NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Klay Thompson, Lakers, Jimmy Butler Trade and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 2: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 2, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

The NBA free agency rumor mill is churning at full speed with Sunday on the horizon. 

When free agency officially opens at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, all sorts of meetings are expected to take place between the top teams in the league and the most coveted free agents. 

Even though free-agent meetings have not occurred yet, a few franchises have established themselves as favorites for certain players. 

In other cases, teams are waiting for the opportunity to swoop up players if they can't come to agreements with the team they played for last season. 

While most teams are expected to go the conventional route to lure free agents, the Houston Rockets are taking a unique approach to its offseason strategy in an attempt to improve its roster. 


Latest NBA Buzz

Klay Thompson

According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Klay Thompson will listen to offers from the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers if the Golden State Warriors do not offer him a max deal of $190 million.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium said the Warriors are expected to meet with Thompson in Los Angeles at the start of free agency, and if a max deal is offered, it will be agreed to.

Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

Thompson has been a key piece of Golden State's success, and it would be wise of the Warriors to reward the shooting guard with the max contract right off the bat. 

The failure to do so leaves the Warriors open to losing Thompson, and with the Lakers now able to sign a third max free agent, they can't let it get to that point. 

By signing Thompson to a long-term deal, the Warriors will be able to mount more title quests with him and Stephen Curry leading the charge. 

Of course, that can't happen until the 2020-21 season due to Thompson's ACL injury, but the Warriors should still be seen as a threat by then. 

If, for some reason, Golden State does not offer Thompson the max deal, the Lakers and Clippers become intriguing options for the player. 

The Lakers need shooters to fill their roster around Anthony Davis and LeBron James, while the Clippers are in search of a top player to either partner Kawhi Leonard, or add to the young core that made a surprising run to a playoff berth last season. 

While it would be interesting to see Thompson paired with the talent on the Lakers and Clippers rosters, it is hard to believe the Warriors will not make the best offer possible to a player that has meant so much to the franchise. 


Kawhi Leonard

Thanks to the moves made by the Lakers Thursday, they are now in position to sign Kawhi Leonard. 

ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers traded Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards to complete the Davis trade and free up more cap space.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

In addition to shipping the three players to the Wizards, the Lakers received a boost with Davis agreeing to waive his $4 million trade bonus, which opens the path to sign a player to a max contract.

According to Yahoo's Chris Haynes, the Lakers will be granted a meeting with Leonard, as well as the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Wojnarowski reported that the Toronto Raptors are expected to receive the last meeting with Leonard in Los Angeles next week. 

Based off those reports, it feels like the race to sign Leonard is between three teams, with each of them holding some type of advantage. 

The Lakers would hand Leonard the opportunity to form a super team alongside Davis and James, but some holes could be poked in that pitch. 

The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player might want to be the main star on his own team, and the Lakers have plenty of work to do to fill the back end of their roster, which is close to empty right now. 

The Clippers present Leonard with the opportunity to be the focal point of the team while playing close to home and on a squad that has a playoff berth from last year to work off of as a foundation for success. 

Toronto can't sell Leonard on playing close to where he grew up, but it can offer the chance to create a dynasty north of the border. 

If Leonard were to return to Toronto, the Raptors would be viewed as one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. 

One of the other draws going in Toronto's favor is that the path to a championship appears to be much easier in the Eastern Conference than it will be in the Western Conference for the 2019-20 season.


Kemba Walker

According to Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics have emerged as the favorites to sign Kemba Walker. 

Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

In his report, Wojnarowski stated Charlotte owner Michael Jordan is no longer determined to extend far enough financially to retain Walker and that the player's representatives are expected to make contact with the Boston front office soon after free agency opens. 

Acquiring Walker would be a huge boost for the Celtics, who are set to lose both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency. 

Although there is a bit of difference between Irving and Walker in the upper echelon of NBA stars, the Celtics will not experience a significant drop off in play at the point. 

Bringing in Walker to run the point for a team with plenty of young scorers is the ideal free-agent fit for Boston, who had to do something to make up for the expected loss of Irving. 

Partnering Walker with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and the crop of young talent the Celtics selected in the NBA draft should help them contend alongside Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. 


Jimmy Butler

Houston is exploring all sorts of roster gymnastics in an attempt to sign Jimmy Butler in free agency. 

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

According to The Athletc's Sam Amick, the Philadephia 76ers would be willing to cooperate in a sign-and-trade deal for Butler, who grew up in Texas. 

According to Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Rockets are canvassing the league for deals including Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker to clear up cap space and acquire the best-possible first-round pick for a trade with the Sixers. 

Of course, Philadelphia's primary goal when it comes to Butler is to sign him to a long-term deal to set up the franchise's future with him, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid hoping to earn a spot in the NBA Finals. 

However, if Butler does not want to play for the Sixers and instead wants to play alongside Chris Paul and James Harden in Houston, Philadelphia has to get the most out of a sign-and-trade deal. 

Taking on all three contracts might not be an ideal situation for the Sixers, which is why a first-round draft pick might be more intriguing from their perspective. 

No matter what happens with Butler, Philadelphia has to make sure it is not fleeced by Houston in a potential trade and continues to set itself up for a promising future. 


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