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NBA free agency guide: Dwyane Wade is heading to Sweet Home Chicago. Plus grades, rumors and more

After 13 years in Miami, Dwyane Wade will play for his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. (Alan Diaz/Associated Press)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for basketball geeks, the NBA’s version of Christmas in July: free agency.

Keep up on all the whirlwind signings and rumors with The Post’s NBA free agency guide, which will be updated throughout July.

Latest rumors and news | Analysis | Player movement tracker | What you need to know | Top 50 free agents

NBA free agency officially began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, and the great Kevin Durant sweepstakes is underway.

As the NBA watches salary cap space skyrocket to historic heights, thanks to an influx of cash from a new TV deal, here’s what to really watch for: money being thrown around, mistakes surely being made and, quite possibly, new contenders forming. (We suggest you follow The Post’s national NBA writer Tim Bontemps on Twitter for even more up-to-the-minute news and analysis.)

Important to keep in mind: The NBA’s moratorium period runs through July 7 (see below), so any contracts agreed upon before that date are merely handshake agreements.

NBA free agency draft grades: Analyzing the early deals

LATEST RUMORS AND NEWS

NBA free agency in 2016 has been a summer like no other. Here's where some of the star players landed. (Video: Thomas Johnson, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

In Miami, it’s Pat Riley’s way or the highway. Dwyane Wade chose the latter.

In another NBA stunner, Dwyane Wade decides to leave Heat, sign with Bulls

Wizards’ Plan B became Plan F; what’s left is a two-year window with John Wall

Six potential landing spots for Russell Westbrook include the Lakers and … Cavaliers?

This year’s free agency should be remembered for one thing: Bad Photoshops

Kevin Durant upgrades the Warriors in almost every way possible

Ray Allen is mulling an NBA comeback at nearly 41

The lure of the ring: Why a title allowed Dirk Nowitzki to remain a hero in Dallas

How LeBron, the CBA and James Harden pushed Kevin Durant to the Warriors

The Kevin Durant aftermath begins: Warriors agree to deal Andrew Bogut to Dallas

Center Roy Hibbert set to join Charlotte Hornets

Warriors supplement roster with center Zaza Pachulia

Kevin Durant agrees to free agent deal with the Golden State Warriors

Mavericks bring back Deron Williams, Dwight Powell

Bulls set to sign point guard Rajon Rondo to two-year deal

Clippers reportedly retain reigning sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford

Wizards acquire Trey Burke, agree to deal with F Andrew Nicholson

Wizards miss out on free agent target Al Horford, who agrees to deal with Celtics

Rockets land Ryan Anderson on a four-year, $80 million deal

Hornets are keeping Marvin Williams

Celtics come ready to pitch Kevin Durant with … Tom Brady?

Lakers, Luol Deng agree on a four-year, $72 million deal

Bismack Biyombo reportedly bound for Magic after agreeing to a $72 million contract

Trevor Booker appears to be Brooklyn-bound, no terms reported yet

Aaron Affalo heading to Sacramento on a two-year, $25 million deal

Pistons nab Jon Leuer on a four-year contract

Joe Johnson signs two-year, $22 million deal with… Utah?

Atlanta Hawks pay premium price to retain Kent Bazemore

ANALYSIS AND BEST FITS

Brewer: Kevin Durant faced a difficult decision. He made the right one by joining the Warriors.

Five issues to be resolved in the wake of Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State

Free agency grades: How do these signings add up?

Chandler Parsons gives the Grizzlies one of the NBA’s best spot-up shooters

Timofey Mozgov’s Lakers deal isn’t as big a mistake as you think

Everyone wants to sign Kevin Durant but only six teams have a chance

Joakim Noah can run the triangle offense for the Knicks

Brewer: The Wizards can win in free agency. Here’s how.

Steinberg: Wizards owe it to John Wall to make this the ‘biggest summer’

Lakers need to get a star center in free agency

Knicks don’t have a lot of options but need players for the triangle offense

PLAYER MOVEMENT TRACKER

(R=Restricted free agent)

THE ESSENTIALS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Free agency start time: Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m.

Salary cap: $94 million (projected)

Free agent moratorium end date: Thursday, July 7 at 12:01 a.m. (when restricted free agents can sign offer sheets, unrestricted free agents can officially sign contracts they’ve agreed to with teams, and trades made involving 2016-17 cap figures can be made official).

What is a “restricted” free agent? Any player who is either on the fourth year of his rookie scale contract as a first round pick (example: Bradley Beal) or a player who wasn’t drafted in the first round but has played three or fewer seasons in the NBA (example: Matthew Dellavedova).

What is an “Early Bird” free agent? Any player who has played two years in the NBA with one team and is a restricted free agent (example: Jordan Clarkson). This is now known as the Gilbert Arenas Rule, after the Washington Wizards successfully signed Arenas away from the Golden State Warriors in 2003, leading to a rule change.

