Bold Predictions For NBA And Its Biggest Stars In 2019

2018 was an interesting year in the NBA, but something tells us it ain't got nothin' on the year 2019 which is shaping up to be incredibly busy.

In 2018, there were big names signed in free agency and one star, LeBron James, moved over to the Lakers in one of the biggest team changes in years. The Golden State Warriors were favorites going into the season but in-season fighting and a less-than-stellar record proved that it might not be too difficult to unseat the reigning champs. Kawhi Leonard wanted out of San Antonio and an unexpected team in Toronto nabbed him and now has one of the best records in the league heading into 2019.

How can any year be more interesting than what 2018 offered? We'll tell you.

Big-Name NBA Free Agents

via Sports Illustrated

If you thought big names were available this year in free agency, let's just take a quick glance at some of the names available in 2019 free agency.

Most of the talk surrounds Kevin Durant who likely won't stay in Golden State with the Warriors. After that drama has unfolded in Golden State, it is expected Durant will move on and there are a number of candidates that he may consider, this time not taking a discount to play. A good chunk of the talk in 2019 will surround where Durant will land.

There's also Kawhi Leonard, who may or may not stay in Toronto, Kyrie Irving who says he'll stay in Boston, but one can never tell and Jimmy Butler who moved to the 76ers but may explore free agency in the summer. This is not to mention Klay Thompson and others who will be making decisions prior to July 1, 2019.

Related: Chicago Bulls Trade Justin Holiday To Memphis Grizzlies

Who Wants To Play With LeBron?

via Bleacher Report

One of the stories of 2018 was what the Los Angeles Lakers would do after they landed LeBron James in free agency. They didn't do much. In 2019, the Lakers will be at the top of most lists when it comes to big-ticket free agents and players who might wind up in LA. Would Anthony Davis be traded there? Will a player like Durant join LeBron? Will anyone want to play second-fiddle to the biggest star in the NBA?

The Lakers will be looking at year two of LeBron's four-year contract and that means the window to win is limited. Year one was about freeing up space to go after bigger stars. Year two will be about landing those stars. Will the background story of the toxicity surrounding playing LeBron overshadow a big-time star actually joining him?

Related: Kawhi Leonard Isn't Thinking About 2019 Free Agency

Are the Raptors Good Enough To Keep Kawhi?

via ESPN.com

Will Kawhi Leonard choose to stay in Toronto? A lot of that will depend on how well the Raptors do in 2019 and whether or not they're contenders for the NBA Championship. They the best team coming out of the Eastern Conference but it is expected the team needs to be better-than-good the rest of the way to convince Leonard not to bolt for a team out LA or Philly.

Signs are already pointing to the fact Leonard may be more open to staying in Toronto than people first expected when he was traded there. Will that storyline continues through the first half of 2019?

Related: Kawhi Leonard 2019 Free Agency: NBA Executives Say He'll Sign With Raptors Or Clippers

Big Trade Targets

via USA Today

Who will be the most talked-about targets for trades in the NBA in 2019? The answer is Anthony Davis and then everyone else from the Boston Celtics where Danny Ainge might put together a package in a three-for-one or two-for-one deal in an attempt to shake up the team.

Needless to say, the Eastern Conference is wide open and the Western Conference has a number of strong teams, many of whom may look to make deals before the deadline. 2019 could be a busy year for trades.

Related: Enes Kanter Didn't Request Trade During Meeting With GM Scott Perry

Are The Warriors Still The Team To Beat?

via usa today

The Golden State Warriors have some weird things going on. Are they still the favorites everyone thought they'd be when the season started or is the vibe gone? More losses will get people questioning their picks for the Warriors to threepeat and if there's more team friction, it will be one of the most discussed stories in 2019.

There's no time bigger than the playoffs where teamwork is of the utmost importance. There will be talk of free agency and in-fighting that may distract the team. There will be talk of Durant choosing to stay or go, maybe even putting together his own dreat team and heading elswhere.

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