Post-Finals Power Rankings: The NBA waits for another LeBron decision

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Summer of LeBron's free-agency fun begins (1:01)

LeBron James transitions into offseason mode, which means speculation which has already been going on for months is sure to pick up. (1:01)

The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions for the third time in four seasons, taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games. Are Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant & Co. primed for another title run in 2018-19?

Of course they are.

The real drama, though, starts and ends with LeBron James, who will once again be making a free-agency decision that will have ramifications throughout the entire league.

Our panel -- a group of 40 reporters, insiders and editors -- is already looking ahead to next season with a way-too-early edition of the NBA Power Rankings.

Note: These rankings are based on which teams voters think belong higher heading into the 2018-19 season, taking into account potential player movement and the draft. Title odds for 2018-19 were provided by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg, Nick Friedell, Michael Wright, Royce Young and Ohm Youngmisuk contributed the following information.

1. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 58-24
Result: W, NBA Finals
2019 title odds: 5-4

Now that they've secured their third championship in four years, the Warriors look to maintain their superiority by re-signing Kevin Durant -- something he's confirmed he'll do. Then they'll have to retool the bench with six free agents not including Durant. The Warriors hope to find another rotation prospect with the 28th overall pick in the draft, with center, backup shooting guard and backup power forward as needs. And, of course, if LeBron James puts Golden State on his free-agency list, the Warriors might have a chance to dramatically alter the NBA landscape once again. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


2. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 65-17
Result: L, West finals
2019 title odds: 7-2

One win from reaching the NBA Finals, the Rockets find themselves looking to improve or replicate their success of 2017-18. But the prospect might prove daunting, with pending free-agent decisions on Chris Paul and restricted free agent Clint Capela, who blossomed into a rising star as Houston's No.3 option and will likely field several offer sheets. Given general manager Daryl Morey's penchant for creativity, surely Rockets fans hope Houston finds a way to seriously contend for the services of LeBron. Doable, yes, but as ESPN's Bobby Marks points out, the salary-cap gymnastics involved in such a deal would be tricky. -- Michael Wright


3. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 52-30
Result: L, East semis
2019 title odds: 7-2

Overshadowed slightly by the hysteria over burner Twitter accounts and an unexpected need to find a new general manager is that these Process-trusting Sixers are about to enter a summer in which they own both a lottery pick (No. 10 overall) and the opportunity to chase a max-contract player (whether that's LeBron or Paul George in free agency, or someone like Kawhi Leonard via trade). Philadelphia could also exercise some familiar patience and look for a home run next summer, all without sacrificing any of its ability to contend now. -- Chris Forsberg


4. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 55-27
Result: L, East finals
2019 title odds: 7-1

The Celtics will essentially add two All-Stars to a young core that surged to the cusp of the NBA Finals with the return from injury of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward next season. Outside of those players' rehab, the focus this summer will be on what happens with Marcus Smart in restricted free agency and whether the Celtics get a trade offer they can't refuse after Terry Rozier's postseason emergence. If the core remains intact next season, some have wondered how coach Brad Stevens will find minutes for everyone. The Celtics are fine with that "problem" and believe that, while easing Irving and Hayward back into game action, and with aspirations for a 100-plus-game campaign, there will be plenty of minutes to go around. -- Chris Forsberg


5. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West semis
2019 title odds: 60-1

The Jazz will strengthen their position in the West just by coming back as is. Year 2 for Donovan Mitchell as he continues his ascension into superstar combined with crossing fingers for good health for Rudy Gobert and the Jazz should feel good about climbing the standings next season. But there's always an opportunity for more, and with the way the NBA is set up, the need for stacking talent on talent is always a priority no matter how good it appears you might have it. The Jazz can be players in free agency, but the mark of good management is discipline and discernment, not just using cap space because you have it. -- Royce Young


6. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 47-35
Result: L, West Round 1
2019 title odds: 25-1

Coming off arguably the most turbulent season of the Gregg Popovich era, questions arose regarding the franchise's ability to continue to field consistently competitive squads -- particularly with assistant James Borrego and vice president of basketball operations Monty Williams leaving and other assistants (Ime Udoka, Becky Hammon and Ettore Messina) interviewing elsewhere. The Spurs hope to repair their rocky relationship with franchise cornerstone Kawhi Leonard and offer him a $219 million max extension. But there are questions as to whether veterans Danny Green, Rudy Gay and Manu Ginobili -- who has pondered retirement the past few seasons -- want to return. Point guard Tony Parker is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and it's clear he's no longer in the team's plans as a starter. San Antonio also needs to decide what to do with restricted free agents Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes. -- Michael Wright


7. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 59-23
Result: L, East semis
2019 title odds: 40-1

Despite winning a franchise-record 59 games, something had to give in Toronto after the Raptors got swept out of the second round of the playoffs by LeBron and the Cavaliers for the second consecutive season. Coach Dwane Casey was the fall guy, which seems to suggest the team plans to keep its core intact moving forward. Toronto could trek into the luxury tax if it has to spend big money to retain restricted free agent Fred VanVleet, and that will limit its ability to add more talent, as will not having a draft pick after dealing both its first- and second-round selections away. No one in the East is rooting harder for LeBron to relocate out West, but the Raptors might be stuck in neutral as teams like the Celtics and Sixers accelerate. -- Chris Forsberg


8. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West semis
2019 title odds: 80-1

The Pelicans captured their most victories since 2008-09 and reached the Western Conference semifinals despite losing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in January to an Achilles injury. Now, a decision on free agent Cousins tops New Orleans' list of offseason priorities. Uncertainty regarding whether Cousins can return to an All-NBA level complicates matters, along with the fact he's expected to receive plenty of attention from other teams this summer. Outside of Cousins, the Pelicans will also look to bring back point guard Rajon Rondo. New Orleans' strong 2017-18 campaign places it squarely in the national spotlight, which is uncommon for the small-market Pelicans. -- Michael Wright


9. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 46-36
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 100-1

The 2017-18 season was certainly a step forward for the Nuggets, but with it comes expectations for 2018-19. The pairing of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap didn't have an opportunity to fully form last season because of injuries, but an entire season together, along with more experience for young guard Jamal Murray, presents a lot of upside and potential for the Nuggets. Still, like so many mid-tier teams, they lack the star power to compete with the league's superteams. -- Royce Young


10. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 47-35
Result: L, West Round 1
2019 title odds: 80-1

Making the postseason for the first time since 2004 equaled a successful season, full stop. But with the late-season injury to Jimmy Butler, and some uneasy questions surrounding Karl-Anthony Towns' happiness and Andrew Wiggins' fit, the Wolves' future feels a lot less bright than it was supposed to. The Wolves should be better based on another season together and the restoration of health, but there's also the Tom Thibodeau effect -- how will they hold up, both mentally and physically? -- Royce Young


11. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, East Round 1
2019 title odds: 100-1

The Pacers have to hope they can build upon a promising season in which Victor Oladipo elevated his game to an All-Star level. They have to be optimistic that young big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis take another step next season, while the front office has to decide if it wants to bring Lance Stephenson (team option) and Trevor Booker (unrestricted free agent) back. Indiana could also add another solid contributor with the 23rd pick in the draft. -- Nick Friedell


12. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 44-38
Result: L, East Round 1
2019 title odds: 100-1

It's a crucial summer for the Bucks as they head into a sparkling new downtown arena next season. They believe in the superstar power of Giannis Antetokounmpo and are confident new coach Mike Budenholzer can take them to new heights. The big question in the short term is what the front office decides to do with oft-injured wing Jabari Parker, who will be a restricted free agent this summer and figures to be at the center of one of the most intriguing contract battles in recent memory. After two ACL injuries, are the Bucks sold that Parker can be a solid contributor for their future? We'll see. -- Nick Friedell


13. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 35-47
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 14-1

The long wait is almost over. Free agency is nearly upon L.A., and Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will do everything they can to lure LeBron and George while also exploring all other trade opportunities to land a star should one like Leonard become available. The Lakers, who will try to find another draft steal with the 25th overall pick, also have to decide what to do with restricted free agent Julius Randle. Luol Deng's contract could be tied to all of this, and there are free agents they could sign to one-year deals, like Brook Lopez. All the while, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have to get stronger and more durable. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


14. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West Round 1
2019 title odds: 60-1

It's another summer of unknowns that could swing the franchise forward or set it back once again. This time the only difference is there are no contractual questions around Russell Westbrook, but if he's left alone in the wake of George departing, and with an uncomfortable Carmelo Anthony situation, the Thunder will be in an awkward position for the foreseeable future. If George re-signs, other issues will sort of resolve themselves, and they can view last season's self-admitted disappointment as Year 1 of plan to return to Western Conference contention. -- Royce Young


15. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 49-33
Result: L, West Round 1
2019 title odds: 80-1

How an opening-round sweep can alter the perspective of a season and the outlook for the future: The Portland Trail Blazers story. The Blazers went from a success story to a bust in four quick games. From something to keep a long-term eye on to wondering about the future of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard with the franchise. The Blazers have perpetually been a player (or two) away, but it was never more evident than in their opening-round playoff series against New Orleans. Lillard and McCollum can provide plenty of regular-season sizzle, but for the Blazers to make their breakthrough a la the Warriors circa 2015, they need something else. And the problem is, their cap situation isn't exactly going to accommodate that. -- Royce Young


16. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 43-39
Result: L, East Round 1
2019 title odds: 100-1

Failing to make it out of the first round for the first time alongside Bradley Beal, John Wall made it clear he wants management to weed out players who don't want to be in D.C. and add more pieces. Washington needs to get more athletic, including at center, where Marcin Gortat enters his final season. General manager Ernie Grunfeld, drafting 15th in the first round, has much of his cap tied to Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr. At the very least, Wall & Co. would benefit greatly from the addition of a respected veteran who can add a Paul Pierce-like leadership touch. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


17. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 50-32
Result: L, NBA Finals
2019 title odds: 30-1

Will LeBron stay or will he go? This isn't just the biggest question for the Cavs -- it's the biggest question around the league. Everything else will fall into place after he decides if he wants to stay at home. In the meantime, the Cavs have to decide what they'll do with the eighth overall pick in the draft and hope that the player they select will be able to help them right away whether they remain a title contender or not. -- Nick Friedell


18. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 44-38
Result: L, East Round 1
2019 title odds: 50-1

The Heat lack star power but still found a way to make the playoffs in 2017-18. The problem now is Miami is bound to its current roster for the next two seasons, a squad that includes the troubled Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside's role and how he performs will ultimately determine Miami's standing in the East moving forward. Whiteside is owed $25 and $27 million over the next two seasons, which could be expensively problematic if he doesn't play at the level he's proved capable of. The draft might be an afterthought given that the Heat will send their first-round pick this year to the Suns, and an unprotected first in 2021. The Heat won't have a first- or second-round pick in June. -- Michael Wright


19. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 39-43
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

The Pistons still have to pick a coach and GM to replace Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower, respectively. Once they do that, the focus will shift to whether the new coach can make Van Gundy's old roster work. Can Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond succeed together? How will Reggie Jackson fit in when he's on the floor after missing several months last season due to an ankle injury? Because the team gave up the No. 12 pick in the draft in the Griffin trade, the new Pistons regime desperately needs young players like Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard to find more consistency. -- Nick Friedell


20. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 42-40
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 100-1

The reshaping of the Clippers continues as they look to see how they can improve in the draft. They own the 12th and 13th overall picks and it will be interesting to see what they do with them -- whether they make a deal or stand pat. After trading Griffin away, the Clips now have DeAndre Jordan's future on their plate. The center can opt out of the $24.1 million remaining on his contract if he believes there's a better deal out there, or potentially negotiate a new contract. Then there's the team's health and how Patrick Beverley will rebound from injury. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


21. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 36-46
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

Charlotte has a new GM (Mitch Kupchak) and a new coach (James Borrego), but it's hard to see how much changes on the court. As Kupchak noted at Borrego's introduction, "There is no master plan to blow up this team right now." Still, the Hornets must ponder the future of All-Star guard Kemba Walker, all while putting a focus on developing their young talent, including whomever they pluck with the No. 11 pick. Charlotte could use a lottery home run after struggling to make contact since getting Walker at No. 9 in 2011. -- Chris Forsberg


22. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 27-55
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

The Bulls had to settle for the seventh pick in the draft after tanking all season. Chicago front-office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman will have to hit on this pick the same way they did on Lauri Markkanen, who was acquired on draft night last year as part of a package that sent Butler to Minnesota. Aside from the draft, the Bulls' big question revolves around restricted free agent Zach LaVine. The athletic swingman didn't impress much last season as he made his way back from an ACL injury. The Bulls, who are expected to have more than $20 million in cap space, have to decide just how far they're willing to go if another team steps up and makes a big offer. If the Bulls don't start turning things around this summer, there is a strong likelihood that head coach Fred Hoiberg, and potentially even Paxson and Forman, will be on their way out. -- Nick Friedell


23. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 22-60
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 500-1

