OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to open next week’s draft by announcing that Zion Williamson is the No. 1 overall selection headed to New Orleans. And four months after that, Silver will be in Toronto on opening night to help the Raptors hand out championship rings and watch them raise a banner.
There are few other certainties in the NBA right now.
It won’t look the same. Not much will next season.
The champion Raptors don’t know if they’ll be keeping NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who becomes a free agent in a couple weeks and one that every team with lots of spending power will want. Danny Green, who went to Toronto in the deal that brought Leonard, is a free agent. Marc Gasol, a huge midseason pickup, is a free agent. There are even reports that Raptors President Masai Ujiri may consider leaving.
Durant won’t be playing on opening night next season, and almost certainly not on any night next season because of his torn Achilles – though he’ll still be highly coveted if he hits the free-agent market as expected. Thompson will miss, at minimum, most of the regular season with his torn ACL. The Warriors may lose DeMarcus Cousins in free agency and Shaun Livingston to retirement.
The team going to San Francisco might look much different than the one that ended this season in Oakland.
Longtime NBA stars like Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker will be gone, enjoying retirements. Vince Carter plans to be back for a 22nd and final season. Leonard, LeBron James and Andre Iguodala – if he returns, which is expected – may be the only three players on the court to start the season with an NBA Finals MVP trophy in their possession.
And then there’s all the player movement, which could be seismic.
Anthony Davis may be traded by the Pelicans, as the soap opera there continues.