NBA Summer 2019: Free Agent Predictions (Updated)
Can anyone tell me the difference between the NBA offseason and an “All My Children” spinoff? In the 2019 version of professional sports' best soap opera, an Achilles-less Kevin Durant assumes the role of Erica Kane, a mercurial misfit in Kyrie Irving stars as Tom Cudahy -- Erica's third husband -- and Kawhi Leonard is Josh Madden, the spawn of Erica who grew to be a heartthrob. After the three leading characters, there are other storylines worthy of a few episodes. Which team vomits a bag and slides Jimmy Butler a max contract? Who will be selected as co-stars to fill out the cast of LeBron's remix of Space Jam? Who else does Rich Paul finesse? These and several other questions surround the future of the league. And we have predictions.
Golden State Warriors F Kevin Durant
The star of the ball, Kevin Durant succumbed to the pressure from armchair no-nothings and whoever in their dumbass mind thought he should play in the NBA Finals (that includes you, Warriors medical staff). No bullshit, but a competent medical staff allowed him to risk further injury to an Achilles we already knew was hanging by a thread. If this were a lesser player, he would've been forfeiting mad millions. Name an NBA player who came back from an Achilles tear as the same beast? But this is Durant, a 7-foot sniper whose skill set was unheard of before his arrival in the L. Even if he isn't the same athletically, "KD" is good for 25 per night with one leg and an arm tied behind his back. So max him out, girlies. Now his future is about life after basketball. And there is no better place to grow The Durant Company and 35 Media than New York, but listen. Where Brooklyn at!!! Where Brooklyn at!!! ;) Scroll por favor.
Update: No surprises here. Everything fell in line according to plan. Listen, everyone and their mama knows Durant values friendship more than anything. The Golden State situation was cool, but if we’re keeping it a buck, there’s no possible way Durant could’ve developed the same genuine relationships in Oakland with a cast of characters who had already won multiple championships without him and deeply entrenched in their roles as family men. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just not feasible. Now, one of his besties, Kyrie Irving, wanted to put on for Jersey or Brooklyn if you will, and the franchise was willing to overpay another one of the bros in DeAndre Jordan. The choice was simple.
Boston Celtics PG Kyrie Irving
When Kyrie proclaimed he'd be staying in Boston as long as the organization would have him, I chuckled. We don't disclose insider information, but I knew this was a farce. Listen, my mother's side of the family is from Boston, and it's an aight city with mad Caribbean food and Cape Verdean women. But what 27-year-old black man with worldwide admiration, a box office hit and one of the most popular signature shoes in the game chooses to spend the prime of his existence playing for an organization based in a city that doesn't even like black people? Now, I don't usually tell this story, and this is not something I'm proud of, but "Uncle Drew" once made me fall during a one-on-one game on a mini hoop at his home in Jersey. I was in fucking socks, and his handle is nice regardless of basketball size! The clue of where he's signing is somewhere in that story, but if you don't get it here: His family's from New York, he's from Jersey, his boys are from Jersey, he just bought a new home in Jersey just outside the city, and the Nets are actually from where? New Jersey. He's headed to Brooklyn and bringing Durant.
Update: This really has an Entourage kind of feel to it. It’s like Vinny Chase going to Hollywood, bringing his friends along every step of the way and then returning home to feast with those who’ve been riding with him from Day Uno. The pride of West Orange (NJ) returned home this summer and set the table to eat with the bros. That’s the American dream boys and squirrels. And shoutout to la familia Brett Carroll. Check out his podcast, which features an interview with Kyrie after the deal was finalized.
Toronto Raptors F Kawhi Leonard
People have told me, Kawhi would be a dick if he didn't re-sign with the Raptors after bringing the franchise its first championship. Well guess what he's about to be, my weird-ass ‘loyalty-means-something-in-a-business-where-it-actually-doesn't' friends? There's no way he re-signs with Toronto. They can offer all the Ka'Wine and Dines and real estate their hearts desire and it's still not happening. I'll tell you what will happen: He's going to end up a Clipper. And all of a sudden, Doc and the Gang are Finals favorites heading into 2019-20.
Update: The massive earthquake that shook California on Friday night had nothing to do with the shifting of tectonic plates. The universe simply wanted the stage to make an even more explosive announcement than the previous night’s fireworks. Not only did Kawhi get his wish by returning to the city where his legend began, the mastermind expertly flexed his muscle, helping conceive a deal that would bring star forward and LA native Paul George on board as well. The battle for L.A. just got real.
