By Dylan Goldman: The wait is officially over. Everyone’s favorite offseason in sports is upon us. After seeing the underdog Toronto Raptors take down the Golden State Warriors and potentially end their dynasty, and the 2019 NBA Draft officially concluding, it’s now time for NBA fans to sit back, open their twitters and watch the drama of the NBA Offseason unfold. Now, before free agency officially begins on Sunday, June 30th at 6 P.M. ET, let’s take a look at what the 2019 Free Agency class has to offer and speculate.
Teams With the Most to Spend
New York Knicks: $67.7 Million
Brooklyn Nets: $67.0 Million
Sacramento Kings: $59.0 Million
Philadelphia 76ers: $56.6 Million
Los Angeles Clippers: $56.1 Million
Dallas Mavericks: $47.0 Million
Indiana Pacers: $45.2 Million
Atlanta Hawks: $35.3 Million
New Orleans Pelicans: $34.0 Million
Chicago Bulls $23.9 Million
Teams I expect to be the most active
1. New York Knicks
Last season, the New York Knicks decided to trade their presumed franchise player, Kristaps Porzingis. That trade spawned another max contract slot for the New York Knicks to go after a big named superstar. Kevin Durant has been rumored to be signing for the Knicks for nearly a year, but who knows if that comes to fruition. The Knicks could also very easily go after second tier free agents like Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic if things fall through with Kevin Durant or another big named free agent. But if the Knicks are left in the dust with no superstar yet again, expect the Knicks to start from scratch.
2. Brooklyn Nets
Since the day that Brooklyn’s season was ended in the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers, rumors of Kyrie Irving potentially becoming a Brooklyn Net have been spreading like wild fire. The Nets were able to free another max slot by shipping away Allen Crabbe and his atrocious contract to the Atlanta Hawks. With Kyrie Irving potentially becoming a Brooklyn Net and having another max slot to sign another big name free agent , we could be looking at the Brooklyn Nets as a 2019-2020 championship contender.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
This season, the Los Angeles Clippers surpassed all foreseeable expectation and made an inspired run to the NBA Playoffs and took the heavily-favored Warriors to six hard fought games. With a playoff core already to offer, as well as 57 million in cap space, the Clippers bring a lot to the table to persuade Kawhi Leonard and another superstar to Clipper Land. Expect the Clippers to be nothing but active in this NBA Offseason.
Wild Card: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks arguably have the best young core in the entire NBA. With 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncic and former All-Star, Kristaps Porzingis (assuming he gets a new contract), I wouldn’t be stunned if Dallas is active beyond the Latvian phenom. Perhaps they could go after proven veterans like Al Horford or Tobias Harris. With an appetizing young core and a haul of cap space, don’t be surprised if the Mavericks make some moves this summer.
Top 10 Free Agents/Predictions
1. SF Kawhi Leonard: Toronto Raptors
34.0 MPG 26.6 PPG 3.3 APG 7.3 RPG 0.4 BPG 1.8 SPG 2.0 TPG 60.6 TS% 25.8 PER 5.0 BPM 0.224 WS/48
While I wouldn’t be shocked if Kawhi Leonard was wearing a Clippers uniform next year, the Raptors have already proven to be a phenomenal fit for the Claw. Leonard just spearheaded Toronto’s first ever NBA Championship, and there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t do it again. Toronto will most likely return their entire core from last season, and Leonard can continue to add to his legacy if he decides to stay put in Toronto.
2. SF Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors
34.6 MPG 26.0 PPG 5.9 APG 6.4 RPG 0.7 BPG 1.1 SPG 2.9 TPG 63.1 TS% 24.2 PER 4.3 BPM 0.204 WS/48
While everyone has been pegging KD as a Knick forever, I for one, have a feeling he returns back to Golden State. First off, the Warriors can offer him the most money out of any team (5Yr/$220M). While his ruptured achilles will most likely keep him out for a big chunk of the regular season, Kevin Durant was seen saying that his injury would not effect his free agency. Additionally, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that KD’s camp and Golden State have kept communication, which shows a positive sign of light for the Warriors.
3. SG Klay Thompson: Golden State Warriors
34.0 MPG 21.5 PPG 2.4 APG 3.8 RPG 0.6 BPG 1.1 SPG 1.5 TPG 57.1 TS% 16.6 PER 0.8 BPM 0.095 WS/48
Klay Thompson has been a Golden State Warrior since he entered the league in 2011. The idea of Klay being in another uniform next year seems outrageously shocking to me. Unless if the Warriors low ball the four time All-Star, a scenario of him leaving seems far fetched. Golden State can offer him the most money out of any team (5Yr/$190M), and his dad quoted after the finals that he doesn’t see his son signing anywhere else.
4. PG Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets
33.0 MPG 23.8 PPG 6.9 APG 5.0 RPG 0.5 BPG 1.5 SPG 2.6 TPG 59.2 TS% 24.3 PER 6.4 BPM 0.197 WS/48
The Nets are absolutely loaded with cap space and communication between the Nets and the All-NBA Point guard have been prolonging to say the least according to most sources. The Nets have already renounced their rights to D’Angelo Russell to open a slot for Kyrie Irving which is likely an upgrade.
5. PG Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics
34.9 MPG 25.6 PPG 5.9 APG 4.4 RPG 0.4 BPG 1.2 SPG 2.6 TPG 55.8 TS% 21.7 PER 3.3 BPM 0.123 WS/48
While it’s very possible Kemba stays in Charlotte or goes across country to Hollywood, this fit just makes too much sense. Given the cap space available with the expected departures of Irving and Horford, along with a playoff ready core, the Celtics have the most to offer. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the Celtics will be suitors for Walker, and don’t be shocked if that’s where the three time All-Star lands next season.
6. SG/SF Jimmy Butler: Philadelphia 76ers
33.6 MPG 18.7 PPG 4.0 APG 5.3 RPG 0.6 BPG 1.9 SPG 1.5 TPG 57.1 TS% 20.2 PER 3.2 BPM 0.173 WS/48
The Jimmy Butler saga is a very interesting one to say the least. I wouldn’t see LA or New York being great landing spots. But why not run it back in Phily? The Sixers were one improbable buzzer beater away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals and dethroning the soon to be NBA Champion, Toronto Raptors. With a bit more cohesion, the Sixers could make a run at the NBA Finals, if that is, they return back their core.
7. PF/C Kristaps Porzingis: Dallas Mavericks
*32.4 MPG 22.7 PPG 1.2 APG 6.6 RPG 2.4 BPG 0.8 SPG 1.9 TPG 54.0 TS% 20.4 PER -0.7 BPM 0.100 WS/48 (*Stats from 2017-18 Season)
Due to a torn ACL, Porzingis has yet to play a game as a Dallas Maverick after being traded from New York. Reports have made it seem nearly 100% clear that Kristaps will be returning to Dallas. He is also a restricted free agent. Unless the tables turn and negations go terribly wrong, expect Kristaps Porzingis to remain a Dallas Maverick for the foreseeable future.
8. PG D’Angelo Russell: Indiana Pacers
30.2 MPG 21.1 PPG 7.0 APG 3.9 RPG 0.2 BPG 1.2 SPG 3.1 TPG 53.3 TS% 19.4 PER 3.4 BPM 0.097 WS/48
Despite posting an All-Star campaign which saw D’Angelo Russell increase his points per game by nearly 5 points, Russell’s status as a future Brooklyn Net has seemingly drifted away. With Darren Collison retiring, the Pacers have a opening at the PG position. Indiana possesses the cap space and the playoff ready core to lure the first time All-Star to Indiana. LA might be the most popular destination, but Indiana might be the best fit for D’Angelo.
9. SF/PF Tobias Harris: Philadelphia 76ers
34.7 MPG 20.0 PPG 2.8 APG 7.9 RPG 0.5 BPG 0.6 SPG 1.8 TPG 59.2 TS% 17.2 PER 0.5 BPM 0.120 WS/48
Harris is yet another free agent that the Sixers have to resign. With Phily being just one buzzer beater away from a chance to make the NBA Finals, it seems far fetched that Tobias Harris wouldn’t want to run it back again. However, Tobias Harris does sit in a unpredictable situation. I wouldn’t be shocked if he is seen in a Knick or Net uniform next year. Aside from that, the Sixers seem like the best basketball option for Harris.
10. SG/SF Khris Middleton: Milwaukee Bucks
31.1 MPG 18.3 PPG 4.3 APG 5.0 RPG 0.1 BPG 1.0 SPG 2.3 TPG 55.8 TS% 16.5 PER 1.7 BPM 0.123 WS/48
Last season saw the Milwaukee Bucks arguably take the biggest leap of any NBA team last season. After not winning over 43 games since 2010, the Bucks leapfrogged the standings to number one in the East after posting 60 wins. Middleton is in a perfect situation in Milwaukee as a solid second scoring option for a championship contender. Middleton fits in very well in Milwaukee, and there might not be a better fit out there.