NBA Free Agents 2019: Latest Rumors and Predictions on Kevin Durant and MoreJune 29, 2019
The revival of the Los Angeles Lakers continues to be the centerpiece of the NBA offseason ahead of free agency.
But surrounding the centerpiece is a whirlwind of rumblings unlike almost anything the rumor mill has seen in the past.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are out likely trying to recruit players, naturally. But Kawhi Leonard is making the rounds. So is Kevin Durant. Even restricted free agency features a heavyweight like D'Angelo Russell. Outside of sheer superstars, plenty of intriguing depth options head to market, too.
Below, let's focus on a mix of both by zooming in on the most recent rumblings for notable players and predicting how things might play out.
DeAndre Jordan is one of those notable depth pieces.
And indeed, Jordan could have a bigger impact on how some of the bigger signings on the market play out than fans might expect. Think, for example, what happens if he joins up with a team like the Lakers and how that might influence another superstar to jump aboard.
In fact, that seems to be one potential strategy employed by the Lakers thanks to some potential interest by both parties, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst:
"But Jordan, who played nine seasons with the LA Clippers, has an interest in playing in Los Angeles again, sources said. He would potentially be a fit for the Lakers, who are expected to try to find a way to sign Jordan and play him alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James."
The fit certainly makes sense. Jordan is now going on 31 years old in July having been in the league since 2008-09, and his career averages of 9.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 67 percent shooting from the floor wouldn't look too shabby as a rotational piece for a contender.
Jordan only got on the floor for 19 games in New York last season while the Knicks focused on long-term youth underneath the basket. That wouldn't be the case with the Lakers, so even a hint of interest here seems to suggest he'd be willing to take a big dip in pay to contend.
Prediction: Jordan signs with the Lakers
It is easy to think, based on what the general public seems to know about Leonard, that he wouldn't link up with a superteam, especially coming off a title win with the Toronto Raptors.
But there is—at the least—a thing called due diligence.
As such, it isn't too much of a surprise to hear Leonard will at least link up with the Lakers during his free-agency rounds, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
Due diligence or something more, both LeBron and Davis will understandably be a part of the process, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Not too long ago, Leonard had liked the Lakers as a destination before heading to Toronto. But things have changed, to say the least, with those Lakers now boasting two superstars and Leonard himself already boasting a championship.
On paper, the appeal of joining a team like the Los Angeles Clippers as opposed to the Lakers might prevail here. Same city, ability to contend and encourage other superstars to join, no massive backlash of linking up with others.
But don't count out the Raptors. Dipping the toes in the deep end isn't the same as taking a dive.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Leonard will give the Raptors one final shot before making a decision. A solid roster, ample room for improvement and one title already while superstars moving around shake up things and need time to adjust could mean a serious chance at a repeat. It should keep Leonard in Toronto, even if it means something as short as a three-year deal with a player option baked into it.
Prediction: Leonard re-signs with the Raptors
Durant's trip to market asks fans to attempt to dissect yet another "due diligence or something more?" angle.
The question with Durant isn't any easier than the others. He's spent the last three seasons with the Golden State Warriors and the accomplishments there are well known. Whether he wants to stick with the same crew or secure a change of scenery is impossible to say—but don't forget the injury situation colorizing the outlook.
Wojnarowski reported which teams will get a shot: "Golden State's Kevin Durant is planning to engage four teams—the Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers, New York Knicks and Warriors—in discussions upon the opening of NBA free agency on Sunday, league sources told ESPN."
Citing a familiarity with these teams already, the chances won't necessarily be a face-to-face encounter. At the same time, that doesn't mean a decision will happen quickly.
Also playing into this is Durant's recovery from a torn Achilles tendon, which could theoretically limit his travel or time for meets.
That injury, which will likely sideline him for all of next season, won't stop teams from approaching him with max deals. But it's important to keep in mind no team can come close on the monetary side of things, as Golden State can hit him with a fifth year at $220 million-plus.
One has to think comfort will end up coming into play, too. The Eastern Conference teams look promising but don't seem to offer the same level of contention right now. The Clippers, at least, are getting serious interest from someone like Leonard and the Warriors' standing isn't going anywhere.
Based on recent events, it wouldn't be too much of a shock to see Durant take a shorter deal with the Warriors while he rehabs. It's home, his tenure there would end on an incredibly sour note if he left now and on the outside chance he isn't the same player again after rehab, the core and system there gives him a chance to ease back into things while contending as opposed to needing to drag a rebuilder to the playoffs by himself.
Prediction: Durant re-signs with the Warriors