NBA Free Agency Props: Where Will DeMarcus Cousins Land in 2019?
The 2018-19 NBA season just began, but that doesn’t mean some folks aren’t already looking ahead to the summer of 2019. While the 2018 class of free agents was somewhat lacking in star power (aside from LeBron James, obviously), we will see a number of high-profile names hit the market as unrestricted free agents next summer. The overall talent crop of the ‘19 class is special
The Warriors started their title defense with a 108-100 win over the Thunder in their opener, and Golden State is once again heavily favored to win the championship for the third year in a row. Unless one of their key players goes down with an injury, it’s tough to imagine the Warriors not winning it all again.
We have already discussed where the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant may wind up once they hit the market in July of 2019, but what about some of the other big names? Let’s roll through MyBookie’s 2019 NBA free agency props and identify some good value.
Odds to Sign Kawhi Leonard
- Los Angeles Clippers +200
- Toronto Raptors +400
- Los Angeles Lakers +500
- Memphis Grizzlies +1000
- Miami Heat +1000
- New York Knicks +1000
- Minnesota Timberwolves +1500
- The Field +200
In case you missed it, Kawhi Leonard was limited to just 9 games last season due to a lingering quad injury. Things started to get weird late in the season, though, after Leonard was reportedly cleared to return to action by the medical staff of the San Antonio Spurs. Nobody really knew what was going on, but Kawhi decided against returning. Instead, he was working out away from the team on his own. He did not play a single game for San Antonio after January 13.
Things between Leonard and the Spurs’ brass apparently soured to the point that Kawhi ultimately asked the team to trade him. So, they did. Leonard was traded along with swingman Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors this past July. The San Diego State product is reportedly healthy and ready to roll with the Raptors this season.
Toronto made a huge gamble in trading for a player with just one year left on his deal. The Raptors had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but the brilliant regular season was marred by a disappointing second round sweep at the hands of LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, rather than running it back this season with the same core, general manager Masai Ujiri decided to go for it with Kawhi. Toronto parted ways with the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in DeMar DeRozan in addition to a promising young big man in Jakob Poeltl. Just to potentially rent Leonard for a year.
Whether the gambit pays off remains to be seen, but the Raptors apparently think they can convince Leonard to stay in Toronto on a long-term basis. I have been particularly bullish on the Raptors leading into this season, and I would imagine if they make a serious run in the East then they may well be able to convince Kawhi into sticking around. Any time you can get an incumbent team at odds as favorable as +400, I’d say you should jump all over it. I like the profit potential with Kawhi staying where he is.
However, the reports detailing Kawhi’s unhappiness in San Antonio did say that he wanted to play in his hometown of Los Angeles. Leonard is reportedly keener on taking his talents to the Clippers rather than joining LeBron with the Lakers, which is interesting. The Lakers are listed at +500 to sign Kawhi, while the Clippers are the odds-on betting favorites at +200. Both teams reportedly tried to acquire Leonard directly from the Spurs, but they obviously failed.
I tend to believe the reports of Kawhi’s interest in the Clippers, so I prefer them at +200 to the Lakers at +500. Both teams figure to court Leonard once he hits the free agent market, and I think the Clips should be able to sell him on what they want to do. Playing second fiddle to LeBron doesn’t seem to be something Kawhi has much interest in doing.
Some of the teams on the list are incredibly random. Why would Kawhi sign with the Memphis Grizzlies or Minnesota Timberwolves? Both look like complete wastes at +1000 and +1500, respectively. Hard pass on both of them. The Knicks and Heat are somewhat interesting, though I don’t really see either of them being legitimate contenders. I suppose you can take a flier on Miami of the two at +1000. We know how much NBA players seem to love playing there.
I’ll list the Raptors as the betting favorite, with the Clippers, Lakers, and Heat following in that order.
Odds to Sign Klay Thompson
- Golden State Warriors +200
- Los Angeles Lakers +200
- Los Angeles Clippers +1000
- Boston Celtics +1200
- New York Knicks +1200
- Oklahoma City Thunder +1200
- Philadelphia 76ers +1500
- Miami Heat +1500
- The Field +300
Sensing a theme here? An awful lot of the same teams expected to be in on Kawhi Leonard may also have interest in Klay Thompson next summer. I expect Leonard to be the more sought-after player, but don’t sleep on Thompson. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry may get all of the attention for the Warriors, but Thompson is more quietly a huge part of Golden State’s incredible success over the last 4-plus years.
Thompson has been a Warrior since the team drafted him 11th overall out of Washington State back in 2011. Since then, all he’s done is go on to become perhaps the preeminent 3-and-D guy in the league. No big deal. Thompson, who will turn 29 in February, is a career 42.1 percent shooter from 3-point range while also supplying top-notch perimeter defense on the other side of the floor.
Is Thompson a guy that can be the best player on a championship team? I don’t think so, but he might be the best role player in the game at this point. Whether he will be worth a max contract remains to be seen. While he may not be a superstar or anything, he is still essentially the perfect complementary player for today’s pace-and-space style of NBA basketball. So, there will be plenty of suitors.
Will he stay with the Warriors? Perhaps, but it’s going to be hard for Golden State to be able to afford to pay all of these guys. If Klay wants to make as much money as he possibly can, then perhaps leaving Golden State is the best option. As is the case with Kevin Durant, Thompson has zero left to prove with the Warriors. I think it’s fair to say the Dubs should be the betting favorites to keep him around, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to look around and possibly take his talents elsewhere.
