While predictions can yield some crazy ideas being claimed as possible, I will try to be fairly rational in this article. Predictions, at their core, should be things that have a high percentage of happening. Often, people make outlandish claims and say they are "predictions". For example, some observers once claimed that LeBron James had a chance of going to the Chicago Bulls after this season. Let's take a step back and evaluate that claim. Firstly, he is from Ohio and made a big deal of going back to Cleveland for a reason. Secondly, why would he want to be chasing Michael Jordan's shadow with the Bulls? Chicago is not a team that would fit in with his game, most notably because Jimmy Butler and him might clash heads. LeBron is certainly staying with the Cavaliers for as long as he plays in the NBA - that is a probably prediction.
The NBA offseason always brings some unique things to the table. Players leave teams they once considered "home" and fans mourn the "losses" of their former hometown heroes. The offseason, in recent years, has brought some crazy pleasure to fans. Durant went to play with Curry in Golden State last season, LeBron returned to Cleveland a few years ago, and Carmelo Anthony has been "supposed" to leave the Knicks for what feels like a decade. The offseason is a fun time. Here are predictions that I consider probable and not crazy or illogical.
17 Kyle Lowry Stays With The Raptors
While people have speculated, and will continue to do so, that Kyle Lowry may leave Toronto, it seems improbable. Evidentially, he is in a great situation. The organization has not been this good, basically ever, and he is paired with some great talent. He may have a player option awaiting him this offseason, but it will have little effect on his decision making. DeRozan is a great teammate and Lowry will have a difficult time finding a better circumstance. If he were to leave the Raptors, where would he go? Every other top notch team has a point guard and he would just end up playing for a worse organization.
This being said, maybe Lowry prefers money over play? Either way, he is not leaving Toronto and the team will give him some extra money for his success.
16 Lavar Ball Will Complain When Lonzo Is Not The First Pick
First and foremost, this guy is a maniac. He is already saying his son, Lonzo, is a better player than Jordan and Curry. As a collegiate basketball player, Ball does not need this negative attention and hype. Lavar has only made things worse, stating that his son is basically going to be the next "God" of the NBA.
When Lonzo Ball is not selected first overall, and he will not be, Lavar Ball will either take to twitter to complain or get jumpy at the NBA draft. Either way, he is bringing negative attention to his family and his son. The fact of the matter is, Lonzo Ball choked pretty bad in the UCLA vs. Kentucky game in the NCAA Tournament. Lavar will do anything to keep his sons emotions high, but Lonzo Ball may drop down in the draft because teams may not want to deal with his passively insane (and maybe psychotic) father.
15 Malik Monk Will Be Picked Higher Than Projected
In actuality, the guard showed amazing talent all season long and in the NCAA Tournament. For god sake, the guy put up 40-plus points against North Carolina during the regular season. Now, that's impressive.
Monk, on many draft websites, is thought to possibly be selected 8th or 9th overall. I think those projections are wrong. With his talent and collegiately proven abilities, Monk should be a top five selection. Kentucky players are not known to always pan out, but I have an inkling that he could really be a good player at the professional level. Perhaps Monk's draft status will rise come June when NBA front offices get a chance to really start breaking down his game and seeing the kind of upside he has.
14 Chris Paul Will Want More Money Than He Deserves
Here's the deal. Chris Paul is 31 years old and has NEVER come close to winning a championship. Sure, he is a great guard who has demonstrated an ability to lead a team into the playoffs, but he has never elevated his team to the next step. He is on a player option contract and will probably look for the deal that lands him the most money possible. It is commonly known, throughout the league, that Chris Paul tends to get a big head. With this in mind, I feel it is inevitable that he will try to bargain for more money than a team will be looking to give him. It is possible that an organization will give in to his wishes, but Paul remains on the wrong side of 30.
