NBA Free Agents 2012: Where Will Top Stars Land?
This year's crop of NBA free agents may not be the best in recent memory, but there are certainly several players out there who can make an impact on new teams moving forward.
A few unrestricted free agents are of interest, but there are several restricted free agents in play as well—players who could be switching locations next season.
Many of the top free agents have already re-signed or agreed to sign elsewhere, but there are still plenty of guys worth following as the signing period continues. None of the potential signings may change the landscape of the NBA like LeBron James did by signing with the Miami Heat two offseasons ago, but there could definitely be some moves that shift the balance of power to some degree.
Here are the latest predictions for where the very best remaining free agents will ultimately land over the next few weeks.
Where do you expect Jeremy Lin to end up?
The New York Knicks organization has continually voiced its intention to re-sign point guard Jeremy Lin, but things are suddenly uncertain in that regard.
Lin is a restricted free agent and is on the verge of being signed to an offer sheet by the Houston Rockets. New York has the right to match any offer, but Houston is reportedly likely to sign Lin to a "poison pill" contract that would pay him over $10 million per season in the final two years of the deal.
That could be an issue for the Knicks as they would in all likelihood have to pay luxury taxes through the nose. The biggest thing keeping the Knicks in the hunt is the fact that they lost out on Steve Nash, though. The Los Angeles Lakers are set to get him in a sign-and-trade deal, so the Knicks are out of options.
The signing could hurt financially and is a risk, since he only had half a season of success, but Lin has a lot of promise and New York needs him. Therefore, the Knicks will match any offer.
The New Orleans Hornets are in an interesting situation. They now look like a very promising team after taking Kentucky forward Anthony Davis first overall in the draft, but losing shooting guard Eric Gordon could put a real damper on things.
Gordon was the centerpiece of the package the Hornets received from the Los Angeles Clippers for Chris Paul last offseason, but he is now a restricted free agent and could conceivably be on the move.
Gordon is set to sign a max contract with the Phoenix Suns, and the Hornets will have the opportunity to match it. Perhaps the Hornets will feel as though they can move on without Gordon since Davis is now the franchise player, but that wouldn't be a wise move.
As the team is currently constructed, New Orleans isn't far off from playoff contention. Letting Gordon go would leave the Hornets without an outside threat aside from rookie Austin Rivers, who has NBA bust written all over him.
Gordon missed much of last season due to injury and it would be silly of the Hornets to let him walk without getting anything out of him. With that in mind, I expect the Hornets to match the offer.
He may be at the tail end of his career, but shooting guard Ray Allen can still be a vital piece for a contending team.
Injuries plagued him as a member of the Boston Celtics this past season, but when he is healthy, he is still an elite three-point and free-throw shooter.
With the Celtics about to sign guard Jason Terry, Allen's days in Boston are numbered. Several teams have shown interest in signing the veteran, including the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, so Allen is going to have some options.
Where Allen lands has everything to do with where his priorities lie. If Allen wants to play big minutes, he would be best off with the Clippers or Grizzlies, since he would start for either of them.
If Allen wants to win another title, however, then Miami is clearly the best place for him. The Heat are the defending champions and are going to be contending for titles for the foreseeable future. Even though Allen wouldn't start for Miami, he would play plenty off the bench.
When you couple that with the allure of another championship, Allen is a good beat to sign with the Heat.
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