The NBA season has only been over for a couple of weeks but basketball fans are already looking towards this offseason. Through free agency and the NBA Draft, several fanbases are looking forward to their team undergoing significant changes before the 2018 NBA season begins. The draft has been covered by multiple other articles on this site, so this list will look towards free agency. This article will countdown the 20 NBA Free Agents Who Aren't Named LeBron: Where Will They Sign? LeBron is obviously the center piece of free agency this year, but a lot of sports media has focused entirely on him and ignored the other talented players who are eligible to join a new team.
This list will give these players their due and will make only cursory references to the Great One. Anyone who has tuned into SportsCenter in the past few weeks will realize how rare this is. This list will not only highlight those 2018 free agents who are the most talented, it will use all the resources available to determine what franchises these players are most likely to sign with. If you can think of any other 2018 NBA free agents who did not make this list, mention them in the comments, but do not forget to also include where you think their likely landing spots will be. In a few short weeks these players will begin to sign their contracts and we will be able to see how justified and well-informed our predictions were.
20 Chris Paul - Houston Rockets
The Rockets pulled off quite the coup in the 2017 offseason when they signed Chris Paul away from the Clippers. The problem with this deal is that Paul can now become a free agent again after only one year. After he was a major reason that the Rockets almost eliminated the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, expect the demand for Paul to be sky high. So, where does Paul go? Like I said, the Rockets almost eliminated the Warriors last year (and probably would have if not for an untimely injury to Paul) so I would be surprised if he does not return for at least one more shot.
19 Deandre Jordan - Dallas Mavericks
Here is another player whose free agent stock has gone down significantly from a year ago. Last year at this time several teams were interested in Clippers center Deandre Jordan. But after spending a year on a team going absolutely nowhere, Jordan has become an afterthought in 2018. There might not be as much hype surrounding Jordan this year as there was last summer but he can still be an important NBA contributor. You can expect him to go to a team in need of a big man but do not expect him to make them a title contender. Think the Grizzlies or Mavericks, or maybe even a return to LA.
18 Demarcus Cousins - New Orleans Pelicans
At this time last year teams and fans alike were drooling over the prospect of brining Demarcus Cousins to their city. Boogie had matured into a dominant center with the Sacramento Kings and his blend of low post prowess and defensive proficiency had the potential to change an entire teams' future. But after a lackluster year that saw him on the Pelicans injured reserve, I have not seen as much interest in him this offseason. This will be better for the team that signs him because he will come at much more of a discount. I predict that the Pelicans re-sign Cousins as part of their plan to keep Anthony Davis happy.
17 Tyreke Evans - Golden State Warriors
After watching him play in the league for 9 seasons, teams know what they are getting in Tyreke Evans. He will never be the superstar that he looked like in his first few years with the Sacramento Kings but he is an able scorer and defender who will get some rebounds from his guard position. Evans had a resurgent season in 2017-2018 with the Grizzlies. He will try to parlay that into a bigger contract in the 2018 offseason. But what teams are in need of a veteran guard who can score? The most interesting option is the Golden State Warriors. Evans can get more money elsewhere but if he is willing to give up some dough for the chance to win a championship, the Warriors would greatly benefit from his style of play.
16 Carmelo Anthony - Memphis Grizzlies
When LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were drafted in 2003 there was a legitimate debate about which player had the higher NBA ceiling. More than a decade later LeBron is potentially the greatest player of all time while Melo only has a handful of accomplishments in a 15-year career. The career trajectory of these two players speaks to how important temperament is for an athlete to be successful. With that being said, Carmelo still has an impressive basketball skillset and could be a useful addition to the right franchise. Championship contenders might be weary to sign someone who is viewed as a team cancer but teams like the Grizzlies who are just hoping to get butts in the seats might benefit from Melo's star power.
15 Marcus Smart - Boston Celtics
There might not be a more polarizing figure in the NBA than Marcus Smart. Some experts have lauded his toughness and playmaking ability while others have commented negatively on his poor shooting percentage. After last season with the Boston Celtics, however, there is no doubt that he is one of the top 20 free agents of 2018. Many people assumed that he would leave Boston for a bigger contract elsewhere but now it seems like the Celtics will scrounge up just enough money to keep him in a green uniform. This will be especially true if the Celtics decide to trade Terry Rozier.
14 Dwyane Wade - Los Angeles Lakers
It is always sad to see an all-time great player regress into a shadow of his former self. Many people hoped that reuniting with LeBron James would spark a fire in Dwyane Wade like we have not seen since he was part of the big 3 in Miami. This magic never materialized in Cleveland and Dwyane was forced out before the trade deadline. Part of me though, still believes that Wade has one more run in him. On a team that is responsive to his skill set he can still be an elite scorer and he brings a championship caliber that few other players have. If the Lakers miss out on the premier free agents in the class maybe they will give Wade a call.
13 Derrick Favors - Utah Jazz
It is amazing what a change of scenery can do for a player. The (then) New Jersey Nets selected Derrick Favors with the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was an okay player in his first two NBA seasons but he certainly did not live up to the hype of being such a high lottery pick. When he found himself on the Utah Jazz, however, things began to turn around for Favors. Athletic big men are highly coveted in the current NBA, so Favors should get some interest around the league. It would be surprising, however, for him to leave a Jazz franchise that helped him to turn his career around.
12 Clint Capela - Detroit Pistons
It is not often that a talented young player goes unheralded in the NBA. This, however, is exactly what is happening with Clint Capela. Capela has been a blossoming star for the Houston Rockets and if they want to once again challenge the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference this is exactly the type of player that they will have to hold on to. The problem is that Chris Paul can also opt out of his contract, making him a free agent. If the Rockets are forced to choose they will (wisely) go with Paul, making Capela available to a wide variety of teams. My guess would be a team like the Pistons.
