In a few days, there will be a feeding frenzy in the NBA as several franchise players enter free agency. Acquiring these players can easily a bottom feeder to playoff contender overnight. However, these same superstars have the power to choose their own destinations, their own fates. The multi-million dollar signings can begin as early as July 1 (Manila time). These deals have the potential to alter the league for many years to come: Here are the top free agents:
1) Kevin Durant – He recently opted out of his player option and is officially a free agent. There were strong indications that he would leave the Golden State Warriors after getting 2 titles in 3 years. Durant is also seeking a bigger payday since he took a substantial discount for the Warriors to remain competitive. Reportedly, he was supposed to team up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn but after an Achilles injury that would sideline him most of next season, Durant may have second thoughts rehabbing in a new city and a new team. Regardless, he will get a supermax contract wherever he goes. Durant is now playing for his legacy, a legacy outside of Steph Curry and the Warriors. Probable Destinations: Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets
2) Kawhi Leonard – After his 2nd NBA Finals MVP and bringing home the 1st title for the Toronto Raptors, Leonard is probably the most sought after free agent. Unlike other players, who seek more glory, fame, and money, Leonard’s motivations are simpler. He wants to win and he wants to do it near his family in Los Angeles. However, it would be hard for him to turn his back on a franchise that has given him all the support as he regained his superstar form. Leonard would probably sign a short-term contract with the Raptors and go back home eventually. Probable Destinations: Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers
3) Klay Thompson – Like Durant, Thompson got severely injured in the Finals versus the Raptors. Unlike Durant, Thompson is expected to re-sign with the Warriors for a supermax contract. Probable Destination: Golden State Warriors
4) Kyrie Irving – Following another disappointing season with the Boston Celtics, Irving is expected to bolt and take his talents elsewhere. Irving allegedly was the cause of this young team’s locker room problems and was a failure as a leader. Irving and Durant were supposed to team up in Brooklyn to form a new super team in the East but that has been complicated by Durant’s injury. Brooklyn is reluctant to sign Irving without a commitment from Durant. It gets more complicated since the Nets have a young, All-Star point guard in D’Angelo Russell who is a restricted free agent. Russell is obviously the more cost-effective choice. Probable Destinations: Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks
5) Kemba Walker – He has been languishing in a mediocre team for the past 8 years and it’s about time for him to leave. The Hornets are stuck with several bad contracts (e.g. Nic Batum $25.5 million for 2019-2020) and do not have the flexibility to add more talent around Walker. The Celtics are interested in the diminutive point guard who averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.4 rebounds who is also at the prime of his career. Walker is also a great locker room guy and teammate. Probable Destinations: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks
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