13 Tony Parker Will Retire
The Spurs guard has played 16 years in the NBA. The Spurs are doing pretty well, but he is not the same aggressively athletic guard he once was. Parker will retire this summer and probably start a new life. He belongs to a different era of basketball, one a little less fast paced. In actuality, the Spurs are already kind of moving on from him. They may still regard him as a San Antonio legend, but Manu Ginobili And Tony Parker are bound to leave this season or the next; Kawhi has already taken charge of the organization anyway.
His retirement decision will be a big deal and French basketball players will all acknowledge his success in the United States (via social media). And he deserves the recognition.
12 Caleb Swanigan Will Be Slept On In The Draft
After watching the Purdue big man during tournament play, I am pretty convinced that he has the necessary skills to be a successful NBA player. He is already being projected as the possible last pick in the first round or an early second round selection, but teams should really do their research. Caleb Swanigan averaged 12.5 RPG and 18.5 PPG for the Boilermakers and was a very productive defender, in and around the post. Surely, a team should take him earlier, but I feel he will be a big steal come draft day. Swanigan may possess strengths down low, but teams are not always positive that Purdue players will turn out to be good pro players. Nonetheless, somebody will see the upside and get themselves a fine player late in the draft.
11 Dwyane Wade Leaves Chicago
While Wade may be enjoying his time home in Chicago, it doesn't look like he's enjoying playing for the Bulls organization. He will probably leave the organization and relocate to a team that has a chance of winning a championship. At this point in his career, all he wants is to be on a championship team. The Bulls, while they may have some sort of potential, are not a team that can offer Wade the chance of an NBA title. Wade will take a pay cut and head to a team that can win it all: probably, and namely, the Cavaliers, Warriors, or Rockets. I think Wade would probably fit best with LeBron, since the two have past playing experience and are great off the court buddies.
10 Alvin Gentry Will Be Fired
Alvin Gentry is on a short leash with the New Orleans Pelicans. The team has not been good since he stepped in last season and maintained a poor 34-38 record, while last season they had a 30-52 regular season record. Gentry has floated around the NBA but coached for the longest time for the Phoenix Suns, from 2008 to 2013. For two straight seasons, the team has been plagued by injuries, so it is not all his fault to be perfectly honest. He has not helped their situation either. In the end, the Pelicans will want their best shot at contending next year, with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins together for a full year.
I predict Gentry to be released from the team and become an assistant coach elsewhere. His success as a coach is not all there and he does not have a proven record.
9 Josh Smith Comes Back To The NBA
Josh Smith last played with the Rockets, but most recently played a season with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese league. The NBA veteran is bound to return, especially since he has played so much of his career in America. I am sure that getting accustomed to another culture was very difficult for Smith, as he was drafted in 2004 and played in the United States until 2016.
I can't say what team will sign him, but he will try to make a return this offseason. It is possible that the Rockets could pick up his contract again, but maybe other teams will look to bring him in as a veteran presence. Getting Josh Smith on a one year, "prove it" deal can be very beneficial for an NBA team.
8 Jayson Tatum Slides In The Draft
Tatum averaged 16.3 PPG and 7.3 RPG this past season with the Duke Blue Devils. He played a big 33.3 minutes per game for Coach K and shot .452 from the field. Unfortunately, while the stat line may be deceiving, he was not all there in the big game against South Carolina in the Round of 32. He had 15 points, but his efforts were not nearly enough to beat an under experienced South Carolina team. Hats off to the Gamecocks, but Tatum should have led his team farther in the tournament.
I think Jayson will probably be drafted in the low lottery picks or potentially out of the lottery portion. He may have a lot of potential, but there are other guys I would consider taking higher.
7 Greg Monroe Will Leave The Milwaukee Bucks
Monroe has struggled a bit since he came to the Bucks. Because of this, I find it obvious that he will look to relocate this summer. He will have some options, but I think he may choose situation over money. The Bucks paid him well, but obviously he has not necessarily fit in with the organizations offense. Monroe will consider money in his decision heavily, but I could see him landing on a team that really needs a big man presence, like the Kings or even Celtics.
Monroe has a lot of potential still, but people are tending to doubt him because of his below average season with the Bucks. The Bucks will have a chance to contend in the near future so they have some tough decisions to make.
