2012 NBA Free Agent Landing Spots Predictions
NBA Free Agency starts tomorrow and that means its predictions time. The 2012 NBA free agent class isn’t too strong this summer due to the fact that Dwight Howard waived his early termination option (ETO) to return to Orlando for one more year and Chris Paul has agreed to waive his ETO to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers for at least one more season. That leaves Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams as the only premiere top flight free agent this summer. After Williams, the free agent class gets weaker. The class does have some very interesting names and players that will garner a lot of interest but there’s not another player as big as Deron Williams.
The 2012 NBA free agent class took another big hit about seven hours ago when Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported that Kevin Garnett has decided not to retire and will return to the Boston Celtics on a three-year, $34 million deal. Some names that will definitely garner interest behind Deron Williams will surely be Phoenix PG Steve Nash, New Orleans SG Eric Gordon, and Indiana C Roy Hibbert, to name a few.
Some teams that you shouldn’t expect to see much activity in free agency from will be the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics. Some teams that will surely try to make a lot of noise will be the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Well here are my predictions on the top 20 NBA free agents in the Summer of 2012. I will put the player’s name and position, followed by the team he will sign with, and his previous team after my brief summary.
1.Deron Williams, PG: Brooklyn Nets – We all know its between the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks for D-Will’s services. Dallas is Williams’ hometown and they do have Dirk Nowitzki on the roster already. Having Dirk and Deron on the same team is scary, but Nowitzki is already 34 years old and will be entering his declining stage soon and Dallas won’t have much cap room after signing D-Will to add another significant player like a Dwight Howard or a wing player. Brooklyn has loads of cap room, are in a major market, and can afford both Williams and Howard. We all know Brooklyn is the leaders to trade for Dwight Howard, once he is indeed traded. I think Williams will roll the dice and re-sign with Brooklyn even though Howard is not yet on the team, but also because they do have a fusion of good young talent already on the team and all that cap room to add someone else of significance. (2011-2012 Team: Brooklyn Nets)
2.Eric Gordon, SG: New Orleans Hornets – Gordon is a restricted free agent, so the Hornets can match any offer made to him. Teams that are expected to be interested are the Suns, Pacers, Mavericks, and Trail Blazers. I don’t see great fits with any of those teams, and with the Hornets bringing in Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers from the draft, keeping Gordon is important and would give the Hornets a great young team. (2011-2012 Team: New Orleans Hornets)
3.Steve Nash, PG: Dallas Mavericks – The first player on my list to switch teams. The Suns want to bring back Nash but they’re far from being a title contender and with Nash at 38 years old, he wants a ring before he retires, but also would like to add some money. Since Dallas has the money to afford Deron Williams, they’ll definitely have enough money for Nash, who was with the team from 1998-2004. Nash is also great friends with Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs will need a point guard if Williams remains in Brooklyn or goes somewhere else. Nash will be an upgrade over Jason Kidd and will keep the Mavericks as a championship contender. (2011-2012 Team: Phoenix Suns)
4.Roy Hibbert, C: Indiana Pacers – Hibbert is only 25 years old and is a restricted free agent. The Pacers will match any offer made to him, even if it’s a max contract. If the Pacers let him go, they are screwed big time in the front court. Hibbert was also a first time all start this past season, so I don’t see any chance that Indiana lets him slip away. (2011-2012 Team: Indiana Pacers)
5.Tim Duncan, PF: San Antonio Spurs – Duncan is 36 years old, but I don’t think that matters at all when thinking whether the Spurs want him back. He’s a first ballot hall-of-famer, arguably the greatest Spurs player of all time, had a very productive season this past season, and I think everyone would agree that there’s no chance that Duncan finishes his career in any other city then San Antonio. Duncan will probably sign a two or three-year deal to retire with the Spurs. (2011-2012 Team: San Antonio Spurs)
6.Ersan Ilyasova, PF: Brooklyn Nets – Ilyasova had a breakout year in Milwaukee and will get a big pay-day in free agency. Ilyasova averaged 13.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 49.2 FG%, 45.5 3FG%, and 27.6 MPG this past season. He had an insane 27 point, 25 rebound game against the Nets in February. The Nets are among his top suitors and have the cap room. A Deron Williams and Ilyasova led Nets would be very promising and inch them closer to the playoffs. If the Nets get desperate and aren’t as optimistic in their pursuit for Dwight Howard, they may just overspend for Ilyasova. (2011-2012 Team: Milwaukee Bucks)
7.Ray Allen, SG: Miami Heat – Allen is atop the Heat’s free agent list. It doesn’t sound like Allen will return to Boston now that Avery Bradley looks like he has the shooting guard position to himself now. Ray-Ray wants to add another ring before he retires and with Miami being the defending champions and the favorites for the next few years, I can see Allen taking less to go to the NBA Champion favorites who indeed want him. (2011-2012 Team: Boston Celtics)
