With free agency set to open on Sunday, the top two available players, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant, have discussed scenarios in which they could play together, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
As Wojnarowski notes, if the two stars decide they want to team up, the two likeliest possibilities would be the Knicks or Clippers. The Knicks have the cap room necessary to offer both players maximum-salary contracts. The Clippers would have to do a little work to get there, but have a path if they can find a taker for Danilo Gallinari‘s expiring $22.6MM contract.
The Nets, Lakers, Warriors, and Raptors are among the other teams believed to be in pursuit of either Leonard or Durant. However, Golden State and Toronto could only re-sign their own respective stars, the Lakers only have room to sign one top free agent, and the Nets are believed to be zeroed in on Kyrie Irving, which would leave them with enough cap space for just one additional star.
Before Durant went down with a calf injury – and then an Achilles tear – in this year’s playoffs, he and Leonard were being discussed as the NBA’s top two players. Although KD is expected to miss the entire 2019/20 season as he recovers from his Achilles injury, a long-term pairing of Durant and Leonard could turn any franchise into a perennial championship contender.
ESPN’s report represents the second time today we’ve heard about the possibility of Durant and Leonard teaming up. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote earlier this morning of a belief that KD had considered the possibility of joining forces with Kawhi, though Charania’s report gave no indication of how Leonard felt about the idea.
As we detailed this morning, Leonard’s free agency had long been viewed as a two-way race between the Raptors and Clippers, but that’s no longer the case, with the Lakers and Knicks both trying to get into the mix. Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote today about the pitch that LeBron James intends to make to Kawhi.
Many scenarios appear to remain in play for this summer’s top free agents. According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, Leonard is expected to meet with the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Raptors once free agency opens, while Durant plans to talk to the Clippers, Knicks, Nets, and Warriors.
Luke Adams contributed to this story.