NBA Free Agency 2012: Predictions for Where Biggest Names on Market Will Land

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Even though this offseason's free-agent market leaves a lot to be desired in terms of depth, there are several players that will command big attention and even bigger contracts. That will make for some tense moments for all the teams hoping to land them.

Let's take a look at three of the most coveted unrestricted free agents available and make predictions for where they will end up when it's all said and done. It's been a slow start to the free-agent period, but once one of these players signs, expect a domino effect.


Deron Williams

The combination of Williams' terrific all-around ability and the lack of of reliable point guards in the NBA allows him to enter the market at a perfect time. He averaged 21 points and nine assists for the Nets during their last season in New Jersey.

Aside from the Nets, the Dallas Mavericks seem like the best potential fit. The Mavericks were never able to find a rhythm during their title-defense season, but getting Lamar Odom off the roster should help the team refocus. Adding Williams would provide another boost.

Ultimately, I think Williams will decide to stay with the Nets. Playing in Brooklyn allows him to remain in the spotlight, and it appears the Nets are serious about bringing in some talent around him, which should ease any concerns he's had.

Prediction: Brooklyn Nets


Steve Nash

Nash doesn't have as much long-term upside at the 1 as Williams, but he should provide a team with the perfect stopgap option. The longtime Phoenix Suns star averaged 13 points and 11 assists in his 16th NBA season.

The team's decision to draft North Carolina PG Kendall Marshall signals it isn't confident Nash will be back. The Toronto Raptors are one team that's in desperate need of somebody to run the offense, and they've reportedly offered the Canadian $36 million over three years.

Toronto selected Terrence Ross in the first round, which was one of the draft's biggest surprises, and didn't take a point guard. That means the Raptors will have to address the need through the free-agent market, and Nash is apparently their prize target.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors


Ersan Ilyasova

Ilyasova has the most upside of any unrestricted post player, so it's only a matter of time before his market heats up. He's steadily improved during his four seasons in the league, posting career highs in points and rebounds last season.

Every season, there are a handful of big men who get ridiculously overpaid simply because of their size. As such, Ilyasova should have very little trouble scoring a monster deal once the top few names available pick their destinations.

The Cleveland Cavaliers would be a team that makes plenty of sense. They have what they hope will be their backcourt of the future in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, but they lack talent up front. Ilyasova would fill one of those holes perfectly.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers