The 2019 NBA offseason is shaping up to be a fascinating one. With plenty of big-name players poised to reach free agency and many teams around the league in position to create cap room, there could be a good deal of player movement on the free agent market.
Making things even more interesting is the fact that all four teams in Los Angeles and New York, the country’s two biggest media markets, are poised to be among those teams with significant cap space, and all four teams will be looking to land a top-tier free agent.
In certain recent years, the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, and Knicks may not have even received consideration from elite free agents. All four clubs have suffered from poor management and/or ownership at times during the last decade, but all four appear to have turned a corner as of late.
The Lakers, under new head of basketball operations Magic Johnson, secured a long-term commitment from LeBron James in free agency and have complemented him with an intriguing collection of young prospects. They should have the cap space necessary to sign another maximum-salary free agent in 2019.
The Clippers, led by owner Steve Ballmer, have transitioned out of the Lob City era by putting together a deep, talented roster, and will have veteran executive Jerry West in their corner as they look to make a splash on the 2019 free agent market. They’ll have more than enough room for one max free agent, and could potentially clear enough space for two.
The Nets are finally out from under their commitments to the Celtics and are trending in the right direction, having acquired young building blocks like Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert despite not having premium first-round picks for the last few years. They could also be in position to open up two maximum-salary contract slots this summer, depending on what happens with their own free agents (note: two max slots are far less likely after Spencer Dinwiddie‘s extension).
Finally, even the Knicks, who have endured more drama and made more questionable roster moves than just about any other NBA team in recent years, have been showing more patience and making smarter roster moves since Scott Perry assumed GM duties in 2017. Assuming they’re able to move a salary or two, the Knicks should have enough cap space for a max free agent in 2019.
All four of these clubs have big-market appeal and will be able to make strong pitches to next year’s best free agents. That’s a group that should include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton, Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, and Kemba Walker, as our recent free agent power rankings show.
Our question today is which of those four clubs has the best chance to land one of those marquee free agents. For the sake of this poll, we’re focused more on outside free agent signings, so the Clippers re-signing Harris or the Knicks re-signing Kristaps Porzingis wouldn’t really count.
What do you think? Which Los Angeles or New York club is in the best position to land an elite free agent in 2019?
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