With NBA free agency right around the corner, there is a ton of talk about where these star free agents will be playing next year. Many teams will be looking to add star players to their rosters in hopes of competing for a title in the upcoming season. Several organizations have max slots to use to sign these marquee free agents, and let’s see which teams these high-profile players will be suiting up for when the 2019-2020 NBA season begins.
10. Demarcus Cousins
Demarcus Cousins signed a one-year deal last offseason with the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Coming off of a torn Achilles, Cousins had very few suitors and decided to take a pay-cut with the Warriors to try and win a championship. Cousins only managed to play in 30 regular season games this season as he was still nursing his Achilles injury for a large portion of the season. His stats took a considerable drop, as he averaged 16.3 PPG which is his lowest since his rookie season, and averaged a career-low 8.2 rebounds per outing. While injuries have taken their toll on Boogie, when healthy, he is one of the most dominant big men in the league. I do not expect Cousins to remain with Golden State, but many teams will be interested in the former Kentucky Wildcat when free agency begins.
Prediction: Cousins signs a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
9. Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton has always been a great player, but playing in Milwaukee can make it difficult to become a household name. With Giannis Antetokounmpo on the team, the Bucks have been receiving a lot more attention. This greatly benefited Middleton, as he made his first all-star team this past season. Khris Middleton is an elite scorer who has the ability to knock down jump shots, attack the basket, and get to the foul line. He is also a solid rebounder at his position and is an underrated passer. Middleton is in line to sign a max contract and teams should be calling him as soon as free agency begins.
Prediction: Middleton signs a four-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
8. Nikola Vucevic
The 2018-2019 season was Nikola Vucevic’s best of his career thus far. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists, while also leading the Orlando Magic to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Vucevic is a huge mismatch on the offensive end, as he can post you up down low with a large variety of moves and can also shoot the three effectively, as he shot a career-high 36.4% from three-point territory this past season. Nikola Vucevic earned himself a ton of money with his performance this past season, and his contract should show it.
Prediction: Vucevic signs a four-year deal with the New York Knicks.
7. D’Angelo Russell
Many people believed that after Russell’s struggles with the Lakers he was a bust, but Russell has proved all the doubters wrong and then some. D-Lo posted career-highs in points with 21.1 and assists with 7. Russell was voted into his first all-star game as well. Russell has emerged into a star and is the face of the Brooklyn Nets. He is only 23 years old, and it seems as if he is entering his prime. Russell is a restricted free-agent so Brooklyn can match any offer another team gives him, which is precisely what I expect them to do.
Prediction: Russell signs a five-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
6. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has bounced around the league the past few years, playing for the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, and most recently the Philadelphia 76ers. Butler is a competitor and expects the best from everyone around him, which is what led to him forcing his way out of Minnesota and onto the 76ers. Jimmy Butler is an elite two-way player, as he can give you 20 plus points every night, and also effectively defend the other teams top guard or forward. He is very strong and can beat up on smaller guards down low, while also being able to knock down jump shots consistently. Butler is a phenomenal all-around player, and his contract will reflect that.
Prediction: Butler signs a four-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
5. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is an outstanding talent, and it is very unfortunate that the Charlotte Hornets have wasted a substantial portion of his career. Kemba is an all-around point guard with elite scoring ability, who can get to his spots with ease. He has exceptional quickness, dribbling ability, and is an above-average passer. Walker has been the face of the Hornets for years, but it is time for him to move on and have a chance to make a run at a championship. Charlotte will do everything they can to resign Kemba, but ultimately he leaves and teams up with a budding star in the Western Conference.
Prediction: Walker signs a five-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
4. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie’s stint with the Celtics was a total disaster. It was clear Irving did not possess the ability of patience to win with a young core and be the lone star of a team. Irving is still only 27 years old and is arguably a top 10 player in the NBA. His handles are out of this world, he has a great shot, he is a very crafty finisher once he gets to the rim, and is a solid passer. The only knock I would have on Irving’s play is that he forces his shot too much at times. Irving is about to receive a monster contract, and I believe we will see him teaming up with an old friend.
Prediction: Irving signs a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
3. Klay Thompson
One of the top shooters in NBA history, Klay Thompson faces the biggest decision of his career thus far. Klay has to decide between remaining on the Warriors and continue being an annual contender, or moving on to another team and being the main guy. There should be no shortage of options for Klay, as he is a standout talent, a historically good shooter, and an elite perimeter defender. Many people in Thompson’s position would bolt for the money and the chance to be the face of a franchise, but I believe he values winning over anything.
Prediction: Thompson signs a four-year deal with the Golden State Warriors.
2. Kawhi Leonard
After sitting out a majority of the 2017-2018 season, Kawhi Leonard was sort of a forgotten star. He was then traded to the Toronto Raptors, as the Raptors believed Leonard could lead them to their first title in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard has not disappointed as he has been outstanding as a member of the Raptors. Kawhi is a top five player in the league, and every team should be trying to attain his services. Toronto would love to have him stay in Canada, but I believe Leonard will be moving back to the states to play in his hometown.
Prediction: Leonard signs a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.
1. Kevin Durant
Arguably the top player in the NBA at the moment, Kevin Durant is going to have a multitude of options to choose from. When Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors in 2016, he was heavily criticized. He went to the Bay to win a title, and he already has two rings and two NBA Finals MVPs. He no longer has the weight of winning a championship on his back, and I believe the superstar will take on a huge challenge and become the face of a very popular franchise.
Prediction: Durant signs a four-year deal with the New York Knicks.