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Top Available NBA Free Agents

Rob Joyce
June 26, 2019 - 3:41 pm
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One week from now, the NBA will again dominate the headlines, as arguably its most entertaining portion of the year is beginning: free agency. Old beefs pop up on social media, teams go all in (or, quite the opposite), people get mad, we all get Woj-bombed, and heck, one time DeAndre Jordan basically got held hostage.

Expect more of the same as the free agency period officially begins at 6pm on June 30. Here are the 10 biggest names available that could realistically bolt for greener pastures.

10) Kristaps Porzingis:

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He’s on this list because he’s a restricted free agent, but Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has made it clear he’s trying to keep the star in Dallas for the long-term. Don’t expect any fireworks here.

9) Tobias Harris:

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The 76ers have room for two max deals. One may go to Jimmy Butler (see below). The other could very well go towards keeping Harris, an unrestricted free agent coming off a career year. The soon-to-be 27-year-old averaged 20 points on 48 percent shooting (including 40 percent from three-point range) and 7.9 rebounds. A midseason acquisition from the Clippers, those numbers were down a hair in Philly, but a Simmons-Redick-Butler-Harris-Embiid starting five is as good as any in the NBA.

8) Nikola Vucevic:

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In today’s NBA, it might be hard to give a seven-footer like Vucevic a max deal, even after he averaged 20.8 points, 12 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with the Magic. However, he’s developed a three-pointer in recent years, and if he were paired with, say, Anthony Davis in Los Angeles, that would make him exceptionally effective in a modern NBA world.

7) D’Angelo Russell:

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After an injury-riddled 2017-18, the 23-year-old turned into a star this year with Brooklyn, making his first All-Star team and raising his totals in points, assists, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. Now a restricted free agent, he’ll likely stay with the Nets, with one caveat. Only the Knicks have more cap room than their cross-town counterpart. If Brooklyn does sign two free agents to max deals, as many anticipate, they’d have to renounce Russell’s rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.

6) Jimmy Butler:

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On one hand, he’s one of the best two-way players in the league, able to lockdown multiple positions on defense and drop 20 consistently on offense. On the other hand, he forced his way out of Minnesota, and never seemed to fit in with Philadelphia. Now he’s opted out of his contract, and multiple teams can give him a max deal, or close to it. The Lakers, Nets and Clippers have all been rumored, but considering how close the 76ers were last year to the East Finals, and the ability to win a weak Eastern Conference in general, Butler may choose to stay put and ride the wave in Philly.

5) Klay Thompson:

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Like his Golden State teammate (we’ll get to him in a bit), Thompson likely won’t see the court next year after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the Finals. With unrestricted free agency looming, that makes his situation unique, to say the least. An ACL tear isn’t what it used to be, but he’ll be 30 when he comes back. One of the best shooters of all-time, expect the Warriors to find a way to keep Thompson in the Bay Area long-term.

4) Kemba Walker:

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An All-Star each of the past three seasons, Walker has averaged 23.6 points per game in that span, playing all but three games for the Hornets. Charlotte has gotten all of that production for $12 million a season, and if they want to keep their superstar, it’s going to have to change in a hurry. No one is due a bigger pay raise than the 29-year-old Walker, who, in addition to Buzz City, has been linked to the Knicks, Lakers and Mavericks.

Walker himself said he’d like to stay in Charlotte, but the franchise is treading water. Paying Walker, but not having any other pieces means fighting for seventh or eighth in the East for the foreseeable future. The Lakers still have room for one more star – L.A. might be the play.

3) Kyrie Irving:

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After opting out of his deal with the Celtics, it looks like a very weird relationship is over in Boston. One of the best point guards in the league – maybe the best, when everything is right – he’s been tied to the Nets for weeks now, as Brooklyn has an estimated $67 million of cap space with which to play. Sometimes it is as straightforward as that. Expect Irving to stay in the Atlantic Division and join the Nets.

2) Kevin Durant:

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He would top this list, but his decision to come back for Game 5 and ultimately rupture his Achilles will reverberate throughout the league. He won’t play next year, meaning he’ll come back as a 32-year-old superstar off a major injury that’s derailed more than a few careers. He’s been rumored to the Knicks forever, but the Nets and Warriors are both still in the mix, it appears. For once, New York might actually get their guy, but what version of that guy will they ultimately get?

1) Kawhi Leonard:

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Toronto’s gamble paid off, ending with the franchise’s first championship and a buy-in from fans that could potentially last decades. Now the man largely responsible for that title opted out of his contract and is a free agent. Though the Raptors have done essentially everything in their power to convince Leonard to stay, it’s still up in the air. He can sign a five-year max deal worth about $190 million to stay in Toronto – anywhere else, the max he can go is four years, $141 million. The North is holding its collective breath, but with a ton of money and a weak East, expect Leonard to stay put.