If you’re an avid NBA fan like I am, I’m sure at this point in the year you’re completely sick of the same story lines being beaten over the head repeatedly. We get it, the two storied franchises of the association Celtics and Lakers are dysfunctional at the moment.
It’s been fun to speculate if young eastern conference risers like Toronto and Milwaukee can seriously contend, but nobody wants to hear about them until it matters in the postseason. At this point their performance is irrelevant.
In the western conference it may take multiple injuries to the Warrior star players in order for them to be dethroned. One of the most underwhelming playoff performers in Houston Rockets guard James Harden is the NBA’s best bet for Golden State’s reign of terror to end.
Bottom line: We’ve reached that dreaded dead point in the NBA. The regular season should be reduced to 60-something games. Contending teams are just going through the motions awaiting the playoffs. Meanwhile, awful teams are tanking with their eyes on Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett for the upcoming NBA draft.
Luckily for us fans, the NBA is a full year calendar sport with all of the hoopla surrounding free agency come the summertime. And it’s going to be a juicy offseason, with plenty of great players with big decisions to make. Not all of these players will leave this summer. But if they all were to leave, I believe there’s attractive destination for each one in this player mobility phase that the league is in.
Kevin Durant- Los Angeles Clippers
We start with the big fish in the free agency pool. Two summers ago KD sent NBA fans outside of the Bay area in an angry frenzy when he joined the 73 win Warriors squad. Now Durant’s about to earn his third straight title in Golden State.
For a top 15 talent this league has ever seen, I feel KD is nearly obligated to go elsewhere to complete his narrative and legacy. No one will label him as an all time pantheon player if he finishes his career in Golden State playing for an established team prior to his arrival.
The New York Knicks have been pegged as the frontrunner in the KD sweepstakes for some time now. But I don’t see it. The Knicks have a bevy of issues that could scare Durant away. They have the worst owner in sports in James Dolan, the New York media is known to eat players alive, and they’re an impatient, rabid fanbase that has dealt with a losing team for the past few decades.
If KD takes a short trip south from the Bay he has a great chance to win in a big market without all of the scruitany that comes with the Knicks. He has the opportunity to not only to surpass his top superstar competition LeBron James in number of titles, but can do so in his city for the “little brother” L.A franchise with no championships in its history.
The Clippers need more than just KD to get there. But, with fantastic executive in Jerry West at the helm of the operation combined with hypothetically adding KD to the mix, making it a more attractive destination for other free agents, things may be on the up and up for the Clips soon.
Kawhi Leonard- Dallas Mavericks
Yes, this sounds far fetched and unlikely to me too. But find me someone who can get a clear reading on anything involving the always mum Kawhi Leonard. It’s hard to envision who Leonard could go play for next season, leading me to believe he may resign with Toronto. That likelihood sky rockets if he’s able to lead them to the NBA finals this year.
But if things don’t pan out up north and “The Klaw” wants to venture elsewhere, as I look across the league Dallas makes most sense to me. The Lakers were originally rumored to be the front-runner for Leonard, but with their poor season and the toxic environment that exists over there it’s fair to assume he wants no part of that mess.
During his initial trade talks from San Antonio the 76ers also seemed like a viable option. Leonard teaming up with young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would be a downright scary trio, especially on the defensive end. But it appears Philly will commit to one or both of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris this summer. Both of whom play Leonard’s position.
This leaves Leonard with a grand opportunity to join two European ego-less stars in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and form a special team in Dallas. Also, although an introverted Leonard’s top priority isn’t marketing himself, he is in an isolated position among NBA stars as the face of New Balance.
There are reports that Leonard is interested in going somewhere that gives him a chance for branding his new collection with New Balance. He can do so in a city like Dallas, without all of the attention and drama that comes with playing in Los Angeles.
Kyrie Irving- Los Angeles Clippers
It’s no secret that things aren’t going so swimmingly for “Uncle Drew” in Boston. The Celtics have underperformed this season, currently at 40-26 and 5th place in the eastern conference. At times, the Celtics have looked like a more functional team with Kyrie off the floor, having won their last seven without him.
Irving’s recent postgame interviews have made it abundantly clear that he’s very disgruntled. It’s entirely possible he’ll move on from Boston this summer. If he does, I don’t see a better scenario than teaming up with the aforementioned Durant in Los Angeles.
That’s right, the two sensitive oddball superstars can join forces. Irving and Durant have a close friendship that could translate to coexisting on the court. Even if chemistry is spotty at the beginning, given that it’s two of the most unstoppable scorers that the game has ever seen running the show, they’d figure it out when it’s money time in the postseason.
The only question about this pairing comes with the weird personalities of the two. Both have been devoid of the ability to be effect leaders of their respective teams. As the season winds it’d be interesting to see which of the two takes on the alpha personality on that squad.