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Predictions for Top 2014 NBA Free Agents

Before we know it, the 2013-2014 NBA Playoffs will be a thing of the past and the offseason will be in full swing. Heck, we are even hearing rumors while the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat battle for the title. 

The focus of this article will be to give you our predictions of where the top NBA free agents will land oncce the offseason gets going next month. We will base these predictions off rumors, reports and conjecture. Remember, it’s all fun and games until we hit on all our predictions, at which point we will be heading to Vegas.

 

1. LeBron James, Forward, Miami Heat

James has an early termination option and could very well decide to use it. There have been rumors linking him to the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers reecntly. In fact, the Lakers appear to be waiting until James makes a decition prior to hiring a head coach. Whether time will tell if that’s the best decision, they seem confident they can make a play for James should he decide to opt out. As it relates to the Cavaliers, the links are obvious there. He never ruled out returning and might like the new direction of the franchise.

At the end of the day, I think James does opt out of his contract but returns to the Heat on another deal. That seems to make the most sense at this point. Though, I wouldn’t rule out two other California teams in a potential sign an trade…the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. With all that said, expect James to be back in Miami this fall. Prediction: Miami Heat

2. Carmelo Anthony, Forward, New York Knicks

Where Anthony lands could very well be dictated by LeBron’s decision. These two are close friends and have long wanted to play together. Everything would have to line up just right for that to happen, but there are multiple scenarios where that might end up becoming a reality. In any event, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks have indicated to Anthony that he shouldn’t opt out of his current deal. With that said, it makes more business sense for Anthony to do just that. He likely only has one more max contract in him, and the 2014 offseason would be the best time for Anthony to hit on his value.

Pure conjecture here, but I am going to go out on a limb and indicate that Anthony decides to take just a tad less to team up with LeBron James in Miami. While there would be some questions about where each would play and who else Miami might retain, having two of the best players in the NBA on the court together in their prime would be a coup for the Heat. Not to mention the possibility of adding Anthony to the Big Three. The Warriors and Lakers have also expressed interest in Carmelo. Prediction: Miami Heat 

3. Chris Bosh, Forward, Miami Heat

Courtesy of ESPN

Courtesy of ESPN

It’s highly unlikely Bosh leaves the Heat, even if he decides to opt out of his contract. Barring Anthony coming to South Beach, which means the Big Three would need to opt out, Bosh will be more than happy to collect a $20.6 million salary in 2014-2015. If the Anthony’ scenario does work out, Bosh will opt out and take a lot less money this upcoming season. Either way, he will be playing for Miami this fall. Prediction: Miami Heat 

4. Dirk Nowitzki, Forward, Dallas Mavericks

Nowitzki has already indicated that he is likely to come to a contract agreement with Dallas. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for the future Hall of Famer. He’s a Mavericks lifer and will retire as a member of that franchise. Prediction: Dallas Mavericks 

5. Dwyane Wade, Guard, Miami Heat

Riots would occur in Miami if it replaces Wade with Anthony. It’s also something that team president Pat Riley is extremely unlikely to do. Much like Nowitzki, Wade will retire a member of the Heat. Whether he opts out in order to enable the Heat to bring in Anthony is likely the only question here. Prediction: Miami Heat 

6. Tim Duncan, Forward, San Antonio Spurs

I am more likely to steal Olivia Munn from Aaron Rodgers than Duncan leaving the Spurs for any other team in the NBA. The only question here is when Duncan will decide to hang up his cleats. Prediction: San Antonio Spurs

7. Eric Bledsoe, Guard, Phoenix Suns

Bledsoe is an interesting free-agent option. He averaged 17.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last year for Phoenix. It was also the first time in Bledsoe’s four-year career that he was a regular member of a starting lineup after backing up Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers in prior seasons. The point guard is now said to be looking for a max deal, which could complicate things further.

It was previously reported that the Suns were willing to match any offer for Bledsoe, but that didn’t include a suggestion that he was going to receive a max contract. The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be nearly $26 million under the cap with both Pau Gasol and Nick Young slated to be free agents. They could very well go after Bledsoe, especially with the need to replace an over-the-hill Steve Nash. Barring the Lakers being able to hit big time with Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James, they are going to have to look at mid-tier options. Projection: Los Angeles Lakers

 8. Luol Deng, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers might want to retain Deng, but he can’t be a primary option heading into the offseason. They have decisions to make all over the roster, including whether to hold on to the No. 1 overall pick or trade down for a lower selection and a player. In addition to that, they already have a small forward option in Anthony Bennett and may very well end up with Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker when all is said and done. If so, it’s highly unlikely Deng returns.

The 29-year-old Deng averaged less than 15 points and shot just 41 percent from the field after coming over from the Chicago Bulls in a trade. He’s nothing more than a complementary player at this point and should be paid like one. With Shawn Marion set to become a free agent and not bringing much to the table in Dallas, the Mavericks may very well look in another direction to complement power forward Dirk Nowitzki and guard Monta Ellis. Deng would be a rather solid No. 3 option for the team. Projection: Dallas Mavericks 

9. Greg Monroe, Forward/Center, Detroit Pistons

As a restricted free agent, the Pistons have an opportunity to match any offer Monroe receives. With an expected $21 million in cap room and no other free agent really worth retaining, it’s safe to say that is where the Pistons focus will be heading into the offseason. Barring a potential sign-and-trade deal, Detroit will likely be able to retain this up-and-coming center. Projection: Detroit Pistons

10. Kyle Lowry, Guard, Toronto Raptors

Courtesy of Sporting News

Courtesy of Sporting News

Lowry is one of the most underrated point guards in the entire NBA and will likely be moving on from the Raptors in the offseason. If he does test the free agent market rather than re-sign with Toronto, there will be plenty of potential suitors. Among the teams with the cap room who have a need for a starting point guard are the Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. With a nice amount of money to spend, Charlotte could be a potential landing spot for Lowry. It could pair him with Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, moving the latter to the two. After all, rumors suggest that the Hornets are looking for an upgrade over Gerald Henderson in the backcourt.  Projection: Charlotte Hornets 

Best of the Rest

Player Position Team Projection
Zach Randolph Power Forward Memphis Grizzlies Memphis Grizzlies
Lance Stephenson Shooting Guard Indiana Pacers Chicago Bulls
Rudy Gay Small Forward Sacramento Kings Sacramento Kings
Chandler Parsons Small Forward Houston Rockets Houston Rockets
Gordon Hayward Shooting Guard Utah Jazz Utah Jazz
Isaiah Thomas Point Guard Sacramento Kings Sacramento Kings
Pau Gasol Power Forward Los Angeles Lakers New York Knicks
Marcin Gortat Center Washington Wizards Washington Wizards
Trevor Ariza Small Forward Washington Wizards Golden State Warriors
Evan Turner Small Forward Indiana Pacers Dallas Mavericks
Paul Pierce Small Forward Brooklyn Nets Brooklyn Nets
Avery Bradley Shooting Guard Boston Celtics Boston Celtics
Ray Allen Shooting Guard Miami Heat Golden State Warriors
Boris Diaw Power Forward San Antonio Spurs San Antonio Spurs

Photo: Fox Sports