With Day 1 of free agency in the books, rumors are still swirling regarding the NBA's most coveted free agents.
There has been a ton of interest in some of the game's best free agents, but deals have yet to materialize. The beginning of NBA free agency is often the time for lesser players to ink deals with their new teams. Not until later in the offseason do the big names sign, as they usually wait out the other teams for more money or more help.
The sales pitches to these players always start early in the offseason, though, and that has already rung true. Below, you'll find the latest rumors regarding three of the NBA's most coveted free agents.
Not every team can fit LeBron James into the budget, as the best player in the world will certainly command a hefty payday this summer. But just how hefty? Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote about James' demands:
Teams that contact James will be informed that he wants no less than the maximum salary number for next season, sources said. The max number for James is projected to be about $20.7 million. In 2010, James accepted a pay cut when he signed with the Miami Heat, taking less than the maximum salary to help make space for other free agents.
This rumor will likely eliminate teams looking to add multiple superstars this offseason. It's unlikely that a team will be able to find room in the budget to add James and a player such as Carmelo Anthony, who is also a free agent.
Now that James has two NBA Finals championships under his belt, it appears as if he'll seek money over the chance to win. That said, several successful teams should have the cap space to swing a deal for him.
In the end, it's hard to see him go anywhere but back to Miami. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have both opted out, leaving plenty of space to re-sign James. That shouldn't signal the end of either Wade's or Bosh's career in Miami, however. Wade will likely sign for less than he made last year, and Bosh could as well.
James deserves to be paid like the top player in the NBA. A team will give him that money. I think it will be Miami.
Prediction: Miami Heat, max contract
Kyle Lowry has established himself as one of the better point guards in the NBA. He averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 points per game last season with the Toronto Raptors, and that could lead to a nice new contract.
Sam Amick of USA Today tweeted a list of teams that might look to give him that contract:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Raptors have already had discussions with their free agent:
Lowry was a big reason for Toronto's success last season, but many fans still don't know everything he can bring to the table. That'll happen when you play in Canada. There's nothing wrong with the city of Toronto, but Lowry could look to enter a bigger market that gets more national attention.
Of the teams Amick listed above, I feel like it's safe to rule out the Heat and the Houston Rockets. The Heat have Shabazz Napier and Norris Cole, while the Rockets have Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley at the point.
If the Los Angeles Lakers are able to shed Steve Nash's contract, the purple and gold would be a perfect fit for Lowry. He'll get the opportunity to play in a big market, and the Lakers will also pay him well.
Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers, five years, $50 million
Like Lowry, Luol Deng has no shortage of suitors. Amick tweeted the teams interested in the small forward:
Deng was very good last year for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. His skills as an on-ball defender make him a useful weapon for every team in the NBA, but not every franchise has the resources to make a deal.
The Dallas Mavericks would be an interesting fit, as Deng could essentially replace Shawn Marion (also a free agent) on the roster. Both players have similar talents, but Marion is 36, and Deng is just 29.
Signing younger talent around Dirk Nowitzki will bring more success to Dallas next season. The Mavericks were already the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference this season, but fresher legs might have given them a better shot against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.
Dallas has some money to burn and wants to give Nowitzki one last shot at the NBA Finals. They'll grab Deng to help the cause.
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks, four years, $32 million
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR.
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