NBA Rumors: 5 Teams Sure to Wheel and Deal During Free Agency

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMarch 28, 2012

Deron Williams could be changing teams in June.
Deron Williams could be changing teams in June.Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Aside from the 2010 free agency period that saw LeBron James and Chris Bosh dash for the Miami Heat, this summer has the potential to be one of the craziest in recent memory.

Stars like Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash are available, and young up-and-comers like Eric Gordon, Jeremy Lin and JaVale McGee will all be out on the open market. Even if they don't change teams, there will be great contention for their services when the free agency period opens.

Along those same lines, teams vying for a change in their current rotation will have to get the ball rolling right off the bat.

Utah Jazz

It's quite impressive what the Jazz have been able to do post-Deron Williams. They've turned draft picks into Enes Kanter and Alec Burks and sit in seventh place in the West after a month that's included victories over the two title favorites, the OKC Thunder and Heat.

What's even more interesting is that young talent is cracking the rotation in a more permanent fashion. GM Kevin O'Connor couldn't find a deal that he liked before this year's trade deadline, but he has trade pieces teams might want, including starters Devin Harris and Al Jefferson.

C.J. Miles and Josh Howard are also both free agents, and it's more likely that Miles leaves than Howard. However, Utah could be skeptical of keeping Howard around after another surgery, so keep an eye on that development.

Utah could be both sellers and buyers this summer. Dumping Harris and Jefferson could open up more playing time for youngsters like Kanter and Derrick Favors, and they could ask for a more Tyrone Corbin-friendly point guard in return.

Could Al Jefferson be on his way out of a city for the third time in his career?
Could Al Jefferson be on his way out of a city for the third time in his career?George Frey/Getty Images

Boston Celtics

With Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson as the only guaranteed players returning next season, there is no doubt that this is a team in need of making a splash during free agency.

Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were both sought after at the deadline, and both were reportedly available for a first-round pick. Teams balked at that request, however, and Boston is in serious jeopardy of losing both to free agency for nothing.

Garnett has been linked to the New Jersey Nets as a potential frontcourt mate to pair with Brook Lopez. Allen was a hot name all through the deadline, and there aren't many teams who wouldn't like to add the most prolific shooter in the history of the game.

The roster will look different this time next year. Will GM Danny Ainge have a fire sale? Or will he try to re-up his Big Three at a lower rate and add some new pieces around them?

New Jersey Nets

Since the Nets are in "keep Deron Williams" mode, they'll do just about anything to keep him around. The trade for Gerald Wallace should let everyone know that their panic meter is as high as the needle will allow, since they gave up a first-round pick this year to the Portland Trail Blazers that is only top-three protected. Β 

If they lose Deron Williams to free agency, then they will have surrendered three first-round picks for Wallace and Williams the past two deadlines. Is that what builds a winning franchise in the NBA?

Garnett could be working with a new point guard next season.
Garnett could be working with a new point guard next season.Elsa/Getty Images

Conventional wisdom would say no, but teams can still add talent and contend, especially in the Eastern Conference. This summer will be centered around keeping Williams, whatever the cost, and continuing to add pieces around him and Lopez in hopes of building a winner when the team moves to Brooklyn.

Dallas Mavericks

The team most desperately trying to pry Williams from the grasp of the Brooklyn scene is Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, playing with future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd has been great for Nowitzki, but he's never had an elite player like Williams during his time in Dallas.

Adversely, every move Dallas made last summer and this season has hinged on adding Williams or Dwight Howard, or both. Not re-signing or even offering core pieces of their championship roster more than one-year deals (Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson), they've put their eggs in the summer 2012 basket.

Other than Dirk, no one is really safe after the season ends. There is a large list of potential targets that Dallas will chase after, but the crown jewel of their heap will hinge on Williams returning to his hometown to play alongside Nowitzki.

Orlando Magic

Keeping Dwight Howard in the fold for the beginning of the 2012-2013 season gives the Magic two options. They can either make this offseason one that gives him the pieces and stability to sign the long-term contract they desperately want, or they can continue to privately assess his trade value and deal him.

However, the latter of those two options might be the most feasible. They don't boast the trade assets that would enable them to add the type of superstar that Howard wants; that's part of the reason they stayed quiet at the deadline.

Whatever they decide to do, I'd be shocked if their roster remains the same as it is now. Even if they must part with some talent like J.J. Redick or Jameer Nelson, promising Howard a slew of first-round picks in the near future might be the only option to keep him around.

Taking on Hedo Turkoglu's contract again was probably a mistake, but if they can find a taker for him they'll also free up some flexibility for this summer.


All in all, this promises to be a great summer for NBA free agency, depending upon your point of view. If you're an NBA purist and love the hometown story of a guy staying with a team for the duration through thick and thin, then Steve Nash and Phoenix would be one to keep your eye on.

If you like the unpredictability of Williams and Howard and their prospective teams, then follow their quote saga like your life depends on it.

Either way, when the NBA champion is crowned and moves begin to happen, there will be some new players on new teams next season.


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