2019 NBA Free Agency is approaching fast. This is a big offseason, not only for Milwaukee Bucks but NBA in general. It could and most likely will lead to an end of the Golden State Warriors dynasty. There are a lot of teams with a significant amount of cap space and a lot of free agents for that cap space to be used on. In the spirit of what is to come I have compiled my own personal top 25 list of free agents and teams that they should go to in my humble opinion.
1. Kawhi Leonard - Los Angeles Clippers
This might not be a popular opinion (unless you are a Buks fan) considering that Kawhi just won a championship in Toronto. There are definitely quite a few positives in Kawhi signing with the Raptors. He can get a bigger contract in Toronto. Raptors have also gone out of their way in recruiting Kawhi by having different bussinesses around Toronto sponsor him and basically give him free stuff. There is a rumor that Kawhi might even get a free jet from Drake's sponsor. Kawhi staying in Toronto would also bring in extra money to the NBA from Canada and would continue to globally expand the game. However, even with all of that in mind, I believe that Kawhi would fit in with the Clippers better in the long run. Clippers are a very well ran organization with a rich owner and a good coach. The amount of money Kawhi can make in LA is going to surpass the amount of money he can make in Toronto especially considering the taxes on non-Canadians who work in Canada. But most importantly Raptors are a team that is on decline. Gasol, Lowry, Green and even Ibaka are have their best basketball years behind them. Raptors dont have much of cap flexibility. So even though there is a chance that they could "run it back" next season the long term prospect of Kawhi playing in Toronto are not very good. Clippers are young, well coached and have a lot of cap flexibility both short and long term.
2. Kevin Durant - Golden State Warriors
As it stands right now Knicks and Nets are rumored to be frontrunners in KD sweepstakes. Durant wants to play in New York and prove that he can win as "the man." In my opinion this is a big mistake. I could somewhat understand this way of thinking before his achilles injury. But as things stand right now KD has nothing to gain by going to NY. He is going to have to sit out the next season. And even when he comes back chances are that he wont be the same player he was before the injury. If KD goes to New York and he is 70% of the player that he was this season he is not going to win another championship. He may not even be the top 15 player in the league. Kevin Durant is already known as a thin skinned individual. New York media is relentless and will eat him alive. New York fans will turn on him. He could easily get ran out of the town like Carmelo. That doesn't even take into account that Knicks are a complete mess as an organozation top to bottom. And Nets have an owner who is mostly not even there and a mediocre roster. Warriors on the other hand have good ownership, a proven coach and can offer KD the most money. KD is also familiar with the Warriors system and his team mates. It will be much easier foe him to come back into a good, familiar situation. And this way he would have 4 years to build onto his legacy in a place where he has won in the past and could still win.
3. Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors
Despite his torn ACL there are rumors that Warriors will offer Klay Thompson the 5 year max. He should take it for the same reasons I listed above for KD. Warriors are a good organization top to bottom. They most likely wont be a contender in 2020 playoffs but would make for a great redemption story in 2021 with Klay and KD back. Klay also seems to geniunely love playing with Steph Curry and I can see no reasons for the splash brothers to be broken up.
4. Kyrie Irving - Los Angeles Clippers
I was on the fence with Kyrie in between Nets and Clippers. In the end I went with Clippers because I chose Kawhi to go there, and because of Doc Rivers. Brooklyn has a feel of a similar situation that Kyrie has left in Boston. They have a young roster which has enjoyed a little bit of success last season. They also have a system oriented coach who is well liked among the Nets current players. I dont believe that Kyrie will fit in well with that team. With the Clippers he would have a 2nd superstar in Kawhi and a very player friendly coach in Doc Rivers who adjusts his style of coaching according to his players. If Lou Williams was allowed to thrive there with his iso heavy style of play Kyrie would fit in just fine. And personally I would enjoy the rivalry in between the Lebron/AD Lakers and Kyrie/Kawhi Clippers.
5. Jimmy Butler - Philadelphia 76ers
There were rumors out there last season that Jimmy Butler wasn't getting along with Joel Emblid and there are rumors now that he might leave. But I believe that 76ers are the right team for him. Jimmy Butler is their closer. And despite losing in the 2nd round to Toronto Raptors this 76ers team had a good showing in the playoffs. They were a couple of lucky bounces away from possibly advancing to the ECF and who knows what wouldve happened there.
6. Kemba Walker - Boston Celtics
With Kemba Walker you get about 80% of all the good things that you get from Kyrie without most of the bad things. Kemba has a reputation as a good team mate and a likable locker room guy. This is what Celtics need right now. And they can provide Kemba with something that he wants, to compete in the playoffs. Boston fans would fall in love with Kemba pretty quickly just like they did with IT. And with Horford leaving Celtics have the cap space to make this happen.
7. Khris Middleton - Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton would fit in on most NBA teams but none quite as well as he does in Milwaukee. Bucks can offer him the most years, most money and a chance to win a championship. There are rumors that Bucks and Middleton will start working on a new contract at the start of free agency and I wouldnt be surprised if they reach an agreement on July 1st.
8. D'Angelo Russell - Brooklyn Nets
I am not sure why Brooklyn is looking for a star PG. Their weakness is in their front court. D'Lo is young and is coming from an all star season. He has his flaws as a player but the environment in Brooklyn has allowed him to flourish and had benefited his team as well. D'Lo and Brooklyn are a perfect match and I see no reason to break that up.
