As the 2018-19 season and NBA Draft are both officially in the books, it’s now time to turn the page toward arguably the most important part of the offseason for teams — free agency.
The league’s free agency period will begin at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 30. Players will not be able to sign their official contracts with teams until July 6 — when the Moratorium Period has ended — but can still agree to deals with teams.
This year’s free agency is shaping up to be one of the biggest and most eventful in a while. Several big-name free agents could possibly bolt from their current teams, including reigning Finals MVP and NBA champion Kawhi Leonard, two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant and six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving. Not to mention there will be a second tier of free agents who will be intensely pursued, including established veteran names such as Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler.
Now that the start of free agency is right around the corner, here are all of the rumors that you need to know about heading into this weekend.
Warriors plan to offer Thompson max contract
The Golden State Warriors aren’t going to waste any time with the free agency of sharpshooting guard Klay Thompson. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors plan to offer Thompson a five-year, $190 million contract when free agency opens. Wojnarowski also notes that Thompson is likely going to accept the offer fairly quickly.
Barnes set to receive huge offer from Kings
Harrison Barnes declined his $25.1 million player option with the Sacramento Kings earlier this month. However, it appears that a reunion with the Kings could be on the table. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Sacramento is set to offer Barnes a four-year, nearly $90 million contract when free agency opens.
Davis waives trade kicker to give Lakers max slot
The Los Angeles Lakers made what could be the biggest splash of the offseason when they traded for Anthony Davis. With the deal not becoming official until July 6, the Lakers newest acquisition has agreed to waive to his $4 million trade kicker, which — after the Lakers sent Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Wizards in an addendum to the Davis trade — creates $32 million in cap space and an additional max slot for Los Angeles.
Leonard to meet with Clippers and Lakers
Kawhi Leonard is arguably the most sought-after player in free agency this summer. With that in mind, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard is granting meetings with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers once free agency begins. In addition, Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that Jimmy Butler and Leonard have contemplated the idea of playing together with the Clippers.
Celtics emerge as front-runner for Walker
The Boston Celtics appear to be on the verge of losing star guard Kyrie Irving when free agency begins on Sunday. However, it’s looking like they’re not going to have a problem finding a suitable replacement. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are emerging as the front-runner to sign Kemba Walker away from the Charlotte Hornets.
Beverley drawing interest from several teams
Veteran point guard Patrick Beverley could be quite the commodity on the free agent market. According to ESPN’s Tim McMahon, Beverley is drawing interest from the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Chicago Bulls in addition to the Los Angeles Clippers. Beverley, who is reportedly looking for an offer in the three-year, $40+ million range, could be a veteran asset that many teams would want to add to their roster.
Rozier could be an option for Knicks
Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier has spent the last two seasons playing in the shadow of Kyrie Irving, but he may not have to do so for much longer. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the New York Knicks are reportedly interested in signing Rozier to a one or two-year deal, especially if the team misses out on a few of their max targets.
Gasol opts in, will remain with Raptors
Marc Gasol had a player option worth $25.6 million for next season, and on Wednesday afternoon he reportedly decided to exercise it, which means he’ll remain with the defending champions for at least one more season. This was expected all along, as Gasol is already 34 years old and wasn’t going to find a contract in free agency that would pay him that much money.
Lakers favorites for Carmelo
If Carmelo Anthony decides to return to the NBA next season, there’s a good chance it will be with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to a report from Ian Begley, the Lakers are expected to be the favorites to land Anthony this summer. The veteran is clearly diminished on the court, but is a close friend of LeBron James.
Russell atop Lakers’ wish list
It looks like the Los Angeles Lakers have a familiar name atop their free agency wish list. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers have serious interest in bringing back former draft pick D’Angelo Russell. He’s coming off his first All-Star campaign after leading the Brooklyn Nets to a playoff berth this past season. However, with reports that Brooklyn has interest in acquiring Kyrie Irving in free agency, Russell will likely be left to test the waters this summer.
“The Lakers have some options here, but D’Angelo Russell is at the top of that list,” Wojnarowski said.
Durant declines player option, to become UFA
Kevin Durant will officially become an unrestricted free agent on June 30. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Durant has opted out of his 2019-20 deal with the Golden State Warriors to become a free agent. The option was worth $31.5 million for the upcoming season. The two-time NBA champion suffered an Achilles injury during Game 5 of the NBA Finals that will likely sideline him for the entirety of the upcoming season.
Durant could still re-sign with the Warriors for the max at five years and $221 million.
Lakers expect to ‘factor’ into race for Kawhi
Although they’re considered long shots — especially after acquiring Anthony Davis and having as little as $23.7 million remaining in cap space for the 2019 free agency period — the Lakers consider themselves in the running for the reigning Finals MVP, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Leonard won’t have any shortage of suitors. However, it was largely expected that there would be two teams as the front-runners for his services — none other than the Raptors and hometown Los Angeles Clippers.
Rockets pursuing Butler in sign-and-trade
Jimmy Butler is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks, and while the Philadelphia 76ers can offer Butler the most lucrative deal, the Houston Rockets have reportedly emerged as another option for his services. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are going to try to recruit Butler to potentially force a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.
The report also mentions that the Sixers are going to be “aggressive” in an attempt to re-sign Butler. Philadelphia could offer Butler a five-year, $190 million deal to remain with the team or a four-year, $146.5 million contract if they so choose. If Butler were to land in Houston, he’d be signing a four-year, $140 million contract. Center Clint Capela and guard Eric Gordon would reportedly have to be on the move from Houston for a Butler deal to work.
Celtics, Mavs at ‘front of the line’ for Kemba
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the Boston Celtics along with the Dallas Mavericks are now at the “front of the line” of teams trying to sign Walker away from the Hornets. Boston’s future is very much up in the air with it looking more and more like star guard Kyrie Irving isn’t planning on re-signing with the team. In addition, veteran forward Al Horford recently opted out of his deal for next season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Walker has blossomed into one of the most dangerous guards that the NBA has to offer. In eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Walker has put together averages of 19.8 points, 5.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 35.7 percent from 3.
Booker wants Suns to add close friend Russell
As the Brooklyn Nets reportedly have strong interest in signing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer, it likely means that they won’t bring back their own All-Star guard, D’Angelo Russell. If the Nets let Russell walk, Suns star Devin Booker says he would like to see his friend sign with the Phoenix Suns, according to a report from Zach Lowe of ESPN. Phoenix, however, might not be able to oblige due to its salary cap situation.
Lakers interested in Jordan, Vucevic
The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of roster holes to address this summer and it looks like they’re targeting two proven veterans to help fill out the roster. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (H/T RealGM), the Lakers are being linked to DeAndre Jordan because of the belief he could be had on a cheaper deal and due to the fact that Jordan wants to return to Los Angeles. Jordan spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers before signing with the Dallas Mavericks prior to the start of last season.
They are also being linked to Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic, who is entering unrestricted free agency following his first All-Star season after leading the Magic to their first playoff berth since the 2011-12 season.