NBA Free Agency 2014: Predicting Where Unsigned Stars Will Land

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NBA Free Agency 2014: Predicting Where Unsigned Stars Will Land
USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NBA free-agency class isn't deep, but it has something every team in the league wants.

LeBron James.

He, along with Carmelo Anthony, opted out of their contracts to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Their decisions on where to sign are the two biggest stories of the offseason. The teams they choose will almost certainly become championship contenders, if they aren't already.

Here are predictions for where these unsigned stars will land.

 

SF Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Prediction: Chicago Bulls

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein reported that in the running with the Knicks for Anthony's services are the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. Chicago makes the most sense, and here's why.

First off, the Lakers make little sense. With a nearly vacant roster, Los Angeles' greatest selling point is its massive market. If Anthony wants a massive market, he can re-sign in New York for more money.

Neither of those will happen, though, because they don't have championship-caliber rosters. Neither do the Mavericks, which have the least to offer. Even Dirk Nowitzki called signing Anthony unrealistic, according to ESPN's Bryan Gutierrez.

Chicago and Houston would instantly become championship contenders upon Anthony's arrival, and that's something none of the other three can say. On the Rockets, though, Anthony would need to do more sharing than he's accustomed to. James Harden and Dwight Howard both averaged at least 26.0 points per game in the playoffs this year.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Houston doesn't need Anthony for his offense. It finished second in the league in scoring. It just needs him for his talent, which doesn't make for a flawless fit.

The Bulls are a flawless fit. They finished with the best defense and the worst offense in the league this season. Anthony and the return of Derrick Rose would fix their offense, and they'd still have a defense superior to that of the Rockets.

While Anthony would need to share touches with Harden and Howard in Houston, Rose is the only player in Chicago who needs the ball. Throw in the fact that Chicago boasts a massive market as well and the Bulls couldn't be a better fit.

 

SF LeBron James, Miami Heat

Prediction: Miami Heat

Obviously there's no shortage of teams that dream of signing James. ESPN's Chris Broussard listed the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Lakers as teams which have already started to adjust their rosters in order to add him.

It's just difficult to imagine James, after four straight NBA Finals appearances, signing anywhere that isn't stacked. Those teams aren't stacked. Of course, Cleveland has the "hometown" appeal that will continue to connect it to James as a result.

But he isn't signing with the Cavaliers. James isn't a moron. No one in their organization is remotely as brilliant as Pat Riley.

Riley has five rings as a head coach and two as an executive. And James wouldn't trade him for a Cleveland front office that rehired and re-fired Mike Brown in one year, rented Spencer Hawes and Luol Deng to miss the playoffs in one of the worst conferences in professional sports history and managed to draft just one franchise player with four top-four picks in three years. Oh yeah, and this happened:

I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. You can take it to the bank ... I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels. Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that's simply not how it works. 

David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Sorry, Dan Gilbert, players don't win you rings after you write character-assassinating open letters about them. That's simply not how it works.

By opting out, all James is doing is pushing the Heat to retool its roster. James witnessed Riley build a championship roster out of Dwyane Wade and little else in one summer. Rebuilding a championship roster out of NBA Finals runner-ups isn't nearly as difficult a task.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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