NBA Free Agency 2012: 8 Teams That Must Make a Splash on the Open Market
With players like Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, O.J. Mayo, Steve Nash, and Jeremy Lin, the free agency class of 2012 is an impressive one.
Multiple teams will fight for the best free agents available in order to improve their chances at an NBA title.
Some teams need to improve their chances more than others.
Here is a list of eight of those teams.
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After the Boston Celtics posted an embarrassing 15-17 record at the All-Star break, many believed that Danny Ainge should’ve, without hesitation, pulled the plug on the ‘Big Four’ experiment and start from scratch.
This summer, after yet another incredible playoff run, the experiment that has yielded some pretty impressive results may actually be over for good.
Along with numerous other Celtics players, two of the Celtics’ most prominent players, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, will be unrestricted free agents this summer.
Needless to say, the Celtics organization will have to make a number of vital decisions regarding the future of their franchise.
The Celtics need to decide whether they want to retain familiar pieces, sign younger talent, or both.
In order to remain competitive next season and in the future, the Celtics should choose the latter.
Holding on to Kevin Garnett—who has averaged 20 PPG and 10 RPG in the playoffs—will be key because he has proved that he is still one of the best offensive and defensive power forwards in the NBA.
It may be time for the Celtics to let the aging Ray Allen go and make a run at one of the younger free agents on the market.
While they are both restricted free agents, the Celtics should make a run at signing either Roy Hibbert or Eric Gordon.
Imagine a lineup consisting of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Hibbert, or Rondo, Gordon, Pierce, and Garnett.
Both seem pretty formidable.
And, don’t forget, Jeff Green may be back next season too.
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Nothing ever seems to go right for the Nets.
Not only did they lose a chance to acquire Dwight Howard, but they also lost their lottery pick in a draft that is packed with talent.
But, wait, there’s more—Deron Williams is now a free agent.
The Nets absolutely need to gain relevance now, especially because they recently moved to Brooklyn.
In addition to Williams, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, and Gerald Wallace will all be free agents this summer.
In order to save the franchise, they need to retain Williams.
In order to convince him to do so, the Nets will need to sign other talented free agents that are capable of taking a team to the playoffs.
Keeping Brook Lopez may be step one in their plan, but they can also head in a different direction by attempting to sign center Roy Hibbert or Chris Kaman.
The Nets have shown interest in signing Wallace to a long-term deal, but the team may want to explore younger options that are capable or producing for a number years in the future.
While signing Deron Williams may seem unlikely at this point, it’s absolutely necessary for the good of the franchise.
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Unlike the Brooklyn Nets, the future seems bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving proved this season that he is capable of being an all-star in the future.
The Cavaliers will have the opportunity of adding another franchise player, like Brad Beal or Harrison Barnes, with their fourth pick in the draft.
With Antawn Jamison’s huge contract coming off the books, the Cavaliers will over $20 million under the cap.
As a result, they will be able to surround their young talent with a number of good players during free agency.
The Cavs will likely have a potent backcourt after this year’s draft, which is why it’s vital that they attempt to shore up their frontcourt for the future.
If possible, the Cavs should make a run at centers Roy Hibbert or Brook Lopez to pair up with power forward Anderson Varejao.
The Cavs could also go another direction and sign a number of solid role players to surround Irving and Beal/Barnes.
Whatever the Cavs decide to do, the summer of 2012 should be a time for improvement for the team.
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A year after winning an NBA championship over LeBron James and the Miami Heat, the Mavericks showed that their old age was a major weakness when they were swept by the Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder this postseason.
To become a contender once again, step one for the Mavericks is to sign Deron Williams.
With a number of contracts coming off the books this summer, the Mavericks will have the perfect opportunity to do just that.
A Williams-Nowitzki duo plus a number of role players will make an intimidating team.
If the Mavericks are unable to sign Williams, they have indicated that going after Roy Hibbert is the team’s plan B.
A frontcourt of Nowitzki and Hibbert looks unstoppable on paper.
Eric Gordon could be another great option for the Mavs to consider.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder’s ascension, the Mavericks need to gather as much young talent as possible to able to compete in the Western Conference next season and in the future.