If he were to leave the Bay Area, there’s a real chance he could just head straight south. Thompson is a Los Angeles native, and his father, Mychal, used to play for the Lakers. Mychal is also currently a radio broadcaster for the Lake Show. Thompson could certainly bring his championship rings south and suit up alongside LeBron in an attempt to help restore order in LakerLand. There may not be a player on the planet better suited to play alongside LeBron James than Klay Thompson. I think the Lakers are a very real threat here, so I love the profit value you can get on L.A. to sign Klay at +200.
After the Lakers, the odds drop off a cliff. The Clippers have the next-best odds at +1000. Unless he and Kawhi decide to team up on L.A.’s other team, I don’t think the Clips are a legitimate option. I’m of the mindset that if Klay leaves the Warriors, he’s going to the Lakers. So, I’m not going to advise placing a wager on any of the other options here.
For Klay it is Warriors, Lakers or bust. Bet on Golden State or L.A. at +200 apiece.
Odds to Sign DeMarcus Cousins
- Golden State Warriors +200
- Los Angeles Lakers +400
- Los Angeles Clippers +500
- New York Knicks +1000
- Houston Rockets +1000
- Miami Heat +1000
- Boston Celtics +1200
- Philadelphia 76ers +1200
- The Field +300
DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles about halfway through last season while he was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. The timing of the injury was obviously unfortunate, as Cousins was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time just a few months later. Most believed he would re-up with the Pels on a team-friendly deal, but apparently New Orleans didn’t show a ton of interest after they advanced to the second round of the playoffs without him.
Without a bunch of teams calling him, Cousins decided to chase a ring. Boogie shockingly inked a one-year deal to sign with the Warriors, giving Golden State a total of 5 All-Stars in the starting lineup. Of course, one of the reasons Cousins wasn’t a hot commodity this past summer is because he wasn’t going to be healthy in time for opening night. In fact, most believe Cousins won’t be ready to return to action until some time around New Year’s.
How Cousins looks upon returning from his injury will obviously dictate what kind of market he sees once he becomes a free agent again next summer. Achilles injuries tend to be tougher to return from than more run-of-the-mill injuries, so there’s no guarantee that Boogie ever becomes the player he was before going down. He’s young enough to where he should still be fairly productive, though, and he’s arguably the most offensively skilled big man in the game when he’s at full strength.
There was literally no downside for Golden State here. They get the chance to see Cousins up close for a full season. If he doesn’t pan out, they can always cut him with minimal financial penalty. If he fits in, the Warriors become even more unfair. The Warriors can afford to give Cousins all the time he needs to rehab his injury. If he’s not the same, they can still win without him. If he’s the Boogie of old, then Golden State has added a new wrinkle with a dynamic offensive option down low.
Betting on NBA free agency props is a tricky situation in the first place, though, and Cousins is essentially a “TBD” at this point. The Los Angeles teams once again check in among the favorites, but the market for Boogie is complicated. We are going to see how he actually looks before we can determine where he may sign as a free agent. Another year with Golden State wouldn’t surprise me if he looks a little shaky after coming back, so I’ll say the Warriors make for a viable betting option here at +200.
Odds to Sign Al Horford
- Boston Celtics +200
- New York Knicks +500
- Portland Trail Blazers +600
- Los Angeles Lakers +600
- Los Angeles Clippers +750
- New Orleans Pelicans +1000
- San Antonio Spurs +1200
No offense to Al, but Al Horford is about as unsexy a star as you’ll find in the NBA nowadays. Horford is a throwback type big man in that he’s not all that quick, but his skills perfectly suit the style of the modern game. The former Florida Gator has molded his game over the years to where he’s playable in just about any offensive or defensive system.
Horford inked a lucrative 4-year deal worth over $110 million to join the Celtics in the summer of 2016. He’s going to turn 33 before free agency hits in the summer of 2019. While he does have a game that figures to age well, it’s probably fair to suggest he likely won’t cost as much to sign as some of the other players on this list. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but he was an All-Star last season, anyway. Horford averaged 12.9 points 7.4 rebounds and nearly 5 assists per game across 72 regular season appearances for the Celts last season.
Boston has championship aspirations this season. If they wind up falling just short of their ultimate goal this year, perhaps they decide to run it back and try again next season? Boston’s activity next offseason may hinge quite a bit on what happens with guys like Klay Thompson. If Thompson (or Kevin Durant) winds up leaving Golden State, Celtics GM Danny Ainge may be more inclined to bring the same roster back and give it another go next season. So, Boston looks like a pretty easy favorite to re-sign Horford at +200. The Celtics don’t have a readymade replacement currently on the roster to take his place in the event he leaves.
However, if Horford leaves Boston there are some interesting other potential suitors. The Knicks were linked with Horford when he was a free agent a couple of years ago. He would give New York a versatile do-it-all type of center to play on the frontline alongside Kristaps Porzingis, though the fit may not be perfect. Things get a little crowded when you consider rookie Kevin Knox is also likely best-suited as a power forward long-term. I’d pass on betting the Knicks to land Horford at +500.
One team that makes a lot of sense is the Spurs, who are priced at +1200. San Antonio may need to rebuild, but if they want to get on the quick path back to contention then perhaps landing Horford could be a fit. Pau Gasol isn’t getting any younger, and this will likely be his last season in San Antonio. The Spurs don’t have much by way of young big men currently on the roster, so perhaps adding Horford could help them bridge the gap a bit. I don’t hate the value on San Antonio at +1200. Horford is just a Spursy kind of player.
Horford returning to Boston seems like the most likely outcome, so the Celtics to re-sign him at +200 is easily my favorite option among all these free agency props.