The 2018-2019 NBA season is finally over, with the Toronto Raptors holding off the injury-plagued Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Next, we turn our attention to free agency.
This year’s free agent class is one of the most stacked in league history. It’s now also one of the most injury-riddled.
Kevin Durant, easily the biggest prize in free agency, has a torn Achilles tendon. His running mate, Klay Thompson, tore his ACL. Whichever teams sign those players will have to wait quite some time to see them on the court.
Here’s where we think the top five players – Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker – will wind up signing.
5. Kemba Walker is saying all the right things about the idea of staying in Charlotte and seeing the Hornets build around him, but at the end of the day, we think it’s going to be hard for him to pass up competing for NBA titles. We project he’ll wind up signing with the Los Angeles Lakers – to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, after he’s traded to the franchise.
4. Kyrie Irving may have said he’d re-sign with Boston ahead of the last season, but a lot has changed since then. In fact, the idea of him remaining a Celtic seems like a longshot. Irving seems to be headed to Brooklyn to become a member of the up-and-coming Nets.
3. Klay Thompson is the kind of player who instantly makes any team better. But we don’t think he’ll be on the move. Thompson was already probably going to stay with Golden State, and after his injury, that seems even more likely. We think he sticks around.
2. Kawhi Leonard was traded to Toronto before the season and somehow led the Raptors to an NBA championship in his first season with the franchise. Who leaves after that? We think Leonard will, in fact, leave. He never wanted to play in Toronto, and he may feel he’s done what he signed up to do for the team when he joined it this past offseason. We think he’s still headed to Los Angeles – to play for the Clippers.
1. Kevin Durant’s situation is easily the most complex. Whichever team signs him is signing up for his first season being a wash. But he’s so good – and such a franchise changer – that he’s still going to get max offers from a number of teams. We think he heads to Brooklyn to team up with Kyrie – with the understanding that year two officially begins the championship window.
Free agency starts in just over two weeks.