NBA Free Agency Predictions & Prop Bet Picks

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The 2019 NBA season is over and attention turns to the Free Agents with Prop Bets available on who the big names will be signing with over the summer.

The 2019 Free Agency class is stacked, and has been rightly circled on many teams calendars as the chance for them to make a huge impact acquisition to change the trajectory of their franchise. After LeBron James decided last summer to leave his Cleveland Cavaliers for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, many teams think they have a chance to land an impact free agent, even if they are not ready to compete for a championship in year 1. Below, we look at the free agents who may leave, and make a prediction of their next home.

The 2019 Free Agency class includes many big names including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson, as well as a few others who may not be stars, but are close. Teams have been preparing for this for months, clearing cap space in the hopes they can convince one, or maybe even two stars to pair up on their team.

Kyrie Irving

Irving, the New Jersey native, is looked at as a bit of an enigma to many. He had it made in Cleveland. Sharing the court with LeBron James gave him the opportunity to play on the brightest stage each June, and he had success of his own, hitting the biggest shot in the 2016 NBA Finals to give Cleveland it’s first NBA Championship.

Since then, things have changed. Irving grew tired of being treated as the little brother to James, and demanded a trade from Cleveland. He ended up being traded to the Boston Celtics, a young and coming team where he was looked at as the piece to put them over the top. That never came to be, as his two seasons with the Celtics ended with early playoff exits. On top of that, there was talk that Irving was not the leader the team needed. That being said, the Celtics would love to have him back.

Currently, the Celtics can offer Irving the most money via the Supermax contract. That looks like the only chance they have. Talk has recently come out that Irving is looking to take his talents elsewhere, with the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers the key contenders for his services. The Lakers would offer Irving the chance to reunite with LeBron, and give them a chance to finish what he started.

The Nets and Knicks offer Irving unique circumstances. Both of these franchises have struggled as of late, and they would give Irving the chance to revive these franchises to national relevancy. Throughout the season, the Knicks were seen as the favorite, but that talk has cooled as of late. Now, the Nets look primed to make this addition. There

are still some questions about whether Irving and Nets star D’Angelo Russell can co-exist in the backcourt, but the Nets seem to have done their homework, and think this pair can do big things in the East.

Irving prediction: Brooklyn Nets on full-max contract

Kawhi Leonard

With the Toronto Raptors finishing up their championship run, it was clear their one year gamble on Leonard has paid off. Leonard has been everything the Raptors needed, and then some. He does everything on the offensive and defensive end, and took the Raptors from a good team to a great team. With Leonard finally reaching free agency, the chance for another team to secure his services for the next half-decade is now.

One thing is certain, every team in the league would love to have Leonard. There is a lot of talk that Leonard wants to go home to Southern California where he grew up, and the talk this time a year ago pointed to Leonard being with the Lakers. That talk has died down, as Leonard apparently is not too excited about the possibility to link up with LeBron and the circus in LA. One team to keep an eye on is the other LA team, the Clippers. The Clippers have rebuilt themselves since the Lob-City days, and have the cap space and young talent to make a big splash with Leonard. If you slide Leonard onto the Clippers roster, you immediately have a championship contender.

One team that everybody seems to be forgetting with Leonard is his current team, the Toronto Raptors. Leonard has everything he needs in Toronto, including a team that can win a championship. Toronto is a great basketball city, with the pieces to be a perennial contender in the short-term. The only problem is that their core is getting up there in age, and a full 5-year max would keep Leonard locked in with an aging core and a championship window that is closing.

That being said, Leonard has options. He could max out with the Raptors or Clippers, and be there for the long-term. His other option could be to go the 1+1 route that LeBron did back in Cleveland days. This would lock Leonard in with a 1-year deal, with a player option for 1 more year. I believe this is what he will do in Toronto. He will give the team one more year of his services, and see how he feels about the town in a year. Maybe the magic of the championship run will run out, and he feels ready to leave next year. Maybe he falls more in love with Toronto, and resigns with a full extension. No matter what, his options will be open.

Leonard prediction: Re-signs with Raptors on 1+1 deal

Kevin Durant

It doesn’t matter what year it is. When Kevin Durant is a free agent, he is the prize, just like he was in 2016 when he turned the basketball world upside down by joining the Golden State Warriors. The talk for Durant has been the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and teaming up with his buddy Kyrie Irving and taking the Knicks back to the promised land.

That talk has cooled as of late, as Irving seems more inclined to play in Brooklyn than New York. The Golden State Warriors look like they need him more than ever. For his entire tenure with the Warriors, fans and pundits have said the Warriors don’t even need him. Now, it seems like that narrative was premature. The Warriors are clearly a better team with Durant, as any team would be, and any talk that they wouldn’t take him back is naive.

Then there are the two New York teams, the Knicks and Nets. All season long, it was seen as a foregone conclusion Durant would be a Knick. He would rewrite his own legacy there, and show the basketball world he doesn’t need to join the Warriors to be an all-time great.

Durant’s free agency is the hardest for me to predict. It just seems like nobody knows exactly what Durant wants. If he wants only the rings, the simple thing would be to run it back with Golden State. If he wants to rebuild his own legacy, and take a franchise from the ground up, the answer would be New York. But which New York team? Everybody knows the Knicks are the big brother in town, with MSG being the “mecca”, and the seats filling up even when the team can’t crack 20 wins.

The Nets are seen as the little brother of the city, but have a good young coaching staff and roster, and are improving each year. They also might have a bonus, the addition of Kyrie Irving, who Durant is good friends with and has made clear he would like playing with. To me though, I think Durant is up for the challenge of the Knicks, with or without Kyrie. Even if he goes there alone, they have the cap space and young talent to improve their team on a whim. With Durant as their first building block, the New York Knicks will be back on the national map in no time.

Kevin Durant prediction: New York Knicks on full-max

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