NBA Free Agency 2012: Biggest Impact Signings in Eastern Conference

Ron Pasceri@@RonPasceriCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10:  Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets looks on in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Prudential Center on April 10, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  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 Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
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Since the world champions play in the Eastern Conference, that's where improvement is needed most. While teams are chomping at the bit to overhaul or complement their rosters, things seem to be more based on trades than free agency.

Despite the lack of free agent movement thus far, there have been some key signings that will prove valuable in the upcoming season.  We also need to take into account that free agent deals weren't allowed to be signed until today.

More movement will happen during the course of the next couple of weeks, but these are the most impactful signings to this point.


Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

After his unceremonious exit from Utah, Williams remained a hot commodity heading into his foray into free agency.  The Nets managed to retain him with a reported $98 million deal, according to

Speculation surrounded Williams' desire and likelihood of signing with the Dallas Mavericks but he stayed with the Nets to join in their anticipated move to Brooklyn.

Not only is Deron Williams one of the league's best point guards and players, but he also was the best chance to lure Dwight Howard.  

Williams is a great signing in his own right but if he attracts Dwight Howard it will be the best signing of the offseason without question.


Ray Allen, Miami Heat

After watching Ray Allen in the playoffs I never thought I'd put him on a list like this.  He looked old for the first time in his career and incredibly slow.

With Boston aging fast and signing Kevin Garnett to a significant deal, they wanted to keep Allen aboard for another run.

What did he do? According to, he decided to take his remaining talents to South Beach.

With LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh surrounding him as well as the emerging Mario Chalmers, Allen will get to stand at the three-point line and fire his patented daggers.

Allen isn't a difference-maker on his own but he adds a great level of experience, leadership and clutch shooting to an already loaded team.  Let's not forget he came at a discount as well.


Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls

With Derrick Rose down for a while with the ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, the Bulls had a significant hole. Chicago has a deep roster with a lot of pieces that work together but it's hard to replace a point guard.

In a smart move they brought back Kirk Hinrich after two years away from the Windy City, according to

Hinrich is a tough player who will provide leadership along with defense and some outside shooting.

He won't be electrifying and won't draw the focus of an entire defensive scheme but he can help fill in for one of the game's best with solid, heady play.

With the way the Bulls defend, Hinrich brings enough to the table to limit the damage done by Rose's absence.


Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks

Assuming they match the offer Lin got from Houston, this is a great re-signing.  Lin will probably never live up to the hype he created last season but he is an emerging young point guard.

Lin can both score and distribute and with maturity and experience he will limit his turnovers.  He helped lift that team from the ashes for a stretch in 2012 and he should be able to build on that next season.

Add to his own experience the fact that, according to, Jason Kidd is coming aboard to help show him the ropes.  

On a talentless team Lin might be in some trouble, but with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire providing offense and Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby cleaning up defensive messes, he has a chance to really break out.

Expect Lin to continue to flourish in the Big Apple and excite fans and the media in the process.


Jason Terry, Boston Celtics

With the departure of Ray Allen, the signing of Jason Terry is a huge deal in Boston.  

Where Allen was a plodding non-factor due to his health and age in the playoffs, Terry can provide real scoring spark along with athleticism and championship pedigree.

Terry doesn't provide Allen's pure shooting ability but neither did Allen late last season.  Terry is a reliable 15 points per game scorer who shoots just under 40 percent on threes and consistently over 85 percent from the foul line.

His energy should mix well with Rajon Rondo and he could add an element of explosiveness to a stagnant offense.


Keep in mind that this is only the first official day of free agency and there is much more to come. Trades and signings will happen but the five players listed above will have a huge impact on the Eastern Conference in the season ahead.