2019 NBA Free Agency Predictions: Where will Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and others sign?
How Kevin Durant's injury changes the NBA free agency market
Kyrie Irving: Should go: Lakers Will go: Nets
It seems inevitable the Kyrie will end up with the Nets at this point, which wasn’t even a team anyone had heard mentioned during the playoffs. With the Lakers clearing cap space though, the rumors of their interest in Kyrie have heated up again. The Lakers make the most sense too. Kyrie has had all of his success with LeBron, needs to play alongside a playmaker like LeBron, and clearly can’t lead a team on his own. The Lakers are the best fit, but when does Kyrie do what makes the most sense?
Kevin Durant: Should go: Warriors Will go: Knicks
The Achilles injury that changed the future of the NBA has really made this a unique situation. His best fit is staying put, but winning a title with the Knicks would also make him a god. Reports are he doesn’t trust the Warriors organization after the way the injury was handled, even though his shot at winning more titles is clearly with Golden State. Plus, he can make the most money with the Warriors as well. Then again, there’s that whole legacy thing to think about too.
Kawhi Leonard: Should go: Raptors Will go: Clippers or Lakers
Kawhi won a title for the city of Toronto, and leaving at the highest point he can reach with them would make everything sting a lot less. That being said, he knows he can win there and has a great leader in Masai Ujiri building that team. On the other side though,
the Clips have Jerry West. So much to think about for him. Kawhi has always been known as a guy who wants the Cali weather, and people tend to overlook the off-the-court aspect of an athlete’s life when it comes to free agency. Toronto may be a great city, but Toronto in January just isn’t L.A. in January. It’s down to the Raptors or Clips --okay maybe the Lakers again now too -- and either will be a favorite with Kawhi in house. Plus, apparently New Balance wants Kawhi in L.A. for marketing purposes, so there’s that outside factor too. The Lakers would be a huge mistake, but they can still tempt him with the clock winding down.
Kemba Walker: Should go: Mavericks Will go: Celtics
It seems like the Hornets aren’t willing to pay what it would take to convince Kemba to accept five more years toiling in NBA purgatory, so he’s likely out. Imagine the highlights of him alongside Luka Doncic? #NBATwitter would explode. but it sounds like
the Celtics are working really hard to bring him in to replace Kyrie Irving. Why more free agents don’t want to play in Dallas, I’ll never understand.
Klay Thompson: Should go: Warriors Will go: Warriors
Klay Thompson doesn’t get enough credit at times in Golden State, but the Warriors need to lock him up the minute they can. If I was the Lakers (or any team with space actually), I’d go hard after him even with the torn ACL, but it’s more than likely he stays in the only NBA home he’s ever known. Don’t mess with what works here.
Kristaps Porzingis (RFA): Should go: Mavericks Will go: Mavericks
Dallas can match anything so he won’t be on the move. They’re expected to give him a max offer anyway, so the Mavs will at least have one big name that doesn’t pass them up. He’ll be a great fit with Luka Doncic and as long as he can stay healthy and out of
trouble, Porzingis has a bright future in Dallas.
DeMarcus Cousins: Should go: Lakers Will go: Lakers or Knicks
It’ll likely be another short deal for Cousins, who’s one-year rent-a-Boogie in Golden State didn’t go as smoothly as expected. He’d have a chance for another fresh start and big role in L.A., where he can work towards still trying to land that max deal in the near
future. He started to find a rhythm with Anthony Davis in New Orleans before the Achilles injury, but then again, the Pels played at a much higher tempo once he went out. Playing with the stars in L.A. though, while obviously not getting hurt again, can make the NBA remember what Boogie used to be before this whole mess.
Jimmy Butler: Should go: Clippers Will go: Sixers, Clippers or Rockets
Butler seems to struggle playing with younger players, having issues in Minnesota, and early on in Philly. The Rockets are desperate to work out a sign-and-trade, but can you imagine his personality dropped into the firepit of James Harden and Chris Paul? IfKawhi goes to the Clips, Butler would make perfect sense and have a ready-made core of role players that are vets, along with a well-respected coach to lead the way. The question is, how serious would the Sixers be in making a deal with Houston?
Nikola Vucevic: Should go: Celtics Will go: Magic or Hawks
Vucevic picked the perfect year to play like an All-Star and will get a lot of interest on the open market. It seemed like the Magic were ready to move on to their younger bigs, but Mo Bamba missed a ton of time, and reports are Orlando wants Vucevic back. He’d be a great replacement for Al Horford in Boston, and they could use him desperately. He’d also fit right in next to John Collins in Atlanta, a team that’s made some major moves this offseason, but is still young.
