NBA Free Agents 2012 Predictions: Ideal Destinations for Top Names on Market

Ben Shapiro@benshapironyc1 Analyst IIIJuly 2, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012 Predictions: Ideal Destinations for Top Names on Market

0 of 9

    It didn't take very long for NBA Free Agency to get underway. 

    Just hours after the July 1st kickoff, which allowed NBA free agents to begin negotiating new contracts, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics was already rumored to be returning to the Celtics. 

    That's an ideal situation for both the Celtics and Garnett. 

    Boston gets the most pivotal veteran on last year's team to return. The contract is alleged to be three years and $34 million dollars. Garnett earned $21 million last season. 

    Yes, that's a pay cut for Garnett. It's also not a bad deal for a 36-year-old player entering his 18th season in the league. 

    The pay cut will add salary cap space to the Celtics payroll. Added flexibility could be critical, as the Celtics will look to either re-sign free agents from last year's squad, or bring in new players.

    Garnett of course gets the money, but he also gets to play for a team that came within one win of the NBA Finals last year.  

    What about the rest of the free agent market?

    What makes the most sense for the remaining big names, in what should be a big summer of big signings in the NBA?

Deron Williams

1 of 9

    Good Option: Dallas Mavericks 

    Better Option: Brooklyn Nets 

    Deron Williams is this summer's big prize. He's a top free agent in the prime of his career.

    That means he's going to command a big contract. It also means that there are only a limited amount of teams that have the financial means to give him that type of contract.

    Williams has already eliminated much of the suspense. He's publicly narrowed the field down to the Dallas Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets.

    Both teams are tempting. Dallas is close to where Williams grew up. The Mavericks also have Dirk Nowitzki and were the NBA Champs in 2011. Then there's owner Mark Cuban, who spares no expense to make his players comfortable and vigorously roots for his team at nearly every game.

    Dallas can offer Williams a four-year, $75 million contract. That's nice, but it's not as nice a situation as Brooklyn.

    As odd as it feels to be promoting the Nets, the situation in Brooklyn is unique and in many ways ideal.

    First off, Brooklyn can offer more money and years. The deal can be as large as five years and $100 million.

    This is a fresh start for the franchise in a new arena. Williams would be the King of Brooklyn. Don't laugh—Brooklyn is New York City's most populous borough. According to the 2010 U.S. Census there are 2.5 million residents. That's more than in the city of Dallas.

    Then there's the new arena, and the potential to have not one, but possibly two very talented teammates to play with every night.

    Chris Broussard of has reported that Dwight Howard wants to be traded to Brooklyn. Athletic forward Gerald Wallace is going to sign a four-year, $40 million contract to play in Brooklyn as well.

    Deron Williams has two good options, but Brooklyn, not Dallas, looks like the ideal choice.   

Steve Nash

2 of 9

    Good Option: Dallas Mavericks 

    Better Option: Toronto Raptors

    Steve Nash is an unrestricted free agent, and despite being 38 years old, he's one of the top available point guards in the league this summer. 

    As with Deron Williams, Dallas is a very attractive option. 

    Nash has already played in Dallas and has a good relationship with Dirk Nowitzki. The team is definitely committed to winning, and Dallas has enough money to hand Nash a decent sized contract.

    All of that sounds great, but Toronto has unique advantages for Nash. 

    Nash is from Canada and a return to his country might spark more interest in the Raptors. If the Raptors were to amnesty Jose Calderon, they'd have enough money to spend big on Nash and still afford other talented free agents as well.

    Even without an announcement on Calderon's status the Raptors are rumored to have offered Nash a three-year, $36 million deal.   

    The potential to win a ring is probably higher in Dallas, but that's not Nash's only priority. One can agree or disagree, with Nash's proclamations regarding the importance of proper financial compensation.

    The statements fairly candid and honest, though they also make Toronto seem like a potentially ideal match for both team and player.  

Chauncey Billups

3 of 9

    Good Option: Los Angeles Lakers

    Better Option: Los Angeles Clippers

    Sometimes less is more. This may very well be the case for free agent point guard Chauncey Billups. 

