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NBA Free Agency 2018: Where The Top 5 Players From Every Position Will Sign

If NBA fans thought the last couple years of free agency were crazy, just wait until the summer of 2018. With some of the biggest names in the league set to hit the open market, whether they be a restricted, unrestricted or hold a player option, the fact is as soon as the season is over the water cooler talk is going to hit overdrive on what jersey these players will pull over their heads next season.

Considering how the playoff race in the West is basically down to two horses and anyone coming out of the East is pretty much playing for second place, there is more excitement over where the following 25 players are (or are not in the case of some) going to sign for the next couple of years. Although the NBA salary cap has been altered over the last few seasons the fact is, not many teams have the flexibility in their books to be able to afford max level players, or those max level players are quickly going to realize that there isn't max level contracts available to be signed.

With that being said, we take a look at where the following top five players at each position will end up starting the 2018-19 season. Some may find themselves entering familiar locker rooms and others will surprise you as to where they end up. Do you agree or disagree with our predictions? Feel free to chime in.

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25 PG - Isaiah Thomas 

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

IT has gone from being a swift pen swipe away from a boatload of money to once again having to prove himself to every team in the NBA. Had it not been for a hip injury that took him out of the first half of the 2017-18 season, chances are he may have survived his run with the Cavs.

Possible Destination: LA Lakers

Now a member of the Lakers, Thomas has a chance to be the experienced point guard mentor that Lonzo Ball needs and Luke Walton could rely on to pilot the second unit. The Lakers want to make a big splash in the free agent market either this summer or next and while they definitely won't give Thomas the big payday he was hoping to get, it might be in his best interest to sign a mid-level contract and try to be part of the team's rebirth.

24 SG - Wesley Matthews 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Mavericks have $18.9 million reasons why Matthews should stay in Dallas, a team that took a leap and signed the injured two guard in the summer of 2015. While he isn't known for filling the scoring column, Matthews brings a mixed bag to the nightly stat line. Throw in being one of the tougher defensive guards in the league and there is a spot for Matthews on a roster. The question is, at 31 years old, where is that spot?

Possible Destination: San Antonio Spurs

The Mavs are in a rebuild mode, the Cavs could use a potential replacement for LBJ (not that we are saying Matthews is his equal), the Thunder could fill, should they keep their roster intact would be a threat to the Western Conference crown by adding Matthews to their rotation and the Spurs, well Matthews just seems to be a Coach Pop kinda guy. Don't be surprised to see Matthews in an OKC or San Antonio uniform next season, especially if he wants a chance at a ring.

23 SF - LeBron James 

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to predict where James will play next season is about as easy as a task as finding a needle in a haystack. Sure there are the obvious teams that you can delete from this list. Sorry to all the Atlantas, Phoenixes, Sacramentos and such of the NBA, but do you really think that you have the roster, fanbase or off-court life that would cater to someone of James' stature? Honestly, although every team in the league would love to add the three-time champ, only a handful have a legit shot at him.

Possible Destination: Philadelphia 76ers

Cleveland, Houston, LA Lakers, San Antonio and Philadelphia all appear to be the front runners. Thing is even at this point, only LeBron himself knows where he is planning on finishing out his career. But let's break this down. The Lakers, unless they add two more quality FAs, aren't going to be title contenders. Houston, they already have CP3 and Harden dominating the ball. San Antonio would be the one place where James would have a legit shot at a title, but would have to compete with the Rockets and Warriors to get to the NBA Finals. Odds are James will either stay in the East for a better road to the championship round, hence Philadelphia or stay at home and not tarnish his legacy by leaving the Cavs for a second time. Though the possibility still exists of a trip out West to the Lakers.

22 PF - Julius Randle

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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He may have just one speed and go one direction and pick up at least two offensive charging calls a game, but the fourth year forward has proven to be a valuable piece of some team's future. The question is, do Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka feel that piece belongs in LA? With eyes on two max big name FAs, the Lakers may overlook their own talent in hopes of something that may fall short.

Possible Destination: LA Lakers

Averaging a career high in points, despite playing less minutes than he did in his previous two seasons, Randle has spent all of his court time showing the Lakers brass his worth and at the same time auditioning for every other team in the league. The Mavs already expressed their interest in adding Randle during the trade deadline and Randle would be a huge improvement over former Kentucky Wildcats Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein for the Kings. As for the Nets, well it would be self inflicted pain to join the floundering Brooklyn roster, but money does funny things to people. Best bet, Magic realizes the talent he already has in Randle.

