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News Around the Association

The free agency period is already here; rumours and speculations are circling in all directions. Let’s take a brief look at the head-liners from the past week.

It all starts and finishes with the Lakers of course. The iconic team from the City of Angels already secured their first star for this summer in Anthony Davis’ face. LeBron is evidently very happy as he has gladly agreed to give up his Nr. 23 jersey to the younger Davis. This is not the first time for James to play with a different number in his long and storied career, as the Jordan number means much more to the star forward, as it seems. Anthony Davis wore Nr. 23 in each of his seven years with the Pelicans so far.

The King has not announced his new jersey number yet. He has worn Nr. 23 in 12 of his previous 16 seasons, including all 11 seasons with Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron wore Nr. 6 in his four years with the Miami Heat. James made a post on the social media this week that seemed to hint at him going back to Nr. 6 back now.

It’s way more interesting for the Lakers nation on the business side of the summer though. The franchise is involved in the buzz around virtually every significant free agent, including Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and of course the Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard. It’s a pretty sure thing to say that Lakers have biggest chances to lure one among the point-guards – Kemba or Kyrie, then any of the other players. Other teams will be active in the sweepstakes too, mainly Boston Celtics, the champions from Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers are also figured to be major players next week(s). A Plan B for Lakers in their quest for the perfect point-guard compliment for LBJ and AD could be their former player D’Angelo Russell. The young player will very likely take another leap forward next season, as everyone agree he is still away from his ceiling. Russell made a few crucial mistakes out of the court during his first stint with the team from LA and Magic Johnson was fast to let him go cheap. Now Magic is not around anymore though and James reportedly likes D’Angelo’s game.

 

Russell improved as a three-point shooter last season and that will likely carry over, but there are still questions about just how much of the load he can carry and whether or not he’s worth a max investment. In March when he had his highest usage percentage, Russell also posted a strangely low free-throw percentage and some of his worst shooting numbers. Add in the concerns about his defense and issues getting to the free throw line and there is enough to start questioning how much to give the 23-year-old All-Star.

Kyrie Irving seems with one foot out of Boston already. Right now half of the experts expect him to land in LA, and the other half in New York, signing with one of the two NBA franchises there (more likely Knicks). Kemba Walker is seen as a second-tier star, but he doesn’t lack suitors too. Michael Jordan seems hesitant about making an effort to regain his long-term franchise player. Yet this could always change and Walker could stay a Hornet with another long-term contract. Aside from Lakers, Boston like Kemba for Kyrie’s successor. Celtics seem like a frontrunner to land the explosive guard if he’s really on his way out of Charlotte. Boston can offer Walker a maximum 4-year contract around $140 million. Walker was drafted with the Nr. 9 pick in the 2011 draft and averaged a career high 25.6 points per game in 2018-19 season, shooting 35.6% from 3-point.

Minnesota will also be looking for a quality player at the position, as they will part ways with Ricky Rubio (Indiana Pacers are hoping to get the Spaniard on some kind of reduced deal). Wolves need to address Andrew Wiggins’ huge contract first though, as the forward is unsettled and very hard to move in the same time.

Phoenix and Dallas are candidates to sign Bucks backup point-guard Malcolm Brogdon. Bucks would like to keep his services but it might be a case of prioritizing different pieces from their line-up this summer.

Celtics starting center, veteran Al Horford, is almost certainly out of Boston in chase of his last big contract. Sacramento and Philadelphia will positively be among the main bidders for his services.

Former champions Golden State now. Forward Draymond Green is "highly interested" in signing a new contract with the Warriors, according to some media. Draymond will probably need to wait for resolution around Durant and Klay Thompson’s contracts first. The Warriors could sign and trade Kevin Durant, creating a $37 million trade exception, if he decides to leave Golden State. KD will get many suitors for sure, even if he is unlikely to be recovered before the beginning of the 2020 season. As loyal to the organization as he is, Klay will reportedly listen to both the Lakers and Clippers’ offers, if GSW don’t offer him a maximum $190 million deal. At the same time, it’s theoretically possible that Warriors retain their full core and just wait for the next season to pass and both injured star to recover. In this scenario their payroll could exceed $375 million in 2019-20 if they retain Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and rotation center Kevon Looney.

 

 

 

 

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