NBA pre-agency: What’s next for Trae Young, Damian Lillard, other NBA stars?

Another transaction cycle is completed now with the 2023 trade deadline way behind us. Last year following the 2022 trade deadline, we looked ahead at potential players who were nearing the end of their contracts and could be candidates to remain with their teams or look for new homes. Here we attempt to identify players whose names we could potentially hear in rumors ahead of the 2023-24 offseason. The most significant difference between this year and last year is that this year’s version will feature more players who just recently signed long-term deals.

Here are several players whose situations could be worth monitoring next season.

Khris Middleton (Milwaukee)

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Contract: $40.4 million for 2023-24 (player option)
Extension-eligible: Yes

Khris Middleton is finally looking like his old self post-knee injury, which is crucial with free agency potentially around the corner. He seems like a good bet to return to Milwaukee next year with the team looking like the favorite to win the title. He can currently extend with the Bucks for up to four years, $204 million, which would have a $45.5 million salary replace his $40.4 million player option for 2023-24. If he opts out, he can re-sign with the Bucks for a similar price range but with a fifth year as well.

Damian Lillard (Portland)

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Contract: $216.2 million through 2026-27
Extension-eligible: No

Damian Lillard remains committed to Portland and doesn’t seem like he’s going to waver from that position. But with no clear path for this roster to reach championship contention anytime soon, rival teams will continue to keep an eye on Lillard in case he ever does request a trade. With him playing at an All-NBA level again and under contract for four more years, the Blazers would get an optimal haul featuring all of a team’s first-round picks for him, if made available.

Jaylen Brown (Boston)

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Contract: $32.4 million for 2023-24
Extension-eligible: Yes (starting in the 2023 offseason)

Jaylen Brown will be entering the final year of his contract next season. While there’s no indication that he will be leaving the Celtics, he seems like a good bet to hit free agency rather than sign an extension. That’s because he’s limited in an extension this offseason to add up to $174 million over four years. A maximum deal for Brown with the Celtics in the 2024 offseason is currently projected at five years, $245 million.

James Harden (Philadelphia)

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Contract: $35.6 million for 2023-24 (player option)
Extension-eligible: No

James Harden took a significant pay cut for this season to give the Sixers the flexibility to sign both PJ Tucker and Danuel House. He has a player option for next year that he could decline and re-sign for more since he has already accumulated Bird rights. He could be looking at a significant raise closer to the maximum salary range he’s used to earning once he presumably opts out. He’s already been linked to a return to Houston should things not work out in Philadelphia.

Pascal Siakam (Toronto)

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Contract: $37.9 million for 2023-24
Extension-eligible: Yes (starting in the 2023 offseason)

Pascal Siakam will be entering the final year of his maximum contract and could be an interesting name to monitor if the Raptors fail to meet expectations again next season. The seven-year veteran has exceeded the value of his contract and could be looking at an even bigger raise. He still has a chance to become supermax eligible should he earn All-NBA honors this season. Otherwise, he will be eligible this offseason to extend for up to four years, $189.1 million, which is the equivalent of a four-year maximum deal with the Raptors in 2024 free agency.

OG Anunoby (Toronto)

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Contract: $38.6 million through 2024-25 (player option)
Extension-eligible: Yes (starting in the 2023 offseason)

OG Anunoby is another Raptor worth monitoring over the next year after his name was thrown aggressively in trade rumors. He will become extension-eligible this offseason but he is expected to bypass the four-year, $100.2 million amount he’s limited to for a bigger deal in free agency. With all five of Toronto’s top players expecting raises within the next 16 months, big changes could be made if the team gets too expensive.

Kyrie Irving (Dallas)

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Contract: $38.9 million for 2022-23
Extension-eligible: Yes

Kyrie Irving requested a trade out of Brooklyn largely to get to a team which he can secure a bigger contract from. While there might not be a market for him for a four-year maximum deal, he at least got to a destination in Dallas that will pay him more than the Nets were willing to offer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a multi-year contract at the near-maximum dollar amount since they can’t afford to let him walk. Irving can still avoid free agency by extending through June 30 for up to two years, $78.6 million.

Bradley Beal (Washington)

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Contract: $251 million through 2026-27
Extension-eligible: No

Bradley Beal has remained committed to Washington his whole career but will naturally remain a peripheral trade candidate with the Wizards continuing to tread mediocrity. The team remains in the hunt for a play-in spot and intends on re-signing potential free agents Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis to long-term contracts this offseason. If Beal or the Wizards ever decide to go in a different direction, the team could be a prime seller ahead of next year’s trade deadline.

Zach LaVine (Chicago)

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Contract: $215.2 million through 2026-27
Extension-eligible: No

Zach LaVine’s name has already been mentioned in rumors this season after reports of him and the Bulls organization not seeing eye-to-eye. The Bulls intend on remaining competitive and hopefully reaching the highs of last season despite their struggles this year. If they continue to disappoint and finally decide to pull the plug on this core, LaVine could be one of the bigger names to be moved next season.

Trae Young

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Contract: $215.2 million through 2026-27
Extension-eligible: No

Trae Young’s future elsewhere being speculated on this early into his five-year contract is surprising. But rival executives already feel that he could be the next star player to request a trade, according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. With that now out there, Young’s status with the Hawks could be publicly evaluated if the team stagnates.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype