2018 NBA Free Agents

11. Dwyane Wade – Chicago Bulls

Likely Destination: Retirement

Dwyane Wade’s time in Chicago has been anything but stellar. With key players Jimmy Butler and Ramon Rondo departed, the Bulls don’t have much to surround Wade with for a run at the playoffs. Despite a wide open Eastern Conference with the transfer of star players to the Western Conference, the Bulls are well on the outside looking in. They can only hope in Zach Levine, Kris Dunn, and coach Fred Hoiberg to complement Wade and what playing ability he has left to salvage a playoff run. But in the end, if Wade will have to shoulder a lot of the burden, he won’t last into the next season to make a run at a title, as he’ll only be a liability and not an asset.

10. Brook Lopez – Los Angeles Lakers

Likely Destination: Los Angeles Lakers

With Lonzo Ball in Magic Johnson’s plans to run as the point guard, Brandon Ingram as the swing man, Julius Randle as the dominant post player, and Jordan Clarkson as the all-scoring guard, the Lakers only need to secure the center position. Trading for Brook Lopez, a big man who can score from mid-range, put the Lakers in the best shape as one of the up-and-coming teams from the bottom ranks of the NBA. He will be playing for a contender should the younger players blossom into their potential or greater. That should be the attraction he needs to stay in Los Angeles, regardless what he gets paid. He may also have some more All-Star company coming his way.

9. DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers

Likely Destination: Los Angeles Clippers

Again, this isn’t a hard decision. The center position is covered on most NBA teams, or at least is covered by players who won’t demand so high a contract. The Clippers have the ability to pay the contract with the expectation they will re-tool the team with Blake Griffin as the centerpiece. Contending teams can’t afford his salary, so Jordan can try to bring a championship to the Clippers and make a very great salary.

8. DeMarcus Cousins – New Orleans Pelicans

Likely Destination: Cleveland Cavaliers

This is under the assumption LeBron James will leave Cleveland. Without going too deep into the matter, Cousins will be having a tryout to show he can be a team player. In that aspect, that means on the court, in the locker room, in the media, and in the public. He was traded to New Orleans in haste and while he did well next to star player Anthony Davis, this 82-game and possibly further season will determine if he can shoulder handling a team on his own again. Despite the fact Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Love will be with him, he’s a more important factor as a big man and another scoring target.

7. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Likely Destination: Houston Rockets

Currently the Knicks are shopping Anthony and Houston is looking like the likely destination. It’s a contending team with James Harden and newly acquired Chris Paul playing there now. Anthony is running out of time to win a title, and Houston might be his best chance for the time being, as they are a team that can accommodate his current contract. Should they impress Anthony enough they should be able to keep him beyond this season. With the horrible days of a Phil Jackson-led Knicks team behind Anthony and the Knicks themselves, both sides benefit from a trade, the Knicks more than anything. Anthony must prove he’s willing to take a backseat in scoring and be able to bring some kind of defensive effort. More importantly, this move would reunite him with former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni who lost his job because of Anthony. Let’s see how this plays out going forward for the Rockets.

6. Isaiah Thomas – Boston Celtics

Likely Destination: Boston Celtics

Isaiah Thomas has established himself as Boston’s leading man. Even with Gordon Hayward alongside him, Thomas is still the top scoring option for coach Brad Stevens’ offense. Boston is the only team in the East that will rival LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and this year should be a time where Thomas will fight for a Finals chance. Should he succeed or not, he’s still Boston’s favorite to lead at point guard, even into his thirties.

5. Chris Paul – Houston Rockets

Likely Destination: Houston Rockets

While Chris Paul is teamed up with James Harden, and likely Carmelo Anthony, Paul should be determined to win a title in Houston. The attraction is there as a destination so with Paul testing the team’s ability to compete this season, he should find himself comfortable with the result and remain with Houston for the future, perhaps until retirement.

 

4. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

Likely Destination: Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell proved he wouldn’t be so eager to leave the city that built him. When Kevin Durant left last year, many OKC fans felt Westbrook would bolt as well. The Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks were reported destinations Westbrook would prefer because of his admiration for fashion. But he stayed, with a contingent 3-year extension prepared for him should he choose to remain with the Thunder. With that option available in the next off-season Russell will have the choice to leave–but with the opportunity to cash in, stay in a city where he’s greatly supported, remain the top player on the team, and be an attractive player for stars to play with, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are still an attractive destination for free agents and Russell has nothing to lose remaining with the Thunder.

3. Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder

Likely Destination: Los Angeles Lakers

Paul George’s trade to the Thunder was a last-ditch effort from the Pacers to salvage a season and a roster. The return on George was nothing valuable but George professed his desire to leave and go to the Lakers. This season with the Thunder is a one year loan. George is an attractive player to play with and may just lure one more big star to the Staples Center for a shot at a title.

2. Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors

Likely Destination: Golden State Warriors

He’s won one championship. Why not win another, and another. Kevin Durant has made the Golden State Warriors the No. 1 team in the NBA, and as long as he remains with them, both stand the best chances of winning NBA titles for at least the next three years. He has the opportunity to make maximum salary during the next offseason but may once again leave money on the table as he did this year to keep a strong squad in the Bay Area.

1. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

Likely Destination: Los Angeles Lakers

Magic Johnson knows to pull this off it’ll mean having LeBron James, Paul George, and Brook Lopez splitting the cap space three ways to accommodate. Plus it means managing the contracts of the younger players, but this is the ideal move for LeBron. He’s brought the championship to Cleveland. He’s gone from a player, to a superstar, to a mogul. LeBron is truly a brand more than he is a great player. The debates about being the greatest player ever are becoming more redundant as the Michael Jordan comparison is losing its flavor. LeBron has the opportunity to go to a big market and increase his exposure as a brand even more than now. The player personnel the Lakers have fully compliments LeBron and he’s proven he makes players around him better. J.R Smith and Iman Shmupert are examples of that impact. The Lakers are the team with the room to build a super team to counter the Warriors in the Western Conference.

For more NBA coverage tune into MFST and follow Dillon Davis-Tirado on Twitter @thedavistirado.

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