NBA Free Agents 2012: Top Players Who Will Be on the Move
While this is not going to be the Summer of LeBron or what could have been the Plight of Dwight, the upcoming free agency is going to have some big names looking to be courted by teams ready to offer them a lot of money, more playing time or a last chance to chase a ring.
The best free agent in this year's class has to be point guard Deron Williams. He has not committed long term to a future with the Nets even with the impending move to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center. This season Williams is having a career year in scoring.
Also in this class is Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and JaVale McGee, four promising players in their young 20s looking for their first contract since they got drafted. All four are restricted free agents.
Then there are the second-tier players. These are the very solid starters or the hard-nosed, all effort players coming off the bench that are needed to separate a good team from a great team.
Finally, rounding this class out are the unrestricted free-agent veterans who can still contribute and prove to be the missing piece to get a contending team over the hump to secure an NBA Championship. Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all fit into this category this year.
Teams with $20 million or more to spend this offseason are the New Jersey Nets, the Phoenix Suns, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers, the New Orleans Hornets and the Portland Trailblazers.
Teams who can get significantly under the salary cap if they use their amnesty clause on one of their high-priced players include the Charlotte Bobcats, the Washington Wizards, the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Here are some players who will be on the move.
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At 6'10'', 240 lbs., Ryan Anderson has the size and three-point shooting ability to be an excellent stretch 4 for any team.
This season he has broken out, having a career year with 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
He is also shooting 41 percent from the three-point line and 13 double-doubles for the season.
The Orlando Magic may be intent on keeping him but a team with a lot of cap space could come in and offer Anderson a contract that proves to be too expensive to match.
The Magic are currently $9 million over the cap. Signing Anderson to a big deal can mess up their maneuverability even more which in turn will leave Dwight Howard unhappy.
Anderson's possible suitors: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns.
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After averaging 22.3 points and 4.4 assist per game last season, Eric Gordon looked like he was on his way to becoming a future All-Star.
Since than he has been traded to the New Orleans Hornets and sidelined with a serious knee injury that has only allowed him to play in two games this season.
His durability was questioned before as he missed 50 games due to injury in his first three seasons.
While Gordon is an injury concern he is still only 23 years old.
When he is on the court he attacks the rim banging his body with anyone who is in his way. He also is a good shooter and solid defender.
Gordon is only 6'3'', undersized for a shooting guard but he makes up for it with his strength and 215 pound frame.
With his hometown Indiana Pacers having money to spend, I would expect them to come calling if his knee checks out.
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Reports of Kevin Garnett's career being over turned out to be just speculation.
In his 17th year in the league, Garnett is averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
He still has the mid-range jumper going down, is still a good defender and can still provide energy and veteran leadership to a team that a younger player simply cannot.
The problem is putting a price on him. Just what kind of a contract is he looking for? And how many more years does he want to play?
One report has the New Jersey Nets having interest.
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At 36 years old, Ray Allen's shooting touch has not gone away.
This season he is averaging 14.6 points per game while shooting 45.9 percent from three.
He has, however, been bothered by nagging injuries causing him to miss the last six games.
At this point in his career, Allen can and should go ring chasing, acting as a hired gun off the bench coming into games to bury dagger threes.
Allen still can start too.
Maybe he would take a small contract to play with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Age apparently does not affect Steve Nash like the rest of us. This season, at 38 years old, he is leading the Suns with 11.3 assists while scoring 12.7 points per game.
In a recent phone interview, Nash said he intends to play three more seasons.
Nash's pass-first point guard abilities could help teams like the Portland Trailblazers or the Indiana Pacers.
A reunion with the Dallas Mavericks can also make a lot of sense.
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Kris Humphries is far from just being the former Mr. Kim Kardashian.
After being the 14th pick in the 2004 draft, Humphries needed time to find a role in the league. He has finally done that with the New Jersey Nets.
Last season, he was given 27.9 minutes per game, the most throughout his career. With more minutes, Humphries excelled, averaging a double-double 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
Still, his numbers did not attract teams. So, he signed a one-year $8 million deal to return to the Nets.
This season Humphries has improved his game even more as he is averaging 13.4 points, 11 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
His rebounding and solid defense should have earned him a significant raise. He may have played himself out of the Nets' price range.
And if that's the case, he will get some attention this time around.
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While he may not look like a 29-year-old quality center in the league, Chris Kaman is.
He was even an All-Star in 2010!
This has been an unusual season for Kaman to say the least. First he was sent to New Orleans as part of the Chris Paul trade. Then in late January, the Hornets decided to look to trade him. During their search for a trade partner, the Hornets deactivated him.
After failing to find an acceptable deal, the Hornets re-activated him.
For the season, Kaman is averaging 13.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
He is a legitimate seven foot center, a rare breed in today's NBA, who will have no problem getting paid.
Kaman can fit well with the Philadelphia 76ers, if they amnesty Elton Brand, the Portland Trailblazers or the Boston Celtics.