The summer of 2012 is the perfect time for the Mavs to do just that.
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The Indiana Pacers impressed the basketball world when they pushed the Miami Heat to six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
In order to get over the hump, the Pacers need to make some improvements.
This summer, they have the chance to do that.
The first thing that the Pacers must do is sign Roy Hibbert to a long-term deal.
The 25-year-old center was the most integral part to the Pacers’ successful season, and a Hibbert-David West duo is one of the best frontcourts in the league.
One of the Pacers biggest issues last season was whom they would give the ball to in the last seconds of a close game.
While Danny Granger is a good player, his offensive game is limited to jump shots—he isn’t a guy who can consistently get to the rim.
In order to improve in this aspect of the game, the Pacers should pursue a sign-and-trade with New Orleans that would send Granger to the Hornets and Eric Gordon to the Pacers.
Unlike Granger, the Gordon can shoot and penetrate.
Fortunately for the Pacers, Gordon has already shown signs that he’s extremely interested in signing with the team.
With a young nucleus of Gordon, Hibbert, and Paul George, the Pacers will be a major competitor in the Eastern Conference for a number of years.
Los Angeles Lakers
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While the Los Angeles Lakers had one of the best trios in the league with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum, they had the worst bench in the league.
The Lakers have plenty of issues they need to deal with this offseason regarding their starting five—they have already shown interest in signing Ramon Sessions and they have exercised Andrew Bynum’s contract.
Perhaps the most important issue the Lakers need to address is finding the right group of bench players.
Considering the cap issues, the Lakers can’t break bank on free agents, which is why they need to act smart.
One of their major priorities is re-signing center Jordan Hill, who impressed as a role player this season.
Other than that, the Lakers need to upgrade at the back-up shooting guard spot.
Some of their realistic options include Jason Terry, Brandon Roy, Gerald Green, and Alonzo Gee.
The Lakers need a back-up power forward, too.
A few options include Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, and Antawn Jamison—either of those guys would be an upgrade over Troy Murphy.
Lastly, the Lakers could use an upgrade at small forward.
Michael Beasley is a good scorer who is a restricted free agent.
One of the only feasible ways the Lakers can sign him is if they amnesty Metta World Peace.
With a productive bench in place, the Lakers will have a chance to contend once again next season.
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Although the Miami Heat will be a contender for a few years down the road, they still have quite a few holes that they need to patch up.
Perhaps the most significant void the Heat has is at the center position.
While there aren’t very many productive centers that the Heat can afford, Chris Kaman is an intriguing option if he’s willing to take less money.
Two other interesting options are Steve Nash and Jason Terry—both players have expressed interest in joining the Heat.
Although there are quite a few three-point shooters on the Heat, such as Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, and James Jones, they aren’t always reliable.
That’s where a player like Jason Terry or Steve Nash could come in handy.
Steve Nash’s playmaking could also come in handy for the Heat.
Although their half-court offense is improving, ball movement is still a problem for the Heat.
Nash has one the best basketball minds in the NBA and he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.
As a member of the Heat, Nash may be able to figure out how to keep LeBron James and Dwyane Wade involved at all times.
If the Heat fall short of a title this season, a two major reasons why will be because the team relied too heavily on the big three and that the role players didn’t produce enough.
In order to remedy this situation, the Heat need to sign as many productive role players as they can.
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This summer, the Phoenix Suns will sadly lose their franchise player in Steve Nash.
It seems unlikely that Nash will re-sign with the team because he wants to win a championship before his career ends.
So, in order to continue to attract fans and remain relevant in the league, the Suns desperately need to sign one of the big name free agents this summer to replace Steve Nash.
It has been recently reported that the Suns will be aggressive in the pursuit of Deron Williams, if they are unable to re-sign Steve Nash.
That’s the kind of attitude the Suns need to have this summer.
If they are unable to sign Williams, the Suns should pursue a guy like Jeremy Lin—there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll immediately draw the attention of Suns fans.
With Shannon Brown’s contract coming off the books, the Suns should also consider pursuing a big name shooting guard such as O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon.
While it may seem doubtful that the Suns will be able to haul in a big name free agent, they absolutely need to be aggressive in their attempts.