)
Bobby Portis (MIL)
Norman Powell (POR)

* Hartenstein was the one player above who was eligible for restricted free agency after declining his player option. But the Cavs did not tender a qualifying offer (see below), making him an unrestricted free agent.

Team options

The Heat picked up the option they had on Goran Dragic’s contract for next season.

Here, the decision lies with the team. If they exercised the team option, they keep the player for another year. If they declined it, they allowed him to become a free agent.

Exercised (under contract for one more year)
Willie Cauley-Stein (DAL)
Goran Dragic (MIA)
Mitchell Robinson (NYK)
Edmond Sumner (IND)

Declined (free agents)
Ryan Arcidiacono (CHI)
Avery Bradley (HOU)
Andre Iguodala (MIA)
Didi Louzada** (NOP)
Justise Winslow (MEM)

** Louzada’s team option was declined, but the Pelicans issued him a qualifying offer (see below), making him a restricted free agent.

Qualifying offers

Cavs big man Jarrett Allen averaged 12.8 ppg and 10.0 rpg last season.

Some players were eligible for restricted free agency. This group includes 2017 first round draft picks who had their third and fourth-year options picked up and just completed their rookie contract, as well as other players who have played three or fewer seasons in the league.

Restricted free agency allows the team to match any offer the player receives from another team. But in order to have that right, the team must have issued the player a qualifying offer by Sunday. If a qualifying offer wasn’t issued, that player is an unrestricted free agent instead.

The qualifying offer is binding as a one-year contract. If the player signs it, he’s under contract for next season. He could also sign an offer sheet from another team (which his team would have the ability to match), and he and his team could agree on a new, multi-year contract. The team also has the ability to rescind the qualifying offer going forward (the list below is as of Aug. 1.)

Issued (restricted free agents)
Jarrett Allen (CLE)
Lonzo Ball (NOP)
Bruce Brown (BKN)
John Collins (ATL)
Terence Davis (SAC)
Hamidou Diallo (DET)
Devonte’ Graham (CHA)
Javonte Green (CHI)
Josh Hart (NOP)
Talen Horton-Tucker (LAL)
Lauri Markkanen (CHI)
Svi Mykhailiuk (OKC)
Kendrick Nunn (MIA)
Duncan Robinson (MIA)
Gary Trent Jr. (TOR)
Jarred Vanderbilt (MIN)

Not issued (unrestricted free agents)
Thanasis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
Isaac Bonga (WAS)
Tony Bradley (OKC)
Ignas Brazdeikis (ORL)
Zach Collins (POR)
Brandon Goodwin (ATL)
Mike James (BKN)
DaQuan Jeffries (SAS)
Nicolo Melli (DAL)
Malik Monk (CHA)
Juwan Morgan (UTA)
Frank Ntilikina (NYK)
Dennis Smith Jr. (DET)
Brad Wanamaker (CHA)
D.J. Wilson (HOU)

New free agents

Cory Joseph appeared in 19 games for the Pistons in 2020-21.

The following players were waived before free agency began. If they clear waivers (two days after being waived), they’ll be unrestricted free agents…

Tyler Cook (DET)
Cory Joseph (DET)
Norvel Pelle (NYK)
Jontay Porter (MEM)
Deividas Sirvydis (DET)
Matt Thomas (UTA)

Two-way free agents

This past season was the fourth with two-way players that can go between the NBA roster and the G League. Some two-way players are still under contract for next season. Those that aren’t can be restricted free agents if they were on the NBA team’s active or inactive list for 15 or more days of the regular season, if (like non-two-way free agents) they’ve played less than three years in the league, and if they were issued qualifying offers.

Here’s a rundown of two-way free agents…

Keita Bates-Diop (SAS)
Jarrell Brantley (UTA)
Armoni Brooks (HOU)
Amir Coffey (LAC)
Devon Dotson (CHI)
Trent Forrest (UTA)
Josh Hall (OKC)
Nate Hinton (DAL)
Markus Howard (DEN)
Frank Jackson (DET)
Anthony Lamb (HOU)
Saben Lee (DET)
Nico Mannion (GSW)
Garrison Mathews (WAS)
Skylar Mays (ATL)
Jordan McLaughlin (MIN)
Reggie Perry (BKN)
Cassius Stanley (IND)
Max Strus (MIA)
Brodric Thomas (CLE)
Killian Tillie (MEM)
Rayjon Tucker (PHI)
Gabe Vincent (MIA)
Cassius Winston (WAS)

Kostas Antetokounmpo (LAL)
Jordan Bell (GSW)
Tyler Bey (DAL)
Keljin Blevins (POR)
Devontae Cacok (LAL)
Chris Chiozza (BKN)
Gary Clark (PHI)
Nate Darling (CHA)
Tacko Fall (BOS)
Kyle Guy (SAC)
Jared Harper (NYK)
Shaquille Harrison (DEN)
Jaylen Hoard (OKC)
Justin Jackson (MIL)
Nathan Knight (ATL)
T.J. Leaf (POR)
Jeremiah Martin (CLE)
Adam Mokoka (CHI)
James Nunnally (NOP)
Theo Pinson (NYK)
Chasson Randle (ORL)
Grant Riller (CHA)
Sindarius Thornwell (ORL)
Axel Toupane (MIL)
Tremont Waters (BOS)
Quinndary Weatherspoon (SAS)

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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