In the months leading up to 2019 NBA Free Agency, which begins Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. PT, Kevin Durant was widely heralded as the best player who would reach the open market. But as the NBA Playoffs began and through the NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard entered his name into that discussion.
Then, when Durant ruptured his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the Finals, Leonard suddenly ascended to becoming the most-coveted free agent. That’s not to say Durant won’t have a shortage of suitors even as he faces a bit of an uncertain future.
As teams are jockeying to secure meetings with Durant and Leonard, along with the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, among others, the players themselves are also said to be discussing their futures together.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant and Leonard have explored potentially signing with the same team, which would likely need to come with the Los Angles Clippers or New York Knicks, given their respective salary cap outlooks:
Free agent stars Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard have been discussing scenarios that could include a future with them playing together, league sources told ESPN.
For now, there are two clear possibilities for the two All-NBA forwards to sign into the same franchise — the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.
Durant has remained in New York since undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon, and is expected to hold free agency meetings with the Clippers, Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors. He’s been tied to multiple scenarios of pairing with a second All-Star, though namely Irving in Brooklyn or New York.
Meanwhile, Leonard reportedly is due to meet with the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks and Toronto Raptors. Leonard’s camp reportedly sought out former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson to arrange for his presence in a meeting.
While Leonard and Johnson can have contact, the NBA will not allow for the Hall-of-Fame point guard to be part of any official meeting with the Lakers. It’s unclear what impact, if any, that may have on their pursuit of Leonard.
The Clippers and Raptors were perceived as the frontrunner for his services, but the Lakers have seemingly entered the picture with their trade for Anthony Davis and expanding that deal to include the Washington Wizards as a means of freeing up a max contract spot.
There’s been a growing sentiment throughout the league that the Lakers’ deft transactions very much have them in position to be a factor in the sweepstakes for Leonard.