I’ve decided that I’d make some last minute free agency predictions regarding some of the marquee free agents of this summer’s free agent class. These aren’t based on what I want to happen; rather, what I think actually will happen in this highly anticipated free agency. So here are some of the top names of this summer and where I think they end up.
1. LeBron, Wade and Bosh will all resign in Miami. Simply put, Miami gives them the best chance to win. Assuming that they take a pay cut to bring in more help, they should continue to be one of the favourites to win NBA championships. Who that help will be is still a mystery, but the fact that they were all willing to opt out, especially Wade and Bosh is, in my opinion a good sign that they are willing to take less money in order to win.
2. Carmelo Anthony will sign with the Bulls. There are a few reasons why he would do this. For one, the best chance of him winning is staying in the Eastern Conference. Second, from my understanding all the Bulls would need to do is amnesty Carlos Boozer and they would have enough money to sign him. Of course, this will require a pay cut, but Melo has already said that he is willing to sacrifice that in order to win. Third, the Bulls are almost tailor made for Anthony. He can take a lot of shots on offense and has enough defense around him in the starting lineup in Butler, Gibson and Noah. Fourth, without Rose, this team would be a title contender. With a healthy Rose, they might even be the favourites to win it all.
3. Kyle Lowry will sign with the Heat and be part of what keeps the Big Three in Miami. Point guard isn’t the position that’s in need of the biggest upgrade, but the interest between Lowry and the Heat is definitely mutual. While it’s doubtful that he continues to put up the numbers that he did this past season for the Raptors, he doesn’t need to be the alpha dog for Miami. Lowry has already said that he wants the chance to win. He’ll get that in Miami as long as his attitude doesn’t get in the way.
4. Pau Gasol will sign with the Knicks. They don’t have a lot of cap room, but I’m sure they can find a way. It may even include a sign and trade for someone like J.R. Smith. Although he’s said that he would consider a return to the Lakers, I don’t think that he wants to continue to be the talk of trade rumours all the time, which he seems to have been the last few seasons with the Lakers. With the Knicks, Gasol will be reunited with Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon as they try to recreate a winning team in New York.
5. Chandler Parsons will resign with the Rockets. Not only because I think the Rockets will miss out on the free agents they want, but also because he’s a restricted free agent, meaning they can match any offer to resign him. Parsons is one of the more under rated players in the NBA and is a great fit with the Rockets right now. Plus, I think he’s a much better fit next to Harden and Howard than Melo would be. He’s going to get paid this off season, but he’s worth it.
6. Lance Stephenson will resign with the Pacers. It’s really tough to see anyone other than the Pacers willing to pay the amount of money it will require to get Stephenson. Partly due to the amount he’s supposedly looking for, as well as the fact that he’s not exactly the most mature player. However, he was one of the most improved players in the league last season and provides a lot of energy and toughness on both ends of the court for the Pacers. The Pacers are likely going to make changes to their team this offseason, but I don’t think one of them will be at shooting guard.
7. Dirk Nowitzki will resign with the Mavericks. Obviously, I probably didn’t even need to bother including this one. Dirk is a Mav for life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
8. Eric Bledsoe will sign with the Lakers. They are a desperate team right now and will probably be willing to make a compelling offer to Bledsoe. The Suns may not want to let him go for nothing, so perhaps a sign and trade deal can be worked out. But I think the Lakers will offer him a contract that is too much for the Suns. Besides, they just drafted Tyler Ennis and have the NBA’s most improved player in Goran Dragic at point guard so they really have no need to keep Bledsoe on the roster.
9. Luol Deng will sign with the Lakers. The Lakers need more of a defensive forward who can also help them to win now with Kobe. Deng provides immediate help while also being young enough to stay with the team in the future. Once the Lakers miss out on the other big names, they will have no choice but to settle on the second-tier players like Deng.
10. Marcin Gortat will sign with the Lakers. For almost the exact same reasons as Deng, except that they need a center to fill out their starting lineup. Gortat, in the right system can be a very effective player as seen in Phoenix and Washington. If the Lakers can find a trade partner for Steve Nash, I think it’s very possible for the Lakers to sign all three of these players and become a playoff team once again.