The 2014 NBA offseason is already drawing plenty of interest with the draft and free agency approaching, but with the addition of former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony into the mix, this offseason could see blockbuster changes.
Here are the predicted landing spots for the top stars and a breakdown of the offseason’s biggest potential winners.
|2014 NBA Free Agency Predictions|
|Rank||Player||Free Agent Type||Predicted Landing Spot|
|1||LeBron James||Early Termination Option||Miami Heat|
|2||Carmelo Anthony||Player Option||Houston Rockets|
|3||Chris Bosh||Early Termination Option||Miami Heat|
|4||Dirk Nowitzki||Unrestricted||Dallas Mavericks|
|5||Tim Duncan||Player Option||San Antonio Spurs|
|6||Dwyane Wade||Early Termination Option||Miami Heat|
|7||Kyle Lowry||Unrestricted||Los Angeles Lakers|
|8||Eric Bledsoe||Restricted||Phoenix Suns|
|9||Luol Deng||Unrestricted||New York Knicks|
|10||Pau Gasol||Unrestricted||New York Knicks|
|Source: NBA.com. Predictions via Donald Wood|
The Offseason’s Biggest Potential Winners
While there is always the potential of a team like the Houston Rockets signing Carmelo Anthony and building their own Big Three, the team with the most potential this offseason is the Miami Heat.
The fact that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have the ability to leave via free agency has many basketball fans contemplating a breakup from the Big Three in Miami.
After hearing Heat President Pat Riley’s comments, though, any fear is likely unfounded.
When asked about the offseason, Riley told Michael Wallace of ESPN.com about his view of the contract situations and the long-term future of the franchise:
It's not about options. It's not about free agency. It's about what we've done over four years. It's about looking around the room now and seeing who is going to stand up. Those four years we've had with LeBron, we're hoping to turn them into eight or 10. We're not walking around on eggshells anymore.
How can we keep the guys together? We're prepared. We've got the main thing all written up. Whatever it takes to keep them together, we're ready for. Let's stay here and try to keep this thing going.
Miami’s offseason is about so much more than how James, Wade and Bosh handle their early-termination clauses. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, James will opt out of his deal, but he could easily return to Miami after testing the market:
With 14 of their 15 players from last season either becoming a free agent or having the option to become free agents, the franchise has the unique opportunity to completely retool.
James, Wade and Bosh are clearly the foundation of the franchise, but the players that the team surrounds the three stars with will be just as important. Role players proved to be the key in the San Antonio Spurs' victory over the Heat in the NBA Finals, and Miami proved with the loss in five games that it needs more quality depth.
With a whole new crop of veteran free agents looking to win a title, the possibility of signing several big names at a discount with the promise of having a chance at championship hardware could lead to another four years of title contention.
Look for possible free-agency fits like Steve Blake, Shawn Marion and Nate Robinson to be considered as offseason options if Riley can ensure that James, Wade and Bosh stay in Miami for at least one more season.
For Riley, he will be looking for even more long-term stability with the Big Three if possible.
*Stats via NBA.com.