3. Free agency is completely up in the air
If anyone tells you they have any remote idea about what will happen in 2019 NBA free agency, they’re either lying or trying to sell you something. With injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard’s championship success putting a potential damper on his L.A. plans and ripple effects for miles, this will be one of the most unpredictable summers in NBA history.
Make no mistake about it, there are still likely teams that will throw max money at Kevin Durant over the summer, even with the knowledge that he’ll likely miss all of the upcoming season. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are well-documented suitors, as would be any other team that KD expresses interest in joining.
However, since he’ll be 32 years old when he finally gets back to the hardwood, he could opt in to the final year of his contract with the Warriors for $31.5 million if the max offers don’t come rolling in. Golden State could be more inclined to re-sign both him and Klay, punting on 2019-20 knowing there’s little that can be done this summer to reignite championship hopes until those two are back.
As for Klay, the Warriors needed to max him out this summer no matter what happened in this series. The heroic performance he put on in Game 6 and the ultimate sacrifice he paid in pursuit of a championship only confirms that, especially with Durant’s future so up in the air.
Then there’s Kawhi, the reigning Finals MVP, who was a massive gamble for the Raptors that ultimately paid off with the NBA jackpot. Rumors of his desire to move to L.A. in free agency have swirled around this entire season, but how will winning a title affect that?
Will Kawhi feel a sense of loyalty to a city that fully embraced him and a team that’s entirely good enough to run it back next year? Or will he want to now make history with yet another team like the Los Angeles Clippers and just enjoy that L.A. lifestyle?
None of this, of course, takes into account DeMarcus Cousins‘ failed redemption tour. Maybe some team will overpay for his services this summer. More than likely though, that max payday isn’t coming after watching him battle through rust and yet another injury that prevented him from being the difference-maker Golden State needed at the team’s most dire moment.
And then there are the ripple effects. Kyrie Irving seems like a safe bet to join the Brooklyn Nets, but will KD’s status dissuade them (or the Knicks) from using their two max slots on a Kyrie-Durant union? And if the Boston Celtics trade for Anthony Davis, does that, in conjunction with Durant’s injury, change Kyrie’s willingness to leave?
From Durant and Klay’s injuries, to Kawhi’s championship making it hard for him to leave, to the Kyrie/KD rumors, to the Anthony Davis trade cloud that’s hanging over all of this, the next month or so is going to be absolutely bonkers. Good luck trying to predict what’s coming next.