Some players who are Early Bird free agents aren’t held to these standards, because they are veterans who have been in the NBA more than two years, but played with one team for two years. The most prominent example this summer is Hassan Whiteside.

Who is an “unrestricted” free agent? Anyone else.

Max salary ranges (assuming a $94 million salary cap; number is first year of max salary):

  • Players with 0-6 years of experience (examples: Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond): $22.2 million
  • Players with 7-9 years of experience (examples: Kevin Durant, Al Horford): $26.6 million
  • Players with 10+ years of experience (example: LeBron James): $31 million

Top 50 NBA free agents: Kevin Durant … then everyone else

With the league’s salary cap set to jump over 30 percent this summer — going from $70 million this past season to at least $94 million next season — players are going to be in line to make massive amounts of money. Here’s our ranking of who should get that money.

Miss out on a big fish in free agency? Here’s what your backup plan should be.

The reality is not every team will get a chance to bring in a true superstar, and even more simply can’t afford their asking price. That means teams will be scrambling to implement their backup plans. If that’s the case, here’s who they should target.

Shopper’s guide to this year’s NBA free agents

A need in free agency may be more specific — a playmaker to augment an already talented offensive scheme, for instance, or perhaps defensive help in the form of an imposing rim protector. No matter what a team needs, here is a specialist who is available in free agency.

TOP 50 FREE AGENTS

1. Kevin Durant, SF, Unrestricted, Oklahoma City Thunder
2. LeBron James, SF, Unrestricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Andre Drummond, C, Restricted, Detroit Pistons
4. Al Horford, PF/C, Unrestricted, Atlanta Hawks
5. Nicolas Batum, SG, Unrestricted, Charlotte Hornets
6. Dwight Howard, C, Unrestricted, Houston Rockets
7. Mike Conley, PG, Unrestricted, Memphis Grizzlies
8. DeMar DeRozan, SG, Unrestricted, Toronto Raptors
9. Bradley Beal, SG, Restricted, Washington Wizards
10. Hassan Whiteside, C, Unrestricted, Miami Heat
11. Chandler Parsons, SF, Unrestricted, Dallas Mavericks
12. Luol Deng, SF, Unrestricted, Miami Heat
13. Marvin Williams, SF, Unrestricted, Charlotte Hornets
14. Bismack Biyombo, C, Unrestricted, Toronto Raptors
15. Jordan Clarkson, PG, Restricted, Los Angeles Lakers
16. Dwyane Wade, SG, Unrestricted, Miami Heat
17. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Unrestricted, Dallas Mavericks
18. Tim Duncan, C, Unrestricted, San Antonio Spurs
19. Joakim Noah, PF/C, Unrestricted, Chicago Bulls
20. Pau Gasol, PF/C, Unrestricted, Chicago Bulls
21. Harrison Barnes, SF, Restricted, Golden State Warriors
22. J.R. Smith, SG, Unrestricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
23. Kent Bazemore, SG, Unrestricted, Atlanta Hawks
24. Jeremy Lin, PG, Unrestricted, Charlotte Hornets
25. Courtney Lee, SG, Unrestricted, Charlotte Hornets
26. Deron Williams, PG, Unrestricted, Dallas Mavericks
27. Evan Fournier, SG, Restricted, Orlando Magic
28. Jared Dudley, SF, Unrestricted, Washington Wizards
29. Eric Gordon, SG, Unrestricted, New Orleans Pelicans
30. Ryan Anderson, PF, Unrestricted, New Orleans Pelicans
31. Manu Ginobili, SG, Unrestricted, San Antonio Spurs
32. Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, Restricted, Houston Rockets
33. Meyers Leonard, C, Restricted, Portland Trail Blazers
34. Gerald Henderson, SG, Unrestricted, Portland Trail Blazers
35. Arron Afflalo, SG, Unrestricted, New York Knicks
36. Joe Johnson, SF, Unrestricted, Miami Heat
37. Jamal Crawford, SG, Unrestricted, Los Angeles Clippers
38. Maurice Harkless, SF, Restricted, Portland Trail Blazers
39. Langston Galloway, SG, Restricted, New York Knicks
40. Dion Waiters, SG, Restricted, Oklahoma City Thunder
41. Solomon Hill, SF, Unrestricted, Indiana Pacers
42. Matthew Dellavedova, PG, Restricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
43. Evan Turner, SF, Unrestricted, Boston Celtics
44. Allen Crabbe, SG, Restricted, Portland Trail Blazers
45. Al Jefferson, C, Unrestricted, Charlotte Hornets
46. Jared Sullinger, C, Restricted, Boston Celtics
47. Nene, PF, Unrestricted, Washington Wizards
48. David West, PF, Unrestricted, San Antonio Spurs
49. Timofey Mozgov, C, Unrestricted, Cleveland Cavaliers
50. Tyler Johnson, PG, Restricted, Miami Heat

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