By: John McCormack
With the new NBA season set to begin Sunday at 6pm, we take a look at where some of the leagues best players will be playing next year. NBA free agency is like no other. The NFL free agency sucks, MLB is irrelevant, and the NHL has next to no coverage.
Like the NBA season itself, free agency is full of drama and is a lot of fun to watch. I remember when Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors or when LeBron decided to take his talents to Miami. It’s great television coverage, and equally as fun to root for your favorite team to get the guy you want.
Free agency is also cool because it brings new faces to teams and new competitiveness to the NBA. So, for five free agents I’m going to give you my take as to where I think they will be playing next year and why.
Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Next season’s team: The Toronto Raptors
Leonard had one of the best NBA post-seasons that I can remember and it was so exciting to watch. I honestly think Leonard is going to stay in Toronto because of what he accomplished this year, and because they’re going to give him that BAG. Besides Toronto is set up to make it far next year too. They bring back Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka, Siakim, but they need to re-sign VanVleet (which I think they will). If you bring all of these guys back then they will 100% be back in the NBA Finals next June. A lot of people are saying that the Clippers pose as a threat to the Raptors in signing Leonard, but the Clippers are young. Why would Leonard want to waste a year or two with the Clippers, where he can win now with Toronto?
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Next season’s team: Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant is the best player on the planet and he’s going to stay with the best team on the planet. Look, no one in their right mind would want to go play for the Knicks. Their management is the worst in all of sports, they’re way too young, and have shown no signs on fixing themselves. If an organization isn’t going to help itself, then why would you want to help it? I’m still sad by Durant’s injury and I really hope he returns to the player that he is. With that being said, he’s going to resign with Golden State because I think he likes playing with Curry and Thompson (Warriors will re-sign him too), and they have shown that they need him. Besides this is a guy who is constantly criticized for being “too soft” or that his character is constantly in check. It’s obvious KD doesn’t like talking to the media or being criticized, but who really does anyway? Golden State is a perfect match for Durant’s personality. He has a coach and teammates who are selfless and love talking to the media, the fans embraced him since day one, and he’s overtaken that number one player role that he has always wanted. KD is a basketball player, and that’s what the Warriors allow him to do.
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
Next season’s team: Brooklyn Nets
The Kyrie Irving experiment in Boston was a failure, but that’s okay I’d rather have guys who want to be here anyway. Irving and the Celtics meshed like oil and water, and tension occurred since day one apparently. But I don’t know how the Nets are this “match made in heaven.” The Nets are an equally young team, who before didn’t have any expectations. However, next year they will and we all saw how Kyrie folds when expectations are put on him and a young team. Even with Kyrie, the Nets are still fighting to make the playoffs. Their ceiling isn’t lifted much higher than it was this season. But, Kyrie is a weird dude. He’s going to leave a young team that has championship expectations for a young team that has “win a playoff series” expectations. The only logical reason Kyrie wants to go play in Brooklyn is because he grew up in that area, and because they aren’t the Knicks.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Next season’s team: New York Knicks
Surprise team: Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker is in a very unique situation and I think he’s going to have his pick of choice. I think the front runners for Walker are the New York Knicks solely because they are his home town team. But today, reports came out the Celtics are a “stealth suitor” for Walker. I don’t know what the hell that means, but okay. The Knicks don’t offer much, and like the Hornets they aren’t going to be winning anytime soon. This is why I think the Celtics would be a great fit for Walker, because Walker is a winner and has never once complained about his teammates. I also think him and Tatum would be an incredible pairing and honestly Walker just feels like that next big Celtic that the fans have been waiting for. If the Celtics can slide Walker right into things, this team will be in the Eastern Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals. Go get it done Danny!
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Next season’s team: Anywhere but the Lakers
Actual team signing: Indiana Pacers
D’Angelo if you are reading this please don’t sign with the Lakers. This is the same team that kicked you to the curb for that bum Lonzo Ball. I always liked you and thought they made a mistake, and I’m glad we’re both right. So, please don’t sign with them you don’t want to be the third option and be the scapegoat for when things get tough. Instead go sign and play for Indiana. This is a Pacer team that is dying to pair another young all-star with Victor Oladipo. People forget the Pacers HELD THEIR OWN when he went down with the ACL injury. If Oladipo didn’t get hurt this is a team who’s the three seed and would have had a chance to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. The NBA, no joke, could be completely different right now if Oladipo didn’t get hurt. Say they win round one, and then face Toronto in the second round. Then they pull an upset and beat Toronto, which would mean Kawhi is 100% leaving. Then they play Milwaukee and win or lose, the NBA is already different. Either Giannis wins his first title or the Warriors dynasty lives forever. This all could have happened. If I’m Russell, I would really look at what the Pacers have to offer. They are a young team with a lot of upside.
These were the five free agents that I wanted to do. I think a lot of the less notable guys are going to stay or win small one or two year deals with teams looking to fill some space. I think Klay Thompson is going to stay with GSW, Jimmy Butler is heading to Miami with a possible John Wall trade coming through, and Kris Middleton is staying in Milwaukee to run it back with Giannis. I hope all of these come true and I am excited to watch NBA free agency.
John McCormack (@Uncle_Mac4)