NBA free agency sets sports world on fire

In a league where drama never sleeps, the NBA had the attention of basketball fans everywhere as some of the sport’s biggest stars chose a change of scenery.



Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors celebrates his team's win against the Golden State Warriors to capture the NBA championsip at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, Calif., on June 13, 2019. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/TNS) **FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY**

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

The 2018-19 NBA season came to a close with the Toronto Raptors dethroning the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors for their first league title in franchise history. After a thrilling conclusion of that magnitude to the NBA playoffs, the offseason had an uphill climb if it wanted to match or exceed the entertainment value of the past season on the court.

But in the NBA, the drama always escalates.

The league got a makeover in one of the wildest free-agency periods since LeBron James made his infamous “decision” in 2010, when he left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to head to South Beach with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.

Players, fans, and the basketball world in general have become transfixed on where certain players will playing for the next several years, which in most other professions, would be quite dull. But for the NBA, it makes for one of the most exciting portions of the league calendar.

This free-agency period boasted some of the biggest names in the league on the market, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and reigning finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

When the clock struck 5 p.m. on June 30, the entire sporting world became transfixed on how the league was about to change in an instant. The free-agency period had been moved up six hours from previous seasons, adding to the spectacle of what had already become an anticipated portion of the NBA summer.

The entire day filled with reports of where a given player seemed likely to go, until free agency officially opened. From that point, the league was in the hands of ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who is at the highest level of reporting in the sport. Woj took to Twitter to inform his 3.63 million followers where players would sign.

He has such a history with tweeting breaking news that many of his tweets are referred to as “Woj Bombs,” surprising league developments that go viral in seconds.

The bombs that Wojnarowski dropped early in this year’s edition of free agency were as big as ever — he reported Durant and Irving planned to team up on the Brooklyn Nets.

Throw in such names as Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Al Horford, Kemba Walker, and Tobias Harris,, and the first 24 hours of free agency set the league on fire. The only piece missing from the beginning of the league’s reshuffling was Leonard, who very much took his time in deciding which franchise he would play for.

With every minute that Leonard withheld his decision, anticipation only grew larger as fans everywhere kept refreshing Woj’s Twitter page waiting for the latest league-altering news.

And then it hit.

Just as it seemed like all the fireworks were over, at 10:54 p.m. July 5, Woj broke the news that Leonard would sig a four-year, $142 million maximum contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leonard chose the Clippers over the neighboring Los Angeles Lakers and returning to the champion Raptors.

Just minutes after that news broke, reports trickled out that the Clippers would also trade for Paul George to make themselves the favorites to win the next season’s NBA title.

In just seven days, the NBA was completely made over. Superstars spread themselves out across the league to create parity in a way that had not been seen the past three seasons with Kevin Durant on the already-stacked Warriors. The illustrious Lakers and New York Knicks lost out on their big targets to less popular — and also less dysfunctional — franchises such as the Clippers and the Nets.

And basketball fans were not only glued to their screens for every second of it, they anxiously awaited for another story to break.

The NBA has been at the heart of the sports world during this free agency, and heading into the 2019-20 season, the league is as unpredictable as ever. Tip-off to the new season is as anticipated as ever, and only a Woj bomb or two will suffice in the meantime.

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