The news of the day is that the Boston Celtics are now the frontrunners to land Kemba Walker in free agency now that it is certain they are losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency.
And if they land Kemba, they will likely find a way to move Terry Rozier, who is a restricted free agent.
That would open a ton of offensive opportunities for both Walker and Jayson Tatum … but let’s keep the focus on Walker, who finished 10th in the NBA in scoring last season when he spent his eighth consecutive year with Charlotte.
Kemba and the free agent market
Walker’s scoring average of 25.6 points per game was by far the highest of his career, and he is certainly a top-five free agent whether or not Jimmy Butler goes onto the open market.
And with two of the top free agents, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, out for the season, the market is going to revolve around Kawhi Leonard, Tobias Harris and Kyrie Irving.
Leonard’s timetable for making his decision — most believe it will be Toronto or the Clippers, but do not discount Dallas (as we reported here earlier this week), and even the Nets and the Knicks.
If Leonard makes up his mind quickly, the dominoes will fall quickly, too. But if Leonard and his main advisor — “Uncle Dennis” — decide to draw out the process, what will already been an interesting free agency signing will be even more bizarre.
Hey, when you are the reigning NBA Finals MVP and have every team with significant cap space going after you … well, let’s just say it’s good to be the king (apologies to LeBron James).
Walker as MVP candidate
But back to Walker, who was being targeted hard by the Dallas Mavericks.
DraftKings Sportsbook has him on the board at 100-1, as does FanDuel Sportsbook. Players with the same odds include Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell and Kristaps Porzingis.
The MVP favorite is Giannis Antetokounmpo at 3-1 at FanDuel Sportsbook NJ and +325 at DraftKings Sportsbook NJ. The second choice at DraftKings is LeBron at +450, and FanDuel has LeBron tied as the fifth choice at 11-1 — the same odds as Leonard.
Remember, it is extraordinary for the sportsbooks to have MVP odds and team over/under win totals on the board before free agency even begins, but the legalized sports gambling world is the Wild Wild West.
Longshots for MVP
The trick for the casual gambler (the sharps already have their bets in) is to take a flyer on a longshot and see if the gamble pays off one year from now.
Remember, one year ago Leonard was a member of the Spurs, everyone was expecting Paul George to wind up with the Lakers, and folks in Cleveland truly believed that James would never uproot his family from Akron.
But things change fast in the NBA, and there are about 15 NBA teams making Plans A, B, C, D, and E.
NBA free agency about to break loose
It all gets started in earnest Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern time when one of the first things that we can expect to happen is the Philadelphia 76ers making a max offer to Tobias Harris.
But those same Sixers stand to lose Butler (who the Houston Rockets are trying to acquire in a trade) and J.J. Redick, who would be a terrific fit with the Lakers but also could help the Nets (little-known fact, he lives in Brooklyn).
A free agent frenzy like the one we are about to see is unprecedented (unless you include 2010, when Pat Riley assembled his Big Three in Miami).
Again, the key player is Leonard, but the key executive may be Danny Ainge — especially if he gets Walker at the $141 million he is reportedly set to offer.
In 72 hours, all hell breaks loose.
Sit back and enjoy it, but get your wagers in before the prices on superstar players drop to more reasonable ranges. By the time everyone wakes up Monday morning, there will be a tremendous number of surprises.