11 Paul George - Los Angeles Lakers
The story of Paul George's free agency will inevitably become linked with that of LeBron James. George will likely make his decision based on where James lands, the question is how he will react to the LeBron signing. If The King comes to a Western Conference that is already stacked with All-Stars, will George decide to head back east? Or if LeBron signs with the LA Lakers, will George also sign with Magic Johnson, making an instantaneous super team? My bet is that George ends up signing with the Lakers, with or without LeBron. He has spent enough of his career playing for small market teams in Indiana and Oklahoma City.
10 Jabari Parker - San Antonio Spurs
For the past two years analysts have been applauding the Milwaukee Bucks for accumulating so many young, talented players. The problem with this is that at some point you must begin paying these young players. The Bucks are now at this point and Jabari Parker is one of the first players that they will have to release or give a bigger contract to. Parker has been good, but not great since being drafted by Milwaukee. If the Bucks are able to bring in a star to pair with Giannis, Parker will probably be gone. Expect a team like the Spurs to take a chance on his potential and sign him to a short-term contract.
9 JJ Redick - Philadelphia 76ers
I believe that JJ Reddick might be the most underrated player in the entire NBA. Everywhere that he goes he is a dynamic scorer and he has been an important piece of multiple playoff teams. Reddick personifies Duke University for a lot of people do he gets a lot of flak for that. But if you look solely at his NBA production I would think that most fans would like to have him on their team. After being an important veteran presence for them last season, I think the 76ers re-sign JJ in 2018. His shooting is important to their offensive game plan and he is one of the most traveled players on their squad.
8 Julius Randle - Phoenix Suns
For the entire 2017 season, LA fans and the national media talked about all of the players who could possibly join the Lakers this offseason. What often gets lost in the talk of LeBron or Paul George coming to LA is all of the players that they could potentially lose this offseason. One of these players is Julius Randle. Randle was a lottery pick by the Lakers but he struggled in his first few years in the league. He has steadily improved, however, and last season he was good enough that he might have made the All-Star team if the Lakers weren't such a train wreck. The Suns are reportedly interested in him.
7 Kevin Durant - Golden State Warriors
When Kevin Durant announced that he would stay with the Golden State Warriors after winning his second NBA Title with the team, it took a lot of the excitement out of NBA free agency. There will still be the Lebron sweepstakes but how cool would it have been if arguably the best two players in the NBA were true free agents at the same time. There would have even been the possibility that they would both sign with the same franchise, instantly creating another super team. In reality, Durant can be expected to resign with the Warriors shortly after free agency officially begins, making them the favorites to win the NBA Title for a third straight year.
6 Zach Lavine - New York Knicks
When you are evaluating a player in free agency or in the draft, you should look at two things. How will the player be able to contribute to your squad in the immediate future and what is the players ceiling on the NBA level. At times in the past few seasons Lavine has struggled but basketball experts have almost universally predicted that the Bulls star has as high of a ceiling as any young player in the NBA. Therefore, the team that signs him will not only be getting his production from last season, they will also be getting a player who has the potential to become a superstar in the near future. A team like the New York Knicks has the time and resources to wait on this development.
5 Isaiah Thomas - Boston Celtics
If this next player would have been a free agent last offseason, his decision of where to sign would have been almost as important as LeBron James' choice. At the end of the 2016-2017 season, Isaiah Thomas was being talked about as a legitimate MVP candidate. After offseason surgery and being traded twice in less than a year, however, his value has declined. But this is exactly what will make him a steal in 2018. Look at the Boston Celtics as a possible landing spot for IT; Marcus Smart might not be resigned and Terry Rozier is reportedly on the trading block.
4 Elfrid Payton - Cleveland Cavaliers
Most people know Elfrid Payton for his crazy haircut but he is actually a very skilled point guard. Even more importantly for free agency, he has shown significant improvement since he came into the league. Every general manager is looking for players who are trending upwards and Payton's history suggests that he will only get better as he matures. In particular, his ability (or lack thereof) to shoot from long distance will determine how productive he can be. Purely passing point guards have fallen out of vogue in the NBA. Payton might end up being the type of player who the Cavaliers sign if LeBron decides to go elsewhere.
3 Enes Kanter - Utah Jazz
There is never a shortage of need for veteran big men in the NBA. Even players like Kendrick Perkins are able to stick around the league well after their skill set has diminished. Enes Kanter has been in the league for a while now but he still has no trouble running up and down the floor. He also battles under the hoop and has enough of an offensive game that opposing defenses must respect him. Recent rumors indicate that the Utah Jazz might be interested in Kanter. The team exceeded expectations last season and now they are looking to add more depth to their frontcourt.
2 Avery Bradley - Los Angeles Clippers
Even if you do not like the Boston Celtics you have to admit that General Manager, Danny Ainge, is a mastermind. He orchestrated the original big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen and he has quickly built this current young team that should be ready to contend for an NBA Title next season. One of his moves I did not like was when he traded Avery Bradley. Bradley is one of the best 3-and-D players in the league. He can guard the best player on the opposing team and provide a spark on offense. The Clippers would be stupid to let him sign with another team.
1 Aaron Gordon - Detroit Pistons
I am friends with a lot of Orlando Magic fans and I remember that they were very upset when the franchise first drafted Aaron Gordon. He was a very athletic prospect but many people were worried that he could not transition to NBA basketball. He struggled for his first few years in the league but by last season he was a legitimate superstar. This made some Magic fans even more bitter because now he is due for a massive payday. The Magic are years away from contending so they might choose to let Gordon walk. If they do, teams like the Detroit Pistons will be happy to sign a player who can be a secondary superstar for their franchise.