NBA Offseason Moves
by: Derek Li
The 2019 NBA offseason is winding up to be the most anticipated and influential summer in recent memory. For starters, the recent draft lottery changes allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to snag the #1 pick in the draft, meaning Zion Williamson - one of the most hyped draft prospects of all time - could end up in the Big Easy to start off his career. However, the defining aspect of this offseason are the huge names and superstars that will be free agents, whose moves could change the course of the NBA for years to come. Here are their most ideal offseason moves.
Kevin Durant: New York Knicks
Durant’s upcoming decision has been one of the most debated topic this year in the NBA. He is arguably the best offensive player to ever play the game, and his amazing stats this season (26 points per game on over 52% shooting) prove it. The fact that he’s putting putting up these numbers on a team as great as the Golden State Warriors has prompted many other teams to chase him in free agency. Nonetheless, it’s most likely that Durant will end up in the Big Apple; he has long been rumored to be the Knicks’ biggest target. Given that the Knicks will have over 70 million in cap space, giving KD the max will not be difficult. The only question, then, is whether he wishes to play for a team that has been nothing more than dysfunctional in the past few years. But then again, it’s the Knicks, possibly the most famous basketball team in the world.
Kawhi Leonard: Toronto Raptors
Not only was Kawhi’s game-winning bucket in the semifinals against the 76ers a really difficult and great shot, but it was probably his “free agency shot”. The fact that the Raptors have huge momentum going into the conference finals in Kawhi’s first year is a really positive sign for fans. He seems happy in Toronto as their star player and #1 option. Moreover, the supporting cast has also stepped up, especially Pascal Siakam, who has had a breakout season this year. And, if the Raptors manage to sign one or two solid free agents this offseason, it should be an indication to Kawhi that they really want him in Toronto for the long-term.
Anthony Davis: Los Angeles Clippers
Although AD is not a free agent, he has made it clear that he wishes to be traded away from the New Orleans Pelicans. Even after finding out that they will be able to draft Zion, Davis reportedly stated that he hasn’t changed his mind. This makes sense, since his main goals are to be on a winning team while still being the main offensive option. The Clippers are the perfect destination for him because they have tons of cap space, meaning that they could sign AD to a max contract while still getting another good free agent, such as Khris Middleton or Bojan Bogdanovic. Combined with their current core starring Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Montrezl Harrell, acquiring Davis should be enough to put the NBA championship in sight for Clippers.
Kyrie Irving: New York Knicks
Given the turbulent and underperforming season that the Boston Celtics experienced this year, it’s almost certain that Kyrie Irving wants out. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN even claimed that Irving has a 95% of ending up on the Knicks along with Durant (but it’s Stephen A. Smith, so that statement should be taken with a grain of salt). Nonetheless, for Irving, being a Celtic has not been as glamorous or successful as he envisioned as a result of multiple factors, including talent overload and locker room dysfunction. Thus, most speculation has indicated that he wishes to be traded, with the Knicks as his preferred destination. By moving to the Big Apple, Irving would have a chance to perform on the biggest basketball stage and hopefully bring the Knicks back to relevance - that is, if another big name free agent manages to sign along with him).
Tobias Harris: Utah Jazz
Although the 76ers certainly had a great season (eventually losing to Toronto in 7 games in the semifinals) considering the significant roster turnover that occured midseason, they still have a long way to go in order to become the top team in the East. They have a fantastic starting lineup, but the bench depth is lacking. Chemistry still hasn’t been fully established with the new players, including Harris and Jimmy Butler. Most importantly, it has seemed as if Joel Embiid seemed disinterested and inclined to find excuses at times in the playoffs to dismiss his poor performances. If Harris sees these as impediments toward being a championship team, he will probably want to leave this off-season. One of the most intriguing fits for him is the Utah Jazz, an organization that is desperately seeking more offensive weapons. Harris would fit perfectly into the pick and roll, drive and kick, and floor spacing offense that the Jazz runs centered around Donovan Mitchell. His shot-making and length would be a valuable addition to a Jazz team that, like the 76ers, needs more depth. By inserting Harris into the starting lineup, players such as Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder can move to the bench and make that unit serviceable. If the Jazz can trade for another guard (such as Mike Conley, which has been rumored to be their top target) in addition to signing Harris, that could make them one of the most competitive teams in the West.