21 C - DeAndre Jordan

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Can any of you imaging passing up $24 million? That is the decision that the Clippers big man has to make this summer as he holds a player option on his contract, or pass on it and test the free agent waters. There were a number of teams looking to trade for the 6'10", ten year, rebounding and shot blocking specialist this past February but the risk and reward for a potential rental player was just to much for what the Clippers wanted in return.

Possible Destination: LA Clippers

As the veteran of the Clippers roster, Jordan can be one of the focal points of the rebuild or take a chance and less money to sign with teams that may offer him a better chance at a ring. Should Lebron sign in Cleveland, Jordan might be enticed to be the man in the middle. The Bucks already have a lot of size and length but adding a player with Jordan's talents, even though his offence is limited to a variety of dunks and putbacks, could certainly help ease the workload on the Greek Freak and friends. Best bet, Jordan returns to LA and eventually finishes his career in a Clippers uniform.

20 PG - Chris Paul 

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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CP3 left Lob City after figuring out that a) the team wasn't going anywhere and b) he didn't really get along with a number of the players on the roster as much as people thought he did. Enter a carefully constructed trade to Houston, engineered by Paul himself.

Possible Destination: Houston Rockets

Currently part of the best team in the league and possibly the only one that stands a chance at knocking off the Warriors in the playoffs, if the Rockets make it to the WCF, Finals or raise a banner for the first time since the Dream played, chances are Paul will return to run alongside Harden in Coach D'Antoni's run and gun system. That is unless the "Banana Boat Crew" decides to create a super team for one last run at a couple of championships.

19 SG - Avery Bradley 

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In the world of pace, space and three balls, there is still need for defense and that is something which Bradley proudly hangs his hat on. While he has only suited up for the Clippers for a handful of games since coming over from the Pistons in the Blake Griffin deal, Bradley may not find himself staying in LA following this season. Considering that the Clips are in a "retooling" mode and not yet a full rebuild, there may still be a slim chance that they decide to hang on to the scrappy two guard, but odds are they were content to take on his expiring $8 million contract knowing that they will have cap space this summer.

Possible Destination: Oklahoma City Thunder

If you look at teams that could use a player with Bradley's talents, both the Sixers and the Thunder could use a defensive minded guard as JJ Redick is known more for his shooting than stopping the ball, not to mention he himself is a free agent. As for the Thunder, a lot depends on what happens with Paul George - while Bradley is known for his defense, his offensive game could fit in alongside Mr. Westbrook.

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18 SF - Kevin Durant 

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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There is absolutely no reason in the world why KD would want to leave Golden State. Even with their roster of four All-Stars, KD still stands a rung above everyone else, even Steph Curry. With the team primed to compete for a title (assuming everyone is healthy) for at least the next three or four years and throw in the fact that the Warriors will be moving across the bay in 2019-20, having Durant as part of the team is a slam dunk decision for both parties.

Possible Destination: Golden State Warriors

After playing in Oklahoma City for eight years (nine if you include a year in Seattle), KD knows how much it means to small market fanbases to stay true to the team and considering the backlash he got for leaving the Thunder, odds are he doesn't want to deal with that again. With a player option of $26 million for next season and a roster that depending on what happens this June could be looking for a three-peat, Durant will no doubt stay a Warrior. Heck he may even be willing to take a pay cut if it means adding a player to help with the title run.

17 PF - Aaron Gordon

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Magic can offer Gordon the most money, it may be in his best interest to get out of Orlando and join a team that has some idea what they are doing because obviously the Magic's front office is run by Mickey Mouse. If the Mavs decide that Gordon is a better fit than Randle (Gordon has better shooting range and athleticism, Randle has less health issues and a better motor), teaming him with Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith gives Dallas a young trio to build around.

Possible Destination: Indiana Pacers

On the other hand, if the Pacers can figure out how to financially add AG to the roster, a threesome including Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo would give Indiana a big man, forward and guard to help keep the Pacers in line with the other young and upcoming rosters in the East, like the Bucks, Bulls and Sixers.

16 C - DeMarcus Cousins

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Depending on how you look at it, Cousins' injury may be a blessing in disguise for New Orleans. While with modern medicine a healthy return is pretty much a given, the injury could still scare away a number of teams looking to sign the talented big man to either be the leader or missing piece of their championship quest. Sadly, we haven't seen enough of Boogie and the Brow to fairly evaluate how they can co-exist and potentially lead the Pels deep into the playoffs as the modern day twin towers.

