NBA Free Agency 2018: Latest Rumors and Predictions for LeBron James and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James in action in the first half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, June 8, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

With the NBA draft over, the main focus of most NBA franchises is to improve their respective rosters through free agency.

LeBron James, Chris Paul and Paul George are the most coveted players on the market, and the rumblings are starting on where they'll play the 2018-19 season.

While James, Paul and George could dictate the rest of the market, they aren't the only free agents available.

In addition to the big names, a few key role players could alter the plans of certain teams if they choose to join or reject them.

Below is the latest on what could happen in the next few weeks as the free-agent market heats up. 

       

LeBron James

James' potential suitors are lining up as the free-agent process inches closer, and one team who could make a strong push for him are the Philadelphia Sixers. 

The Sixers have an attractive collection of young players who could partner with James to become the Eastern Conference's team to beat. 

With the potential to become the top challenger to the Golden State Warriors from the East, the Sixers are doing everything in their power to clear cap space to sign James, per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com.

CLEVELAND, CA - JUN 8:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against JaVale McGee #1 of the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals won 108-85 by the Golden State Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quick
Chris Elise/Getty Images

While the Sixers and Los Angeles Lakers are intriguing options for James if he leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers, there's still a chance he stays in Cleveland if everything goes right in discussions with the team he's already left once. 

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said Thursday the team has a good dialogue with James, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin

"We continue to have good dialogue with his management team," Altman said. "I think LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does. He's done that before, so this is nothing new for us." 

Although the Cavaliers can't be ruled out of the James sweepstakes, they aren't the most enticing option available to the 33-year-old, while a move out to the Western Conference would force him to go head-to-head with the Warriors before the NBA Finals. 

Taking everything we know at the moment into account, the Sixers appear to be the best fit for the superstar. 

Prediction: James signs with the Sixers. 

       

Paul George

George's actions will be watched closely over the next few weeks as well, as he has a growing list of suitors. 

Just like James, George could stay with the team he played with last season, and according to Marc Stein of the New York Timesthere are some around the league supporting the thought of the Oklahoma City Thunder keeping the 28-year-old. 

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

It's natural to believe George might head out to one of the Los Angeles teams because he went to school at Fresno State and is a California native.

A move to the Lakers could be even more intriguing if James decides to make a move to the Western Conference for the first time in his career. 

Of the concrete options he has, Oklahoma City appears to be the best, as the Thunder are already an established contender in the West with other superstars on their roster. 

If the Thunder improve the back end of their roster, they could move up to the top of the West next season, which is why it would be wise for George to stay.

Prediction: George remains with the Thunder.

         

Chris Paul 

Paul's status is a bit less complicated than that of James or George because he is an unrestricted free agent. 

The 33-year-old moved to Houston from the Los Angeles Clippers last offseason, and there's a chance he could remain in the Rockets lineup alongside James Harden.

However, Fox Sports' Chris Broussard said Friday on Undisputed there's tension between Paul and the Rockets, per the show's official Twitter account: 

"From what I'm told, there's tension now between Houston and Chris Paul, because there was definitely some type of 'handshake, wink-wink, we're gonna max you out' ... but now they're not so sure," Broussard said. "Houston, with good reason, doesn't want to do that." 

"But they got an out because they got new ownership," Broussard continued. "So Daryl Morey can go to Chris Paul and be like, 'I want to do it, but the new owner doesn't want to give you five years, or four years." 

The wise decision for Paul would be to stay in Houston, no matter what the situation with ownership is like, because the Rockets give the point guard his best chance to win a championship.

If Paul goes elsewhere, there's no guarantee he'll be able to team up with James or George, or have a competent supporting cast around him to earn a ring.

Prediction: Paul stays in Houston.

        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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