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The NBA is reportedly expected to move up the start of its free-agency moratorium by six hours this summer.
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, the league will reportedly allow teams to start speaking with free agents at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 rather than midnight July 1.
While teams can begin negotiating with free agents at that time, no player can officially sign until the moratorium is lifted July 6.
This offseason’s free-agent frenzy could be among the most memorable in NBA history because of the sheer amount of star players who may be on the move.
Among the top players expected to be available are Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic.
There will also be some quality restricted free agents, including D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets and Kristaps Porzingis of the Dallas Mavericks.
All eyes will primarily be on Durant, Leonard and Irving since they could change the NBA’s balance of power depending on where they decide to sign.
It has long been assumed that KD would leave Golden State this offseason, but Sam Amick of The Athletic reported last week that there is a “recent sense” among those close to the Warriors that Durant might “think twice” about signing elsewhere.
If Durant does spurn the Warriors, the New York Knicks are the team he has been linked to most closely. Irving has also been linked to the Knicks, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on First Take this week that it “appears to be a foregone conclusion” that both Durant and Kyrie will sign with New York:
As for Leonard, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said last week on Get Up! that he will likely either re-sign with the Raptors or sign close to home with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Once the big chips fall, players like Walker, Butler and Harris could also alter the league’s landscape significantly, especially if any of them join teams that have one superstar in place, such as the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James.
That picture will become clearer June 30 when the moratorium is reportedly set to begin.