With 2019 NBA free agency approaching, the Los Angeles Lakers and other 28 teams will be looking to dethrone the Toronto Raptors heading into the 2019-20 NBA season.
And for the first time in five seasons, there is not a clear favorite to win the 2020 NBA Finals due to Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and the Golden State Warriors.
As Durant is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, his free agency decision will certainly change the landscape of the NBA as well.
With Durant still expected to opt out, the Brooklyn Nets reportedly are ‘gaining confidence’ about signing both him and Kyrie Irving after June 30, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (H/T Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area):
“The Nets are gaining confidence that they can pull this off [signing Durant and Kyrie Irving]. They’ve made three moves in the last week — they’re right there for a second [max salary] slot.”
If the Nets ultimately are successful, this would mean D’Angelo Russell will become an unrestricted free agent, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
Russell’s breakup with the Lakers wasn’t pretty, but it’s difficult to hold grudges in this league. With Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn’t in the picture.
With the Anthony Davis trade expected to be completed on July 6, the Lakers will have at least $23.7 million in cap space. If Los Angeles is unable to create a max-contract slot, Russell could become a potential option for them.
Although the Lakers traded Russell after just two seasons, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is no longer around. While it seems like a stretch, the league is full of surprises and Russell would be a good fit now.
Following the Davis trade, the Lakers could very well have only four players under contract with LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Talen Horton-Tucker. As a result, they could ultimately break up the cap space for role players.
With the Lakers finally landing two All-Star players, they could land a third with a familiar face returning soon.