As soon as the Raptors won the 2019 NBA finals, speculation began about where free agents will sign during the offseason. Is Kawhi going to stay in the 6ix? Where will Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris sign after being acquired during the season by the 76ers? Will the injuries of Durant and Thompson impact how they are pursued by teams? There are also many more stud free agents like Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Nikola Vucevic and others who may leave their current team for greener pastures. With teams being eligible to sign free agents in four days, here are some predictions for the 2019 NBA offseason.

Kawhi re-signs with Raptors

Back when he was acquired by the Raptors, last offseason [VIDEO], it was rumored that Kawhi had no desire to play for the Raptors and was potentially willing to sit out the whole season despite the fact that he only played nine games in the 2017-18 season. Well, those perceptions changed as he ended up playing 60 games and brought Toronto their first-ever championship. Now that Kawhi led the Raptors to a championship win, all that's being talked about in Toronto is whether he will stay or not and people have been following every move he does which brings up tons of speculation on what his decision might be.

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski put it "Kawhi had no intention of ever staying in Toronto and now it is a serious consideration". The race to acquire the superstar is tentatively between the Clippers and Raptors as they are the favorites to land him. While Kawhi will be able to play closer to home and have warm weather all year round if he were to sign in LA, the Raptors have a more compelling case for him to re-sign which includes winning, representing a whole country who deems Kawhi as "King of the North", something that can not be said with any other team, perks from fans which include free food for life, a free multi-million dollar condo and, if he is willing to sign a five year deal, a Toronto investment company is willing to pay him $191 million, up front. While he won't sign a five year deal for multiple reasons, he'll be back in the 6ix on a one plus one deal.

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NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Rockets don't make any big trades

After being knocked out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years by the Warriors, the Rockets are looking to make some changes to their roster to improve their chances in the playoffs for upcoming seasons. Apparently, everyone on the Rockets roster is available but if anything is for certain, it's that James Harden is going nowhere. That leaves the Rockets with Chris Paul and Clint Capela for players they can dangle and to a lesser extent, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon.

Rumors have swirled regarding Chris Paul wanting out of Houston due to his apparent feud with Harden that is rumored to be damaged beyond repair but Paul has squashed the rumor that he wants out of Houston by saying that he's happy playing for the Rockets. Paul was also rumored to be involved in a potential trade with the Knicks but the Knicks rejected the proposal. Paul also has just under $80 million on his contract for the next two years with a player option for $44 million in 2021-22 which makes him hard to move.

Capela has garnered interest from the Celtics but the Celtics don't have much to offer due to their depleted roster and Capela has also been rumored to potentially be involved in a sign and trade for Jimmy Butler but the 76ers have no need for Capela. Gordon and Tucker could be moved and would garner interest from some teams around the league but neither will bring anything impactful in return. For the reasons mentioned, the Rockets aren't going to make any big changes to their roster and any changes that are made will come from small trades or low impactful free agent signings.

D-Lo goes back to where it all started

Back in 2017, the Lakers traded D'Angelo Russell to the Nets as they were set on taking point guard Lonzo Ball second overall. Sending Russell to the Nets ended up being a mistake because Ball ended up not being what the Lakers hoped he would become and Russell blossomed into an impact player in Brooklyn. This season, he put up career-high averages in points (21.1), assists (seven), free throw percentage (78 percent), three-point percentage (36.9 percent), field goal percentage (43.4 percent) and tied his previous career-high of 3.9 rebounds that he reached in his first season with the Nets which led him to become a Most Improved Player finalist. With the Nets more focused on adding Irving and Durant, if both those guys were to come to Brooklyn, Russell will be shown the door despite his tremendous season which got the Nets into the playoffs.

If Russell becomes the odd man out in Brooklyn, the Lakers and Russell seem like a perfect fit. After acquiring Anthony Davis, the Lakers need to upgrade the backcourt which is currently empty due to Lonzo being traded to New Orleans and Rajon Rondo is a free agent. Also one time Russell was asked who would be in his dream starting five and two of those players were LeBron James and Anthony Davis which both of them are on the Lakers. With the Lakers having about $32 million available to spend, Russell may not cost all of that money and if the Lakers were to sign him, they would still have a little bit of money to add players to fill out the roster.

