NBA Free Agents 2018: DeMarcus Cousins, Clint Capela, More Rumors, Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 2, 2018

New Orleans Pelicans' DeMarcus Cousins (0) drives against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The NBA free-agent dominoes have fallen faster than the items used in a Rube Goldberg machine. 

With the exception of DeMarcus Cousins and Clint Capela, all of the big-name free agents have been taken off the market within 24 hours of free agency opening up. 

Even though they've already made moves to strengthen their roster around LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers remain at the forefront of the rumor mill. 

Cousins and Capela have both been linked with the Lakers, but they aren't the only free agents worth keeping an eye on as the league's 30 franchises aim to make roster improvements. 

The so-called second tier of available players will begin to pop up in the headlines more in the coming days, which means the free agency frenzy is far from over. 

Below is a look at the latest updates and predicted landing spots for some of the best free agents available. 


DeMarcus Cousins

The next major domino to fall in free agency is Cousins. 

The 27-year-old is the player with the most potential to alter games on his own left on the market. 

Once free agency officially began, the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans reached out to Cousins to schedule meetings, per Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated: 

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

New Orleans Pelicans All-Star free agent center DeMarcus Cousins received calls from the Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers tonight once free agency began and is expected to have meetings scheduled with both teams soon, a source told ESPN's The Undefeated.

However, there's a good chance Cousins won't end up as part of the new era at Staples Center, as the Lakers might not be able to afford him after signing Kentavius Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal, and RealGM's Keith Smith noted the Lakers are more likely to retain Brook Lopez instead of going after Cousins: 

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Hearing Brook Lopez is a good bet to return to the Lakers. LA probably out of the running for DeMarcus Cousins after using a good amount of cap space to retain Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

By simple process of elimination, that would put the Pelicans in the driver's seat for Cousins, but there is one out-of-the-box idea that might work, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor floated the possibility of the Washington Wizards acquiring Cousins through a sign-and-trade deal. 

The Wizards aren't as far-fetched of a landing spot for Cousins as some may think because he has a strong friendship with John Wall, but they might not be willing to give up much in a sign-and-trade now that the path to the NBA finals through the Eastern Conference is more open with James departing for the Lakers. 

The smart play for Cousins would be to remain in New Orleans and continue to form a terrorizing frontcourt partnership with Anthony Davis. 

The path to a title from the Western Conference got a little more difficult with James joining the Lakers, but if Cousins and Davis team up for 82 games of menacing paint play coupled with production from a complement of backcourt assets, the Pelicans could feature in a larger postseason role.

Prediction: Cousins signs with the Pelicans. 


Clint Capela 

Capela's success in Houston earned him some looks across the league in free agency, and he met with the Lakers Sunday, per TNT's David Aldridge: 

David Aldridge @daldridgetnt

Lakers, working multiple scenarios, will meet this afternoon with Rockets RFA Clint Capela, per league source.

However, the 24-year-old might not end up in the purple and gold alongside James because he is a restricted free agent.

Any offer the Lakers, or any team, make to Capela can be matched by the Rockets, who should be smart in this situation and keep Capela at all costs. 

Capela proved to be a difference-maker on both sides of the court as Houston rose to the top of the Western Conference. 

In order for the Rockets to be the complete team they need to be to challenge the Golden State Warriors, they need Capela back to accompany James Harden and Chris Paul

Unless another team comes in with an offer that sways Capela's thought process, Houston should be able to persuade the Swiss forward to stay with the franchise. 

Prediction: Houston matches all offers for Capela and he stays with Rockets. 


Jabari Parker 

With the top players going off the market at a rapid pace, Jabari Parker and others should become more coveted targets of teams looking to fill needs in the coming days. 

A handful of teams have interest in the 23-year-old Duke product, as Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times pointed out. 

Atlanta, Indiana, Utah, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Chicago were mentioned by Woelfel as potential suitors, and HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy reaffirmed the Bulls interest in Parker: 

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

I'm told that Jabari Parker, who was born and raised in Chicago, has received interest from the Chicago Bulls. The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent, so the Milwaukee Bucks can match any offer sheet he signs.

Since he is a restricted free agent, the Milwaukee Bucks have the opportunity to match any offer that comes in for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. 

Another option mentioned by Woelfel is a sign-and-trade deal with a team like Houston or the Los Angeles Clippers coming into the picture. A trade for Parker would allow the Bucks to collect players, draft picks or both in return for a player still with plenty of upside. 

Parker would be wise to test the market and see which teams show the most interest in him, but the Bucks aren't a bad team to come back to. After all, few teams have a talent like Giannis Antetokoumpo to lure Parker away. 

Prediction: Parker receives offers from other teams, remains in Milwaukee after Bucks match all offers.


Tyreke Evans

At 28, Tyreke Evans carries a veteran presence with plenty of skill to offer on the wing. 

Evans' attributes should be particularly intriguing to playoff teams looking to add depth around their stars, which is one of the reasons why the Warriors have shown some interest in him.

According to USA Today's Sam Amick, there's buzz about Evans heading to Golden State because of the connections he has within the organization: 

Sam Amick @sam_amick

Heard buzz about this tonight, and it makes good sense. And oh by the way, Tyreke’s former agent (Warriors GM Bob Myers) and former trainer (scout Lamont Peterson) work for the Warriors https://t.co/iMVuldneFZ

Evans could consider a return to New Orleans, where he played for four seasons, and there's interest from the Pelicans to make it possible. 

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps asked some of his players to reach out to Evans, per John Martin of ESPN Radio 92.9 in Memphis: 

John Martin @JohnMartin929

New Orleans GM Dell Demps has asked current players to reach out to free agent Tyreke Evans about returning to the Pelicans, according to a source.

Although the Pelicans don't offer as much as the Warriors in terms of championship potential, they are still a step up from the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Don't be surprised if a few other teams sniff around the possibility of signing Evans, but if the interest is mutual between him and the Warriors, it's too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

Prediction: Evans lands with the Warriors. 


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