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Notable free agents participating in 2023 NBA playoffs

Here’s a look at which prospective free agents could use a strong postseason.

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks
James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers comes off the bench and reacts during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on April 7, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

As the 2023 NBA playoffs get underway, there are several prominent players who will be entering free agency after the postseason. This is the last chance for these players to make a big impression when the stakes are the highest, which will greatly impact how they are viewed by the 30 teams in the league heading into the offseason.

Here’s a look at the most notable free agents in the 2023 NBA playoffs.

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

Contract status: Player option for 2023-24
Previous contract: 2 years, $68.6 million
2022-23 stats: 21 ppg, 10.7 apg, 6.1 rpg, 44.1 FG%, 38.5 3pt%

Harden had a phenomenal year, stepping up as a facilitator in Philadelphia’s offense to perfectly complement Joel Embiid. However, the postseason has been Harden’s downfall for many years. He’s struggled to be efficient, deliver massive scoring performances and generally win the series he would be expected to. There are rumors Harden wants to go back to Houston this offseason, and a championship with the 76ers would give him the out he needs to return to Texas. However, a down postseason might cool the market on what he can receive from other teams and that benefits Philadelphia on extension talks.

Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Contract status: Player option for 2023-24
Previous contract: 5 years, $178 million
2022-23 stats: 15.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 4.2 rpg, 43.6 FG%, 31.5 3pt%

Middleton battled through nagging knee soreness for much of this season, a lingering injury from last year’s playoffs. The Bucks have tried to manage his ailment but he’s had it flare up from time to time. The guard is crucial for Milwaukee’s success, and his scoring is often the difference between winning and losing. He’ll surely explore the open market and ultimately seems set to return to Milwaukee, but a big postseason bounceback effort would raise his value tremendously.

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Contract status: Player option for 2023-24
Previous contract: 4 years, $100 million
2022-23 stats: 8.5 ppg, 6.8 apg, 7.2 rpg, 52.7 FG%, 30.5 3pt%

This one is interesting for several reasons. Green’s raw numbers don’t jump off the page, but he’s been part of Golden State’s DNA for the duration of this dynasty. His defensive instincts continue to be elite, and his ability to make the right reads in this offense make him a key cog of the operation. The Warriors are up against the luxury tax and will surely have to make some concessions with Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole’s big contracts kicking in. Green has a bright future in the media space after he’s done on the court, but maybe there’s a team who will be willing to give him an offer he can’t refuse to keep playing.

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Previous contract: 5 years, $205 million
2022-23 stats: 15.9 ppg, 7.5 apg, 5.8 rpg, 43.6 FG%, 31.1 3pt%

Westbrook went from league MVP to trade fodder to the buyout market within a span of four seasons, and will enter free agency at a low point. The Clippers have gotten some good moments from the point guard, but his inability to shoot from the perimeter and defensive lapses make him tough to judge from a contract standpoint. The name value is there but the production on the court has declined as Westbrook’s athleticism fades. This will be his last contract, and it’s unlikely to be anything in the range of his old deals. However, he still has a role as a high-usage bench guard and could help a contending team in that capacity.

D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Previous contract: 4 years, $117 million
2022-23 stats: 17.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3 rpg, 46.9 FG%, 39.6 3pt%

After several stops around the league, Russell is back with the team that drafted him in a totally different setting. Those Lakers were in a rebuilding phase, while these Lakers are gunning for a title. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are unlikely to be fall guys in case things go wrong, so Russell will have to ensure his production doesn’t make him a scapegoat in these playoffs. His perimeter shooting makes him an intriguing free agent, but his defensive struggles are hard to overlook. Russell needs a big postseason to show he can be a high-level starting point guard in a league loaded at the position.