2014 NBA Free-Agency Predictions for Top-20 Names on the Market

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJune 28, 2014

2014 NBA Free-Agency Predictions for Top-20 Names on the Market

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    Now that LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have officially decided to opt out of their contracts and hit free agency this summer, there's no longer any doubt that this summer's crop of available players is stacked beyond belief. 

    All-Stars and potential All-Stars abound. And once those players have all been snatched up or are deemed unattainable, there's a bevy of valuable veterans who should still be available that can make a huge impact in a title chase. 

    "Over-hyped" is not a word that should be used to describe this free-agent class.

    "Overflowing" is, though. As in: This class is overflowing with quality players and stars. 

    Despite the abundance of talent hitting the open market, there's no guarantee that the landscape of the Association will change too much. After all, I believe that the majority of these top-20 free agents are going to be returning to the teams they played for throughout the 2013-14 season. 

    To keep things spoiler free, I won't give you the exact number, but I'm predicting that well over half of the listed players will go back and continue to make an impact from their old stomping grounds. 

    Will any of the truly marquee free agents change uniforms, or is that a course of action reserved for the non-elites this summer? 

20. Shawn Marion

1 of 20

    Previous team: Dallas Mavericks

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 36

    Position: SF/PF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks


    Don't make the mistake of thinking "The Matrix" has stopped functioning.

    Though Shawn Marion might not be the stat-stuffing machine he was in his prime, he's still a valuable commodity who can make an impact in just about every area possible. The Dallas Mavericks can't afford to let him go, especially because he can line up at either forward spot with ease.

    After trading for Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks actually have a chance to be a decent defensive team next season—not a great one, but a good one.

    The stellar offense is already in place, as the pick-and-roll threat Chandler offers opens the perimeter up for Dirk Nowitzki, thereby negating the downgrade at the point from Jose Calderon to Raymond Felton.

    But without a standout wing defender like Marion to line up next to Chandler, the defense is going to be in shambles, which was ultimately the downfall of the 2013-14 squad—a squad that pushed the San Antonio Spurs further than any other opponent could.  


    Predicted landing spot: Dallas Mavericks

19. Vince Carter

2 of 20

    Previous team: Dallas Mavericks

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 37

    Position: SG/SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks


    "Word is that the Raptors have been kicking around the idea of making a free-agent play this summer to try to bring Vince Carter 'home' by trying to sign the former face of the franchise away from the Mavericks," reports ESPN's Marc Stein

    Stein continues by explaining that Carter is extremely happy serving as the emotional leader for the Dallas Mavericks. However, how could he turn down the cathartic opportunity to fill the same role for a youthful Toronto Raptors squad?

    The Raptors faithful—some of them, at least—might initially be hesitant to welcome the artist formerly known as "Air Canada" back north of the border, but they'd come around. After all, Carter has done a fantastic job of completing the transition from star to veteran leader and role player, thanks primarily to his shooting, occasional athletic exploits, defensive mentality and so much more. 

    He's exactly what Toronto needs. And, perhaps more importantly, the Raptors could be exactly what he needs. 


    Predicted landing spot: Toronto Raptors

18. Boris Diaw

3 of 20

    Previous team: San Antonio Spurs

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 32

    Position: PF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 9.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks


    Even though the San Antonio Spurs used the No. 30 pick in the 2014 NBA draft to select UCLA's Kyle Anderson, who has been compared to Boris Diaw almost incessantly, it would be foolish for them to let the latter go in free agency. Likewise, it would be silly for the versatile Frenchman to spurn the team that resuscitated his career by putting him in the perfect situation to excel. 

    During the playoffs this year, Diaw played beautiful basketball. 

    He was settling in on defense, distributing the ball to his teammates with flair and doing just about everything right. Throughout the five games of the Finals, he averaged 6.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest, remaining valuable even if he was one of the few Spurs whose field-goal percentage couldn't break the 40 percent benchmark. 

    Diaw might have to take a slight pay cut in order to re-sign with San Antonio, but that's worth doing, without question. 


    Predicted landing spot: San Antonio Spurs

17. Paul Pierce

4 of 20

    Previous team: Brooklyn Nets

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 36

    Position: SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks


    "Two things that could help the Nets keep Pierce: Garnett's return (the two have a strong bond), and money (Brooklyn owns Pierce's 'Bird rights' and can offer more money than anyone)," specualtes Andy Vasquez for NorthJersey.com.

    That's certainly appealing when discussing a potential return to the Brooklyn Nets, but it's more likely that Paul Pierce finishes out his career where he started it—yes, even if he has to take a discount rate in order to do so. 

