NBA 2019-20: Predicting the possible landing spots of free agents
The 2019 NBA offseason is shaping up to be one of the most memorable in recent history. With multiple eager teams with cap space and multiple superstars on the market, this summer should be very exciting. Here are my predictions for what is likely to happen this offseason:
Al Horford (declined player option)
It seemed to be written in stone that Al Horford would be on the Celtics roster next season, but after a disappointing finish and with Kyrie Irving on the way out, it seems as though Horford wants to finish his prime elsewhere. He declined his player option with the Celtics for just above 30 million, so it seems logical he could demand close to a max contract this summer. Any contender would take Horford on their team, but it all depends on his price tag. Teams like the Lakers, Clippers, 76ers, and Bucks are rumored to be interested in Horford’s services.
Prediction: Horford signs with the Clippers on a three-year deal.
Nikola Vucevic (unrestricted free agent)
Nikola Vucevic finally got the recognition he deserved when he was selected as an All-Star reserve this past season. Vucevic is a walking double-double machine and is one of the best players in the league that nobody seems to talk about. The Magic seem eager to bring back the face of their franchise, but something tells me Vucevic wants to move onto a better situation. Teams like the Celtics, Lakers, 76ers, are interested in the big man.
Prediction: Vucevic signs with the Lakers on a three-year deal.
Khris Middleton (player option)
Khris Middleton solidified himself as the second option for the Bucks this season, and has a nice payday coming his way this summer coming off his career year. Middleton is a great three-and-D guy but can create his own shot off the dribble and facilitate plays. Middleton will have significant interest from teams with the money this offseason, but the Bucks will prioritize him with the hopes to keep the roster essentially the same for the future.
Prediction: Middleton resigns on a five-year max contract with the Bucks.
Tobias Harris (unrestricted free agent)
Tobias Harris was another midseason addition for the 76ers, but he seemed to fit in better with their core. Harris was having a career season as the number one option on the Clippers before he was traded to Philadelphia in late January. The 76ers knew going into this offseason that both Harris and Butler would be free agents, and realize they can only likely resign one of the two. I think they will prioritize Harris over Butler, but Harris is said to have interest from multiple teams.
Prediction: Harris resigns with the 76ers on a five-year deal.
Kemba Walker (unrestricted free agent)
Kemba Walker has spent his first eight seasons as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, and many including myself think it’s time for him to move on. Walker is an All-Star and would provide immediate firepower to contenders in need of a point guard. The Hornets can offer Walker a five-year deal worth $221 million dollars, which will make it a difficult decision for Kemba this summer. Kemba is another tough one to predict but if the Hornets were to offer the super-max, I can’t see Walker passing it up.
Prediction: Kemba resigns with the Hornets on a five-year super-max extension.
Jimmy Butler (player option)
Jimmy Butler got his wish when he was traded out of Minnesota midseason, ending up with the 76ers. Butler was thought to be the missing piece for a young Sixers core, but they fell short after Kawhi Leonard’s unforgettable Game 7 buzzer beater. Reports say that Butler didn’t get along with many of the young players on the 76ers, and essentially was a half-season rental for Philadelphia.
Prediction: Butler signs with the Nets on a four-year max contract.
Kevin Durant (player option)
The biggest fish of them all is Kevin Durant, and it is pretty insane he will miss all of next year with a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant is the best scorer in the world, and the NBA world is praying he will be the same after his injury. The Warriors are expected to offer him a multi-year extension, but other teams like the Nets, Knicks, and the Lakers are eyeing the superstar.
Prediction: Durant signs a four year deal with the Knicks.
Kawhi Leonard (player option)
2019 was the year of Kawhi after he led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship while winning Finals’ MVP in the process. Kawhi is one of the most humble and quiet players in the league, so it’s hard to get any inside on Kawhi’s future plans. It seems to be a two-team race to sign him between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Raptors, but teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Lakers are also in the mix. Kawhi is possibly the toughest move to predict this summer.
Prediction: Kawhi stays with the Raptors on a one year deal with a player option.
Kyrie Irving (player option)
After an abysmal end to the Celtics’ season, Kyrie Irving has reportedly not been in contact with the Celtics front office this summer. Irving fired his longtime agent and signed with Roc Nation Sports, which was founded by Jay-Z. All signs point to Irving heading to Brooklyn to play for the Nets. The Nets are reportedly hesitant to sign Irving without bringing in another star, but I think they’ll think otherwise once free agency is officially underway.
Prediction: Kyrie signs a four-year max deal with the Nets.
Klay Thompson (unrestricted free agent)
Klay Thompson was balling out in the NBA Finals until he went down with a torn ACL in game six of the NBA Finals. He earned about $18 million in the 2018-19 season and enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. He was snubbed off of the All-NBA teams, meaning he isn’t eligible for the super-max extension this summer. The Warriors will offer Klay a five-year max deal, but other teams will be very interested in Thompson.
Prediction: Klay signs a five-year max extension with the Warriors.