When Does NBA Free Agency Start? When Can Teams Sign Players and Who's Available?

The summer of 2019 has long been earmarked as the moment the dynamics that have controlled the NBA for the second half of this decade could change forever.

With the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson entering free agency and Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant having the option to test the market, the upcoming summer was seen as a big reset button for the league.

Free agency will officially begin at 6 p.m. ET on June 30, but the Los Angeles Lakers pressed that button on Saturday when they traded for Anthony Davis.

The 16-time NBA champions had tried and failed to secure the 26-year-old earlier this year, but had enough to convince the New Orleans Pelicans to part ways with the first overall pick of the 2012 draft.

In exchange for Davis, the Lakers sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks—including the number four overall in Thursday's NBA draft —to New Orleans.

The timing of the trade for Davis could have major implications for the two teams and for free agency as a whole. ESPN reported on Sunday that July 6 is the earliest date the trade can be officially completed and would leave the Lakers with $27.7 million in salary cap space or $23.7 million should Davis not forego his $4 million trade bonus.

However, should the two teams wait until July 30 to complete the trade, the Lakers would have $32.5 million in cap space as they would operate as a team over the cap and would therefore use the fourth overall pick in this year's draft as salary.

The potential nine-million swing could be very significant as it would determine whether the Lakers can add a third max-contract level free agent.

Aside from the Lakers, in terms of free agency the NBA Finals asked more questions than they answered.

Kevin Durant, NBA Finals
Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10 in Toronto, Canada. Getty/Gregory Shamus

In the space of four days, the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to severe long-term injuries. On Thursday, ESPN reported Durant will miss the whole of next season with a torn Achilles tendon, while Thompson will sit out a large chunk of next season after rupturing his left ACL.

The injuries leave the Warriors with a major dilemma as both players can become free agents this summer—Thompson will be unrestricted and Durant has a player option. Should Golden State hope to extend either contract—or both—they will effectively pay a max salary for a player—or players—who will be out for most of next season.

Teams who might have been readying a pitch for Durant and Thompson face a similar scenario.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP can opt in with the Warriors and pocket $31.5 million next season, he can re-sign a long-term deal with Golden State or he can leave. The latter has long been considered the likeliest option, with the New York Knicks tipped to be the favorite to land the 30-year-old.

Durant's future could also have an impact on Kyrie Irving's prospects. The 2016 NBA champion looks set to leave Boston after a difficult two seasons and the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets have both reportedly fluttered their eyelashes at the 27-year-old.

Meanwhile, the team that dethroned the Warriors in the Finals has some free agency questions of its own to answer. When the Toronto Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard last summer they knew the 2014 NBA Finals MVP's stay in Canada could come to an end after a single season as he can opt out this summer.

Leonard inspired Toronto to a historic first NBA title, which in itself is the best pitch the Raptors could have hoped for as they bid to convince him to extend his stay north of the border.

A Los Angeles native, Leonard has long been linked with a return to California, with the Clippers tipped to be his preferred destination.

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers have big decisions to make themselves, with Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler both set to become free agents this summer, while the Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is an unrestricted free agent.