    The 2013-14 campaign was the first time Pierce had donned anything other than the green uniforms of the C's (home jerseys and alternates notwithstanding) during his NBA career, and it'll also be the last. Even though Pierce put up decent numbers throughout his time in the Barclays Center and looked quite good during the postseason, the end of his career is near. 

    There's nowhere else that he can possibly call it quits. 


    Predicted landing spot: Boston Celtics

16. Marcin Gortat

5 of 20

    Previous team: Washington Wizards

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 30

    Position: C

    2013-14 per-game stats: 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks


    The Washington Wizards can't afford to let Marcin Gortat get away from them in free agency, even if they're left slightly overpaying for him. So long as it's a shorter contract, that's worth doing, as maintaining future financial flexibility for the inevitable max extension that Bradley Beal will receive is of paramount importance. 

    Apparently, the Wiz are already going after the big man, per CSN Washington's J. Michael:

    Now that the NBA draft is over, the full-court press is on to convince Marcin Gortat to remain with the Wizards, who are sending a contingent to Poland before the free-agent negotiation period opens July 1, CSNwashington.com has confirmed with multiple persons with knowledge of the situation. 

    That contingent reportedly includes head coach Randy Wittman, senior vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard and assistant coach Pat Sullivan, so it's quite clear that this isn't just a casual trip over to Gortat's home country. 

    Per Basketball-Reference.com, the 2013-14 Wizards scored an additional 3.9 points per 100 possessions when Gortat was on the court and allowed 7.5 fewer to opponents over the same span. Is it any wonder they're going all-in here? 


    Predicted landing spot: Washington Wizards

15. Trevor Ariza

6 of 20

    Previous team: Washington Wizards

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 28

    Position: SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks


    The Washington Wizards would love to bring back Trevor Ariza, but they can't offer him an immediate shot at a championship. Especially in the wake of Martell Webster's back injury and subsequent surgery, they could very well win him over with a huge deal.

    The Wiz have title aspirations, sure, but it's still abundantly clear that they aren't on the same level as a Miami Heat team that still has every chance to bring back its Big Three. 

    Even if LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all took less money (which remains unlikely), the Heat would have trouble convincing either Carmelo Anthony or Kyle Lowry to take a massive pay cut and join the squad as only one member of a quartet. That means it's on to secondary targets, of which Ariza is the most appealing. 

    The 28-year-old small forward fits in perfectly with the mentality in South Beach. 

    He's an excellent three-point shooter, connecting on 40.7 percent of his 5.7 attempts per game last season, and he's quite adept at locking down on the defensive end of the court. It's hard to find a better complementary player for this team, and his addition—so long as Pat Riley can find quality bench players—would make Miami title favorites. 



    Predicted landing spot: Miami Heat

14. Luol Deng

7 of 20

    Previous team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 29

    Position: SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks


    The Charlotte Hornets aren't done making splashes. 

    Signing Al Jefferson last summer was the first indication that this was becoming a legitimate destination for sub-elite free agents, and Michael Jordan's franchise has continued its upward trajectory. Adding Noah Vonleh, P.J. Hairston and Semaj Christon in the 2014 NBA draft gave them one of the Association's better draft-day hauls, and they still have plenty of money to spend in free agency. 

    Not only can they give Luol Deng as much money as anyone (realistically, of course), but they're a perfect fit for his talents. 

    Deng could fall back into a tertiary offensive role while focusing the majority of his talents and energy on the defensive end of the court. It's the same gig that made him such a special player while he was still with the Chicago Bulls. Deng's shot might have abandoned him in recent years, but let's not forget that he connected on 36.7 percent of his looks from beyond the arc on four attempts per game when he was more of an offensive role player for the 2011-12 Bulls. 

    Plus, the Hornets—strange as some might find it—would be bona fide contenders with him on the roster. A starting five of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Deng, Vonleh and Al Jefferson has tremendous two-way potential. 


    Predicted landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

13. Pau Gasol

8 of 20

    Previous team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 33 

    Position: PF/C

    2013-14 per-game stats: 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks


    Pau Gasol is one of the biggest question marks out there. 

    He could rejoin the Los Angeles Lakers, even though that seems rather unlikely, barring the simultaneous acquisition of Carmelo Anthony. He could wait for Phil Jackson to get creative and hypnotize him into signing for a ridiculously small deal. The Dallas Mavericks seemed like a great option for him prior to the trade for Tyson Chandler, which doesn't leave much playing time for Gasol now. 

    But the best option for him would be to join the Phoenix Suns, taking his talents to the desert in an effort to add a legitimate post presence to a Western Conference squad on the rise. The rivalry between the Suns and Lakers would make that a somewhat controversial move, but basketball reasons make it a good one. 

