NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and MoreJune 27, 2019
Based on the latest buzz from the free-agent market, the NBA could be approaching a radical makeover.
More than a handful of marquee players are headed to free agency, and each has a wealth of major-money options available to him.
Is Kevin Durant maybe not as good as gone from the Golden State Warriors? Has an All-Star sidekick emerged for Kawhi Leonard?
Four Teams Have Durant's Attention?
Players like Durant come around once in a generation. He's basically a 7-foot shooting guard who also happens to fit as a havoc-wreaking small-ball big on defense.
He spent the past three seasons with the Warriors, arguably the most talented team in NBA history, and ended two of them as the Finals MVP. He may well have made it three-of-three if not for an ill-timed calf injury and subsequent Achilles tear.
You'd think the latter ailment might cast an ominous cloud over his entry into free agency, but he's such a tremendous talent that he's still expected to fetch a full max deal. He can sign a four-year, $164 million contract with any outside suitor or a five-year, $221 million one with the Warriors. Both options seem to have grabbed his attention.
"Durant is still considering a number of scenarios in free agency, including a return to Golden State, league sources tell ESPN," Adrian Wojnarowski reports. "The New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers are all also believed to be considerations, sources said."
Golden State has made five consecutive trips to the Finals. Its ability to construct a contender speaks for itself. The Knicks, Nets and Clippers all need more work, but they each have the capacity to potentially sign Durant and a handpicked co-star. This will not be an easy decision.
Kawhi Leonard-Jimmy Butler Partnership Possible?
It's OK for NBA teams to feel greedy. Time and again, this league has taught us that two stars are better than one.
Several seem to be using that as their guide to free agency. If they can snag multiple stars this summer, they not only win the offseason, they put themselves in position to possibly win a title (or titles).
A few reportedly have a specific dynamic duo in mind.
"Multiple teams have expressed interest in pairing Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler together in free agency this summer," league sources told SNY.tv's Ian Begley.
Leonard and Butler are on a short list of the Association's best two-way players. Together, they have nine All-Defensive team selections between them plus multiple seasons as featured offensive players and 20-plus-point scorers.
That doesn't mean the pair is asking to play together, but those same teams "believe they would have interest in playing together."
Based on cap space and reported offseason plans, the Nets, Knicks and Clippers all seem likely believers in the Leonard-Butler pairing. Honestly, if any team gets presented that option, it probably isn't turning it down.
Charlotte Not Kemba's Likeliest Landing Spot?
Kemba Walker is the leading scorer in Charlotte Hornets history. By virtue of his All-NBA honor, he could also be their highest-ever paid, too, as he's eligible for the five-year, $221 million supermax.
Walker has said Buzz City is his "first priority." The franchise, in turn, has promised to do "everything we can" to bring him back.
And yet, when a league source shared Walker's list of possible landing spots with Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, the Hornets weren't No. 1:
So, what gives?
For starters, all the public professions are happening away from the negotiating table. Once it's time to talk numbers, how rich (and how long) of a contract will Charlotte put in front of the 29-year-old point guard? The Hornets couldn't build a playoff team around Walker when he had one of the league's best bargain contracts. Would anyone believe their fortune would change once they start paying him like an elite?
If you're Walker, what kind of confidence can you have in the organization after making just two playoff trips over your first eight seasons? Probably not enough to sign at a significant discount in order to increase its buying power.
He'll have options outside of Buzz City, and the Boston Celtics could be a great one. They have established talent and up-and-comers, and they might have a massive void at point guard if Kyrie Irving walks away.
Whether Walker or stays or goes, he'll have a massive contract and an equally sizable role on offense.