Philadelphia 76ers G/F Jimmy Butler
The genius in me says Butler's going to Miami and taking the throne as Wade County's new mayor. He's best friends with fellow Marquette alum Dwyane Wade. The Heat possess the capital to max him out. And he doesn't have to worry about sharing the spotlight with anybody or deferring offensively. In Miami, The Heatles become Butler's team. As great as that sounds, Philly is just too perfect. It's the only place where a fictional character can be considered the city's best athlete based on the underdog premise. And Butler is the black Rocky. If he brings the 76ers back to the NBA's mountaintop, the feel-good story will rival Vince Papale's. I'm envisioning Barton Fitzpatrick – a.k.a. Reg from “The Chi” -- playing Jimmy's character. Hollywood holla at ya boy.
(Side note: Basketball-wise it may not be the optimum fit, as he has to pick and choose his spots alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but it gives Butler the best chance to win, become legendary, and still make his money.)
Update: Dontgiveadamn, we should get credit for the Butler to Miami prediction.
PS: Paul George’s escape from “Westbrook Island” feels a lot like the movie Castaway. I mean maybe, Miami bites on whatever Oklahoma City sells and grabs the NBA’s Fashion King so he can rip the runway on South Beach while leading the Heat to a 42-40 record and the No. 7 seed for the next 3-5 years. It’s V. possible.
Charlotte Hornets PG Kemba Walker
Charlotte better get its shit together and offer my mans the max. I don't give a damn about the particulars. I'm only here for the facts. Kemba Walker is the best thing that ever happened to that yellow-eye-balled, suit-jacket-and-denim-jean-wearing negro since he took over the Hornets. I'm well aware Michael Jordan screws up a lot of drafts, but if he screws up here, I'm voting to auction the team off to a black man with better decision-making skills. If not in the Queen City, Kemba goes to … Boston. Ya, I don't know man, but it seems like this is where things are trending.
Update: Kemba’s the best thing that ever happened to the Hornets’ franchise since they returned to Charlotte periodt. With that said, letting him walk and hitting the reset button sounded less like a horrible idea until the team decided to shell out close to $20 mil per on Terry Rozier. Now, I love the “Bloodhound,” and have been clamoring for him to run his own show for the last two years. That price is still egregious. At least, we get to see Kemba turn back the clocks and put together Big East Tournament-esque performances during the postseason. Enjoy the show Massholes.
Golden State Warriors G/F Klay Thompson
I never saw myself liking Klay. I'm from the And 1 mixtape era and don't typically fall in love with guys who refuse to bounce the basketball. The differences between Thompson and the rest of the All-Don't-Drive-to-Rim Team are massive though. First of all, "Big Smokey" is way better than all of his buddies and, in my opinion, the best pure shooter to participate in Dr. James Naismith's brainchild. He's also a fucking dude, and we support dudes. Even with the ACL injury, there was never a real chance he'd leave Golden State. He's stuck in the Bay like Girbauds and Sideshows.
Update: A world where Klay isn’t drilling 3s alongside Steph Curry sounds unfathomable. I feel crusty even talking about it.
Philadelphia 76ers F Tobias Harris
My mind is telling me Harris remains in Philadelphia and signs a max contract. Do I think Tobi's a max player? No. Do I think he's on the fringe? Absolutely. My thoughts, however, don't matter: Harris is getting a max from someone. Dallas is in play, and he fits perfectly alongside Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic as a low-maintenance star who fills it up without dominating the ball. I don't see him leaving a Philly squad that was four of the craziest bounces in NBA history away from the Eastern Conference Finals. This situation is too good to leave, and he has thrived alongside Ben Simmons and Embiid. Philly needs efficient outside shooters to maximize Simmons' dribble penetration.
Update: Elton Brand has done a fantastic job building a legitimate contender since taking over as Philadelphia’s general manager. Harris is a prime example of that, as he landed the bucket-hungry baller during the 2018-19 season and quickly resigned the swingman this summer. When you have a point guard who treats attempting 3s like jumping into a pit full of hissing cockroaches, you have to surround him with premium shooting. The boy “Tobi” checks that box off, having posted a 36.4 percent clip from distance throughout his career. With no Jimmy Butler to hog possessions, Harris is in line for a career year. Don’t be surprised if he makes his All-Star debut.
Brooklyn Nets PG D'Angelo Russell
As a Lakers fan, I was livid when Magic Johnson shipped D'Angelo Russell in a cap-saving move. Ya, Ratzel snitched on Nick Young, and that's against the bro code. But let's be real. It was honestly for "Swaggy's" own good. Iggy Azalea is now on to Playboi Carti, and Nick's back with his ole jawn. Works for everybody. Now that Russell's an All-Star who’s deemed more "mature" (according to Johnson), the Lakers are seriously considering bringing him back if things don't work out in Brooklyn. Sounds like a reunion made in heaven, right? Not so fast. His best friend, Devin Booker, resides in Phoenix and the Suns have max money, baby. D'Lo will be running the show in the desert next season on one of the NBA's most exciting young teams. It's going to be cruel when he leaves Los Angeles at the altar, but Tupac told y'all what revenge is.
