Confidential: NBA pros dish on the 2018 summer of LeBron, DeMarcus and OKC

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Monday, February 19, 2018

Where will King James take his talents to this fall? We asked 48 NBA pros to look into the crystal basketball for their free-agency predictions on LeBron, DeMarcus Cousins and more.

(Editor's note: Not all athletes answered every question.)

Where will LeBron sign in the offseason?

Cavaliers: 59 percent

Lakers: 22 percent

Heat: 7 percent

Other: 12 percent

Others gaining votes: Grizzlies, Rockets, Sixers, "Not the Cavs"

"He won't leave after all the moves they made last week." -- Eastern Conference forward

Where should LeBron sign in the offseason?

Cavaliers: 66 percent

Heat: 8 percent

Lakers: 8 percent

Other: 18 percent

Others gaining votes: Knicks, Rockets, Sixers, "No team in the West"

"Honestly, I'm hoping that he stays in Cleveland, just for that city. ... But I would definitely understand if he left. It's a business. You see how they did Blake [Griffin] after bringing him in during free agency, telling him all of this and all of that, and then they trade him away." -- Eastern Conference forward

Which coach do you think LeBron should pair up with?

Gregg Popovich: 46 percent

Tyronn Lue: 18 percent

Other: 36 percent

Others gaining votes: Brett Brown, Mike D'Antoni, Billy Donovan, David Fizdale, Steve Kerr, Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra, Luke Walton, "LeBron coaches himself anyway"

"I think LeBron should be a player-coach." -- Eastern Conference center

Which player do you think LeBron should pair up with?

Giannis Antetokounmpo: 12 percent

Chris Paul: 12 percent

Dwyane Wade: 12 percent

Paul George: 9 percent

James Harden: 9 percent

Kawhi Leonard: 9 percent

Other: 37 percent

Others gaining votes: Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook

"The duo of LeBron and Harden would be unstoppable." -- Eastern Conference forward

Which rumored team should LeBron NOT sign with?

Sixers: 31 percent

Warriors: 28 percent

Lakers: 16 percent

Rockets: 16 percent

Other: 9 percent

Others gaining votes: Clippers, Spurs, Wizards

"LeBron is a competitor. He's the type of guy who comes in and lays his hat on the line every night. If he went to Golden State, that would cut his competitive edge out. It would take something away from the type of player that he really is." -- Western Conference center

Do you think the Ball family in L.A. is a deterrent for LeBron signing with the Lakers?

Yes: 11 percent

No: 89 percent

"If LeBron comes to L.A., then it's the LeBron show. Not the Ball show." -- Eastern Conference center

If LeBron does leave, what do you think would be the main reason why?

Dan Gilbert: 29 percent

The roster is too weak to beat the Warriors: 27 percent

Not enough branding opportunity: 10 percent

Other: 34 percent

Others gaining votes: Looking for something new; trying to win a championship; he's too old; legacy; looking for a more lucrative contract; "He's done all he can do in Cleveland;" "I mean, it's Cleveland."

"If LeBron were to leave, it would have to be for way more money -- like if a team could figure out a way to give him a $300 million contract." -- Eastern Conference guard

True or false: DeMarcus Cousins will be in New Orleans on opening night 2018.

True: 80 percent

False: 20 percent

"I hope he'll be back!" -- Western Conference guard

OKC's opening-night lineup will include:

Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony: 45 percent

Westbrook, Anthony and Paul George: 24 percent

Westbrook: 22 percent

Westbrook and George: 9 percent

"George will be in L.A. in two years anyway." -- Eastern Conference forward

Should there be max contracts in the NBA?

Yes: 59 percent

No: 41 percent

"LeBron, Steph and KD, all those guys bring a lot more than what they're getting paid. ... But being a lower-tier salary guy myself, if you pay those guys even more, the lower guys on the totem pole don't really get anything." -- Western Conference guard

Which team have you heard makes the best free-agent pitches?

Celtics: 27 percent

Heat: 15 percent

Lakers: 12 percent

Warriors: 9 percent

Other: 37 percent

Others gaining votes: Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Knicks, Mavericks, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Wizards

"Boston [has the best]. If you bring Tom Brady? That's pretty damn cool." -- Eastern Conference guard

Reporting by Ian Begley, Anna Katherine Clemmons, Hallie Grossman, Sean Hurd, Tim MacMahon, Doug Mittler, Anthony Olivieri, Mike Wells and Michael C. Wright.

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