NBA Free Agents 2015: Rumors and Predictions for Top Free Agents

Justin Neuman@@JustinNeuman10Contributor IIMay 11, 2015

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard stands on the court during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in San Antonio. Los Angeles won 114-105. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

Man, are the NBA playoffs great or what? This weekend's slate of games featured several crazy buzzer-beaters and a Hall of Fame "mic drop" interview from Paul Pierce.  

Before you know it, though, commissioner Adam Silver will be crowning a new champion and the focus will immediately shift to which top players will be switching teams. This year's free-agent class is solid, and there are plenty of rumors about where some of the league's top players will end up.

With all of the speculation flying around, it's hard to keep up with what is a legitimate report and what is just an unfounded rumor. Luckily we are here to round up all of the latest buzz on the Association's big-ticket players. Here's a look at a few rumors for some top free agents as well as a prediction for where each player will end up.

Kevin Love

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Perhaps the most interesting player in this year's free-agent pool is Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was only a few short months ago the Cavs acquired Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves knowing full well he would be able to opt out of his deal after this season.

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As if that weren't concerning enough for Cavs fans, the team also sent Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft and this season's Rookie of the Year, to Minnesota in exchange for Love.

Winning a title with Love would have given him plenty of incentive to stay in Cleveland, but now the Cavs will have to do it with him sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.

It's hard to predict now what Love will do considering he will be coming off of a shoulder injury. But Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports thinks there's a possibility Love could walk.

In an interview on The Dan Patrick Show (h/t Satchel Price of SB Nation), Wojnarowski said there is a "legitimate fear" in the Cavs organization that Love could leave.

"I think he has all year long looked longingly at free agency and the possibility of what else is out there," he said.

With the salary cap set to explode after next season, Love may be better served to opt in this summer and try to cash in next year when teams have more money to spend. And besides, he will be on a team with LeBron James. There aren't many better basketball situations out there.

If Love can be convinced to be a team's third option, staying in Cleveland and making a run at a title next year could be his best bet.

Prediction: Love returns for 2015-16, then hits the open market. If the Cavs win the title, he stays. If not, he goes to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kawhi Leonard

Unlike Love, Kawhi Leonard will only be a restricted free agent after this season. That means the Spurs will be able to match any offer he receives.

As the reigning NBA Finals MVP, it's reasonable to think San Antonio will look to lock up Leonard. And if Tim Duncan and/or Manu Ginobili hangs it up, that gives the Spurs even more financial flexibility and incentive to keep Leonard in town.

Wojnarowski agrees. In a Yahoo Sports report, Wojnarowski said, "For now, there's no scenario where Leonard plans to pursue offer sheets on the market, league sources tell Yahoo Sports."

He went on to say, "Leonard wants to be a Spur, and the Spurs are expected to come calling on July 1." He goes on to say San Antonio will have to wait on the decisions of Duncan and Ginobili. After that, it will turn its attention to Leonard and other free agents (more on that in a moment).

Prediction: Spurs give Leonard the max.

LaMarcus Aldridge

We now move to a player whose future is decidedly up in the air. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a mainstay for the Portland Trail Blazers, but his time in Rip City could be coming to an end.

Marc Stein of ESPN provided an in-depth look into Aldridge's impending free agency. Stein said few expected Aldridge to leave early in the season, but as the year wore on, it seemed more and more plausible. Stein even said that Aldridge told Chris Broussard "we'll see" when Broussard asked if Portland was the No. 1 destination.

Stein went on to say that Aldridge could be becoming disenchanted by the fact that Damian Lillard is becoming the main priority of the organization and city.

Speaking of Lillard, Stein said the young guard is eligible for a contract extension this summer, which could approach $120 million over five years. Wesley Matthews, Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez will also be free agents, so it will be difficult for Portland to retain everybody.

And as we mentioned, there is a chance Tim Duncan could retire. That would leave the Spurs, a top-tier franchise that also boasts the league's best coach, with a need at forward. Aldridge is from Dallas, and he went to the University of Texas. LeBron went home, so perhaps there's a chance Aldridge could do the same.

And there is, of course, mutual interest. With regard to Aldridge returning to the Lone Star State, Stein said, "But the consistent word on the personnel grapevine at the minute informs us that San Antonio and Dallas not only both believe they have a real shot at signing him but are also legitimately in Aldridge's thoughts."

Stein said the New York Knicks and Lakers are also expected to make a push for Aldridge, but despite being marquee franchises, the current teams are a disaster. It seems unlikely he would spend what could potentially be the rest of his prime on a rebuilding team.

Either way, when you add everything up, it's hard to imagine Aldridge inking a new deal in Portland.

Prediction: Aldridge leaves Portland, with San Antonio as leaders for his services


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