    Phoenix explored trading for Gasol this past season, and now they have a shot to acquire him without sacrificing any assets. Well, other than Channing Frye, who would be deemed expendable now that he's opted out of his contract. 


    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

12. Isaiah Thomas

9 of 20

    Previous team: Sacramento Kings

    Free-agent type: Restricted

    Age: 25

    Position: PG

    2013-14 per-game stats: 20.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.1 blocks


    The Sacramento Kings inadvertently tipped their hand when they drafted Nik Stauskas while Elfrid Payton was still on the board.

    By failing to acquire a point guard during the 2014 NBA draft, the Kings pigeonholed themselves into matching any offer sheet that Isaiah Thomas signs this offseason. After all, not exercising the right of first refusal would leave Sacramento without any quality options at the 1. 

    Kyle Lowry and Eric Bledsoe are the only other point guards among the top-20 free agents on this list, and neither will be coming to Sac-Town. Lowry wouldn't voluntarily do so when there are much better options, and Bledsoe will be too expensive for the Kings to pursue with any realism. 

    Essentially, the Kings are either bringing back Thomas, going to war with Ray McCallum as the lead floor general or signing an unappealing starting option like Kirk Hinrich or Shaun Livingston. 

    When they have the ability to do the first, why would they opt for the second or third route?


    Predicted landing spot: Sacramento Kings

11. Gordon Hayward

10 of 20

    Previous team: Utah Jazz

    Free-agent type: Restricted

    Age: 24

    Position: SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks


    The Utah Jazz are loaded with young talent. 

    This up-and-coming squad (though the true rise will be delayed for a year or two) could boast a starting five of Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter while having Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Jeremy Evans and Rudy Gobert coming off the bench. 

    That's an insane amount of upside, as Evans (26 years old) is the oldest player listed up above. But, of course, this plan requires bringing back Hayward. 

    And why wouldn't they? 

    The 24-year-old small forward was overburdened by offensive responsibilities during the 2013-14 season, but he still posted well-rounded numbers and made it clear that he could excel when he was surrounded with scoring talents who could draw away some of the immense defensive attention he received. He's not a superstar, nor should he be a No. 1 player on offense, but he's such a versatile and valuable player. 

    Plus, the Jazz have to spend money eventually. 


    Predicted landing spot: Utah Jazz

10. Chandler Parsons

11 of 20

    Previous team: Houston Rockets

    Free-agent type: Restricted

    Age: 25

    Position: SF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks


    The Houston Rockets decided to decline Chandler Parsons' team option, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, making him a restricted free agent rather than allowing him to play for a cheap salary this year and then hit the open market in the summer of 2015.

    Why? Because he could be allowed to walk away if the Rockets need the extra money to make an appealing offer to LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. 

    Houston has already traded Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first-round draft pick in 2015, and they'll likely try to do the same with Jeremy Lin. But even then, they can't make the most appealing pitch because there's a better destination out there (Chicago, which is in the Eastern Conference), and the Rockets would still require either target to take a huge pay cut. 

    Sorry, Rockets fans, but this team is going to strike out in the pursuit of both stars. And once that happens, the incredible consolation prize named Parsons is going to be coming back on an extended deal. 

    Fortunately, this is a win-win offseason for general manager Daryl Morey. 


    Predicted landing spot: Houston Rockets

9. Lance Stephenson

12 of 20

    Previous team: Indiana Pacers

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 23

    Position: SG

    2013-14 per-game stats: 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks


    As Vigilant Sports' Scott Agness explains, Larry Bird said still isn't sure what's going to happen during the free-agency period: 

    The only reason we didn’t pick a player is because we don’t know what is going to happen in free agency. And this is one year we are tight on money. If our guy wasn’t there, we weren’t going to take a stab at it because we got Lance [Stephenson], we got Lavoy [Allen], we got some other guys we’re looking at. In free agency, you never know where we’re going to be. Our owner (Herb Simon) said we can spend up to the tax. That’s what we’re looking forward to do.

    There's that quote about the tax again. The Pacers simply aren't willing to break the bank, which means we're either going to see Stephenson signing for a slight discount or Indiana taking a massive step backward. 

    "Lance wants to be here, there’s no question about it," said Bird, the team's president of basketball operations, via Agness'. "So now it’s just getting the terms right and try to get him back."

    Given the fit in the Pacers system, the knowledge that the team is competitive and the large role he's going to be granted, it's hard to see Stephenson failing to get those terms right. 