8.Ryan Anderson, PF: Orlando Magic – The Magic have extended a qualifying offer (QO) to Anderson and can match any offer extended to him. With the expected exit of Dwight Howard within the next year, I don’t think the Magic will wanna lose Anderson too. Anderson became a tremendous three-point shooter this past season, won the most improved player award, and is only 24 years old. (2011-2012 Team: Orlando Magic)
9.Brook Lopez, C: Brooklyn Nets – Lopez is a restricted free agent and the Nets will match any offer. Lopez will almost certainly be apart of any package that the Nets give Orlando for Dwight Howard and he is one of the best scoring centers in the league, averaging about 20 PPG. (2011-2012 Team: Brooklyn Nets)
10.Jeremy Lin, PG: New York Knicks – The NBA has dropped their appeal of Lin and other players’ Bird Rights. So that pretty much guarantees that Lin will be back in New York. The most any team can offer Lin is reportedly the mid-level exception, which is about $5 million. There’s no doubt the Knicks will match that, as they need him back badly. (2011-2012 team: New York Knicks)
11.Goran Dragic, PG: Houston Rockets – Kyle Lowry doesn’t like Houston head coach Kevin McHale and it looks like a trade may happen any day now. If Houston does indeed trade Lowry, then they must re-sign Goran Dragic to run the point. Dragic is ready to start and Houston does want him back but a surplus of teams will try to lure him to their teams. (2011-2012 team: Houston Rockets)
12.Javale McGee, C: Denver Nuggets – McGee is a tough player to coach because of his hard-headed attitude. After being traded from Washington to Denver last season, McGee got a hall of fame coach to control him and McGee flourished to end the season. Denver wants him back, but are afraid to overpay him. The guy is a defensive machine and can add some offense and would provide Denver with a scary young front court duo with Kenneth Farried. (2011-2012 Team: Denver Nuggets)
13.Nicolas Batum, SF: Portland Trail Blazers – Batum is a restricted free agent and is very young at 23 years old. He is very good on defense and shoots well from three-point land. Portland wants him to be apart of their rebuilding phase with first round picks, PG Damian Lillard and C Meyers Leonard. (2011-2012 Team: Portland Trail Blazers)
14.Jason Terry, SG: Chicago Bulls – There are rumors that the Bulls are interested in Ray Allen to fill their SG position, even with Rip Hamilton on the team. Since I think that Allen will go to Miami, I think the Bulls will focus their attention on Jason Terry, who is not a bad backup plan and can platoon with Hamilton at shooting guard and add instant offense and clutch shooting for Chicago in the wake up Derrick Rose being out for most of the year. (2011-2012 Team: Dallas Mavericks)
15.Gerald Wallace, SF: Brooklyn Nets – The Nets need him back so they can package him to Orlando for Dwight Howard. Shipping Wallace and Lopez to Orlando is a good starting point but if a deal doesn’t get done, Wallace isn’t bad to have on the team as he was their second best player after they acquired him this past season. (2011-2012 Team: Brooklyn Nets)
16.Jamal Crawford, SG: Minnesota Timberwolves – The Wolves will have a really young promising team for years to come with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Chase Buddinger, and Derrick Williams on the team already. All they need is a shooting guard and Crawford is on their list of free agents to pursue. I expect the Wolves to throw a really good looking contract at Crawford and create a promising team for a few years. Crawford is a shooter they need and would fit perfectly in Minnesota. Watch out for Miami, New York, Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Brooklyn to pursue Crawford as well. (2011-2012 Team: Portland Trail Blazers)
17.Jeff Green, SF: Boston Celtics – Green missed all of this year because of heart surgery but will be ready for training camp. He’s still only 25 years old and has a bright future if he can stay healthy. I doubt the Celtics let him go for nothing after trading for him last year and giving up Kendrick Perkins in that deal with Oklahoma City. (2011-2012 Team: Boston Celtics)
18.Ramon Sessions, PG: Los Angeles Lakers – According to a report, the Lakers have Ramon Sessions’ bird rights. If that’s true the Lakers will match any offer for him. If the report is false, I still see no way the Lakers don’t do everything to keep Sessions unless they wanna play next season without a point guard. Sessions played ok down the stretch as the Lakers made it to the Western Conference Semifinals. If they let him walk, they have no one at point guard. Sessions will get a solid contract from the Lakers to come back I’d expect. (2011-2012 team: Los Angeles Lakers)
19.George Hill, PG: Indiana Pacers – The Pacers have solid depth in their back court and re-signing George Hill is helpful after how well he played last season after taking the starting spot from Darren Collison. The Pacers are exploring trades for Darren Collison because Hill will start and Collison wants to start as well and Indiana prefers to start Hill right now. Hill is a restricted free agent, so Indiana can match any offer they want, just like they can with Roy Hibbert. (2011-2012 team: Indiana Pacers)
20.Omer Asik, C: Houston Rockets – The Rockets need a center after trading Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee. Asik is a defensive rock in Chicago but he’s behind Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Taj Gibson on the depth chart and some people believe he’s gonna get a big enough contract that the Bulls won’t be able to afford and have to watch him walk away. He’s a liability on offense but the toughness on defense will help Houston and they’re reportedly getting ready to make a run for him in free agency. Two other teams to watch out in the Omer Asik sweepstakes are the Miami Heat and New Orleans Hornets. The Heat obviously need a center and so do the Hornets after trading Emeka Okafor. They need a new center to pair up with Anthony Davis in the front court and create a defensive lock down on opposing offenses. (2011-2012 Team: Chicago Bulls)