There is a calm before the storm and we’re not talking about the weather. On June 30, the NBA as we know it now might no longer be the same.
We’ll bring you further developments as we move towards the free agency period that will change the NBA landscape forever. Last time, we focused on the free agents, this time we’d look at the teams that would be major players on this period.
The Celtics are suddenly flashing their pride again as they suddenly carved out cap space. They had to lose three major players: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Marcus Morris.
Irving was already on his way out and it was no surprise that Marcus Morris ended up disgruntled. Horford was the surprise. He was supposed to be the stabilizer on the team, but there were reports that he was not offered the full amount and even the length of contract that he was expecting. There was also the angle that he was not happy living in Boston — a sentiment echoed by Kyrie.
It is most likely a combination of factors, but Boston is not sweating Horford’s departure as it allowed them to throw their hat in the free agency sweepstakes. Their target—Kemba Walker to fill in the void at point guard.
The Boston Celtics can focus on their star signing but they can still improve their team with draft assets — they could get involved in the Jimmy Butler-Houston Rockets drama. The Rockets are trading out their key players in exchange for draft picks and Clint Capela is probably the center target for the Celtics.
Los Angeles Lakers
Unlike their arch rivals, the Lakers do not have the means to build a roster. They no longer have any trade assets, and as of this writing, they have reportedly traded the three other players (Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerio Jones) that were left on the roster.
What they do have is cap space for a max player. It brings them into the auction room for the top free agents. Kawhi is still the top target, but Kyrie, Klay, Kemba and Jimmy Butler have been mentioned, and even their former skipper, D’Angelo Russell.
The Lakers have been constantly dismissed in the free agent wars, but now that they have Davis, the dynamic has changed. Adding any of the top tier free agents would almost ensure a championship run, even if they would be limited in filling out their roster.
A Big Three will assure the presence of two superstars at any given time. Other superteams like the Miami Heat had good history of picking out second round or undrafted players and recruiting title chasers. The roles of Ray Allen and Shane Battier could be reprised by players like Jamal Crawford, Trevor Ariza among others. There would always be a way, and that is why the Lakers are swinging for the fences.
But the idea of a Lakers’ superteam is not set in stone yet. The likely outcome is that they end up with a second tier free agent or a group of role players. The max space could allow them to choose a better group of three to four players to round out their veteran core.
The true dark horse of free agency is the LA Clippers. They are under pressure, as their cross-town rivals have staked their claim as contenders. They continue to fight for Kawhi even if the latter has won a crown in Toronto.
They still have a good chance to land The Klaw and that makes them playoff contenders considering the pieces they have left. They are also suitors for Kevin Durant, since they can execute moves to open up two max spots.
The Clippers may be encountering a chicken-and-egg situation. A top free agent may think—why go to the Clippers when joining the Lakers gives you pole position for a title? The choice could hinge on who else will be on the roster. There are rumors of a possible Kawhi-Jimmy Butler tandem, but both of them are probably waiting for the other one to sign on first.
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