As 2019 NBA free agency officially begins at 3:00 p.m. PST, the Los Angeles Lakers will be armed with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and a near max-contract slot ($32.1 million).
In a special edition of the Lakers Nation Roundtable, Daniel Starkand, Matt Borelli, Ron Gutterman, and Julian Mitchell make their predictions for all of the top free agents.
While Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Nikola Vucevic will either re-sign with their current teams or sign elsewhere to begin June 30, there are conflicting reports about Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler.
Here are their 2019 NBA free agency predictions:
|Daniel Starkand||Matt Borelli||Ron Gutterman||Julian Mitchell|
Here is the best explanation for each player:
Daniel on Kevin Durant: While moving to the Eastern Conference to team up with Kyrie Irving may be appealing, I feel the Golden State Warriors will ultimately offer him a max deal and an opportunity to compete for championships once he gets completely healthy will be tough to pass up.
Ron on Kawhi Leonard: This may be a biased opinion, but it feels like the Lakers have been in the Leonard sweepstakes the whole time, but the media refused to let that happen. Leading up to free agency, more signs point to him teaming up with James and Davis in the purple and gold now.
Matt on Kyrie Irving: With a desire to play closer to home, he has long been expected to sign with the Nets at the start of free agency. It will be interesting to see if the Nets are able to pair him with another All-Star player such as Durant.
Daniel on Klay Thompson: He has made it known that he wants to stay with the Warriors if they offer him a max deal at the start of free agency and I expect that to happen.
Julian on Jimmy Butler: He is somewhat hard to place as he definitely will want a max deal and there are only a few teams that could offer him that. I think the Los Angeles Clippers will emerge as serious contenders for him.
Ron on Kemba Walker: It seems the Charlotte Hornets made — sort of — the right move letting him leave in free agency. While they should have tried to trade him months ago, this will be a chance to hit the reset button. And for Walker, a change of scenery might be just what he needs and the Boston Celtics are a perfect basketball fit.
Daniel on Khris Middleton: He was the second-best player for the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished with the best record during the 2018-19 NBA season. There has been mutual interest in a return and if they offer him a max or near-max deal in free agency, I don’t see him going anywhere else.
Daniel on Nikola Vucevic: The Orlando Magic aren’t really a free agent destination, so they will likely use their money to retain their own All-Star player who surprisingly led them to the 2019 NBA playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Ron on D’Angelo Russell: As much as I would love a Russell-Lakers reunion, I’ve maintained the Lakers will get Leonard. With that happening and Irving going to the Nets, he will likely go to the team that offers him the most money and the Minnesota Timberwolves seem ready to do that.
Matt on Tobias Harris: After trading a bevy of assets to acquire him at the Feb. trade deadline, I believe the Philadelphia 76ers feel obligated to max out on their investment and will do everything in their power to re-sign.
Julian on DeMarcus Cousins: This is a hard one to pick due to his injuries. I think he could end up with the Dallas Mavericks due to their hole at the center spot.
Matt on Malcolm Brogdon: It will be difficult for the Bucks from a financial perspective to retain both him and Middleton, but I believe they will ultimately pull it off in the end. Keeping their supporting cast around Giannis Antetokounmpo is essential for future success, especially with a potentially wide-open Eastern Conference in the event Leonard signs with one of the Los Angeles teams.