BLOGTABLE: Early bets for success in 2019 free agency?
NBA.com Global on Mar 01, 2019 07:52 AM
DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 7: Jarrett Allen #31 of the Brooklyn Nets grabs the rebound against the Detroit Pistons on February 7, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena, Michigan. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
Several teams have positioned themselves to be big players in free agency this July. Who's your early favorite to win the summer?
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Steve Aschburner: We’re going to have the four teams in the two biggest markets -- the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, and the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers -- all flexing max-salary cap space when free agency opens. I like pulling for underdogs, so it would be interesting to see Brooklyn -- with a nice core of young talent -- and the Clippers grab the biggest names and the headlines. Still, it’s hard to deny the star power of the Lakers, and the presumption that team president Magic Johnson and All-Star LeBron James are going to get at least a major part of what they want. Especially with James’ agency behind the scenes, spinning dials, pushing buttons and pulling levers.
Shaun Powell: I like the team in LA. The Clippers, I mean. They have solid complementary pieces on team friendly contracts in Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with cap space of course and all the charms of living and playing in LA. Plus, their owner, Steve Ballmer, has a few dollars in the bank. It will be a coup if the Clippers grab two A-list free agents away from the claws of the Lakers.
John Schuhmann: I can't seen the future and I probably don't think the same way that most of the high-profile free agents do. But I like the positions that that Clippers and Nets have put themselves in. They have the cap space to add a star or two, but are also ahead of the Lakers and Knicks in regard to the infrastructure -- coaching, culture, role players and system -- to support those stars. While the Lakers underachieve and the Knicks play for Lottery combinations, the Clippers are in seventh place (despite the transitional state of their roster) in the tougher conference and the Nets have taken a huge step forward (looking like one of the league's best franchises in regard to player development) to put themselves in position to give their young core some playoff experience
Sekou Smith: Whoever gets Kevin Durant's commitment is going to walk away from the free agent summer as the early winner. I'm excluding the Anthony Davis drama from consideration, since it's technically about free agency and not summer trade season. I love how both teams in New York and Los Angeles are prepared to be major players, which means the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks and Nets could all claim victory when the dust settles. There's enough top shelf talent to go around and plenty of cap space available for someone to take the plunge and become the (new) face of a franchise this summer.