    Yes, Billups could probably sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. That would be a possibility if Ramon Sessions were to leave via free agency. 

    Billups who was a backup to Chris Paul before he was injured last season would have a shot at starting if he joined the Lakers.

    Even with a starting job on the line, the situation in Los Angeles playing for the Clippers may in fact be better for Billups than the Lakers. 

    First of all, Billups already has an established relationship with Clippers' star point guard Chris Paul. That relationship is so solid that Paul has been public in his desire to see Billups back as a Clipper next year. 

    It's good to go where you're wanted. It's also good to go where there will be less wear and tear on your body. With injuries already impacting Billups' ability to stay on the court, perhaps starting is not ideal? 

    The Lakers have struggled the past two seasons. The Clippers are on the up-and-up. Less playing time as a Clipper might mean more wins and less stress. That sounds ideal. 

Kris Humphries

4 of 9

    Good Option: Golden State Warriors

    Better Option: Brooklyn Nets 

    After an impressive 2011-2012 season in which he averaged 13.8 points and 11 rebounds per game, Kris Humphries is looking to cash in on free agency. 

    Brooklyn Nets' General Manager Billy King seems hesitant to hand Humphries a big deal. If Humphries won't be in Brooklyn, where will he play?  

    Golden State is an intriguing possibility. The Warriors are a team that combines youth, experience and talent. After drafting Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Warriors are definitely headed in the right direction. 

    For Humphries, joining the Warriors might be a great way to be part of something special, but it could also turn into a playing-time logjam. 

    Humphries is a power forward and the Warriors have David Lee at that position, and Andrew Bogut at center. Is there a better situation for Humphries? 

    Yes and it's back in Brooklyn. Okay, so King would like to sign Humphries at a lower price. So what? I'd like cheaper rent—that doesn't mean it's going to happen. 

    Guys that average double-doubles don't grow on trees. There were only eight of them in the NBA last season, and Humphries was one of them. Not one of the other seven remaining players is a free agent, so Humphries has some leverage. 

    If the Nets are able to acquire Dwight Howard, then the team probably won't have the cap space to pay Humphries the type of deal he's likely to command. 

    If the Howard deal doesn't happen, then the Nets will be able to afford Humphries, and the odds are they'll pay up as well. 

Ramon Sessions

5 of 9

    Good Option: Dallas Mavericks 

    Better Option: Los Angeles Lakers 

    Ramon Sessions is only 26 years old, and he finished last season as the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. That's not such a bad position to be in. Even better, the Lakers are in no position to simply allow Sessions to walk away.

    He might do that though.

    Dallas would be an interesting option. The Mavs would almost certainly prefer either Deron Williams or Steve Nash, but Sessions would be cheaper and he's also younger.

    It would be tough taking over starting point guard duties for the second time since last March, when he was dealt to the Lakers. 

    It would be much easier for Sessions to remain in Los Angeles, with the Lakers.

    The Lakers are not only a situation he's familiar with, but the team's management has displayed a sense of urgency as well. 

    A younger player such as Sessions will benefit from playing in the same system, with teammates he's familiar with. 

    Remaining in Los Angeles with the Lakers is the best way to ensure that happens. 

O.J. Mayo

6 of 9

    Good Option: Minnesota Timberwolves 

    Better Option: Boston Celtics 

    I'm really not certain about how great adding O.J. Mayo to these two (or any other) NBA teams would be—for the teams.

    Mayo is a player whose career has mirrored the Facebook IPO. He burst on to the scene with sky high hopes, and has been in a free-fall ever since.

    He was a starter who averaged over 18 points per game as a rookie; that dropped off in his second year. By the time he left and filed for free-agency, he was merely an off-the-bench role player.

    Adding Mayo to the Timberwolves would create a dynamic backcourt, to say the least: young Ricky Rubio and young Mr. Mayo.  It would also mean that head coach Rick Adelman would have a team chock full of young players and nearly devoid of experienced veterans.

