Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving (L) and USA's guard Kevin Durant look on from the substitutes' bench during a Men's round Group A basketball match between China and USA at the Carioca Arena 1 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 6, 2016. ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson will all enter free agency with a number of other top NBA players later in July and all the talk has been about where the quartet, considered to be the elite of the free agency class, will end up. But what if all four players decide to re-sign and stay with their respective current employers for the foreseeable future? Where do the likes of the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers stand?

The Knicks have the cap space for two maximum salary free agents and are targeting Durant and Irving as their top choices. They traded Kristaps Porzongis midway through the season to make space for two big free agents and are now banking on the likes of Durant and Irving to begin their rebuild and get back into contention in the Eastern Conference.

The Clippers also have cap space for two free agents and are targeting a move for Durant, who is expected to be the most sought after free agent in the summer. Leonard is also on their radar but he is also wanted by the Lakers, who have $38 million in max salary cap space.

Durant is expected by many to leave the Golden State Warriors when he enters free agency this summer, but when it comes to the best deal, his current employers are the only ones who can offer him a five-year deal worth $221 million. The other interested teams can only offer him a four-year deal worth $164 million and it is a fact that he can continue to challenge for NBA championships if he remains in the Bay Area.

Similarly, Irving’s best deal will also come from Boston Celtics when he enters free agency in the summer, but his backtracking from his verbal commitment to re-sign with them has seen many predicting he will join Durant in New York. But if he wants to lead a team of his own, there is no better place than Boston, who are certain to strengthen their team in the summer.

Leonard has made no secret that he wants to return to Los Angeles, but a successful season with the Toronto Raptors is seeing NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski predict that he is now seriously considering staying in Canada and re-signing with the Raptors. While Thompson has more than once stated he wishes to remain a Warrior until the end of his career.

So, there is a possibility that the top four elite players who will enter free agency could commit their long-term futures to their current employers, which will leave the Knicks, Lakers and the Clippers among a few other teams in a predicament with regard to their aggressive free agency plans.

However, there are a number of other free agents available – and they may not be in the same category as Durant, Irving or Leonard, but are certainly able to make a team competitive. The Knicks and Lakers will have to lower their expectation and find the right fit for their respective franchises.

The second tier in the free agency class includes Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Kris Middleton, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell and DeMarcus Cousins among others. There are a total of 32 players entering free agency this summer – but all eyes will be on the quartet at the top of the class.

The Knicks have indicated that they will not sign for the sake of it and are not looking at this summer as the one shot to complete their rebuild. They are expected to take their time and may elect not to use their entire free cap space if the right player is not available.

The Lakers, on the other hand, will reinforce their squad this summer in order to ensure LeBron James has the right team around him to get them back to challenging for a place in the post-season and possibly the NBA championship. They will have to find the right fit and Durant, Irving and Leonard are said to be their top picks.

However, Butler’s shooting ability could complement James and they are also likely to make another play to trade for Anthony Davis in the summer after they failed before the February trade deadline.