Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard are likely to be the most sought after players in the NBA when the trio hit free agency July 1, with plenty of teams holding cap space to sign a big free agent. The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers are at an advantage as they can sign two big free agents.

Leonard has indicated in the past he wants to return home to Los Angeles and was linked with a move to the Lakers last summer. But they failed to make an impressive enough offer to San Antonio Spurs and eventually saw the player traded to the Toronto Raptors.

Durant, meanwhile, will also enter free agency by opting out of his deal with the Warriors and many are expecting him to leave, whether or not he wins a third straight NBA championship. Experts have backed him to go and lead his own team and move away from Stephen Curry’s bandwagon.

Irving, on the other hand, had initially committed to re-signing with the Boston Celtics when he entered free agency but has since backtracked on his commitment and is expected by many to leave TD Garden for new pastures. But his future remains unclear as he recently admitted to seeking a long-term partnership with Jayson Tatum, one of the many talented young players on the Celtics roster.

However, there is heavy speculation that Irving and Durant could team up next season and the New York Knicks have been touted as a potential destination for the duo. The two players are close friends off the court and their many discussions during the All-Star break earlier in the year were being interpreted as potential talks about their upcoming free agency plans.

Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving (left) and Kevin Durant (right) will enter free agency in 2019. In this picture, Irving #11 and Durant #25 of Team LeBron laugh during practice for the 2018 NBA All-Star game at the Verizon Up Arena at LACC in Los Angeles, Feb. 17, 2018. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Knicks have made attracting both the players a priority and with them having cap space to sign two free agents following their trade of Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas Mavericks, the New York franchise are being touted as a genuine destination.

However, according to New York Post’s Marc Berman, the Knicks could face some serious competition for the duo from the Clippers, who also have cap space for two big free agents. They also have the benefit of being a team on the rise under Doc Rivers.

The Knicks, meanwhile, are the worst team in the NBA this season with a 14-60 record, while the Clippers are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference with a 44-30 record. With their current form, winning 11 of their last 12 games, they could move into fourth by the end of the regular season.

“When the Knicks battle for the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving, the Clippers stand as possibly their toughest foe. The Clippers traded their top scorer and free-agent-to-be Tobias Harris at the deadline to put them in position to have two max-salary slots — like the Knicks,” Berman wrote.

“The Clippers still are winning without Harris and own a solid young corps headed by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the rookie point guard from Kentucky, who is having a better rookie year than his former teammate, Kevin Knox, an injury victim in Sunday’s loss.

“With the Clippers in fifth place in the Western Conference at 44-30, Durant and Irving could decide to compete against James in Los Angeles is more appealing than rescuing the NBA’s worst team,” he added.

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