What Are the Most Desirable NBA Free Agency Destinations?

What Are the Most Desirable NBA Free Agency Destinations?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

NBA free agent signing season has begun and in New York, it’s been a big yawn.

According to research done by EmpireStakes.com – your home for New York sports betting - that shouldn’t be surprising.

EmpireStakes.com used a series of metrics to compile a system to determine the most desirable free agent destinations within the league.

This included compiling data on state tax burdens (data from WalletHub), media market ranking (data from USTVDB.com, via Nielsen’s 2022-2023 DMA rankings), city popularity (World'sBestCities.com, via Resonance Consultancy), as well as attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (ESPN.com), winning percentage since the 2019-20 season (Basketball-Reference.com) and 2024 NBA Championship Odds (SportsOddsHistory.com) to construct an aggregate ranking.

Toronto was not included on the list as we utilized U.S. data only. We did not include attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season, as COVID protocols varied across the league. For Washington D.C.’s state tax income, we utilized data from nearby Virginia. 2024 NBA championship odds are up to date as of July 5.

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Teams Most Desirable for Free Agents

Here is analysis you won’t find on NY sports betting apps.

RankCityCity Aggregate RankTeam Aggregate RankTotal Aggregate Rank
4LA (Lakers)1099.5
5LA (Clippers)109.339.67
8San Francisco13.678.3311
9New York1014.6712.33
17Salt Lake City201316.5
20Washington DC11.3323.6717.5
22Oklahoma City2011.6718.67
23San Antonio19.671919.33
26New Orleans20.3319.3319.83


Rankings Not Kind to Knicks, Nets

When it comes to their desirability as a free agent destination, the Big Apple is not so sweet. New York finished ninth and Brooklyn finished tied for 11th. Philadelphia finished first, Miami second, Boston third.

This has been New York’s off-season: The Knicks traded Obi Toppin to the Pacers for two second-round picks. Derrick Rose left to sign a multi-year deal with the Grizzlies, where maybe he can be a positive influence on Ja Morant. The Knicks, meanwhile, look to become Villanova north. After finding success with Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, they spent $50 million for four years of Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo. They had no draft picks but are loaded with draft picks going forward.

Seth Curry left the Nets for a two-year deal with the Mavericks, where he probably will see a lot of time once Kyrie does something Kyrie-like. The Nets also traded veteran shooter Joe Harris for Detroit Pistons draft picks and shipped off veteran shooter Patty Mills to the Thunder for draft compensation. They signed Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV to one-year deals.

What Does This Mean for Next Season?

So, where does that leave the New York teams heading into the 2023-24 season? Not much different that from the 2022-23 season. But a Caesars NY promo code still could give you some juice entering the season.

Knicks fans loved the dynamic athleticism of Toppin, but he was stuck behind Julius Randle, who could single-handedly win games . . . and lose games – sometimes the same game. Trey Lyles was a possible PF target, but he signed with Sacramento. Barring some kind of free agent miracle or a late trade, the Knicks, who had no draft picks this year but are loaded with draft picks going forward, are basically the same team as last year with DiVincenzo improving the defense and maybe the three-point shooting.

On the other side of the East River, the Nets starting lineup stays the same and Smith and Walker bring streaky offensive potential. The Nets had three picks in the 2023 draft and went young with 6-10 Alabama center Noah Clowney and 6-7 Dukie Dariq Whitehead, both of whom are 18 and unlikely to see significant time early unless the Nets struck gold. The third pick was 6-8 Kansas Jayhawk Jalen Wilson, who is likely to spend a fair amount of time on the Nets’ G-League team.

As for the top-ranked destinations, how hot were they really? No. 1 destination Philadelphia lost Georges Niang to Cleveland, Shake Milton to Minnesota and Jalen McDaniels to Toronto. They brought in Patrick Beverley from Chicago and Mo Bamba from Los Angeles. Whoa!

The Heat lost Gabe Vincent to the Lakers, Max Strus to the Cavaliers and Cody Zeller to the Pelicans. They’re bringing in Josh Richardson from the Pelicans, Thomas Bryant from the Nuggets and Dru Smith from the Nets. That seems like a net loss, but there’s probably some undrafted concession operator whom they’re prepping to light it up in the playoffs.

The Celtics lost Grant Williams to Dallas and are bringing in Oshae Brissett from Indiana and Delano Banton from Toronto. Eh. Now if any of these three can lure Damian Lillard, that would up their desirability factor.

A few of the more interesting signings include the Rockets paying $130 million for three years of Fred VanVleet, the Raptors paying $26 million for two years of Denis Schroder, the Lakers re-signing Rui Hachimura for three years, $51 million and Bruce Brown bolting the Nuggets for two years and $45 million with the Pacers. It seems what players find most desirable is offering a big number.



Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist who’s worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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