This year’s NBA free agency period has already been one for the ages with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, this year’s free agency sets up 2019 for an even wilder summer.
Next summer, guys like Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, and, possibly, Karl-Anthony Towns will all be free agents. In addition, disgruntled stars like Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard will have the chance to opt out of their contracts and test the waters as well.
In July 2019, a lot of people are going to look at what happens to the Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers have set themselves up next summer by signing Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley to one-year contracts. They’ll have the flexibility to make moves and land a second star, such as Leonard, to pair with LeBron, if they don’t trade for Leonard during the regular season.
One of the biggest storylines will be what happens with the sharpshooting Thompson. Does he want to be in the Bay Area for the rest of his career? Or does he want to break out of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry’s shadows and take the reigns of his own team? If he goes to the Lakers, it’s likely he’ll be the second option on offense rather than the third on the Warriors. If he goes to Tinseltown, he’ll be able to play for the same franchise his father, Mychal Thompson, played for in the late 1980s. And, according to the former Showtime Laker, his son Klay is one of five players being recruited by the 16-time NBA champions.
Cousins signed a one-year $5 million contract with the Warriors, so it’s unfathomable that a player at his level will continue to take such a low salary. The amount of interest he’ll garner next summer will depend on how he plays when he returns as healthy as well as how he behaves and fits in a winning culture like the Warriors’ organization.
Another storyline that could evolve next season is tension within the core of the Minnesota Timberwolves. KAT will be a free agent next summer and he reportedly has expressed his frustrations with the Timberwolves organization. Jimmy Butler reportedly has issues with teammate Andrew Wiggins. If he chooses to leave, one destination being talked about for Butler is the New York Knicks so he can team up with long-time friend Kyrie Irving.
In the day of social media, fans should take athletes’ tweets with a grain of salt. But recently, Butler “liked” a comment on Instagram asking if he plans to team up with the Celtics point guard in New York.
Another great two-way player up for grabs next season could be Leonard. The 2014 Finals MVP had was traded to the Toronto Raptors, but reports have said that Leonard clearly wants to play in Los Angeles. Whether it be the Clippers or the Lakers, that remains to be seen. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year could be the ideal complement for James with his athleticism, defensive prowess, and efficient shooting numbers.
This year’s free agency has been eventful and it has set up for a possibly league-changing summer in 2019.