After the excitement of some early off season trades and the 2019 NBA Draft, free agency is about to take hold of the league.
Set to begin on Sunday, June 30 at 6:00 p.m, it is expected that major movement will come fast-and-furious, as in past NBA off seasons.
Of course, there are a number of prized players that will hit the market.
Here’s where we think the best players will land:
Kawhi Leonard, F – Los Angeles Clippers
As the top free agent available, Leonard will have plenty of suitors. At the top of the list may be the Toronto Raptors, who Leonard just won a championship with. However, since the end of the Finals, Leonard has been non-committal about re-upping with the team.
Ever since last off season, Leonard has been rumored to want to go to Los Angeles. Although, I don’t think he would team up with F LeBron James on the Lakers. I think Kawhi goes to the Clippers, who are coached by the highly respected Doc Rivers, to form his own team in a weaker Western Conference. With a few young pieces in place, it is conceivable that Leonard could deem the Clippers’ future outlook as better than the Raptors.
Kevin Durant, F – Brooklyn Nets
Upon initial Achilles’ tear, I was sure Durant would sign to stay with the Warriors. However, in recent days, reports have come out that Durant is not pleased with how Golden State’s medical staff handled his hamstring injury throughout the playoffs.
Every time we have heard a report of Durant’s feelings in the past, it has been proven true. When he wanted to leave OKC, it was true; the rumored burner Twitter accounts were also true. Now, I believe he heads to the Brooklyn Nets to team up with…
Kyrie Irving, G – Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie has been often rumored to go to the Nets since the Celtics’ season ended, and that’s where I believe he will end up.
Reports are that Kyrie, KD, and C De’Andre Jordan are plotting to all sign in Brooklyn, freeing the team up to trade G D’Angelo Russell to add more depth and assets for the Nets. I believe that’s what will happen.
If there is a lock this off season, it’s Thompson staying with his Splash Brother, PG Stephen Curry, in Golden State for the rest of his career.
Should Kemba leave the Hornets?
In my opinion, if he wants to leave, yes.
However, I think there is some draw to staying with one team your entire career, and the fact that Charlotte can offer about $40 million more than any other team.
There aren’t too many good landing spots for Kemba that I think are that much better than Charlotte, which will lead him to return in my estimation.
Jimmy Butler, G/F – Philadelphia 76ers
Run it back!
While there are rumors of Butler drawing interest from the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers can offer Butler the most money and were a mostly harmonious fit for the veteran guard last season.
With a role that became more defined in the playoffs and should only cement itself more in the future, I think Butler and our next free agent return to Philadelphia.
To me, Harris is almost more likely to return than Butler, just due to the haul that the team gave up for him.
He’s also a good fit for the Sixers, as he would be on most teams in the NBA.
But of course, the major factor could come down to money, which the Sixers can offer the most of, and will lead Harris back to Philly, in my opinion.
D’Angelo Russell, G – Phoenix Suns via sign-and-trade (RFA)
Russell enters the off season with the most complicated situation of any player.
If Irving signs with the Nets as many believe he will, Russell becomes immediate trade bait, as he is not a back court fit alongside Kyrie.
Yet, even that scenario becomes murky as Russell is a restricted free agent, meaning he can sign a deal with any team, but Brooklyn has the first right to match any offer.
I’m sure the team is hoping that whoever is interested in acquiring Russell makes an offer to him so that the teams are able to work out a trade for him.
The Sun, who desperately need a point guard, fit as a team who could make a large offer to Russell, and then work out a deal with Brooklyn.
Let’s say Phoenix sends Fs Josh Jackson and Dragon Bender and a future firs rounder to Brooklyn for Russell? Almost impossible to predict until Russell agrees to terms on a deal.
Of course, he could end up staying in Brooklyn if Kyrie backs out…
DeAndre Jordan, C – Brooklyn Nets
Big Three Alert!
After bouncing around the league since his last Big Three with the Clippers, I believe Jordan will finally find another permanent home with the Nets, along with KD and Kyrie.
DeMarcus Cousins, C – Boston Celtics
You can’t keep the Celtics down forever, right?
Boston should be able to offer Cousins enough money, even if it isn’t a max offer, to come to Boston. With F/C Al Horford and C Aaron Baynes gone in the middle, Cousins would nicely fill that void, and give the Celtics a competitive team with a young core despite losing those players and Irving.
Khris Middleton, G/F – Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers need shooters, and will be looking to add a star. After missing out on the top tier guys, I think the Lakers ante up and give Middleton a sizable deal, one that he is probably not worth.
However, Middleton would fit nicely next to LeBron and AD in LA, easily allowing the team to add a distributing point guard that has scorers to pass to.
