NBA Free Agents 2018: Rumors and Predictions for Carmelo Anthony and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2018

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics looks on during Game Seven of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on May 27, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NBA's restricted market now has some breathing room to see major developments. 

Regular free agency has hogged the spotlight as of late because of names like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Paul George, but also because of limited cap space. The financial side of things has softened the blow of restricted free agency lately, though it doesn't mean a few major moves can't still happen. 

In fact, besides the developing Carmelo Anthony saga, a pair of restricted names could be the next to provide a major jolt to what fans think they know about the NBA landscape. 


The Clint Capela-Rockets Dance

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The gulf between Clint Capela and the Houston Rockets seems like one of the biggest out there between any team-player tandem besides the ordeal going down in San Antonio. 

According to ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon, the 24-year-old center is seeking a deal in the $100 million range but only received an offer around $60 million.

A new bit of info dropped Tuesday: 

Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen

Rockets offer to Clint Capela on July 1 was five years, $85 million, two individuals with knowledge of the offer said. With incentives, the deal could be worth $90 million. Rockets remain optimistic sides a deal will be reached. "Absolutely," one of the individuals said.

Capela is right to use the leverage he has to get as much for himself as he can. Any player is, but he's an especially interesting case after a breakout year that helped propel the Rockets into the same stratosphere as the Golden State Warriors. 

In only his fourth season, Capela posted an NBA best 65.2 shooting from the field while averaging career highs in points and rebounds at 13.9 and 10.8, respectively. 

This one doesn't seem to end any other way besides a reunion. The Rockets have shown a willingness to spend whatever it takes to contend, and Capela isn't going to get much of a better deal elsewhere. After pushing a team like the Warriors to seven games so early in his career, Capela would be wise to stick in his current situation and maximize his future value. 

Prediction: Capela re-signs with the Rockets


Marcus Smart Update

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics stands for the national anthem before Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics on May 27, 2018 at the TD Garden in B
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

It sounds like Marcus Smart wants to start over with the Boston Celtics. 

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com reported back in May that the two parties were far apart in extension negotiations, leading to a report from Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald that Smart is "disgusted" because the organization hasn't seemed overly interested. 

But now we're walking back in the other direction, with the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach reporting Tuesday that Smart is "open to signing a multiyear deal for less than $15 million per season."

As hinted, restricted free agency isn't a big deal anymore, and the repressed market is likely playing a role here with Smart's situation. It doesn't help he's known more for his defensive capabilities despite being all of 24 years old. 

Smart could always sign a one-year qualifying offer and hit free agency the next offseason, but the repressed market here might be a signal to him that unrestricted free agency isn't going to go so well either. 

Call it the risk-reward scenario most NBA players have to face at this point in their career. Smart will have a deal from some team well before the season starts, but it's starting to look like the longer it drags out, the more it hurts his value and leverage. 

Whether the Celtics match an offer sheet from another team or think they will get the value they want, don't expect Smart to leave the team for at least one more season. There is a chance both sides agree on a multi-year deal as well, especially if Smart's representatives take this as the writing on the wall for his future trip to a fully open market.  

Prediction: Smart re-signs with the Celtics 


The Carmelo Anthony Saga

Matt York/Associated Press

The process of getting Carmelo Anthony away from the Oklahoma City Thunder is taking its sweet time. 

An odd saga between a team looking to dump Anthony for cap space after re-signing Paul George to keep alongside Russell Westbrook seems like it might be heading for the closing stretch. 

Tuesday, a report revealed the Thunder will allow Anthony to act like a free agent: 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Story filed to ESPN: In advance of an inevitable – if not imminent – parting, the Oklahoma City Thunder granted Carmelo Anthony permission to meet with prospective teams, including Houston and Miami. Meetings took place in Vegas in recent days.

It sounds promising—but there is always a catch. 

The catch arrives via Marc Stein of the New York Times: "A precise timetable for how quickly Anthony can secure his exit from Oklahoma City, most likely via buyout, is not yet clear. But, at this point, it would be a full-fledged surprise if he doesn't wind up with the Rockets."

Anywhere but Houston seems almost impossible at this point, with even Paul reportedly getting involved: 

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

Source close to Chris Paul tells me that CP3 is advocating for the #Rockets to acquire his good friend, Carmelo Anthony. Melo, 34, made a career-high 169 3-pointers last season on a career-high 474 attempts (35.7 percent). https://t.co/C8LT4rSpFF

Before the report bringing Paul into the mix, it seemed like Anthony might consider the Los Angeles Lakers a destination thanks to a friend by the name of LeBron James. In the Eastern Conference, maybe seeing if the Philadelphia 76ers had an interest makes sense, but so does joining Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. 

While it's a matter of when for Anthony's freedom to choose where he goes, the permission to already act as such is a sign the saga continues to inch toward a conclusion. Where Anthony ends up could hinge on his acceptance as his new status as a role player. 

For Anthony, the only logical choice is Houston, where he'll join a team already at the same level as the Warriors while settling into a new role. 

Prediction: Anthony signs with the Rockets


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