NBA Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Top Stars by Analyzing Hottest Rumors

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2014

MIAMI, FL - April 6: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on while on the court during the game against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on April 6, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2014 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Free agents like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh are on the cusp of finding new homes.

But understand that their process will pull at the heartstrings of many a fanbase first as if seemingly trying match the brutality of The Decision so many years ago (Meanwhile, LeBron is doing a good job of making it seem like a Part 2 is in the works.).

Players like Bosh may not incite a bidding war of epic proportions like Anthony has, but he's every bit as important in a championship puzzle as are a bevy of talented names on the market.

Let's go ahead and cement some destinations for some of the market's bigger attractions based on the latest batch of rumblings heard around the league.

Paul Pierce Might Land with Clippers...Or Not

Uncredited/Associated Press

There is something poetically perfect about a former star intent on lengthening his pro career switching teams to join a former coach who has previously gotten the most out of said star.

With the Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce partnered with coach Doc Rivers for years in what was a fruitful relationship. Pierce is 37 years old now and once again a free agent with plenty of potential suitors lining up for his services, per's Marc Stein:

But Rivers' Los Angeles Clippers have been, and will continue to be, the favorite in the minds of many, which makes sense not only for the reunion aspect but considering the team has a hodgepodge of names such as Matt Barnes in a position that could use an upgrade.

One problem—Pierce's former team, the Brooklyn Nets, don't seem too hot on the idea of a sign-and-trade arrangement, as noted by ESPN's Chris Broussard:

The Nets' position makes sense. The Clippers don't exactly have an attractive host of trade assets they would be willing to surrender, and there are plenty of teams who will want a shot at a veteran like Pierce, even if his numbers continue to dip:

'09-'10 BOS 71 .472 4.4 3.1 18.3
'10-'11 BOS 80 .497 5.4 3.3 18.9
'11-'12 BOS 61 .443 5.2 4.5 19.4
'12-'13 BOS 77 .436 6.3 4.8 18.6
'13-'14 BKN 75 .451 4.6 2.4 13.5

Look, the Nets can try all they want, but if Rivers truly wants Pierce, there is not much that can stop the reunion from happening. In fact, it seems a guarantee, although The Truth will have to wait for names like James, Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Chandler Parsons to set the market with new deals first. 

Prediction: Pierce joins the Clippers 

Chris Bosh Is a Hot Commodity

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

We seem a long way from knowing how the drama in Miami will unfold in regards to the Big Three, but the longer the ordeal stretches out, the better the chances are one of the critical elements winds up bolting town.

That element might just be Bosh, who can presumably be lured away from taking a lesser deal—so that James can have a max contract—by another franchise willing to back up an armored truckload of cash to his residence.

In a surprising turn of events, according to Stein, the team willing to do so might just be the Houston Rockets:

Now that is an intriguing fit. While Bosh's numbers have dwindled at a consistent rate, the fact he is a stretch 4 presence who can shoot from anywhere on the court would keep defenses honest and force them to commit fewer resources in the paint to deal with Dwight Howard.

'09-'10 TOR 70 10.8 2.4 1.0 24.0
'10-'11 MIA 77 8.3 1.9 0.6 18.7
'11-'12 MIA 57 7.9 1.8 0.8 18.0
'12-'13 MIA 74 6.8 1.7 1.4 16.6
'13-'14 MIA 79 6.6 1.1 1.0 16.2

It would take some financial wrangling to give Bosh the cash he desires, but if the big man wants to go to a contender and rake in fair dough, Houston is his spot. But as most have suggested, it is simply too difficult to see him betraying his original Big Three.

Prediction: Bosh re-ups with Miami

Carmelo Back to New York?

Talk about anticlimactic.

It was tough to see Anthony leaving New York in the first place, but add in the addition of Phil Jackson—who orchestrated a superb 2014 draft class—and a recent report from Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, and it seems all but destiny that he remains in the Big Apple:

Anthony had direct questions for Jackson and coach Derek Fisher during a Thursday meeting in Los Angeles, and Anthony's increased confidence with the Knicks' direction – which includes a maximum contract offer of five years and $129 million – has strengthened the franchise's chances of re-signing Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Combine this news with a report that other stars feel Anthony is sticking in New York and allegations that he is attempting to lure big names to come with him, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

A Yahoo Sports report stated Anthony also planned to reach out to Gasol to discuss him joining the Knicks, another in a growing set of signs that Anthony may re-up in New York. Joakim Noah, intimately involved in the Bulls' pitch to Anthony, has told several people he believes Anthony will re-sign with the Knicks.

With max contracts surely flying every which way, it speaks volumes about the happenings that Carmelo seems happy with the direction of the team and may want a name like Pau Gasol to come to town (which makes loads of sense, given his past affiliations with Jackson).

In reality, Melo was not likely to ever leave New York. It's New York, after all. But he did have the power to force change in order to feel like he is not alone on the court, and he now has Jackson as the architect of what may be a contender sooner rather than later.

Melo's not going anywhere.

Prediction: Anthony re-ups with the Knicks

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