NBA Free Agents 2011: Players Expected to Sign with New Teams

John FrielAnalyst IDecember 1, 2011

DENVER, CO - APRIL 23:  Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets walks off the court following a 97-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 23, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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This free-agency period may not have players like Dwyane Wade or LeBron James involved, but who's to say that the next few weeks couldn't still be an exciting time for anyone that's following the NBA?

With so little time for teams to think their decisions through, a number of free agents are going to be drastically overpaid as well as a number of the top-tier free agents being offered deals from a number of teams that are looking to cash in.

Teams will be willing to throw their cash around this offseason in preparation for the superstar-laden 2012 free-agency class and that means a series of moves are sure to be made from teams atop and in the middle of their respective conferences.

While there is the chance that two key superstars could be on the move, the focus for now is just on the players that have the decision to stay with their team or jump to another.

A number of All-Stars and key role players will be highly coveted as teams look to leave their mark and come out as winners of the short 2011 offseason which is set to start on December 9th.


Nene Hilario

With Denver Nuggets center Nene Hilario announcing that he has become fed up with the way he was treated by the organization, teams from all over the NBA are already clamoring for the chance to sign the mammoth 6'11", 260-pound center.

Hilario is coming off of an impressive season where he averaged 15 points and eight boards per while doing a fantastic job taking over the role of leader after the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Hilario has already shown interest in a number of teams, with Miami and Dallas being his two biggest targets. Both teams are just a few months removed from playing in the NBA Finals and are now in heavy contention for one of biggest prizes of the offseason.

While Dallas may offer more money for Nene's services, they don't offer a guaranteed starting job and being on the same team as three of the most talented players in the NBA.

As the most coveted center, and player, in free agency as well as being unhappy in Denver, Hilario could be one of the first big names to be moved.


Jamal Crawford

Unless the Atlanta Hawks can work out a deal to move Josh Smith's lucrative contract, it seems that losing sharpshooter sixth man Jamal Crawford could be a very real thing in the coming weeks.

Crawford also happens to be a huge name in the free agency pool and has already received word from a number of teams according to his twitter account where he frequently answers questions from the fans regarding his free-agency status.  

The Hawks may have a difficult time signing Crawford because of an already hefty payroll that currently stands at $65 million and the fact they might have to trade Smith in the meantime.

With teams unable to secure a superstar this offseason, a number of teams will be willing to throw their money around with Crawford a likely target.

Teams desperate for a scoring shooting guard, like the Chicago Bulls, will be up in arms at the chance of signing Crawford and making their team over the top in regards to talent.


Josh Howard

Had this been 2005, Josh Howard would easily be one of the most desired free agents.

Instead, the player that once averaged 19 points as the starting small forward for the Dallas Mavericks is coming off yet another injury-plagued season where he only played in 18 games and averaged eight points per on a dismal 36 percent from the field.

This comes only a season after he played 35 games as he split time with Dallas and the Washington Wizards. Howard has played in only 53 games over the past two seasons and has been dealing with injuries for the past three seasons as he only played in 52 games in 2009.

The player that used to be known as one of the most feared drivers and mid-range threats has dealt with a long fall from grace as he basically been irrelevant with the Wizards.

With the Wizards unexpected to keep the injury-plagued forward around, a few teams could be willing to offer the 31-year-old a small deal as a result of his injuries and the declining production over the past three years.


Jason Richardson

The only free agent for the Orlando Magic to be concerned about, Jason Richardson still might end up on a different team despite the team having no other important free agents leaving to worry about.

Even with the potential of signing Richardson, the Magic may not want to keep him around in order to bring talent from the outside and to potentially give J.J. Redick the start at shooting guard following his improvement.

Richardson, 31 years old, will be heavily desired by teams looking for a guard with the potential to heat up from the perimeter. Unlike his free-agent counterpart in Jamal Crawford, Richardson won't be receiving as much attention nor will he be receiving that type of money that Crawford is set to command.

He has averaged over two three-pointers per over the past two years and is a career 37 percent shooter from deep.


T.J. Ford

Being unmotivated can lead a person down an ugly path and no one proves that more than the current Indiana Pacers point guard and soon-to-be free agent T.J. Ford.

The player who has spent the past three years with Indiana is coming off of the worst season of his career, where played in only 41 games and averaged five points per on 39 percent from the field.

Apparently, Ford was anticipating joining the Miami Heat before the team eventually signed Mike Bibby. With Bibby not panning out, the Heat will be on the look out for a player to back up Mario Chalmers off the bench.

That player could be Ford, who is willing to join the team and shouldn't be too expensive.

Not many teams will be giving Ford a look, but it's highly doubtful that the Pacers offer him any sort of deal while it is possible that the Heat, or any team looking for a solid backup PG, to give him another shot of thriving in the NBA.