    Predicted landing spot: Indiana Pacers

8. Chris Bosh

13 of 20

    Previous team: Miami Heat

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 30

    Position: PF/C

    2013-14 per-game stats: 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks


    Will Chris Bosh opt out of his contract so that he can take a discounted salary while signing a long-term deal, or will he elect to capitalize on his potential to earn $20.6 million during the 2014-15 campaign?

    That's a good question. 

    Should Bosh opt out, will he go elsewhere, or will he elect to remain in South Beach? 

    That's not a good question. 

    It's fine to make the fundamental assumption that Bosh is going to be on the Heat in some manner going forward, as the only real uncertainty revolves around the nature of his contract. Barring a huge change, there's no reason for him to go elsewhere. 

    According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, it appears as though the answer to the first question is going to be a positive one, as Bosh is reportedly opting out and seeking a five-year deal worth $15 or $16 million per season. 


    Predicted landing spot: Miami Heat

7. Greg Monroe

14 of 20

    Previous team: Detroit Pistons

    Free-agent type: Restricted

    Age: 24

    Position: PF/C

    2013-14 per-game stats: 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks


    Greg Monroe is in quite the strange situation. 

    He's not a good fit on the current Detroit Pistons roster, as he's forced into playing power forward so that the younger and more promising Andre Drummond can play his natural center position. And by lining up at the 4, he forces Josh Smith to the perimeter, where Smoove is wont to loft up one ill-advised three-point attempt after another. 

    Yet he's a restricted free agent, so he can be brought back even if he signs what feels like an inevitable max offer sheet with another organization. And thus far, it seems as though the Pistons will indeed match any deal. 

    Apparently, they've already made a decision, per CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak, though Stan Van Gundy won't reveal what that decision is: 

    We’ve been through basically every million-dollar increment of an offer sheet he could get, and what will we do if he takes the option of signing an offer sheet and this is what he comes back with, what will we do. To me there’s not going to be any drama in it. We’ve already made that decision. We’ve already talked with ownership, so we know down the road, if July 11, let’s say, he presents us with an offer sheet at whatever dollar, we’ve made the decision already, so we know where we’re going, so there’s no anxiety for us in that.

    It's worth noting that right after SVG was brought aboard as the head coach and president of basketball operations in the Motor City, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweeted that both Van Gundy and the Detroit ownership group are quite fond of the big man in question. 


    Predicted landing spot: Detroit Pistons

6. Dwyane Wade

15 of 20

    Previous team: Miami Heat

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 32

    Position: SG

    2013-14 per-game stats: 19.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks


    Dwyane Wade is the Miami Heat. 

    Even if he's no longer the team's primary superstar and has seen his stock fade after an inexplicably bad postseason performance, especially against the San Antonio Spurs, Wade might as well have South Beach flowing through his veins. 

    He's spent the entirety of his professional career in Miami, building a reputation with the city, establishing charitable foundations and settling his family there. Wade has become one of the handful of players who, like the next player in these rankings, just can't put on a different jersey. 

    As is the case with Bosh, the question revolves around the nature of his new contractwhether he'll take less money now that he's opted out and help bring better free agents to the Heatnot whether he'll be on the roster. 


    Predicted landing spot: Miami Heat

5. Dirk Nowitzki

16 of 20

    Previous team: Dallas Mavericks

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 36

    Position: PF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks


    Can we just move on? 

    Bringing Dirk Nowitzki back to the Dallas Mavericks is just procedural. He may as well already be on the roster, even if the Mavs can't officially do anything until the moratorium lifts and free agency begins. 

    Just as Wade is a lifelong member of the Miami Heat, Dirk fills the same role with Dallas—except to an even greater extent. Thinking that he'd go anywhere else borders on blasphemy. 

    I mean, just look at some of the quotes from the early portion of the offseason. 

    "C'mon, you can have the keys to the city [of Dallas]," Nowitzki said during his sales pitch to LeBron James, as relayed by Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears. "It's all yours."

    "For sure," he explained about his desire to speak with Carmelo Anthony, per NBC Sports' Brett Pollakoff. "I mean, if Dallas is on his radar, he’s one of the best scorers we have in this league. He can score with the best of them. So if that’s really a possibility, then we’d love to have him."

    Don't those sound like he's already on board?


    Predicted landing spot: Dallas Mavericks

4. Kyle Lowry

17 of 20

    Previous team: Toronto Raptors

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 28

    Position: PG

    2013-14 per-game stats: 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks


    "Why would he leave? I ain't worried about that," DeMar DeRozan told reporters, including ESPN.com's Marc Stein, after the Toronto Raptors were knocked out of the NBA playoffs. 

