Rod Beard's top 20 NBA free agents for 2019

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Go through the gallery above to view The Detroit News' top 20 NBA free agents, compiled by Rod Beard. Click here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.

After a thrilling NBA Finals that saw the Raptors — and injuries to two of the top players in the league — change the championship landscape, the NBA can take a few weeks to recover.

Kawhi Leonard (2), who helped lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title, is considered the top player available when free agency begins Sunday, June 30. Klay Thompson (right) also will be a big name on the free-agent market.

Not so much.

The start of NBA free agency is bigger than the Finals, even, because it will set the stage for where some of the top stars go over the next few years and how those stars — and the next set of stars — are paid.

It’s the annual soap opera, played out almost like picking teams on the playground, except some teams have more money in salary-cap space to spare than most others. The Nets, Knicks, Lakers and Clippers figure to be the most active, jockeying for enough cap space to fit two max-salary players, such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Those key injuries to Durant and Klay Thompson in the Finals portend an uneasy season for the Warriors and an opening for many other teams in the West, including the Lakers, who combined LeBron James with Anthony Davis and now must fill out the rest of their roster.

Free agency officially starts on Sunday at 6 p.m. (Eastern), but players can’t officially sign contracts until the moratorium period ends on July 6. The news should start spreading quickly on Sunday, with the start time moved up from the unwieldy midnight shotgun start of previous years.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard