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Just a few days before the start of free agency in 2018, the rumor of the NBA is stirring stories all over the Internet.
The Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are listed to reap most of the headlines from now until July 1, when free agency officially begins, but there will be many other names to monitor.
In addition to LeBron, this week he also produced nuggets in the Indiana Pacers, and his desire to pursue Will Barton or Tyreke Evans, as well as the Memphis Grizzlies, who seem ready to pursue Avery Bradley.
LeBron James to the Lakers?
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press
While everyone follows the clues about LeBron's free agency decision in 2018, one executive seems confident that the league's biggest name is headed to Los Angeles.
"Surely, James would not pack and go west to play with boys over a decade younger than him," Sean Deveney wrote for The Sporting News. "But league executives are not so sure that the Lakers need to make previous moves for James to arrive in Los Angeles," he told Sporting News, "that James is expected to sign with the Lakers, even before the team reforms its list". 19659004] LA, surely aware of such whispers, does not rest on his laurels, however. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported Wednesday that the Lakers were aggressively pursuing an exchange with Leonard:
Ramona Shelburne @ ramonashelburne
Update this morning's story. The Lakers returned to engage with the Spurs on Wednesday to aggressively pursue Kawhi Leonard. Story with @wojespn soon on ESPN. This is the first contact between the teams since the Spurs "closed the door" after an initial call.
If LeBron is willing to sign with an incomplete Lakers squad, going to one that already has Leonard seems much more tempting. .
And depending on what happens with free agents in Los Angeles, they may have enough to move the space and be able to include a larger name on the list. Basketball without position with LeBron, Leonard and Paul George would be scary. Or imagine pick-and-rolls with LeBron and DeMarcus Cousins, flanked by Leonard.
And even if the Lakers finished with "only" LeBron and Leonard, they would still think they were one of the best teams in the West. THE. obviously he would have to give up some good young players to trade for Kawhi, but his treasure chest of badets and solid young players is quite loaded.
Pacers looking for new wings?
Joe Murphy / Getty Images
Out of a small detour that took him to five different teams in three seasons, Lance Stephenson has been a kind of accessory for Indiana since 2010-11, his first season in the league.
In fact, since that season, he is seventh among the Pacers in Wins Over Replacement Player, by Basketball Reference. However, his most recent season with Indiana was not as successful as his first season. In those first four seasons, I had a combined Box Plus-Minus of one. In 2017-18, it was minus-2.1, by basketball reference.
So, maybe it should not have been a big surprise when the Pacers rejected the Stephenson team option for the 2018-1919 season. And the objectives to replace it, informed by Chris Haynes of ESPN, also make sense:
Chris Haynes @ ChrisBHaynes
ESPN Sources: with Indiana's declining team option on Lance Stephenson, Tyreke Evans and Will Barton is expected to be two of his free agency goals.
Indiana figures as one of the few teams with salary cap space. Without much further than rejecting Joe Young's option as well, the Pacers should be able to open up enough room to sign someone for the mid-level exception (which will start at around $ 8.6 million per year).
With the market so tight this summer, it will be over the range that Tyreke Evans and Will Barton will have to sign, despite their strong 2017-18 campaigns:
|Stephenson, Evans and Barton|
|Lance Stephenson||] 9.2||5.2||2.9||.495||-2.1|
Matching any of those players with Victor Oladipo would help Indiana continue moving in the right direction after changing course with George last summer trade.
Avery Bradley to the Grizzlies?
Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty Images
Despite having one of the worst statistical seasons in the NBA in 2017-18, there is some interest in the league by Bradley too.
Among the 212 players with at least as many minutes, Bradley finished 209 in Box Plus-Minus, according to Basketball Reference . Only Josh Jackson, De & # 39; Aaron Fox and Tyler Ulis were worse.
That did not seem to stop the Grizzlies from imagining it with Mike Conley, as reported by Marc Stein of The New York Times :
Marc Stein  @ TheSteinLine
Upon learning that the Grizzlies, who will seek improvements in their wings with their mid-level exception, have Avery Bradley high among their free agency goals
If Bradley could return to average level of the league with which he played during his last two seasons with the Boston Celtics, it would still be an improvement for the Grizzlies. . Memphis had several guards record rotation minutes while playing well below the replacement level.
A healthy Conley, a maximized Bradley, No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson and a healthy Marc Gasol could make Memphis quickly back down to playoff contention. 
Unless otherwise indicated, statistics are courtesy of NBA.com or Sports Reference.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Report Bleach. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast co-hosted by Dan from B / R Favale.