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Rumor: NBA executives expect Kevin Durant to leave Warriors; still watching Kyrie Irving

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 19: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the Utah Jazz in a NBA game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 19, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

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It’s impossible to overstate this: Next summer’s NBA free agency is going to be INSANE. Nearly half the players in the NBA will be or can be free agents, around 10 teams will have max cap space and another 10-12 will have enough cap space to be significant players and chase guys. It is going to be player movement bordering on anarchy.

How are NBA front offices preparing for this?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN has a fascinating piece on this that covers a number of players, but here are the highlights:

Many believe the Golden State Warriors are going to win the title again and will still break up in some way next season. This is essentially a referendum on Kevin Durant’s upcoming free agency, not so much Klay Thompson’s, though some executives also wonder what will happen with Draymond Green....

Many believe multiple top free agents will relocate next summer. This would include Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler (for now) and DeMarcus Cousins. But there are two more names on executives’ lips: Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving...

Now you might be saying why is Irving included? He declared that he’s re-signing with the Boston Celtics and that’s that. Irving seems genuinely happy in Boston and is thrilled with the current makeup and direction of the team. And he’s ready to accept a five-year, $190 million deal.... As any college coach will tell you, a verbal commitment is just that. Also, the Celtics probably will be willing to make the five-year offer to Irving, but that’s not in stone at this point with Irving’s history of injuries and many months to go.

Let’s expound upon a few of these, in bullet points:

• That teams expect — or at least think it’s likely — Durant bolts the Warriors next summer is nothing new. Everyone is talking about it and Durant is already tired of the topic. The trendy thinking is he will head to New York and the Knicks, but a lot of things could change between now and July. Just don’t expect him to be a Laker — he’s not leaving the Bay Area and Stephen Curry’s team culture to step into LeBron James’ shadow.

• I have yet to hear from a source (or read a credible report) that thinks Klay Thompson is leaving Golden State next summer. Everyone believes he stays, likely at the max or very close to it.

• If Draymond Green makes the All-NBA team or is Defensive Player of the Year again, he is eligible for a larger super-max contract — and he wants all of it. No discount coming. The Warriors owners are willing to pay big to keep this contender together, but ultimately there is a line where it costs too much.

• I believe Kyrie Irving when he says he is staying in Boston. That doesn’t mean the reporting is wrong — other teams may well be hoping/planning for him to change his mind. I just wouldn’t bet on it.

As noted earlier today, nothing is happening with Anthony Davis until next summer. At the earliest. After this season the Pelicans are going to offer him the $240 million designated veteran max extension only they can offer. If he turns that down, then things may change. Not before then.

• Cousins absolutely will be in a new uniform.

• All of that is just the tip of the iceberg.