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The most exciting time in the NBA when your teams is no longer in the playoffs is the draft and free agency. This year may be the best free agency year of all time with 15 premier players looking for new homes come July. Here are my predictions for each premier player:
1. – Kevin Durant: New York Knicks
All signs point to KD going to the Knicks and when there is this much speculation about one player going to one team, it’s usually true and it seems he’s content signing there if they get either Kyrie, AD, both, or neither so come next season we should see KD in a Knicks uni.
2. – Kawhi Leonard: Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi has been linked to the Los Angeles since he wanted out of San Antonio last season, at first with the Lakers but it’s seemed since LeBron, who plays his position, has changed his focus to the Clippers. He bought a house in SoCal and if the Raptors can’t get to the Finals you can count him as good as gone.
3. – Kyrie Irving: Boston Celtics
A lot of Celtics fans aren’t happy with Kyrie right now and while I don’t think him re-signing is a forgone conclusion, if he wants to hold true to his promise, Danny Ainge will go get him Anthony Davis and they can build something without the guys who don’t fit in with his playing style.
4. – Kemba Walker: New York Knicks
Kemba Walker is an awesome talent. He’s very very good, but he can’t be the best player on his own team. That said, he could be an excellent Robin to Kevin Durant’s Batman in New York. If Kyrie doesn’t go to the Knicks, Kemba would be the next best thing to go alongside KD.
5. – Klay Thompson: LA Lakers
Klay has voiced his frustrations with the Warriors and seems like he’s ready to move on. His dad has ties to the Lakers and while I previously said LeBron James is a terrible recruiter, I think he could woo Klay out of Golden State and into Laker gold.
6. – Tobias Harris: Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers can only keep one of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris and with Butlers attitude and inability to come up big for the Sixers in big moments this post-season, it looks like the Sixers covet one of the most underrated players in the league and will do whatever it takes to keep Harris.
7. – Jimmy Butler: Brooklyn Nets
Not that he won’t be sought after, but when Philly pulls the trigger on Harris, Butler is going to have to find a new home. He’ll end up in New York one way or another but I think he’s going to go chop it up with DLo and the Nets in Brooklyn rather than KD in New York.
8. – D’Angelo Russell: Brooklyn Nets
DLo found a new home in Brooklyn after being traded there from the a disastrous start to a career with the Lakers. While he may not be there forever, it seems like Russell and the Nets have a good relationship going and for at least this next contract he should stay put.
9. Khris Middleton: Milwaukee Bucks
It’s really a no brainer here for Middleton to stay with Milwaukee. He’s the second best player on the best team in the east and gets to play next to Giannis. I think there is a 0.0% chance Middleton even considers anywhere else.
10. DeMarcus Cousins: Golden State Warriors
With the Warriors losing Durant and Thompson, they’ll have plenty of money to throw at Cousins. He’s not going to get a max because of his constant injury problems, but when he’s on the floor he’s a monster and he fits in very well with Curry, Green and Co. He’ll keep the Warriors competitive.
11. Kristaps Porzingis – Dallas Mavericks
We’re all awaiting KP’s return, as is Mark Cuban. They traded for him around the deadline knowing the allegations around him and while his behavior off the court has been less than stellar, getting his mind right to play will be huge for him. Dallas didn’t trade for him just for him to walk this summer. He’ll stay a Mav.
12. Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic
Vuc has been very up and down for the Magic since they acquired him from the Lakers. (Hard to believe the Magic once had Harris, Vucevic, Oladipo, Harkless, and Aaron Gordon at one time), but his last season was his best, earning an All Star bid and bringing the Magic to the playoffs for the first time since the Dwightmare. It makes sense for this relationship to continue and I believe it will.
13. Malcolm Brogdon – Milwaukee Bucks
Much like Middleton, there is no reason for Brogdon to leave the Bucks right now. Things are just too good and he’s in too good of a place.
14. Al Horford – Boston Celtics
The Celtics will retain veteran big man Al Horford. He’s so important to how this team operates and he’s already expressed his willingness to take a home town discount to stay. The only question is how big of a discount will Big Al give them?
15. Julius Randle – Brooklyn Nets
Even without getting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets could cash out pretty big this summer. Retaining Russell, adding Butler, and signing Julius Randle would create a nucleus that will shake up the Eastern Conference. With the Pelicans in line to draft Zion Williamson, there’s really no place for him any longer on the Pelicans so expect him to take his talents to Brooklyn.
Where do you guys think these players will end up? How’d I do with my predictions? Let me know!