NBA Free Agency 2019: When Does It Start and Who Are the Biggest Free Agents Available?

The Toronto Raptors are the NBA champions, Zion Williamson was the number one overall pick of the NBA draft and Giannis Antetokounmpo has been crowned MVP.

All that remains to decide this summer is the small detail of one of the most eagerly awaited free agency in years.

From Kawhi Leonard to Kyrie Irving—and potentially Kevin Durant—some of the league's best players could be on the move. Add to that the fact the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets can all afford two max contracts and it is easy to see why this summer could significantly alter the dynamics of the league.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the free agency extravaganza.

When does NBA free agency start?

Free agency will officially begin at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, June 30, six hours earlier than usual.

Teams can contact upcoming free agents or their representatives from 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 29. Any formal meetings, however, will have to wait until the following day when free agency starts officially.

Similarly, the majority of players will not be able to put pen on papers on their contracts until the moratorium period ends on July 6.

Who are the main free agents?

Take your pick. This summer had long been circled on calendars across the league as the moment Kevin Durant would finally leave the Golden State Warriors to test the market.

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 favorites to land him.

Durant, however, suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, which is likely to keep him out for most of next season. Would the Knicks—or any other potential suitor, for that matter—make a pitch to sign Durant knowing he might not be available until 2020-21?

Aside from the two-time NBA champion, the Warriors also have decisions to make over DeMarcus Cousins and Klay Thompson, who ruptured his left ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors holds the MVP trophy during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade on June 17 in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 4-2 to win the 2019 NBA Finals. Vaughn Ridley/Getty

With Durant injured, Kawhi Leonard is now the name on everyone's lips. On Monday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported the reigning NBA Finals MVP would decline his 2019-20 player option to become an unrestricted free agent.

Crucially, Haynes also suggested Leonard was "seriously considering" re-signing with the Toronto Raptors, despite being on the wish list of every team with enough salary cap available to sign him.

A native of Southern California, Leonard has long been linked with a return to Los Angeles, with the Clippers considered to be his preferred option.

Free agency around the corner? Must be billboard season in LA.

— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) June 24, 2019

However, the Raptors are the only team who can offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million supermax deal and the 27-year-old could be convinced to extend his stay in Canada.

Staying in the Eastern Conference, two of the Raptors rivals could look very different next season.

The Boston Celtics look set to lose Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Earlier this month, The Athletic reported Irving had been "communicative and forthright" with the Celtics, telling the franchise he will leave this summer.

The Boston Celtics are preparing for strong scenario that All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will leave as free agents, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 18, 2019

The Brooklyn Nets are thought to be his preferred destination and, according to Bleacher Report, Irving has repeatedly tried to convince Durant to join him in Brooklyn. While the Nets are focused on recruitment, one of their current stars, D'Angelo Russell, is a restricted free agent this summer.

The Nets are exploring the feasibility of signing Kevin Durant's close friend DeAndre Jordan in free agency, league sources say, in hopes that would make the prospect of teaming up in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving even more enticing to Durant

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 24, 2019

Meanwhile, last week ESPN reported Horford and the Celtics were no longer discussing a deal, paving the way for the 33-year-old to leave this summer. The Ringer indicated the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers were interested in the Celtics big man, while NBC Sports Boston suggested the Nets were also in the running and USA Today identified the Philadelphia 76ers as a potential suitor.

The Sixers have two big decisions to make themselves, with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris both set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Elsewhere, the Charlotte Hornets must convince Kemba Walker to re-sign, while Khris Middleton could command a big salary from the Milwaukee Bucks, who also have to consider the fact Malcolm Brogdon is a restricted free agent.