We’re still relatively early on in the NBA playoff season, but many NBA eyes are already turning towards the free agent season, which gets underway after the playoffs and has one of the most star-studded rosters in history this summer.
One top league commentator said Wednesday that there’s a good chance two star players will go to a surprising team.
Stephen A. Smith, the cohost of First Take on ESPN, said on Wednesday morning’s show that there’s a “better than 50/50 chance” that both Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant, two of the biggest stars in free agency this year, will end up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Smith added that he was recently in Los Angeles, and that the Clippers are “incredibly, incredibly optimistic that they’re gonna get one of them and they’re going to have a good shot at both. They like their chances, certainly better than the Lakers and certainly better than both teams in New York City.” This offseason is the first in memory in which the two NBA teams each in Los Angeles and New York – the Lakers, Clippers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets – are all expected to be active in free agency.
Durant currently plays for the Golden State Warriors, who are currently in a first-round playoff series with the Clippers. Leonard, who forced a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last year, is now with the Toronto Raptors, who begin a second-round playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers this weekend.
Leonard was born in Los Angeles and wants to be there, per Smith, although he doesn’t want a “paparazzi kind of atmosphere,” which could lead him to choose the Clippers over the Lakers. Durant has been linked in the past with the New York Knicks, with an Sportsnet New York story earlier this month declaring that pursuit a “done deal.” But, according to the TV host, he has a home in Los Angeles and would not mind playing in that city.
Stephen A. Smith is hearing KD and Kawhi could be headed to the Clippers together. Do you agree with him?https://t.co/9u9mweSRBn— The Big Lead (@thebiglead) April 24, 2019
CBS Sports ranks Durant and Leonard as the two best players available as free agents this offseason.
Other top free agents this offseason include Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and Demarcus Cousins. In addition, the New Orleans Hornets’ Anthony Davis is expected to be available in trades, with his free agency a year away.
Most years, the first big free agent contracts are signed on or around July 4. Lebron James’ deal with the Lakers was announced on July 2 last year, per ESPN.