Possible Destination: New Orleans Pelicans

It has been well documented that the Lakers want (read: need) to have a big name or two on their roster and Magic is more than willing to take a chance on Cousins. We all know LeBron's desire to add more talent to his team and if anyone can control Cousins' temper it would be James. If LBJ stays in Cleveland, don't be surprised if they try to find a way to create a Boogie and Bron duo. Best bet, unless it is a sign and trade for Kevin Love and company, look for Cousins to return to NOLA.

15 PG - Tyreke Evans 

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever the Memphis Grizzlies were thinking at the trade deadline is something that nobody really knows. Considering that the former Rookie Of The Year was experiencing his best statistical season since his debut year, Evans could have brought the Grizzlies some much needed future components to rebuild their franchise around. Although he has a history of health concerns, when on the court, Evans has provided his teams with a quality combo guard.

Possible Destination: Portland Trail Blazers

At this stage in his career, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Evans come off the bench for a contender like the Spurs or to help boost the bench production of the Blazers. While the Blazers are a young team, after Damian Lillard they fall off in scoring with subs, same can be said for Dejounte Murray and the Spurs, who have moved Patty Mills to the two spot and either way Evans is a step up from the Australian combo guard.

14 SG - Zach LaVine

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Unless something crazy happens and the Sixers decide to swoop in and make their squad the most fun team to watch league wide next season, LaVine will most likely remain in Chicago. But let's talk about the crazy shall we, it's a lot more entertaining. Could you imagine a lineup of Embiid, Covington, Simmons, LaVine and Fultz. It would be a morphing of Lob City and the Warriors into the most entertaining team ever.

Possible Destination: Chicago Bulls

Think about it, sure two of the three can't or won't shoot from downtown, but they will make up for it in speed and ball distribution. Then picture the number of transition hoops and pick and rolls, dunks and oh my moments. Then come crashing back to reality and realize that the Bulls would be idiots to allow LaVine who was the cornerstone of the Jimmy Butler deal to get away and will more than likely throw close to a max contract at him.

13 SF - Jabari Parker 

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The former second overall pick in 2014 has not lived up to expectations that both the league and the Bucks had for Parker when they drafted him after his one year at Duke University. Unfortunately or fortunately the reason for this has very little to do with Parker's actual talent and more so his inability to remain healthy. As a free agent this summer, Parker is hoping that teams will be willing to pay him based on his potential and not worry too much about his history of injuries.

Possible Destination: Chicago Bulls

While the Bucks will look to keep Parker as part of their young and talented core, look for two other clubs to try and poach the combo forward as part of their future. Adding Parker to the trio of Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen would give the Bulls an impressive starting core that could compete in the East. As for the Jazz, Utah has pieces with Gobert, Mitchell and Rubio but still need to fill the void left by Hayward's departure to Boston.

12 PF - Derrick Favors

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If you think that seeing the Mavericks on every the short list for every power forward free agent is a typo you are mistaken. Even though Dirk Nowitzki is still averaging double digit points and a handful of rebounds in his 900th year (actually 20th) and has shown no signs of retirement plans, the Mavs know that they have to plan for the future. Enter Favors.

Possible Destination: Utah Jazz

Although the Jazz can still use a power forward of their own, they may be willing to move on from the eight year pro, despite the fact that he has stepped up to fill in for the injured Rudy Gobert earlier this season. Mavs fans won't confuse Favors limited offensive range with that of the Diggler, but a new home may spearhead the Jazz forward into reaching the level of expectation that many had for him coming out of college. Should Favors decide to head east, a reunion with the team that originally drafted him, the Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets could be a possibility. Then again, why would anyone want to go to that dysfunctional franchise? Best bet, he stays with the Jazz and spends the offseason practicing his three point shot.

11 C - Enes Kanter

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As with Jordan, Kanter will have many reasons to take up his player option and stay in New York next season. In addition to the $18.6 million, Kanter has also become a MSG fan favorite for his blue collar work ethic. On pace to average a double double (points/rebounds) for the second time in his career, Kanter is making an impression on a lot of teams that could be interested in signing the 25 year old big man from Switzerland.

Possible Destination: New York Knicks

The thing about Kanter is he wears his heart on his sleeve, something which has been lacking from the New York lineup for a long time, one that became more about "me" than "we", something that was evident when he stood up to the King when the Knicks and Cavs squared off in NYC. Chances are at least half a dozen other teams will throw some bones towards Enes, but odds are you will see Spike Lee wearing a Kanter jersey next season.

