NBA free bet2018 NBA Free Agency Predictions for Top Stars Expected to Hit the Market

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It sounds crazy to say this ahead of anNBAfree-agency period likely to feature some of the Associations juggernauts likeLeBron JamesandKevin Durant, but its trueno one should expect a summer spending frenzy.

Frankly, there isnt enough money to go around.

Right now, there are just seven teams expected to have significant cap space next summer,Brian Windhorst and Bobby Markswrote for . Last year, 10 teams had significant space. In 2016, more than 25 teams had at least $10 million in room.

Even the current number of seven might be misleading. Several of the clubs with the wiggle room to take on salary are committed to years-long rebuilding projectsthe Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, for instancemaking them both less likely to spend and less appealing to possible targets.

But that doesnt mean the 2018 offseason will be a snoozer. There are still difference-making free agents up for grabs, and our crystal ball provides some clarity on where they could land.

Ohios finest remains the singularly most dominant force in the sport. As such, any of his free-agency ventures should not be taken lightly.

Even though hopeful employers cant start their recruiting pitches for a few more months, several cities are already vying for the Kings services. Fans inPhiladelphiaandLos Angeleshave taken to billboard advertisements in hopes of luring the four-time MVP.

There might be some merit behind those efforts. The RingersKevin OConnorreported,Ive consistently heard from multiple league sources that LeBron currently has only four teams on his list: the Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets, and 76ers.

All of them should appeal to James in some fashion.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are his hometown team, a club he carried to championship heights just two seasons back. The Houston Rockets are this seasons winningest squad and the employers of James banana-boat buddy,Chris Paul. The Philadelphia 76ers are catapulting out of their multiyear tank job and reaping the rewards of The Process through Joel Embiids All-Star ascension and Ben Simmons Rookie of the Year bid.

But the Los Angeles Lakers have a rich history to sell, and a prominent member of that history is doing the sellingfive-time-champion-turned-leading-executive Magic Johnson. James, a well-versed student of the sport, wont take their interest lightly.

L.A. bolstered its chances in the trade-deadline dealironically enough, with Clevelandinvolving Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye. By brokering that blockbuster, the Lakers created a path to two max-contract slots.

In other words, the Purple and Gold can pitch James not only on their current players, but also on a second max recipient to-be-named-later. Since the current core is showing clear progress12-8 since the start of Februaryand the roster can be enhanced by another star joining the fold, the Lakers might be too tempting to pass up.

All apologies toRussell Westbrookand the card-carrying members of the Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase, but All-Star swingman Paul George is the second part of the Lakers grandiose plan.

George, as youve been told a thousand times, is a native of nearby Palmdale, California. He also grew up idolizing Lakers legendKobe Bryant, perUSA TodaysSam Amick.

Thats part of the reason the George-to-the-Lakers free-agency smoke is as thick as L.A.s smog.

But the more pertinent part of this narrative comes from the eight-year veteran himself.

Hes been a transparent target of the Lakers for what feels like years, to the point the franchise was hit with a$500,000 tampering finefor vocalizing that interest.

At any point, George could have killed this plot line by declaring a lack of interest in the franchise. Hes done the opposite instead.

Last summer,Adrian Wojnarowski, then with The Vertical, reported that George informed the Indiana Pacers he intended to leave in 2018, preferably for the Los Angeles Lakers. Mind you, this was mid-June 2017, before Lonzo Ball joined the club, Brandon Ingram took a leap and Kyle Kuzma became a household name.

Fast forward to February, and George was asked about the possibility of a homecoming. While he didnt commit to anything, he left the door wide open.

Of course, L.A. is home, so thats always going to draw the attention, George told ESPNsRachel Nichols. But well see. I wont rule anything out.

To be clear, free agents should welcome as many options as possible. That gives them maximum leverage at the negotiating table. Not to mention, it would make for an easy return to the Oklahoma City Thunder should they suddenly realize their potential and embark on a lengthy playoff run.

But everything from OKCs inconsistent play to the deep-rooted L.A. connection makes George look like a future Laker.

Is it disrespectful to list Durant third here when he might be the leagues second-best player?

No, not when his free agency appears almost certain to be devoid of drama.

As Durant told The Athletics Anthony Slater, he isnt leaving the defending champion Golden State Warriors:

But ask yourself, why would Durant want to go anywhere else? Exactlyhe wouldnt.

He plays a major role on a perennial title contender without alpha-dog pressure (thanks toStephen Currys presence). Whats not to like? Bleacher ReportsGrant Hugheswrote. Lock it in. Durant isnt leaving the Warriors.

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