Originally Published: June 30, 2010

1. What To Watch For As Free Agency Begins


We asked our NBA experts to give us three things to watch for as free agency begins. Here are their answers:

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop:

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The key thing is: Are they intent on playing together? If so, Miami is the favorite. On the other hand, if each just wants to maximize his own chances of winning a title, the threesome could split up, in which case the Chicago Bulls are the most likely destination for James. The other key is whether or not somebody will take Loul Deng's contract from the Bulls in a sign-and-trade for a superstar. If so, the Bulls become the heavyweights.

Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop:

1. Sign-and-trades take over the process after a few top names choose their destinations.

2. A slew of salary dumps as teams stretched for cash trade capable players with large deals to teams with cap room to absorb those contracts.

3. More teams at the bottom of the standings will exercise restraint, preferring to adopt the Oklahoma City model of developing young talent and preserving financial flexibility.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com:

1. Cap moves by teams that still need to clear space. Several teams are close to but not quite at the threshold where they could offer two (or in Miami's case, three) max free-agent contracts. One or two small trades can get them to that point. If they make one of those deals it's a good sign they've been tipped off that their player is coming. Either that, or like the Clippers with Kobe Bryant a few years ago, it's a sign they've been duped.

2. Teams without cap space working sign-and-trade possibilities. Dallas and Houston will be the two most active teams on this front, but Cleveland should be, too, and others (Toronto, Phoenix, Boston) could also get in on the game. Since players have an incentive to work sign-and-trades rather than sign a straight free-agent deal, the teams with cap space don't necessarily have the upper hand.

3. LeBron. Let's face it, he's still the first domino. It's unlikely anything else happens until he makes a decision.

Chad Ford, ESPN.com:

1. A long queue forming behind LeBron. I don't expect any team with serious cap room to make a major signing until LeBron indicates where he's going. If he's indecisive, the whole process and all of the top free agents in it are in limbo until he decides.

2. Lots of pairing up. With so many teams clearing space for two free agents, I think we'll see pairings in Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Miami. Given that there are roughly eight great free agents out there … that's going to take care of most of the marketplace.

3. The other shoe to drop. We've had some minor trades as teams try to get more room under the salary cap. I expect that we'll see a flurry of trades once the free-agent landscape is clearer. There are a lot of teams looking to improve, and a lot of teams with cap room who will be shut out of a top free agent. I think we could see an extraordinary amount of dealing after July 8.

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com:

1. Does David Lee take the money and run? Lee is the Knicks' primary sign-and-trade asset, but if a team presents him with a take-it-or-leave-it offer on the first or second day of free agency, especially if it is worth behemothian bucks, he's probably going to have to take it, which will adversely impact the Knicks' chances of getting Chris Bosh.

2. When is LeBron James going to say something publicly? At a certain point, perhaps July 3 or 4, it will behoove everyone for him to state where he stands. Otherwise people will be making decisions off misinformation or disinformation. And if he truly wants to be a global icon, one who is revered, he can't leave the public uninformed for too long.

3. Where does the salary cap come in? Back in mid-April, NBA commissioner David Stern said it was projected to be at $56.1 million. But in July, the league said it could be as low as $50 million. If it comes in at $57-58 million, the players' union could have a stronger case if they charge the owners with collusion.

Free Agency Dimes past: Wade | Bosh | Playoffs | Coaches | LeBron | Lottery | Sidekicks

2. Latest On LeBron; Carmelo Trade?

3. Expert Roundtable: Who's Going Where?

By ESPN.com

How will it all go down? We asked our experts for their best guesses on where the top 10 free agents will land this summer.

Where will LeBron James sign?

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Chicago Bulls. Though if playing with Wade and Bosh trumps all, he'll end up in Miami. More likely than 50/50? No.

Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: Chicago Bulls. They are the only team in the field that features youthful assets (Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah) and the cap space required to sign an additional max contract to play alongside James. More likely than 50/50? No.

Larry Coon, special to ESPN.com: Chicago Bulls. Big city, a team that's clearly his to lead, and a nucleus that can be competitive right away all add up to the biggest free-agency defection since Shaq in 1996 -- but nobody really knows the mind of LeBron. More likely than 50/50? No.

Chad Ford, ESPN.com: Chicago Bulls. They offer the best combination of a huge market and a chance to win now with a young supporting cast. More likely than 50/50? No.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Chicago Bulls. I see Chicago and Cleveland as slight favorites, but Miami, New York and New Jersey are very much in the game. More likely than 50-50? No, not even close.

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: New York Knicks. He has done some of his best flirting at Madison Square Garden. (I was a witness.) More likely than 50-50? No.

Find out where our experts predict other top free agents will land here.

4. Daily Dime Live

ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers are chatting with fans, giving their opinions about free agency -- all in Daily Dime Live.


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