9. Tobias Harris - Brooklyn Nets
There is no magic pill for success when it comes to Brooklyn. They have a young, up and coming team and should look to add to it rather that blowing things up for a chance at fools gold. Nets need a starting PF who can create his own offense and stretch the floor. Tobias Harris would be a perfect fit there.
10. Malcolm Brogdon - Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks are likely going to match any offer for Brogdon short of a max and should do so. I cant see any team out there that would benefit from giving Brogdon the max. Plus, he will have a chance to win a championship in Milwaukee.
11. Al Horford - Dallas Mavericks
It seems like Big Al's priorities have shifted from winning to getting paid. Dallas seems to be willing to pay him 100 million or more over 4 years. And honestly this isnt such a bad fit for Horford. He is a very good player and would fit in next to Porzingis into Dallas front court. Also, Mavericks have a chance of being a playoff team next season if Porzingis comes back in good form.
12. Nikola Vucevic - Sacramento Kings
Despite the rumors that Kings arent interested in Vucevic this signing seems like a foregone conclusion to me. Kings need a starting center and have the money to pay for one. Willie Cauley-Stein wants out. There is a personal connection in between Vucevic and Vlade Divac. And most importantly I believe that Vucevic would be a good fit on the Kings. He is young enough to play with their core, can stretch the floor with his shooting and is skilled enough to thrive on the Kings.
13. Bojan Bogdanovic - Indiana Pacers
He will make the most money if he stays and has grown as a player on the Pacers in the last couple of years. I don't see the Pacers having any better options out there and will/should most likely bring Bogdanovic back.
14. Brook Lopez - Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks have gone to a great extend to free up the cap space so that they can bring Brook Lopez back. They now have 14M in cap space and should give every last dollar of it to the big man. Lopez has proven his worth in Milwaukee and Bucks have given him a chance to compete at the highest level. This is a mutually benefitial relationship that should not end anytime soon.
15. Demarcus Cousins - Washington Wizards
Cousins is looking to lose out big time once again in the free agency. He should in my opinion look to sign another 1 year deal for a team that will give him playing time and be able to pay him more than MLE. Wizards seem like a natural fit. They need a starting center and a way to become relevant again. It would be a gamble for both sides but might be one worth taking.
16. Jonas Valanciunas - New Orleans Pelicans
Big Val did enough in the second half of last season to earn himself another big contract. Pelicans have money to spend and need a starting center. This would be a good fit for both sides.
17. JJ Redick - Philadelphia 76ers
Redick might be on the backburner for the 76ers considering that they have to deal with Butler and Harris negotiations but he should still go back. He is getting to the twilight of his career and had a chance to play on a contending 76ers team. The money will work itself out.
18. Harrison Barnes - Philadelphia 76ers
This is a tough one. Barnes has shown the ability to a go to scorer from time to time in Dallas. He also appears to want to be in that role. However, at his best, he was an off 3&D player with ability to attack the closeout and get easy buckets at the rim. If Barnes can accept going back to that kind of a role again he would fit the 76ers really well. In return 76ers could pay him in the range of 4yr/80M which is probably more than he is worth on an open market.
19. DeAndre Jordan - Boston Celtics
He is not the player that he used to be but is still a double-double machine. There are rumors that Jordan will sign with LA Lakers. I dont like that fit at all. Lakers will need shooters around Lebron and Davis, not another big man to clog up the paint. Celtics on the other hand are a very perimeter oriented team. They are also very thin at C and could use a big bruiser who sets screens, rebounds and dives at the rim. Also, after signing Kemba they would have enough of cap space left to give Jordan 10M/yr or so. And quite honestly they might be out of other options.
20. Ricky Rubio - Indiana Pacers
Again, I dont see any major FAs going to Indiana. Pacers will need to find a starting PG with Darren Collison quickly declining and being an unrestricted free agent. Rubio wants to be a starter and would fit in Indiana nicely.
21. Nikola Mirotic - Denver Nuggets
Assuming that Nuggets decline team option on Paul Millsap they are going to be in a need for a starting PF. Mirotic checks most of the boxes for them with his size, 3 point shooting and rebounding. Nuggets will also be able to offer Mirotic a contract in 15-17M/yr range.
22. Thaddeus Young - Indiana Pacers
I dont see any better options for him out there. He has done really well in Indiana and should be rewarded with another 8 digit contract.
23. Paul Millsap - Minnesota Timberwolves
Timberwolves will look to replace Taj Gibson at PF. Millsap is the better player and a good, veteran presence in the locker room. MLE should get this one done.
24. Terrence Ross - Los Angeles Lakers
I am not a big fan of Lakers using their remaining cap space to take a swing at max money free agent unless that free agent is Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving. Chances of either of those 2 signing for less than a max are slim and even more so in LA. With that in mind I believe that Lakers should use their remaining money to find a staring backcourt and maybe a bench player or 2. Terrence Ross seems like a good fit on that team with his ability to shoot the ball and play in transition.
25. Julius Randle - New York Knicks
First of all, I feel that I should have ranked Randle a lot higher on this list. His stats alone would make him a top 10 player on this list. But at the same time he is such a weird player. He is a PF who plays like an old school center and doesn't play much defense. I've also had a lot of difficulty putting him on a team where he would fit in and be able to thrive. Knicks is all I could come up with. Randle is still very young and his best years are ahead of him. In New York he would be able to team up with RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr and would at least give the Knicks fanbase some hope moving forward.
Notes: I have kept Porzingis and Marc Gasol off this list. Porzingis is almost certainly going to sign a new contract with Dallas and I dont see any possibility of Marc Gasol not going back to Toronto.