Harrison Barnes, F – Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have already added F T.J. Warren on the wing, and I think they load up by bringing in Barnes as well. G Victor Oladipo and Barnes could form a nice scoring punch, with C Myles Turner being the final part of a young big three.
Al Horford, C – Sacramento Kings
The Kings are an up-and-coming team that could use some veteran leadership.
With C Willy Cauley-Stein rumored to be on the way out, a spot at center could open for Horford, who would also serve as a good mentor for young big man Harry Giles.
Marc Gasol, C – Milwaukee Bucks
After seeing Kawhi leave for the Clippers, and Brook Lopez sign with the Lakers, I think Marc Gasol takes the Bucks’ open spot at center and the chance to play with his brother, Pau, for one final time in their careers.
Julius Randle, F/C – New York Knicks
The Knicks have to add somebody, right?
They have enough money to overpay someone, which Randle will probably end up being. The team needs a big man, among other things, and Randle represents a young option that had a breakout year last season.
If you’re the Knicks, you can afford to take a flier on Randle.
Terry Rozier, G – Boston Celtics (RFA)
The Celtics can’t let Scary Terry leave!
If G Kyrie Irving never played for the Celtics, I think Rozier would’ve already re-signed with the team.
Now that Irving is leaving, Boston will need a starting point guard, and I think the team finds a way to keep Rozier as that guy.
Malcolm Brogdon, G – Milwaukee Bucks (RFA)
I think the Bucks will find a way to keep one of their own in Brogdon. After letting C Brook Lopez walk, I think the Bucks will match whatever offer they get on Brogdon, who has proven to be a key guard for the team.
Plus, with age on his side, Milwaukee could plan on having Brogdon with star F Giannis Antekonounopo for the next few seasons.
Nikola Vucevic, C – Dallas Mavericks
After spending some outstanding years with the Magic, I think Vucevic leaves in search of a title.
And where better for foreign big men than the Dallas Mavericks>
With F Dirk Nowitzki retiring, the Mavericks have a hole at the 4-5 that they can fill with F Kristaps Porzingis and signing Vucevic.
Plus, it would give the team two big men who can rebound and stretch the floor to pair with Rookie-of-the-Year G Luka Doncic.
Brook Lopez, C – Los Angeles Lakers
If you’ve read thus far, you may have caught by now that I think Lopez ends up on the Lakers.
After a year with the Bucks, I think Lopez will get an offer he can’t refuse from LA, and will head out West to serve as a rebounder and stretch five for LeBron and AD’s team.
J.J. Redick, G – Philadelphia 76ers
This is part of running it back, no?
As Redick gets older, his list of possible suitors dwindles each off season. At this point, it’s almost Sixers or retire for Redick, who is said to prefer the East Coast, as it is closer to his home in Brooklyn.
However, despite his advanced age, Redick actually set the 76ers’ team mark for three-pointers made last season.
I think the team finds a way to give Redick somewhere in the $10-15 million range to keep him around for at least next season.
Danny Green, G – Philadelphia 76ers
Ah, finally an addition, and not just a returning player!
I’ve heard rumors since the NBA Finals ended that the Sixers are going to be interested in adding Green, who they just faced in the NBA Playoffs.
A former Spur who played under Brett Brown in San Antonio, Green is known for his three-point shot and veteran leadership.
He would be a solid fit along with wing for the Sixers, and shouldn’t break the bank either.
Enes Kanter, C – New Orleans Pelicans
Yes, the Pelicans just added a couple young big men in the draft. However, after F/C Julius Randle left the team for free agency, you can’t roll through the season with rookie C Jaxson Hayes as the starter.
Look for New Orleans to add Kanter, who isn’t the top center on the market, but is a solid rebounder and defender, making him a good fit for what’s going on in New Orleans.
Derrick Rose, G – Los Angeles Lakers
Of course, LA needs to add some star power this off season.
After missing out on the “major” free agents, and adding a couple of second/third tier guys, I think the Lakers add Rose to be the team’s starting guard.
It shouldn’t cost the Lakers more than a guarantee of one season for the oft-injured Rose, but when he did play for Minnesota last season, he was effective.
Ricky Rubio, G – Orlando Magic
I don’t think there are too many competitive teams that would be looking to add Rubio as more than a bench guard.
However, there could be a starting job available for him in Orlando, and I think that opportunity and the $$$ amount may see Rubio playing with the Magic next year.
Nikola Mirotic, F – Sacramento Kings
The Kings won’t be players at the top of the market, but I expect them to add a few soid veterans, like Mirotic.
A classic stretch-four, Mirotic is a fit for most teams across the league. I just believe that the Kings have enough cap space to throw Mirotic an offer he couldn’t refuse, even if it meant coming off the bench.
These have been 789’s predictions for NBA Free Agency! Stay tuned on Friday, and we will see how well we match up over the coming weeks.
Let us know what you think in the comments!