While the Jimmy Butler trade request has gripped the NBA, other superstars around the league could be ready to switch teams over the next calendar year. As always, the Los Angeles Lakers are linked to many of them.
A loaded free-agent class in 2019 will ensure this upcoming July will be a total frenzy as teams will throw as much cash as possible at some of the game’s biggest names.
The Lakers put themselves in a solid position to be a major player in free agency next year after acquiring LeBron James. With at least one max salary spot open, it is almost a given that “The King” will be getting some major help in 2019 to help the Lakers become an even larger threat in the loaded Western Conference.
Here is the latest on the Lakers’ links to some of the biggest expected 2019 free agents.
Klay Thompson, Lakers rumors
Golden State Warriors guard and second splash brother to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, is ready to become a free agent next season.
While he has stated that he wants to remain a Warrior, he has acknowledged the fact that he will test the market in July, meaning that there will be a team out there that will offer him a max deal around $139 million over five years. It will be difficult for Golden State to match that considering the bevy of All-Stars they are paying and will have to pay.
Per Spotrac.com, the Warriors are $41 million over the league’s practical cap space already. If a team wants to offer Thompson a max deal and make him become one of the leading guys of a franchise, the possibility of him bolting from the Bay becomes a lot greater.
His father, Mychal, who spent five seasons with the Lakers, is all about the idea of his son heading to LA.
“If Klay came to LA, which he should, then he knows he is going to slot in behind LeBron,” Mychal told ESPN. “But it is fine because he has done it before, it’s not a big deal.”
Should the Lakers make an offer next summer and his father keeps suggesting a move, Thompson could be a Laker next year.
Kawhi Leonard, Lakers rumors
Kawhi Leonard has not been a happy camper lately. After forcing his way out of San Antonio after the Spurs allegedly mishandled an injury, Leonard was shipped to the Toronto Raptors for the final year of his deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
He doesn’t seem too happy in Toronto as his initial appearance at media day on Monday suggested:
Kawhi says being in Toronto is a “day-to-day” process
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 24, 2018
Leonard, who is from the Los Angeles-area, has been linked with the Lakers since the possibility of the Spurs trading him cropped up.
But there is a growing belief around the league that Leonard could, in fact, wind up staying in Toronto. Obviously, it is too early to tell. But a strong run in the Eastern Conference, along with the Raptors committing their future to him and building a contender around him, could be enough to get him to sign an extension with the Canadian club.
Kevin Durant, Lakers rumors
Much like Thompson, it would be a puzzling move for Kevin Durant to leave a near-perfect situation like there is with the Warriors. The two-time defending champs are poised to continue a dynastic run going for the next five years should the pieces fall into place.
However, a source told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson that Durant will be playing with the Lakers next season.
You can find more information on those rumors here.