The Grizzlies removed the interim title and inserted J.B. Bickerstaff, who is known for player development, as permanent head coach in May. Then Bickerstaff used his first hire to bring in another wizard of player development in lead assistant Chad Forcier, who worked for the Spurs from 2007-16 before joining the Orlando Magic for two seasons; Forcier was instrumental in the development of Leonard and George Hill. Memphis sees plenty of options at No. 4 in the draft, as its needs are as diverse as the pool of talent. But the Grizzlies can't afford to miss -- they haven't had a rookie make the NBA's All-Rookie first or second team since Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo in 2009, the only team in the NBA over that span that hasn't. Plus, Memphis will enter free agency over the salary cap. -- Michael Wright


24. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 29-53
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 100-1

A new head coach and the No. 9 pick in the draft will help distract from the arduous rebuild and, in the case of superstar Kristaps Porzingis, rehab that looms for a Knicks franchise that hasn't sniffed the playoffs since 2013. New York's available cash will hinge on what happens with Enes Kanter ($18.6 million player option) and Joakim Noah (owed $37.8 million, but last seen roaming the jungle with a blonde beard). It's almost certainly in New York's best interest to wait until the summer of 2019 for its next splurge. -- Chris Forsberg


25. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 28-54
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

Brooklyn must endure one more somber draft night as the Cavaliers use the final Nets pick from the infamous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett swap of 2013 with Boston. Brooklyn won't sit out the first round completely, with the 29th pick via Toronto, but the lack of recent lottery selections has certainly slowed the rebuild. Patience, development and long-term planning remain the key for the Nets, who should explore extension options for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and try to figure out how to best position themselves to be players in free agency in 2019. -- Chris Forsberg


26. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 21-61
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 200-1

The Suns have nowhere to go but up after finishing with a league-worst 21 wins. Adding the top overall pick in the draft -- potentially a big man like Arizona's Deandre Ayton -- should provide a boost. The Suns own three of the first 31 picks but have a ton of needs and have to surround Devin Booker with more. Josh Jackson finished his rookie season strong but the Suns have to evaluate the rest of their roster. First-year coach Igor Kokoskov will need to find more scoring, defense and help inside. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


27. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 24-58
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

Owner Mark Cuban mentioned on numerous occasions his team has available money (between $20 and $35 million, depending on which players the Mavericks decide to keep), and plans to spend it. But look for Dallas to be most aggressive in restricted free agency as it searches for young, ascending talent. The Mavericks would like to retain unrestricted free agent Seth Curry, who is coming off injury and could have suitors. At No. 5 overall in the draft, the Mavs could end up with Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba or dark horse Wendell Carter Jr. For Dallas, it's about matching need with value, and it's no secret the club needs to find a capable big. -- Michael Wright


28. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 25-57
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 500-1

Once again, the Magic find themselves starting another summer with a new coach after firing Frank Vogel and replacing him with Steve Clifford. The issue for the Magic remains the same as its been for years, though: There's just not enough talent on the roster to compete most nights. The Magic have to hope they can find this year's Donovan Mitchell with the sixth pick in the draft and must decide if Aaron Gordon, who is a restricted free agent this summer, is someone they want to build around. -- Nick Friedell


29. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 27-55
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 300-1

There's plenty of intrigue surrounding what the Kings will do with the second pick. If Phoenix goes with Ayton, do the Kings draft inside help like Duke's Bagley or Michigan State's Jackson to complement point guard De'Aaron Fox, or do they go with European star Luka Doncic or the upside of Michael Porter Jr.? The Kings really can't afford to miss on this opportunity to add a difference-maker considering they don't own a first-round pick next year. If Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos and Garrett Temple opt into their contracts, the Kings still could have $19 million in cap space this summer. Creating roster flexibility, maintaining cap flexibility for the future and staying patient with the rebuild should be priorities for Sacramento this offseason. -- Ohm Youngmisuk


30. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 24-58
Result: Missed playoffs
2019 title odds: 1000-1

It's not great in Atlanta right now. Budenholzer is gone, and the remnants of team that won 60 games just three years ago exists only on the fringes of the roster. There's cap space, sure, but what are the realistic tide-turning options available to the Hawks? It's a tried-and-true rebuild underway in Atlanta, with some upside in John Collins and a few intriguing young pieces like Taurean Prince and Tyler Dorsey to go with the third, 19th and 30th overall picks. The Hawks can get back, but how fast that happens will depend on how much they nail this upcoming draft. -- Royce Young