    Lowry, coming off the best season of his career, is going to be a huge free-agent target for a lot of teams, but he's also in a great situation with the Raptors. Not only is he a leader, but he fits in well with the rest of the roster, using his bulldog mentality and overall toughness to spur Toronto onto bigger and better things. 

    General manager Masai Ujiri has never given any indication that Lowry is anything other than Toronto's No. 1 priority during the offseason, and the team has the ability to offer the 28-year-old floor general as much money as anyone else. 

    Lowry's second season north of the border shattered his reputation as an uncoachable player. And his third go-round, assuming he re-signs, could be even more successful. 


    Predicted landing spot: Toronto Raptors

3. Eric Bledsoe

18 of 20

    Previous team: Phoenix Suns

    Free-agent type: Restricted

    Age: 24

    Position: PG

    2013-14 per-game stats: 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks


    First, let's go over why Eric Bledsoe is ranked so much higher than you might have expected. 

    Though Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Kyle Lowry should all be better during the 2014-15 campaign, Bledsoe has youth on his side. He's only 24 years old, making him a franchise player, not a commodity who's already declining or about to enter the downward portion of the career. 

    Youth naturally makes free agents more appealing. 

    As for his landing spot, Bledsoe's future with the Suns was thrust into a bit more doubt when the franchise elected to draft Tyler Ennis during the first round of the 2014 NBA draft. However, since both Goran Dragic and Bledsoe are capable of lining up at the 2, Ennis can be viewed as a super sixth man. Plus, he was just a great value at No. 18. 

    "We'll try to do that [re-sign Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker] as soon as possible and not let it get to the point where you'd have to get an offer and we'd match it," Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough explained to The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro.

    Ennis is a luxury, a high-upside natural point guard who could develop into a quality NBA player down the road. Bledsoe, meanwhile, is already a fringe All-Star talent, one who's only going to get better. 

    It will take a max contract to pry this uber-athletic 1-guard from the Suns, and even that might not be enough. 


    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

2. Carmelo Anthony

19 of 20

    Previous team: New York Knicks

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 30

    Position: SF/PF

    2013-14 per-game stats: 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks


    Now it gets interesting. 

    Carmelo Anthony is being pursued by quite a few teams. At last count, there were seven primary suitors, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein—the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. 

    Each could be quite appealing to Anthony, but let's start eliminating contenders. 

    First, let's assume that the Heat can't free up enough money, as it's unlikely that both Bosh and Wade will take significant pay cuts, LeBron does the same and then Melo agrees to play as arguably a third wheel while taking less money

    Second, let's count out the Hawks. Even though their system is appealing, they've never had much success with marquee free agents, and they're dark horses anyway. 

    Next, it's time to knock out the Western Conference squads. Maybe that seems unfair, but Melo has to know that he has a much better shot at winning his first title while avoiding the gauntlet that's comprised of that half of the NBA's 30 teams. 

    That leaves us with the Knicks and Bulls. 

    So, which is it going to be—the hometown squad with Phil Jackson at the helm or the team with a better system and a more immediate shot at a championship? 

    The Zen Master can appeal to Anthony all he wants, but the potential starting five of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Anthony, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah is just too good for Anthony to turn down. Do note that this is purely speculation; Melo has given no indication that he's leaning in any direction up to this point. 

    It just makes the most sense. 


    Predicted landing spot: Chicago Bulls

1. LeBron James

20 of 20

    Previous team: Miami Heat

    Free-agent type: Unrestricted

    Age: 29

    Position: SF/PF

    2013-14 per-game Stats: 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks


    Now we come to the big daddy of 'em all. 

    Just as he was in 2010, LeBron James is the gem of this free-agent class, and any organization that has front office members in possession of a pulse is going to make some sort of attempt to lure in LeBron. 

    Is it possible the Miami Heat secured his services by trading for the draft rights to Shabazz Napier? After all, LeBron's feelings about the former Connecticut standout are rather well known, and he even tweeted that Napier was his favorite player in the draft after he became the newest member of the Miami organization. 

    But Napier isn't pushing this pursuit over the top; Miami is already there. 

    Not only can James avoid displacing his family again by staying in Miami, but the Heat are in great shape to compete for yet another title during the 2014-15 season—and beyond. Pat Riley is a mastermind in the front office, and it's quite likely that he will convince a number of solid free agents to take pay cuts and join the effort, shoring up what became a lackluster bench in the process. 

    Every other situation is fraught with far more uncertainty than this one. Until there's anything indicating otherwise, Miami remains the favorite. 


    Predicted landing spot: Miami Heat


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