Tobias Harris: Should go: Sixers Will go: Mavericks, Nuggets, or Sixers
The Harris rumors are all over the place, but Dallas and Denver are said to be ready to chase him. The Nets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Clippers, and Pelicans have all also been linked toHarris while Philadelphia is hoping to re-sign him, as well. Harris is one of the guys that have a ton of places he could end up. The Sixers still have a strong chance to get to The Finals in the east, and if their young talent can take the next step, Harris would be in a major role to help get them there.
Khris Middleton: Should go: Bucks Will go: Bucks
They’re building something great in Milwaukee, and Middleton isn’t going anywhere. The Bucks want to keep this core together, and Middleton will be staying put and moving forward with what they started this season. If he were to leave, he’d be put into a much brighter spotlight and be exposed, but in Milwaukee, he fits right in playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo as they try to get to The Finals next year.
D’Angelo Russell (RFA): Should go: Lakers or Timberwolves Will go: Timberwolves or Suns
If the Nets do land Kyrie Irving, it won’t make much sense to keep Russell around. There’s a billboard up in Phoenix for him, and they apparently really want him, having been allergic to adding a point guard for a while. A return to the Lakers would make more sense though with D-Lo being able to play either guard position which would work well with LeBron. Minnesota could slot him right in as well, who’s suddenly in the position to win now or make some major changes to that core. The Suns might be willing to spend the most though, and he could be a much bigger star.
JJ Redick: Should go: Lakers or Sixers Will go: Nets or Sixers
Redick has been an important piece to the Sixers, and there will certainly be teams looking to sign him away. If the Lakers decide to use their cap space on multiple players to fit certain roles, they need a shooter, and Reddick is the perfect guy. If Butler stays in Philly, Redick might want to stick around as well, but leaving for the Lakers doesn’t mean he’d have a smaller role. All this being said, let’s be honest, the Lakers made room for another star, not role players, so maybe the Nets end up paying Redick instead.
Al Horford: Should go: Pacers, Pelicans, or Celtics Will go: Mavericks or Celtics
I still believe there’s a shot Horford goes back to Boston. They still want him back, and sometimes it takes the threat of a breakup and seeing what other fish are out there to realize you had it good right where you were. That being said, the Pacers have a solid core, and Horford’s leadership and versatility would help big time, especially with the chance that Victor Oladipo is slow to return to form from that injury. Even the Pels are an organization that could make a playoff push, and who better to teach those youngins than Horford.
Julius Randle: Mavericks or Knicks
Randle would be a great piece next to Porzingis, with his bruising ability in the post complimenting The Unicorn’s outside shooting. Dallas for some reason isn’t on the list for the top free agents and that’s always been weird to me, with a great owner, no state tax, and a great coach. He’s coming off a career year and the Knicks may want to think about Randle as well, given their lack of top free agents likely coming now, Randle would get a chance to be a star in New York.
Brook Lopez: Bucks
The evolution of Brook Lopez into being a stretch-five has been remarkable to watch. Of course, this means he rebounds even less, but he wasn’t doing much of that before anyway. Milwaukee wants continuity, and Lopez would be a big part of that.
DeAndre Jordan: Should go: Clippers, Lakers, or Rockets Will go: Rockets, Lakers, or Knicks
Jordan on a shorter deal in New York would make a lot of sense. He can mentor Mitchell Robinson, add another veteran presence to a young team and with the Durant wrench now thrown in, they could use another big man that can defend next year. That being said, a Clippers return could be in the works, with the Rockets finding their way into free agency even while being capped out. Obviously, we don’t count out the Lakers with anyone right now either.
Bojan Bogdanovic: Should go: Spurs or Pacers Will go: Spurs or Pacers
The perfect Spurs player, right? There are reports DeMar DeRozan could get moved because they want cap space in San Antonio for Bogdanovic, and he’d obviously be a Popovich guy right away. Staying home with the Pacers still would work well too, especially with a potentially stronger team coming back this fall.
Harrison Barnes: Should go: Kings Will go: Kings
With Barnes' cap hold off the books after he decided to opt out, the Kings now officially have room to sign a max free agent this summer. They can also re-sign Barnes to a long-term deal if they want. A return to Sacramento, a young team on the rise, would work well for the 27-year-old who averaged 14.3 points per game and shot almost 41 percent from three during his time with the Kings.