NBA free agency previewDate: June 11, 2019
By: Ronny Castaneda
After an NBA season filled with surprises, the summer’s off-season will prove to be the cherry on top when some of the league’s best venture out into the world of free agency. This summer of 2019 could prove to be the wildest free agency we’ve ever seen, with the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker and over 10 more former all-stars to be searching for teams to call home this summer.
Kawhi Leonard, D’Angelo Russell, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Demarcus Cousins are some other notable names to hit the market this year. As usual, when there are players worth the money, there are teams willing to pay up to that. The New York Knicks may have fallen away from the Zion Williamson lottery, but the Knicks still own two max contracts.
The Brooklyn Nets recently finished a deal with the Atlanta Hawks that sent Allen Crabbe, their 17th overall pick in 2019 draft, and a protected first round pick in 2020 for Taurean Prince, clearing space for up to two max contracts. The Clippers are looking to make moves to add on to their one max contract slot, and so are their cross-town rival Lakers, who also own the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Teams like the Hawks and Mavericks also have enough cap space to make moves this summer. With rumors flooding out of all major outlets, this free agency class has already made some noise, almost a month away from the market opening.
This season has also revealed some story lines that have added a deeper narrative to each superstar’s potential decision leading up to the frenzy. Durant made it clear that he was looking for the big payday this offseason, which would mean he wouldn’t listen to anything less than a max contract.
Leonard demanded a trade from the Spurs after sitting out most of last season. Although not landing with the Lakers as everyone had thought, Leonard has done justice in Toronto, bringing them to their first ever NBA Finals. Irving’s name has been thrown around in speculative talks, with dissent in the Celtics’ locker room ultimately leading to Boston’s second round exit from the playoffs.
With how this season has played out, there is no clear way to predict where each superstar will end up, if the even choose to do so. But, possibly the biggest story of this free agency revolves around Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets have been shocking on their own with breakout stars such as Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Russell led the charge for the team’s first playoff berth since the 2014-2015 season. After clearing enough cap space to have two full max contract spots, the initial plan was to sign which ever young stud who stepped up, in this case Russell, and try to attract a star free agent with their last max spot. For Irving, not much persuasion was needed as he has reportedly had serious intention with signing with the Nets once free agency starts.
Rumors have gone as far as stating that Kyrie has already purchased some property in South Orange, New Jersey. Questions arise around how both Irving and Russell would mix in the line-up. Regarding the second max contract, rumors have also brought Durant into the mix, stating Irving would go out of his way to convince the superstar to join the Brooklyn craze.
Teams like the Pacers, Magic and Suns are willing to give all they can for a point guard, and it will be interesting to see how Russell will handle his first free agency experience. With potentially three athletes worthy of a max contract, it is intriguing to see how Brooklyn will go about strengthening their young line-up and break expectations once again next season.
There are so many superstars with several teams to land, which can get confusing to keep track with everyone’s moves. Among this, numerous questions arise. Will Durant look to rebuild his reputation by building up a struggling franchise?
Will Leonard want to leave all he’s done in Toronto behind to play in front of his hometown crowd? Or will Irving be able to lead the young Nets to greatness once again? If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that it will take some getting used to seeing some the league’s best representing different colors next season.
Ronny Castaneda can be reached at email@example.com.