10 PG - Elfrid Payton

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Possibly the best place for Payton to play next season is Phoenix. The problem is, the Suns might not want to pay Payton what he is looking for. When you consider that they have already committed $78 million to players, which includes $14 mil to a returning Brandon Knight, $13.5 mil to Tyson Chandler, $11.7 mill to TJ Warren and $9 million to Jared Dudley (yeah no kiddin', he is still in the league!).

Possible Destination: Phoenix Suns

Out of those four players only Warren really has value (nobody knows what Knight will bring). Now Payton does have a $4.5 million qualifying offer on the table but one would assume that the young guard would seek a bigger payday. Right now Knight has a very untradable contract but can he come back healthy and be the floor general Phoenix needs? If the Suns don't believe in the former Kentucky Wildcat, they might be willing to throw money at Payton, if not, then the Utah Jazz may be willing to let Dante Exum and Raul Neto go in exchange for signing Payton to backup Ricky Rubio.

9 SG - JJ Redick 

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JJ has made more money this season on his one-year $23 million deal with the Sixers than he did during his last three years with the Clippers combined. Now while most people believe that he may have been overpaid, the fact is the Sixers needed a shooter and a vet who could come in and help the young lineup.

Possible Destination: Philadelphia 76ers

With his contract set to come off the books this summer, Philadelphia has a lot of money to throw around at free agents and while billboards might be trying to lure Mr. James from Cleveland and as much fun as that would be to have Ben Simmons and LeBron playing side by side, chances are it won't happen. However, if by chance it does, that means that Philly and JJ would have to agree to sign a lesser deal, something which he may be willing to do in return for a ring. As for the Spurs, Redick and Coach Pop just feel like they belong together and with San Antonio's lack of scoring from the backcourt, adding a shooter like Redick would be a welcome addition. Best bet, he takes a discount to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers.

8 SF - Paul George

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If Russell Westbrook has anything to say about it, PG13 will remain in Oklahoma City, otherwise chances are the Thunder point guard may absolutely lose it. While George is not the level of star that Kevin Durant was, he is the Robin to Westbrook's Batman. Despite saying that he wanted to become a LA Laker during his final year in Indiana, basically forcing the team to trade him rather than lose him for nothing, it is not a guarantee that he will put on the purple and gold next season.

Possible Destination: LA Lakers

Even though it took a while for the trio of George, Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to mesh, they are a team that nobody wants to face come playoff time and if the Thunder can make some noise in the post season, a proven roster and playoff run may be more appealing to George than returning home to the unknown. Then again, there is no place like home and we have all heard Magic Johnson claiming he will do anything it takes to turn his franchise around.

7 PF - Nikola Mirotic

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

6'10" with the ability to step outside the three point line type players seem to be a common trait among the wants and needs of many NBA teams with the recent conversion to the pace and space offence. While the 23rd pick from the 2011 NBA Draft seems to do his best work as part of his team's second unit, chances are this summer someone will be willing to dish out a multi-year multi million dollar contract for the 26 year old's services.

Possible Destination: Pelicans or Raptors

With the return of DeMarcus Cousins still up in the air due to his injuries, the Pelicans may not want to let Mirotic walk away just yet. The Raptors are among the lowest team shooting percentage in the league, despite putting up the third most attempts. The Blazers depth at the four spot is pretty unattractive. The Mavericks could turn Mirotic into a Dirk "lite" and the Spurs have two years left on an aging Pau Gasol, who even though he has improved his long range shooting, isn't really considered a threat from downtown. Best bet, a return to New Orleans or a new home in Toronto.

6 C - Clint Capela

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Clint Capela is an updated version of what DeAndre Jordan once was. Both are limited in their offensive abilities, anything outside of a layup, putback or dunk usually results in a pass. On the other end of the court, rebounds and blocked shots are plentiful. Throw in what seems to be endless amounts of energy, a willingness to set screens and so far a good relationship with CP3 (something that was tested between Paul and Jordan) and there is no reason why Capela wouldn't want to resign in Houston.

Possible Destination: Houston Rockets

Being a restricted free agent, the Rockets can match any contract that other teams throw at the 23 year old big man. One of those teams could be the Milwaukee Bucks, who could look to replace John Henson or Tyler Zeller as their man in the middle.

