Pass or Pursue: Top 10 NBA Free Agents in 2022

Bradley Beal, Deandre Ayton
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We're less than two months from San Antonio Spurs and other teams being able to start negotiating with free agents, and there are bound to be some fireworks around the league.

Teams can't officially start negotiating with free agents until 6 p.m. ET on June 30th, but there will be plenty of rumors and rumblings to sift through as pretenders look to become contenders ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season.

That date comes exactly one week after June 23rd's 2022 NBA Draft, one in which the Spurs have four picks to work with and endless options as a result. While what they do on that day will probably give more of an indication of whether they'll be pursuing any big-name free agents, it's never too early to look at which names they should and shouldn't be eyeing.

Although this free agent class is lighter than most, there are still some huge names at the top of the list with NBA All-Star appearances and MVPs to their name. While some of them seem like locks to return to their respective teams, I wanted to be thorough and address whether the Spurs should even be interested in the first place.

For the purposes of this countdown, I used Frank Urbina's list of the top players available in free agency this offseason for HoopsHype. Let's get started with number 10.

San Antonio Spurs - NBA Free Agents
Russell Westbrook / Harry How/GettyImages

10. Russell Westbrook (Player Option)

To say Russell Westbrook's year with the Los Angeles Lakers was problematic would be a huge understatement. While he still put up 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game, he did so on unimaginably bad efficiency.

Despite making just 29.8% of his shots from beyond the arc this season, he still decided to take 3.4 of them per game. Of all Spurs on the roster, only Tre Jones had a worse percentage from the outside at 19.6%, and he knew to severely limit his attempts to just 0.7.

On top of his horrid shooting numbers, Westbrook also averaged 3.8 turnovers per game. Sadly, that's actually an improvement from the 4.7 he's averaged over the last seven seasons. Many of those turnovers happened in clutch situations, as he had the second-most in the league (17), only one behind Nikola Jokic.

It's no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers will explore all avenues to unload Westbrook and the $47 million he's owed in the last year of his player-option contract. While an Air Alamo colleague previously posed an idea to take on his contract for assets and cut him, that's the only scenario in which the Spurs should entertain any thoughts on Russell -- and even that wouldn't be worth the trouble.

Verdict: Hard pass