Just like a hot run of form can lead impending free agents in the NBA to more money than they were previously going to be signed for – and you can look at the Denver Nuggets’ Bruce Brown and the Miami Heat’s Gabe Vincent and Max Strus as examples of that this year – the opposite can be true when a soon-to-be free agent performs poorly in the postseason.
That can cost players millions and millions of dollars and years of security on their next contract, because, in teams’ minds, what good is a player if they can’t perform at their best when the stakes are at their highest?
Below, check out the impending NBA free agents we believe hurt their stock the most in the 2023 playoffs.
Playoff stats: 10.5 ppg, 1.8 apg, 31.2 FG%, 23.8 3P%, -10.4 net rating
What is there to be said about Memphis Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks that hasn’t been said already?
For starters, his performance in the 2023 playoffs – and his antics all throughout them – were considered so poor by Memphis that news was leaked almost immediately, and quite curiously, that the Grizzlies had informed Brooks they wouldn’t be re-signing him this summer “under any circumstances,” according to The Athletic.
And although that does seem a little scapegoatish, as Memphis has had many on- and off-court problems besides Brooks recently, his play certainly was quite bad during the Grizzlies’ six-game defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in round one, while his antics – like calling LeBron James old after Memphis’ game two victory, bringing negative attention to the team when it could have been on the verge of flipping momentum in the series – likewise didn’t help matters.
Over the final four games of the series, Brooks averaged just 9.0 points and shot 28.0 percent from the floor, 22.2 percent from three, a stretch in which the Grizzlies were outscored by 34 points with the Canadian forward in the game.
And while Brooks’ struggled so mightily, his teammate, Luke Kennard, shone, improving the Grizzlies’ net rating by an astronomical 36.6 points per 100 possessions when he’d check into games, showing how impactful it was when Brooks would get benched for a competent shooter.
Either way, Brooks will be in the NBA next season – the Houston Rockets were reported as interested suitors recently – but there’s no question he cost himself a whole lot of money with his 2023 postseason showing.
For more Dillon Brooks rumors and salary info, click here.
Playoff stats: 13.3 ppg, 4.6 apg, 42.6 FG%, 31.0 3P%, -6.6 net rating
For the second year running, Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was benched late in a playoff series with his team facing elimination, once again proving that although he might be able to put up solid numbers in the regular season, his legitimate impact toward outcomes might actually be in the red.
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Russell, either, as the lefty scoring guard is about to hit unrestricted free agency after earning $31.3 million this past season, an annual contract number he might never reach again barring a huge improvement in his nightly impact.
What does help Russell is the fact he was OK over the first two rounds of the playoffs, averaging 15.7 points and 5.0 assists on 44.5 percent shooting, 34.7 percent from three, as Los Angeles went 8-4 over its first 12 postseason games.
But things fell apart for Russell in a huge way against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, with his numbers plummeting to 6.3 points and 3.5 assists on 32.3 percent shooting, and one benching in Game 4, in the sweep at the hands of Denver. Russell made just two of his 15 Conference-Final three-point attempts.
Now the questions are: Do teams still view Russell as a starter-level talent? Do they think he can reach his All-Star-level heights of 2018-19? Will they trust his regular-season production over the smaller sample size of his playoff appearances?
Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Russell take a shorter-term prove-it deal this summer in hopes of hitting free agency again as soon as possible after working to improve his stock as seen around the league.
For more D’Angelo Russell rumors and salary info, click here.
Playoff stats: 10.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 41.7 FG%, 24.0 3P%, -26.3 net rating
Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes has never been much of a step-up-in-the-playoffs guy, with his career postseason averages sitting at 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on 41.9 percent shooting (34.3 percent from three) over 71 playoff games.
But he took that to another level this postseason, hitting just six of his 25 three-point attempts in the playoffs this year as the Kings fell to Barnes’ first NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, in seven games.
One of those three-point misses for Barnes was particularly brutal, as in Game 4, with the Kings still holding a two-game-to-one series advantage, Sacramento was down 126-125 with just over 10 seconds remaining but in possession of the ball. After All-Star guard De’Aaron Fox drew two defenders, he kicked it to a relatively open Barnes on the wing, who proceeded to badly brick the good look at what would have been an enormous game-winner, one that might have been enough to eventually send the Kings to the second round of the playoffs.
Now 31 and proven to be a poor playoff performer, at least when compared to his respectable regular-season play, Barnes could face a tough market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
He’ll still have suitors considering versatile swingmen defenders who can play on the wing or as small-ball power forwards carry a lot of worth in the modern NBA, but his value surely went down as teams saw him lay yet another playoff egg.
For more Harrison Barnes rumors and salary info, click here.
Playoff stats: 3.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 29.4 FG%, 26.9 3P%, -11.6 net rating
Lakers 2-guard Malik Beasley has been a streaky shooter all throughout his career but that level of hot-and-cold play fluctuated all the way to the chillier side in these playoffs, leading to him getting pretty much benched for the majority of the Conference Semifinals and Finals, a brutal time for that to happen considering Los Angeles owns a player option on the final season of Beasley’s deal next year, one worth $16.5 million.
And unless the Lakers have a bigger deal in place to pick up that option and trade it elsewhere, it seems very unlikely the former Florida State standout will be rocking the purple and gold next season.
When he was still part of the rotation early in the playoffs, Beasley was ice cold from three, hitting 26.3 percent of his triples over the first six games of the postseason, with the Lakers being outscored by 17 points with him on the floor during that stretch.
A career 37.8 percent three-point shooter with some athleticism but not much in the way of ball-handling or defense, it’ll be interesting to see how Beasley does if he does hit the open market of free agency this offseason.
For more Malik Beasley rumors and salary info, click here.
Playoff stats: 8.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 52.6 FG%, 33.3 3P%, -7.0 net rating
It’s scary how fast things can change for NBA players, as just one year ago, Brooklyn Nets sharpshooter Seth Curry was seen as an excellent role player on a very team-friendly deal, one of the best outside marksmen in the league and the perfect complementary piece for the duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Now with those two superstars gone, Curry’s play isn’t looked at as fondly, and he might be next to leave Brooklyn.
Curry was solid in the regular season, averaging 9.2 points and shooting 40.5 percent from three but that play tapered off in the playoffs, with the almost-33-year-old hitting just one-third of his three-point looks while getting played off the floor pretty much for a good portion of the series.
At that age and with such little impact in the way of defense, Curry still remains an elite shooter who can even score off the dribble some. But heading into unrestricted free agency, he surely would have liked to put up a stronger playoff performance to ensure a long-term contract awaits him this summer.
It might not.
For more Seth Curry rumors and salary info, click here.