    For a player such as Mayo, heading to a team with experience, veterans and a history of winning are all factors that could help Mayo become the player hoped for when he was chosen No.3 in the 2008 NBA Draft. 

    The Boston Celtics have expressed interest. Adding Mayo to a roster that will already include both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will benefit Mayo. In Memphis he was surrounded by players who were older than him, but they didn't have a lot of experience winning at the NBA level. 

    In Boston that would be different. Adding Mayo to the Celtics would give them a potential three-headed monster at shooting guard. 

    Avery Bradley is a top defender. O.J. Mayo is a creative ball handler who excels at finishing around the rim, and of course Ray Allen has been known to knock down a three-pointer or two. 

    It might be the best option for a player who has struggled to make the right choices on his own. In Boston he'd have guidance. 

Brook Lopez

7 of 9

    Good Option: Brooklyn Nets (sign-and-trade) 

    Better Option: Brooklyn Nets 

    At this point it seems as if Brook Lopez will sign with the Nets. It's unknown whether he'll actually play for them again. 

    The Nets signed Lopez, who is a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet, That offer sheet may prove to be nothing more than a placeholder, a way for the Nets to maintain a degree of control over Lopez while they wait to see if any of the litany of trades they're currently negotiating will actually complete.

    Once the Nets have a better idea of what the rest of the roster, excluding Lopez, will look like next season, they can properly asses their ability to afford Lopez.

    If the Nets can at least bring back Williams, then keeping Lopez seems like a no-brainer. If the Nets acquire Howard, then Lopez doesn't really have a starting position   

Ray Allen

8 of 9

    Good Option: Memphis Grizzlies 

    Better Option: Boston Celtics 

    There are currently a crew of teams looking at 36-year-old free agent Ray Allen. These two stand out though. 

    The Memphis Grizzlies aren't going to be able to pay Allen more than Boston. They won't be able to offer up a greater chance of winning a ring than Boston either. What's the lure of Memphis?

    Allen might be offered the starting shooting guard position in Memphis. That's appealing to players of any age. 

    He's coming off a season in Boston in which he battled injuries and lost his starting job to Avery Bradley. He returned for the playoffs but his performance was inconsistent. 

    If it comes down to money, the Celtics will probably be able to offer a competitive contract. If it comes down to playing time they might not. 

    It's tough to see Allen choosing starting on a team that bowed out in the first round of the playoffs last season, over a bench role with a familiar cast of teammates that he's won a title with. 

Ersan Ilyasova

9 of 9

    Good Option: Milwaukee Bucks

    Better Option: Brooklyn Nets 

    Here's an interesting situation. The Brooklyn Nets have been linked to Ilyasova far more frequently than any other team.

    Ilyasova made his mark with the Bucks. He finished second in the Most Improved Player balloting last season. 

    Milwaukee seems almost resigned to losing Ilyasova in free agency. They took precautions by drafting North Carolina power forward John Henson in the first round of the NBA Draft. 

    Meanwhile, the Nets seem to be in pursuit of players not named Ersan Ilyasova. What's really best for Ilyasova is to go to a team that both wants and needs him.

    That team certainly could be Brooklyn, but it appears that he's not their number one priority. Milwaukee really could benefit from his return. Henson is very talented but he's still going to be a rookie this coming season.

    If Ilyasova were to return to the Bucks, he'd be their best front court player. Drew Gooden, Samuel Dalembert and John Henson are all inferior front court players. 

    When push comes to shove, the best landing place for Ilyasova is Brooklyn. He'd be playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd in a new arena. Playing alongside Deron Williams, if he were to re-sign with the Nets, would be a step-up from Brandon Jennings.

    Playing next to any of the various players who may end up in the Nets front court would be an upgrade from the power forwards and centers he'd be leaving behind in Milwaukee.

    The lack of enthusiasm surrounding Ilyasova's free agency seems to leave the door open for a team that has yet to reveal itself. Will Brooklyn or Milwaukee step up? Or will another team step in?