NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding 2012 NBA Free Agents

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 07:  Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets looks on against the Los Angeles Clippers at Prudential Center on March 7, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
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Now that the March 15 trade deadline has passed, NBA rosters are pretty much set for the rest of the season. With so many significant players in the last year of their deals, though, the NBA could see an even bigger shakeup come free agency.

Whether young and rising or aged and experienced, there are a number of free agents in this year's class who have proven to be difference makers and each and every one of them will have suitors when it comes to their future destinations.

Although it's impossible to project where anybody is going to be when next year's season tips off, it's never too early to take a look at where some of the league's most desirable assets could find themselves next year.

Here are just a few:


Deron Williams

With Dwight Howard officially off the market in the class of 2012 NBA free agents, Deron Williams' future with the New Jersey Nets becomes even more unclear.

Unable to obtain Howard, the Nets acquired former All-Star Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, likely in a move to try and convince Williams to re-sign with the team this offseason.

That move may or may not be successful, as Williams has made it clear that he will opt out of his current deal at the season's end.

Howard noted that he would prefer to sign with the Nets via free agency this offseason as a way of allowing the Nets to keep their roster intact despite his arrival. That option has obviously been eliminated, however, now that he has committed to the Orlando Magic for the 2012-13 season.

It's possible that Williams will re-sign with the Nets to see his way into the new arena, test the waters with Wallace and keep his fingers crossed that the team can successfully  obtain Howard before next year's deadline.

None of those things, however, will likely stack up to playing back home in Dallas and Williams could be as good as gone once the final horn sounds on a likely disappointing season.


Steve Nash

The Phoenix Suns endured a rough first half of the 2011-12 NBA season, but are now 7-2 since the All-Star Break and find themselves only two spots out of the playoffs heading toward the postseason.

Despite being 38 years old, Steve Nash would prove to be one of the most coveted point guards come free agency. Miami Heat forward LeBron James even did his part to start the recruiting process this past summer.

The Suns seem to be turning a corner heading into the second-half stretch and have said that they would like to re-sign Nash come this offseason.

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Raja Bell #19, Boris Diaw #3, Steve Nash #13 and Amare Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns warm up before their game against the Sacramento Kings during an NBA game at Arco Arena December 16, 2006 in Sacramento, California.  N
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Nash survived the NBA trade deadline, as he stuck to his word and did not request a trade to a contender, but the question will be whether or not a familiar team turning the corner looks better than a contending team that's already there. 


Jeremy Lin

If the New York Knicks let Jeremy Lin walk as a free agent, there might be an all-out mutiny from fans against the team and the organization come next season.

Although having struggled since the All-Star Break, the Knicks' turnaround this year began with Lin's emergence and for his troubles he's more than likely earned himself a nice payday heading into free agency this summer.

Lin will likely be looked at by teams who have some money to throw around and are willing to put big dollar signs on the potential that they've seen in such a short window.

As a restricted free agent, though, don't expect the Knicks to shy away from any offer Lin gets sent his way.

"Linsanity"may be dying down, but the Jeremy Lin era in New York should just be beginning.


Nicolas Batum

Like Jeremy Lin, Nicolas Batum is a restricted free agent and will likely be snatched up by the Portland Trail Blazers come July.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  (L) Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks drives against (R) Chris Johnson #17 of the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Although unable to reach a contract extension with Batum this January, the team was busy on Thursday trading pieces of the current roster in preparation for this upcoming offseason.

One of those pieces was Gerald Wallace, the player who effectively took Batum's starting spot when entering Portland last season.

Wallace and Batum have battled for playing time all season, but with Wallace and his $10.5 million player option landing in New Jersey, room has officially been cleared for Batum both on the court and in the payroll. 

Although not necessarily a household name, Batum has seen interest from around the league for years now, and the Blazers have turned their heads every time his name is brought up in negotiations.

While the team will likely match any offer that comes his way this summer, don't expect Portland to get him for cheap.