6 The Bulls Will Keep Fred Hoiberg
Hoiberg had a proven record with Iowa State from 2013-2015. The Bulls are not a team that people should consider a championship contender, but what he is doing right now in Chicago is not stellar. Regardless, the team made the playoffs and seems to have played well against the Celtics in the first round of play. In his first season, last year, he led the Bulls to a a middle of the pack record of 42-40. This year, Chicago was 41-41. He may not have improved at all, and actually regressed, but the Bulls are not a great team and I could not put all the blame on him. They are simply underdeveloped and an organization that is very young at the moment. Hoiberg needs some more time.
5 Jrue Holiday Leaves The Pelicans
After a bumpy season for the Pelicans, and an interesting (to say the least) year for Alvin Gentry, Holiday is already being advised to leave the team. Notably, he will probably sign on a team that offers him a better situation and maybe a bit more cash. Holiday could be very good for a team that needs a sixth man or simply a starting guard. While the 76ers are investing in the future, Holiday could be a great grab for them considering he has played there before and the organization needs a dynamic point guard. He is no All Star, really, but Holiday is a good passer and an aggressive defender. He may not have a future in New Orleans but he is going to be a good signing for somebody.
4 James Harden Will Be Pissed When He Does Not Win The MVP
Hats off to James Harden; The guy averaged 29.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 11.1 APG this season. At this point, the MVP race has come down to Russell Westbrook or Harden. While it is possible that Kawhi or LeBron could get it, it seems unlikely at this point. James is in a great situation and has the company of Kyrie and Love, while Harden and Westbrook are doing the one man show every night. I really think Westbrook has to get the MVP this season. The guy is so unbelievably athletic and statistics do not lie. He averaged 31.6 PPG, 10.4 APG, and 10.7 RPG. In other words, he is a freak athlete. Harden will be angry when he does not win the MVP and will probably call out Westbrook for something or take to Twitter.
3 Gordon Hayward Will Go To The Indiana Pacers
Hayward and Paul George both publicly said that they would like to play together. It seems unlikely that George would go to the Jazz, so I imagine that Gordon Hayward will join the Pacers this summer. Utah is a fairly premature team and on the Pacers, Gordon would help make them a contender in the playoffs. We just saw them get swept by the Cavs, so Hayward would clearly provide some help. Hayward averaged 21.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 5.4 RPG this past season in Utah. Indiana finished 7th in the Eastern Conference, but with Hayward's help the team could climb up to the 3rd or 4th seed. The team would need some extra fire power, but reaching the East Finals would not be a stretch for a team with both of these extremely talented players.
2 Stephen Curry is NOT Leaving The Warriors
Sorry guys, but Curry is simply not leaving the Bay Area this offseason. While people like to live in this dream world and speculate that he will go to the Hornets, I don't see enough evidence or reasons as to why he would make such a big career move. The Hornets do not have much talent, save for Kemba Walker, and the Warriors are a great team. Curry would be a pretty dumb to leave the super team he has helped build, especially when they have just gotten Kevin Durant. Curry will re-sign with the Warriors and take a lower salary than he could make on the open market.
The argument that Curry will go to the Hornets just because his father played there and he is from NC is just not valid. He is not his dad and Dell is not him. He has his own career.
Sorry Hornets fans - it is not happening - at least not right now.
1 LeBron Will Celebrate Another Championship
I am convinced that the Cavaliers will win another title this year. I think the Warriors don't have the same chemistry nor drive as Cleveland. LeBron is not settled with just winning it last year in Cleveland, he wants to show his fans that he will never abandon their organization again. Durant may have a lot to prove this postseason with Golden State, but LeBron, Kyrie, and Love are proving to everyone that they can win back to back.
LeBron and Kyrie do very well in the postseason and reach the NBA Finals. Upon winning, LeBron and the team will enjoy another great parade in Ohio and be celebrated as hometown heroes. Cleveland has not had a lot of championships to celebrate, but now they are emerging as an athletic powerhouse (except for the Browns).