5 PG - Rajon Rondo

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The New Orleans Pelicans have somehow managed to band together in the wake of losing DeMarcus Cousins to find themselves in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. With a little shuffling of guards Rondo and Jrue Holiday (not to mention all-world performances by Anthony Davis) the team has put together an impressive record. Considering it is his fifth team in twelve years and one that doesn't appear in which he has worn out his welcome (see Dallas, Sacramento, Chicago), Rondo may look to finish his career with the Pelicans.

Possible Destination: LA Clippers

However, there are two teams in Los Angeles that may seek his services as they rebuild their roster. Both the Clippers and the Lakers could use Rondo's expertise in helping their young point guards navigate their rosters as Austin Rivers and Lonzo Ball could both use an on-court mentor (don't look to Rondo to help Ball's shooting issues though). No matter where the former NBA Champion signs, chances are it won't be for much more than a mid to low level contract.

4 SG - Will Barton

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If the Knicks could offer Tim Hardaway Jr. $71 million and the Sixers threw $23 million at JJ Redick, chances are the Nuggets shooting guard who is averaging a career high in points, assists and FG% could and should see a significant bump from his $3.3 million contract. Odd are Barton will likely be looking for a deal in the neighborhood of $15 million a season and while the Nuggets look to have a bright young future, the question is, are they willing to spend it on their sixth man?

Possible Destination: Detroit Pistons

With a big man that they will have to throw a ton of money at (we will talk about him later) and a possible $12 million player option for Wilson Chandler, Denver has to keep an eye on their summer spending. One option for Barton if he doesn't return to the Mile High City is to join the Detroit Pistons who could be looking for an improvement over Reggie Bullock. It's not that Bullock, a combo guard/forward who is having a career year is horrible, it is just that Barton is easily a more valued commodity and proven player.

3 SF - Carmelo Anthony

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If the trio of Westbrook, George and Anthony can make something work this season, their first as a Big 3 in OKC, there is a good chance that all will return for another run next year. While many had thought the Thunder would be a front runner to compete with GSW for the Western title this year, a season of meshing together was much needed in OKC. With all three stars being accustomed to dominating the ball, Melo had to learn to take a backseat and become the third musketeer.

Possible Destination: Oklahoma City Thunder

Should George bounce to LA, Anthony would step up to be the second option. Although he holds a $28 million player option, Anthony may be enticed by the Rockets to join the duo of CP3 and Harden, two players which he has a strong relationship with. The only speed bump in that plan would be how he views his ability to get along with former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, someone who Melo didn't really see eye to eye with in New York. Maybe the bling of a potential ring would entice bygones to be bygones.

2 PF - Michael Beasley

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Ten years and teams teams later (if you count Miami three times), it finally looks as though B-Easy has found himself and a home in the Big Apple. After coming out as a one and done from Kansas State, the combo forward with all world talent wasn't mentally or emotionally ready for the grind of the NBA. Despite making the All-Rookie team and then averaging nearly twenty points two years later, Beasley would already be on his second team by the age of 22. Leap forward a handful of NBA jerseys and a couple of stops in China and Beasley has shown signs of being the player that many figured he would be.

Possible Destination: New York Knicks

While he isn't putting up consistent eye popping numbers, his role with the Knicks, be it as a starter or sub has proven to be valuable to the stumbling franchise. Look no further than the 18 game span from the end of December through the end of January when Beasley posted 16 double digit scoring games. How is it that in a city in which he could get in so much trouble that Beasley has found his way?

1 C - Jusuf Nurkic

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Considering that Nurkic hasn't gone into witness protection after being crowned by the King, the Blazers 23 year old center continues to be a valued piece to Portland's surprising success this season. While averages of 14 points and eight rebounds aren't screaming max contract, the fact is many around the league feel the fourth year big man still has room to improve.

Possible Destination: Portland Trail Blazers

Although there is some chatter surrounding the skills of rookie big man Zach Collins, the fact is the former Gonzaga Bulldog is still a couple of years away from being a full time starter, years that the organization doesn't want to waste with consideration to stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Should the Blazers choose not to match offers on the Bosnian Beast, one team that could look to secure his services are the Memphis Grizzlies. There was lots of talk during the trade deadline about Marc Gasol leaving town and if that same talk starts up again next February, they would have a backup already in place. Should the younger Gasol choose to stay, teaming the two big men together in the front court could help return the Grizzlies to playoff contenders. Best bet, the Blazers retain but not for the money that Nurkic may be seeking.

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