How This Summer Can Drastically Change the Landscape of the NBA
Writer: Joseph Ralston
The NBA Finals have ended and the Toronto Raptors have proven themselves Champions. However, the completion of the Finals has left us with more questions than answers. Is the Warriors dynasty done? Is Kawhi going to stay in Toronto? Who gets Anthony Davis and for what? But more importantly, where are all these free agents and draft prospects going and how are they going to affect the landscape of the NBA?
There is a plethora of NBA All-Stars that are going to be up for grabs in free agency this summer. Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Boogie Cousins, Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris, Kris Middleton, and D’Angelo Russell are some of the big ones available. There also is the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, and almost any player on the Houston Rockets is available for trade. With this amount of quality and proven talent and a large demand for them across the league, NBA Execs are going to have their hands full trying to land just one of these All-Stars. However, as the Toronto Raptors showed this year, landing just one of these All-Stars could be enough to push a team over the hump and towards a championship.
With all these players moving around, the NBA could look drastically different and more competitive than it has before. Teams that have been building up young talent and creating a core like the Mavs, Suns, 76ers, Nets, Knicks, and Lakers could become heavy playoff contenders with the signing of one or two of these free agents. Imagine the Mavs if they sign Kemba Walker? Lakers if the sign Jimmy Butler or Cousins? Will the Warriors continue their dominance if they resign Klay and KD and they come back healthy? Are the Clippers favorites in the West if they sign Kawhi Leonard? Where do the Nets stand in the East if they get Kyrie, and does D’Angelo Russell stay if he signs? Who wins the Anthony Davis sweepstakes? All these situations and what ifs become very interesting and have the ability to change the landscape of the NBA by distributing key All-Stars around the league to rebuilding and star lacking teams, making a more competitive and balanced league.
With all these free agents available, let’s also not forget about the 2019 Draft Class. With key prospects such as Zion, RJ Barrett, Tacko Fall, Bol Bol, Ja Morant, and Culver, any team that has the ability to draft one of these players could change the momentum of their franchise. On top of that, if a team could sign one of the key free agents and pair it with drafting one of these promising prospects they could be a very competitive team and an exciting watch. One such team that could do that is the Knicks, who draft 3rd and are projected to pick RJ Barrett and are in the discussion to sign Kevin Durant and possibly Kyrie Irving. Also, if the Pelicans draft Zion, does that make Anthony Davis’ situation different? I don’t think so, but it makes the Pelicans interesting because Zion would have 3-4 quality players with him that they would’ve acquired through the trade.
A few predictions are: Butler goes to the Lakers, Kyrie to the Nets, Klay stays with the Warriors, Durant goes to the Knicks, Mavs sign D’Angelo Russell or Kemba Walker, Boogie goes to the Lakers, Tobias Harris stays in Philly, Middleton stays with the Bucks, Kawhi either stays in Toronto or goes to the Clippers, Ja Morant gets drafted by Memphis, and the Pelicans draft their future in Zion Williamson. These could be entirely wrong, or partially right, but the NBA landscape is going to be drastically different and more competitive by the end of the summer through highly talented free agents and franchise altering draft prospects.