Photo Credits: thebiglead.com
NBA Free Agency is set to begin tonight June 30th at 6:00 PM. The league as a whole is wide open with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson set to miss the majority of next season. The balance of power in the league has already majorly shifted once this offseason when the Lakers acquired Pelicans star Anthony Davis. There a number of impact free agents on the board, and where they go will change the landscape of the league. Here are my predictions on where the top 10 NBA free agents will take their talents this summer.
10. D’Angelo Russell, G (RFA)
Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Minnesota is at the top of Russell’s list of destinations for next season. Russell has also been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Timberwolves have made Russell their top objective this offseason. Kyrie Irving to the Nets on a 4 year/$141 million contract is pretty much a done deal. This development has changed the Russell situation drastically. When the Nets ink Irving, they will most likely renounce the rights of Russell making him an unrestricted free agent. This would allow Russell to sign where he chooses, which as of right now looks to be Minnesota. Russell to Minnesota would pair the top two picks in the 2015 NBA draft together in him and Karl Anthony-Towns. The Wolves hope that Russel and Towns will be the next Kobe and Shaq. Russell who is coming off of his first All-Star appearance will bring great shooting and playmaking to the Timberwolves, and help them get back into the playoff picture.
9. Kristaps Porzingis, F (RFA)
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks
Photo Credits: (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)
The 7 foot 3 unicorn has all of the talent and upside as any player in basketball. However, he is coming off of an ACL injury. Porzingis was moved to Dallas in a trade with New York in the middle of last season. Considering that Dallas made that move last season, they will not let him walk as a restricted free agent. The Mavericks are planning on singing Porzingis on a 5 year/$158 million deal. The big man averaged 22.9 points, and 6.6 rebounds for the struggling Kincks last season, and figures to be a dynamic duo with Luka Doncic in Dallas.
8. DeMarcus Cousins, C
Prediction: Golden State Warriors
Photo Credits: Bleacher Report
Demarcus Cousins was the surprise of the offseason last year when he signed a one year deal with the Golden State Warriors coming off of an ACL injury. The 29 year old showed flashes of being the great scoring and facilitating big man that he was in Sacramento and New Orleans. Cousins this season will not be getting a max money contract. Which is why I believe he will reup with the Golden State Warriors thinking that a championship run and a full season as the second option behind Steph Curry will help him get PAID in the future.
7. Tobias Harris, F
Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers
Photo Credits: New York Times
Harris has improved each season he has been in the league. Harris averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds with the Clippers, and the Sixers last season. Harris will be 27 in July, and is going to reach his prime this season. The Sixers can give Harris the most money, and give him the best chance to win. Which is why he will go into next season alongside Embiid and Simmons trying to get over the hump in the Eastern Conference.
6. Jimmy Butler, G
Prediction: Miami Heat
Butler was a critical piece for the 76ers down the stretch last season. He averaged 18.7 points per game, and played his usual brand of stingy, gritty defense. Butler has been a bit overlooked because he wasn’t Philly’s first scoring option last season. However, he is a star in this league and wants to be the man on a championship team. Butler gives the Heat exactly what they want and need: a marketable star that has connections to other superstars in the league. He is also a clutch performer, and a great shooter. Butler is expected to tell Miami officials he wants to play for the Heat when free agency opens tonight.
5. Klay Thompson, G
Prediction: Golden State Warriors
Thompson suffered a torn ACL late in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. His status for next season is up in the air, but that will not stop the Golden State Warriors from signing Thompson to a five year super-max contract. With Durant set to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Thompson will step back into the spotlight alongside fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry. Thompson averaged 21.5 points per game last season, and shot over 40% from beyond the arc. He is an outstanding two-way player, and will be a part of the Warriors core for years to come.
4. Kemba Walker, G
Prediction: Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker will be a Boston Celtic when free agency opens. With Kyrie Irving set to join the Brooklyn Nets, and Terry Rozier set to go to the Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics will do a sign and trade with those two franchises and lock up Walker long term. Walker’s decision to go to Boston is for an opportunity to advance deep in the playoffs playing under coach Brad Stevens, and with teammates Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the fat lard former star Gordon Hayward.
3. Kyrie Irving, G
Done Deal: Brooklyn Nets
Photo Credits: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving is at the Nets practice facility as this article is being written, and will announce that he will be signing a 4 year/$141 million deal to take his talents to Brooklyn. Irving will team up with Durant in Brooklyn and will have the chance to compete for championships for years to come. The 27 year old averaged 23.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game and will spend the rest of his prime as a Brooklyn Net.
2. Kevin Durant, F
Done Deal: Brooklyn Nets
Knicks fans look away. The crosstown Brooklyn Nets signed both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to add to an already disappointing offseason for the Knicks who missed out on Zion Williamson. Durant will ink a 4 year/ $164 million contract. Durant is facing some uncertainty after tearing his achilles. He is expected to miss the whole 2019-2020 NBA season. Turning 31 in September, Durant is still one of the top players in the league. He averaged 32.3 points before going down in the postseason. He, along with Kyrie Irving will bring championship experience to the Nets, and will allow Brooklyn to become the premiere spot for free agents for years to come.
- Kawhi Leonard, F
Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers
Photo Credits: DeadSpin
Where will the Board Man get paid? He will sign a max contract to join the Los Angeles Clippers. Toronto and the Clippers both have very good chances to sign Leonard. However, home is home and the Clippers have a better situation with Jerry West at the helm. Leonard averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds this season and led the Raptors to their first ever NBA title. He will go home to sunny LA and bring the Clippers a championship in the Staples Center before his crosstown counterparts LeBron and AD do.