Suns bring in multiple impact players

They have been stuck in the basement for years but that could very well change depending on how they do in free agency. The Suns didn't do well on draft night as they traded away one of their better players in T.J. Warren and a high second-round pick (pick number 32) to the Pacers for cash and they also moved down from the sixth pick to the eleventh pick but also netted Dario Saric in that trade they did with the Timberwolves. The Warren trade with the Pacers puzzled many but it makes sense from a front office perspective. Warren had $35 million remaining over the next three years and by trading him to the Pacers, more cap space is freed up for the Suns and they also receive cash from the Pacers to have more spending money for free agents. The Suns have been looking for a veteran point guard and there are many options the Suns can choose from in free agency but the Suns will also bring in players that will help them make a playoff run in the upcoming season with Ricky Rubio, Julius Randle, Derrick Rose and a few others being possibilities. With warm weather all year round, a beautiful city, a young core led by Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and recent first-round draft pick Jarrett Culver eventually being a factor, and the fact that any impact player that signs in Phoenix will be a big contributor to a playoff push — what isn't there to like?

Melo signs with Lakers

Carmelo Anthony was once one of the top players in the NBA but those days for Melo are far gone. In the past year, Melo was rostered on three teams which included the Hawks where he received $25.5 million without playing a single game, the Rockets where he appeared in 10 games before being waived and the Bulls who released him very shortly after they acquired him. In those 10 games with the Rockets, Melo averaged 13.4 points, 0.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 40.5 percent from field goal range. As Melo sat out without a team to play on for the majority of the season, Melo came close to signing with the Lakers to play alongside his close friend LeBron James but that ultimately didn't happen for various reasons. With the 2018-19 season now behind him, Melo now has a fresh start and with the Lakers in need of players due to their depleted roster because of the Anthony Davis trade and the fact that they have limited money to spend, Melo and the Lakers seem like a match where Melo will be signed to a veterans minimum contract. This would be a win-win move for both sides as Melo gets to play with LeBron which he's wanted to for years and the Lakers get a player to help fill out their depleted roster.

Vince Carter has his farewell tour with the Raptors

Most people don't know that Vince Carter was originally drafted by the Warriors with the fifth overall pick in 1998 but he never appeared in a single game for the Warriors as he was traded to the Raptors once he was selected. From 1998-2004, Carter appeared in 403 games for the Raptors where he averaged 23.4 points, 3.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds. During the 2004-05 season, his relationship with the Raptors front office became toxic that it was mutually agreed upon that it was time to move on from each other. He was traded to the Nets where he played in New Jersey from 2004-2009 and later went on to play for the Magic, Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Kings and Hawks. Ever since he left Toronto, Raptors fans have booed and taunted him until a few years ago when Raptors fans had a change of heart and started cheering for him and even giving him a video tribute while he was playing in Toronto as a member of the Grizzlies.

While being interviewed on ESPN's The Jump, Carter stated that this will be his last season. Carter has spent 21 years in the NBA and what better way to finish it then going back to where it all started for him. By joining the Raptors, Carter will be able to relinquish his glory days with the team while bringing back memories for older Raptors fans who witnessed him as the Raptors first true star player. Also Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri stated that he had talked with Carter recently. By signing with the Raptors, if Kawhi comes back, Carter will also have a chance to win an NBA title in his final year, something that the future Hall-of-Famer has yet to accomplish and would be a great finish to Carter's career if the Raptors pull of back-to-back NBA championship wins.

Clippers and Knicks fail to sign a superstar

Los Angeles and New York are two of the greatest cities in the world and both cities provide big markets for athletes to compete and thrive in. Both teams also have tons of cap space and both have two max contracts slots that they can sign superstar players too. The Knicks have been connected to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving while the Clippers have been connected to Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and other superstar players. Although both teams have been connected to tons of star calibre players, neither the Clippers or Knicks will sign a superstar as all the free agents they've been connected to will bolt for other teams. While Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities to live in, the Clippers aren't the biggest team in LA as the Lakers are the bigger market Los Angeles team. Even though the Lakers have had consecutive dismal seasons, the Lakers are the LA team that dominate headlines. While the Knicks are the bigger market team in New York, the state of the Knicks franchise is a mess which will prevent any big free agents from wanting to play for the Knicks and the other New York team, the Brooklyn Nets are the better New York team. As no marquee free agents will sign with either team, the Clippers will look to add depth as they hope to make the playoffs again for the upcoming season while the Knicks will focus on the future and develop prized prospect R.J. Barrett.

Other predictions

  • Celtics bring in a new core of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter and also bring back Isaiah Thomas
  • Patrick Beverley is the most sought after free agent that isn't a superstar
  • Willie Cauley-Stein sticks with Kings despite the fact that he wants out
  • Cousins signs another one year prove it deal with the Mavericks
  • Warriors add two big men in DeAndre Jordan and Robin Lopez
  • Thompson signs max deal with Warriors
  • Vucevic stays with Magic
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