Update: I wanted to vomit when news of the Warriors’ acquisition of Russell hit my Twitter feed. Like what the fucking fuck? Save some for us, big dawg. He was so close to returning to the Lakers, which meant I was so close to being insufferable for the next year or so. It’s not like I’m not excited to see if Chef Curry and DLo can coexist — I definitely think they can — I just wanted my frieeeeeeend back Musiq Soulchild voice.
Los Angeles Clippers PG Patrick Beverley
Imagine Pat Bev hounding guards on the perimeter with a waiting Anthony Davis protecting the rim like a club bouncer who doesn't see any women in line. Breh. Beverley's the perfect fit on any team and a bona fide dog who gets after it despite his physical limitations. The barely 6-foot-1 Beverley was really checking a 7-foot KD during the 2019 postseason. Players who don't need the ball to be effective are good in every hood. With that said, I don't see the Lakers anteing up $40 mil over three years for a junkyard dog. It makes sense, but it doesn't. The Mavericks will pay, though. And it actually might be their most lucrative summer in team history. I've been following Bev's offseason closely, seen his tweets to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and am well aware that he and Luka share the same agent. Book Dallas.
Update: Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl. This is about funny as hell. Beverley flirted with the Mavericks. Showed them a little titty. And then went back to his ex for Round 2. It’s a hot boy summer, ya’ll. Check the score.
Boston Celtics F/C Al Horford
I said this might be the Mavericks’ most lucrative summer in the previous text. Nobody saw Horford leaving the Celtics. He fit the system and seemed like a staple in the team’s locker room. Obviously, something went awry, and there’s a massive chance he winds up elsewhere next year. Enter Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis dreads playing center, and I don’t see Rick Carlisle and the boys forcing him to do such, especially coming off an ACL injury. Slide Horford in at the five, let “KP” play the 4, and put Beverley alongside Luka … All of a sudden, you have a 50-win team IF HEALTHY. HELLA BIG IF.
Update: Girl, it gets even funnier. Remember when Horford was linked to the Mavericks? Ha. I feel like a jackass for predicting that a player who’s actively chasing a ring would sign with a team that has no remote chance of winning one before he retires. Can we think of a time when Dallas didn’t strike out on big-name free agents?
Milwaukee Bucks F Khris Middleton
The 4MP boys are longtime fans of Middleton. We first saw “WD-40” live in 2010 when the lanky swingman effortlessly dropped 31 on 10-of-16 from the field against Arkansas at Dallas’ American Airlines Center. No flex, his game resembled a slightly shorter Kevin Durant. Everything was smooth, and his bag was deep deep. Fast-forward to 2019, and Middleton is now a free agent coming off his first All-Star appearance and in line for a hefty bag. See the double entendre? The Bucks are in a dilemma. Five key players (Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic and George Hill) from last year are in need of new contracts. And sizeable ones at that. Milwaukee’s going to be forced to let somebody walk from a team that earned the first seed in the Eastern Conference in 2018-19. That won’t be Middleton. He fits too well with Giannis and is irreplaceable.
Update: Don’t get me wrong, Malcolm Brogdon is a very steady player, and he’s young. That doesn’t make up for the fact that his production is replaceable. Middleton’s, however, is not. Jon Horst ain’t no fool.
Indiana Pacers G/F Bojan Bogdanovic
The Lakers fumbled in regard to landing shooters to surround LeBron James last offseason. And I don’t believe they fumbled. If Los Angeles was healthy in 2018-19, it would’ve made the playoffs. The team finally seemed to be gelling before LeBron went down, and after that everything went left. Revisionist history sucks, though, so I’ll get to the point: BOGDANOVIC IS THE OUTSIDE SHOOTING THREAT THE NEW LAKERS NEED. In 2018-19, he enjoyed a career year, nailing 42.5 percent of his triples and picking up the slack for an injured Victor Oladipo by averaging 18.0 points while leading the Pacers to the playoffs. Rob Pelinka has the cap space. If he doesn’t land a star -- which I don’t think he does -- then “Bogey” would be a wise investment.
Update: Who knew the Jazz would actually come away from free agency victorious? The Mike Conley trade first and now Bogey? Dennis Lindsey (Utah’s GM) deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, as he may be the first person in the history of the organization to actually hit the free-agent lottery. On paper, this is the best Utah team since the Stockton-Malone-Hornacek days.