LeBron James (Prediction: Stays in South Beach)
King James has been the best player in the world, and has won back-to-back titles since choosing Miami. The bookends of those 4 seasons, they reached the finals and lost to a team from the state of Texas, Dallas and San Antonio. Yes, James overachieved by taking Cleveland to an unbelievable 66-win season and a finals appearance, and yes they lost to the Spurs too. The thing is, he learned what Dwyane Wade learned, a career on South Beach with Pat Riley might be the most enviable in the league. Riley will do anything to surround his superstar with a capable supporting cast, even if that means replacing those other 2 guys. Let’s pla by any y devil’s advocate however, what other place could LBJ go to, in order to both win and establish is “legacy” so to speak? Cleveland would be an obvious choice, nonetheless James is a business man and that doesn’t appear to be enticing by any means. They don’t have their act together in the front office first and foremost, are struggling to find a head coach, and the team lacks discipline and professionalism (also described by Luol Deng). The Knicks, would a business man put all of his eggs in Phil Jackson the team president, a rookie in that specific position? The Lakers front office has changed face since the passing from Jerry Buss, now run by Jimmy the son. Of course big cities are tempting, especially with history, which brings up the Chicago Bulls. The team thought to have been in the top 3 list of teams during his last free agency. Going to a city with die-hard fans (it sure did look like Miami was full of bandwagon fans booing and leaving early), with a statue of the greatest of all time (should not have to mention His Airness), there might be another franchise where King James can get coronated by following those footsteps like no other.
Carmelo Anthony (Prediction: Leaves the Big Apple for the Windy City)
A top-3 scorer throughout his career, Melo just hasn’t been a guy to lead a team and win in the playoffs. That’s not a role everybody can step into, so appreciate this talent for what it is and you better believe he’s on his way out of New York. Carmelo wants to be part of history, not just another player that can score the ball on non-championship teams. He has had his moments of picking up his intensity towards rebounding and defense, the right situation could further develop Anthony into an all-around player. Chicago seems like the perfect fit: returning former MVP Derrick Rose, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, defensive team honorable mentions Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson (also runner-up for 6th Man of the Year). The Bulls have lacked in scoring, even when Rose was in the lineup, this would make them the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The pressure is on for him to win now if he wants his name etched with the greats, the Knicks and Lakers are in the midst of rebuilding/reloading. Miami, not buying it, that would be just as surprising as LeBron’s decision despite the entertaining thought.
Dirk Nowitzki (Prediction: Everything’s bigger in Texas and there’s no place like home)
Likely to stay in Dallas, he’ll be recruiting other free agents to join a veteran supporting cast that knows how to win. Quietly, this team may not be far from competing for another ring, after all they are one of two teams to be the Heat in a series. Dirk is as good as ever, and if you really watch his defense has been a focus with head coach Rick Carlisle. Mark Cuban has done all he could with the front office to allocate talent, and it’s evident he loves the Mavericks. With seasoned guys like Monte Ellis and Vince Carter, expect them to go after an available point guard (free agent Kyle Lowry or Rajon Rondo via trade) or big man to pair with him (Pau Gasol, who has experience with current point guard Jose Calderon playing in Spain).
Chris Bosh (Prediction: Returns to Miami)
Immediately after the Finals, Bosh has expressed his desire for the big 3 to stay together for unfinished business. Understandable, thing is he was obviously the guy lost in the shuffle. The all-star just didn’t get the touches he received back in Toronto, where his numbers dropped from 24 & 11 to 16 & 6 (points/rebounds). Things could very well work out in Miami, no team in the East has stood in their way of a series for the title. Although Dwyane Wade still posted averages of 19-4-4 (points-rebounds-assists), but there’s only one ball for 3 potential Hall of Famers to share and Bosh should be featured more if they agree to extend. The Rockets are looking to upgrade, pairing him with Dwight Howard along the front line would be the best in basketball. Then again, D12 wanted more offensive opportunities with the Lakers, and the go-to guy is James Harden (5th leading scorer in the NBA). The Texas-native would be welcomed to H-town. Some other teams that could join the hunt are the Warriors Hornets. Golden State could totally go Euro-style with the splash brothers/versatile wings, Charlotte made strides by reaching the playoffs after signing Al Jefferson. How about a throwback team winning with bigs, Bosh/Jefferson in the East?
Luol Deng (Prediction: He’s off to see the Wizards)
This might be the solution for the dethroned champs, a guy that has had to guard LeBron James throughout his career. One of the better defenders in the game for awhile now, Deng provides a 3rd scoring option and is a starter that does all the little things (loose balls, deflections, gets on the floor, and makes the extra pass). A lot of teams will dial his number, small forwards are hard to find and there’s no way he sticks with Cleveland. Plan B for him and his former team Chicago, would be to reunite if neither found what they were looking for. Maybe Indiana lures him in so they could move Paul George to the 2. You can include just about any playoff-caliber team for his services, such as Washington, a young team and both parties would mutually benefit if they linked up. The young dynamic backcourt could use a leader by example, someone considered a pro’s pro. He would fill the lanes, play within the flow of the offense, get the talented bigs involved (Nene Hilario, Marcin Gortat if he re-signs), and his locker room presence would be huge. Some other squads that he would pay immediate dividends for are New York, Denver, and honestly any team from Texas (Spurs, Rockets, Mavericks). He wants to be in a winning situation, and he’s the type of two-way player that would basically fit in with any team.
Rudy Gay (Prediction: Return of the Lake Show?)
