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2019 NBA Free Agent Predictions

Jason Huber
June 25, 2019 - 12:06 pm

NBA Free Agency is finally upon us, meaning another offseason full of drama is just getting started.

In Charlotte, the biggest question is whether all-star point guard Kemba Walker will re-sign or take his bags elsewhere?

But there are still many other decisions to be made that could impact the league's direction over the next decade.

I take a look at the Top 10 most notable free agents this summer and where I think they'll sign.

-Golden State Warriors forward, Kevin Durant

Prediction: New York Knicks
Runner up: Brooklyn Nets

I believe this has been a done-deal since mid-season. Even while having to miss the 2019-20 season with a torn Achilles, the Knicks will still offer Durant a max-contract and wait out the season with their young core of RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. 

Coming back from an Achilles injury is tough, but Durant's talent is too superior for the Knicks to pass up on. 

-Toronto Raptors forward, Kawhi Leonard

Prediction: Raptors
Runner up: Los Angeles Clippers

It's hard to envision Leonard leaving a team that he just led to the NBA championship and has had a whole country embrace him. 

The opportunity for Leonard to move back home with the Clippers in Southern California will be tempting, but Toronto gives Leonard stability, the chance to win and fans that will embrace him throughout the rest of his career. 

-Boston Celtics guard, Kyrie Irving

Prediction: Nets
Runner up: Los Angeles Lakers

All season I've believed that Irving would sign with the Lakers but now that Los Angeles is struggling to figure out whether they even have a max spot available, I think the rumors of Irving to Brooklyn will ultimately stand true. 

Irving signed with Roc Nation this offseason, correlating him even more with the Nets since Jay-Z used to be a minority owner with the Nets, and Brooklyn will have a wide open point guard spot available with D'Angelo Russell likely headed elsewhere. 

-Charlotte Hornets guard, Kemba Walker

Prediction: Hornets
Runner up: Dallas Mavericks

The chances of Walker re-signing with Charlotte have grown exponentially since the 2018-19 season came to a close. 

No, the Hornets haven't made any improvements to their roster that would impress Walker, but the amount of money Walker would now have to turn down since becoming supermax eligible this offseason will be extremely tough.

Walker has already played on a discount over the last five years and he continues to reiterate how much he wants to stay in Charlotte. 

He could just be saying what Hornets fans want to hear, but I believe general manager Mitch Kupchak will create some wiggle room to re-sign Walker close to the supermax and make a few trades to have more cap room next season. 

-Philadelphia 76ers guard, Jimmy Butler

Prediction: Nets
Runner up: 76ers

There is a strong possibility that Butler opts to stay in Philadelphia, but I think once Irving heads to Brooklyn and Durant doesn't follow, it'll be tough for Butler to decline the opportunity to play with Irving in one of the league's biggest markets. 

Butler isn't the best fit in Philadelphia alongside Ben Simmons and playing with the Nets young core and Irving will instantly make Brooklyn title contenders. 

-Nets guard, D'Angelo Russell 

Prediction: Lakers
Runner up: Knicks

A few weeks ago I would have never predicted this, but with the Lakers unable to offer a max contract, Russell is the best player on the market that Los Angeles can afford.

Magic Johnson, Luke Walton and Lonzo Ball are no longer with the Lakers, giving Russell a fresh second-tenure in Los Angeles to play along LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two players he said he'd love to play with when he was a rookie. (Video below.) 

Russell is a much cheaper option than Irving and would slide right in as the team's starting point guard.

-Warriors guard, Klay Thompson

Prediction: Warriors
Runner up: Clippers 

The torn ACL that Thompson suffered in the NBA Finals likely will set up Thompson's return to the Warriors.

I'm not sure if Thompson would have left Golden State, either way, but Thompson cannot leave that much money on the table now that he has seen first-hand what injuries could do to your career. 

-76ers forward, Tobias Harris

Prediction: Knicks
Runner up: 76ers

The Knicks need to make a splash this summer and with Durant likely to miss the season if he signs, New York will look to add another player that will make a quick impact.

Originally from Long Island, Harris fits the mold for the Knicks where he can play small forward or power forward and give New York an instant scoring option. 

-Celtics center, Al Horford

Prediction: Clippers 
Runner up: Celtics

It was expected that Horford would re-sign with the Celtics, but now that Horford has opted out and rumors say he isn't planning on returning to Boston, the Clippers are a strong landing spot for Horford with plenty of money to spend.

I think Los Angeles will miss out on a handful of free agents and the opportunity sign Horford to a max free agent deal will give the Clippers an upgrade at center. 

-Orlando Magic center, Nikola Vucevic

Prediction: Mavericks
Runner up: Magic 

Vucevic is entering free agency at the perfect time coming off a career year and his first all-star game appearance. 

However, the Magic have their 2018 lottery pick center Mohamed Bamba still waiting in the wings and after a poor playoff showing, Vucevic could be intrigued to head elsewhere.

With the Mavericks likely missing out on their top free agent priority in Walker, Vucevic would fill an immediate need at center alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. 

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