NBA Free Agency, Trade 2014: Start Date, Latest Rumors and Predictions; Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kyle Lowry

June 18, 2014 Last Updated: June 20, 2014

The NBA free agency is set to start on July 1, and the rumors and predictions keep coming out for some of the biggest names in the sport.

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh are among the players who could become free agents. 

Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Lance Stephenson, Shaun Livingston, and Kyle Lowry are among the unrestricted free agents.

Alan Anderson, Eric Bledsoe, and Chandler Parsons are among the other restricted free agents who have player options.

Let’s check out some of the latest rumors and predictions below:

Carmelo Anthony

Anthony is probably the hottest name around the NBA right now, as it increasingly looks like he’ll opt out of his contract and test the market.

Yahoo reported a little while ago that Anthony is leaning toward opting out, and that the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets have emerged as clear frontrunners. Both are looking at either signing him as a free agent or working out a sign-and-trade.

“His heart is in New York,” one source familiar with Anthony’s thinking said, “but he wants a chance to win now.”

However, New York Knicks officials are not alarmed over the report.

A source close to new team president Phil Jackson told the New York Post that a recent meeting between the pair along with Anthony’s agent Leon Rose went well.

Even though the source acknowledged that Anthony will probably opt out, but don’t think the Bulls and Rockets are real contenders and believe Anthony can still come back. The Miami Heat have also been said to be pursuing Anthony to make a so-called Big Four.

Jackson did say earlier this month that he prefers Anthony not opt out.

“I’m not losing sleep over it, but I’m definitely concerned about the idea of a guy going into free agency,” Jackson said. “It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances.”

LeBron James

If Anthony is the hottest name possibly on the market then James is easily the second, and not far behind.

The NBA finals drubbing of the Heat increased speculation that James will opt out and try to pair with another superstar or two in his quest for more championship.

One of the latest rumors is that both James and Anthony could both join Kobe Bryant at the Los Angeles Lakers, although both the signees would have to take pay cuts.

“Of all the convoluted superstar concoctions that are possible this summer, James and Anthony joining Bryant with the Lakers might be the most plausible — as long as you operate from the assumption that both would be willing to take a significant pay cut to do so,” reported CBS.

“If the Lakers waived Steve Nash and stretched his $9.7 million over the next three seasons, they’d have about $30 million to allocate to free agents.”

James was planning to go on vacation with his family before deciding on his future, ESPN reported via Twitter.

Kyle Lowry

lowry

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Lowry is reported by many to be loyal to the Toronto Raptors but the point guard has expressed interest in going to the Miami Heat, according to ESPN.

The Heat also have interest in the guard, who would be a sizable upgrade at the position over Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.

Bleacher Report‘s Stephen Babb noted that landing someone like Lowry may be easier said than done.

“First, Miami is well over the salary cap, leaving it with only a midlevel exception to acquire additional talent. That exception may be better-used restocking the bench by acquiring a shooter or two. Second, there aren’t very many good free-agent point guards available, especially if you’re looking for someone who’s actually a step up from Chalmers,” he said.

“Mo Williams may be on the market. Ramon Sessions could probably be had on the cheap. But it would be hard to argue either of those guys is a clear improvement over Chalmers.”

Lowry could land a big contract this time around, something he’s earned with his play in the last couple years, something the Heat probably couldn’t provide.

Lance Stephenson

Some believe that Stephenson will re-sign with the Indiana Pacers, as president Larry Bird has expressed his support for the young swingman.

But others think that he could land elsewhere.

Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders thinks Stephenson will ultimately sign with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Call me crazy, but I think in hopes of taking the next step forward in the Eastern Conference and becoming more than just a fringe playoff team the Charlotte Bobcats [Hornets] are going to go after him hard and offer him more than the Pacers are willing to,” he said.

“I know he’s a little crazy, but you can harness that and use it in a positive way, see Metta World Peace with the Los Angeles Lakers his first season.”

Whatever team or teams makes offers to Stephenson, the Pacers can match it. SI.com points out that the Hornets are climbing toward respectability, making the playoffs and beginning to assemble a roster around star Al Jefferson.

“That positions the Hornets as likely spenders again this summer. Some of their funds may be tabbed for Josh McRoberts, provided he declines his $2.7 million player option for next season. McRoberts worked out to be a terrific bargain for the then-Bobcats, and a team structured around Jefferson’s post work could again make use of the 27-year-old forward’s passing and perimeter shooting. Beyond that, Charlotte has two first rounders (No. 9 and No. 24) courtesy of the Pistons and Blazers and the ability to trade their own future picks now that their outstanding debt to Chicago (via the regrettable Tyrus Thomas deal) has been paid,” it reported.

Then again, the team might not make any big moves yet. “Charlotte is a legitimately interesting team again, and with the return to purple and teal may have a little extra motivation to make moves.”