Who doesn’t want a small forward that tallier 20-5-3, whether it be in Toronto or Sacramento? Rudy Gay has flirted with stardom, the all-star could be the final piece for a lot of playoff teams to get over the hump. Re-signing with the Kings would net him the most currency, and that possibility is probably 50-50. Maybe he’s a guy the Knicks target if Melo bounces on them. Dallas is interested in pretty much any all-star caliber player, Some teams might not want the attitude, others may feel they can work with him. His numbers may have been better in the east, but he hasn’t played much in the west and his skills are better suited for a style like the Suns or Lakers. Being in an uptempo offense like those, where he gets to freelance offensively and fastbreak, we could see his return to the all-star game. Expect some of the middle of the crop teams to try to woo him with a few extra dollars, he will have a fair share of suitors and we will find out if he wants to win now or simply cash in. Say the Lakers didn’t get a bigger name this offseason, although I think it’s inevitable that they get Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love (UCLA alumni), they have to get somebody to help Kobe Bryant in his final seasons in head coach Mike D’ Antoni’s offense.
Often, a rebuilding team gives in and trades their best player. Kevin Love will be shipped out of Minnesota either this summer, or by the trade deadline. They have to get something for him. NY relied on their name and mystique in terms of Melo. Love to Golden State could pick up steem as they have the assets to pull it off. Say some combination of David Lee, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, or Harrison Barnes.
Rajon Rondo sounds like a man on his way out of Boston in due time (by way of trade). Miami? H-Town? Dallas? Lakers even? Is D-Wade recruiting in the picture above?
Dwyane Wade is a Miami Heat lifer, expect him to retire with his father-like figure, Pat Riley.
Ray Allen had a great career, he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. I think it’s safe to say his time has come, that’s not to say he wouldn’t make an impact because he would. I would say Mike Miller is joining him, we know Shane Battier is ready to be a college analyst.
Mario Chalmers has played his last game in South Beach, the starting point guard didn’t show up in the finals and was eventually bench. Throughout Miami’s success he has been a guy that got into quarrels on the court with teammates. Someone I know brought up the fact that Mario Chalmers kind of plays like Kyle Lowry. Lowry does it better and could be an upgrade for Miami. Kyle Lowry continues to be a box-filler, the underrated point guard will get a lot of calls and deservedly so. Don’t think he stays in Toronto, they could build off of last year but a better team will probably pry him away.
Dallas is interested in Deron Williams, I don’t get the fascination with this guy and never have. He was always a good player, not great nor a leader and a coach-killer. He would only be available through trade.
Love me some Lance Stephenson, the energetic two-way player posted the most triple-doubles in the NBA. Indiana would be wise to hang onto him, not sure he wants to be there however. Mediocre teams will call for his services,so will playoff teams. He may prefer to win but can he resist a team willing to overpay?
Zach Randolph is thought to extend his deal with the Grizzlies. The longer it takes, the more I think they’re targeting Pau Gasol to play with brother Marc Gasol.
Paul Pierce can still play, perhaps limited minutes during the regular season, but he’s a vet that wants to play for a ring. He brings leadership and a clutch scorer. Brooklyn is still a possibility, how about the Thunder, Heat, Bulls, or Spurs? Odds are one of them is interested.
Shawn Marion is likely on his way out of Dallas. He’s been linked as a plan B for the Bulls so far, but really any contending team that offers him a deal will be happy to bring him on board.
Teammate Vince Carter is likely to stay with Dirk and the Mavericks (sounds like a band).
Nick Young is likely on his way out of L.A. One of two things will happen, a good coach will pick him up as a 6th man, or, he’ll start on a mediocre team that overpays for him to chuck up shots all season because they couldn’t lure a better player (like the Hornets got Al Jefferson).
Danny Granger will be an under-the-radar name to keep track of. You would think he finds a starting gig somewhere.
You would also think that Boris Diaw is a happy camper in San Antonio and would re-sign for less money than other teams may offer him.
Jodie Meeks, no news on him yet but I see no reason against him being a Laker next season.
Patty Mills finished with a bang in the Finals, the Spurs don’t have the funds to keep him and the Knicks are rumored to be immediate suitors.
Devin Harris has been a guy I’ve wondered why bounces from team to team. He would be a good guard off the bench to have in the rotation. The only rumor I’ve heard so far is that the Bulls want him. What does that mean for Hinrich? Or D.J. Augustine.
Kirk Hinrich isn’t in it for a big day day, he probably wouldn’t get one but the point is, he wants to be in Chicago.
D.J. Augustine was utilized like Nate Robinson and C.J. Watson were, he got to handle the rock and score out of the pick & roll. You would think some teams liked what he displayed, you would also think he wants to play for Coach Thibs and the Bulls.
Darren Collison has a player option, the former UCLA Bruin should cling onto CP3 and Doc Rivers in L.A. He’s in a good situation to grow, then again there are plenty of teams in need of a point guard.
Andrew Bynum has expressed interest in returning to the Lakers. That is all.
Jermaine O’ Neal had a solid season for the Warriors, new coach throws his future with them in the air. Don’t think he retires though, he’ll latch on somewhere.
Chris Kaman might have a couple seasons in him, whether it be off the bench or a starting center, it just won’t be in a Lakers uniform.
Jordan Hill might wind up on a weaker team but get more minutes to showcase himself, much like DeJaun Blair did.
Blair went from the Spurs to the Mavericks, he likely re-signs.
Emeka Okafor, a career full of injuries unfortunately, he should garner more interest than Greg Oden.
Luke Ridnour is a nice combo guard off the bench, the journeyman might find a home with the right team. Kind of like dangling fruit, has sleeper signing written all over it.