NBA Free Agents 2012: Predicting Where Top Players Will Land

Kenneth Hicks@hicks_kennyCorrespondent IIMay 15, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012: Predicting Where Top Players Will Land

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    The 2012 NBA free agents will soon be upon us and there is no Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum that will be in the discussion. 

    Although the class will be without two of the best big men in the NBA, don't forget there are still elite players that will be available through free agency starting July 1.

    The 2012 NBA free agents will feature extraordinary guard play, seasoned veterans, giant big men and stat-sheet stuffers.

    Now the question becomes, where will these top 2012 NBA free agents land? 

Why Will Deron Williams Sign with Dallas Mavericks

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    The true No. 1 out of the 2012 NBA free agents will be Deron Williams and no one else will even be close.

    Williams made $16.4 million as a New Jersey Net in the 2011-2012 season and his doors are wide open as he has the player option to sign with any team when 2012 NBA free-agency period starts July 1.

    Sorry Brooklyn Nets fans but because you didn't bolster your roster to get Dwight Howard, Williams will not back in Brooklyn.

    As a result, Williams will sign with the Dallas Mavericks in NBA free agency.

    The Mavericks definitely have the talent with Dirk Nowitzki that will be a lethal complement to Williams.

    Additionally, Williams will have championship hungry owner Mark Cuban who already has an NBA Championship trophy from 2011.

    Williams will also get a max deal in Dallas as they will have enough cash, and oh by the way, Williams grew up in Dallas and it's his hometown. 

    Back in February 2012 Williams had only praise for his hometown of Dallas, “I always like playing here,” Williams said when asked about his thoughts on playing in Dallas’ American Airlines Center. “It’s probably my favorite (arena) to play in. I just enjoy playing here — I enjoy playing in front of my friends, family. It’s always good they get the chance to come and see me play.”

    Furthermore, it will only be a matter of time before Williams will sign his name on that rich NBA free-agent contract with Dallas.

    Playing with the Mavericks will enable Williams to be wealthier in a bigger market, play alongside great talent, and most importantly win a championship. 

Why Steve Nash Will Sign with Miami Heat

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    The 38-year-old two-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, Steve Nash will be the No. 2 player among the 2012 NBA free agents.

    Nash made $11.7 million with the Phoenix Suns this past season and will be an unrestricted free agent starting July 1.

    As a result, Nash will not re-sign with the Suns since they could not surround him with enough talent, and Nash only has a couple years left in the tank.

    Moreover, Nash wants to sign with a contender and money is no object. At this point Nash would rather sign a deal with less money if he had a chance to win a championship.

    Nash wants to play for a contender. "I definitely can be a starter for three years but I want to play at a high level," Nash told USA TODAY Sports. "Hopefully the opportunity falls upon me to play with a team that contends."

    Sorry New York Knicks fans, Nash wants to get out of the first round of the playoffs and have a shot at a ring. As a result, Nash will sign with the Miami Heat and take less money to get a ring.

    When asked on the Dan Patrick Show if LeBron James asked him to join the Miami Heat, Nash said, “They’re professional, they play hard, they play together and their coaching staff has done a great job. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and I would definitely listen.”

    Furthermore, the Heat need to sign a veteran point guard that can run a half-court offense and set up his teammates.

    No one does that better than Steve Nash. 

Will Tim Duncan Stay with the Spurs?

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    Among the 2012 NBA free agents will be "The Big Fundamental," who is a four-time NBA champion, two-time MVP, and 13-time NBA All-Star: Tim Duncan.

    Duncan made $21.2 million from the San Antonio Spurs in the 2011-2012 season and he likely will not receive the same offer from the Spurs as he enters the 2012 NBA free-agency period as an unrestricted free agent.

    Duncan who just turned 36 last month has been with the Spurs his whole career and look for him sign with the Spurs again in the free-agency period.

    I can't see Duncan playing for any other team and when the 2012 NBA free-agent drama begins, Duncan will be his low-key self and take less money just to stay in San Antonio and retire as the greatest Spur. 

Will Kevin Garnett Leave the Boston Celtics?

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    Kevin Garnett will turn 36 this month and he will be the seasoned veteran among the 2012 NBA free agents.

    Garnett, like Duncan, is an NBA champion, an MVP, and a 14-time NBA All-Star but at the end of his career.

    Garnett makes the same amount as Duncan at $21.2 million a year and and will also be an unrestricted free agent. More than likely, Boston Celtics will sign Garnett in the NBA free-agency period for less money. Garnett wants to stay with the Celtics.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers said this about Garnett, "Honestly, I think he loves the team. I think he loves his teammates. They have a lot of fun together. This is a good group. That makes you want to play more.” 

    Like Duncan, Garnett has put too much hard work and dedication into his team. Garnett will forever remain a Celtic and will sign with them for less money in the 2012 NBA free-agency period.

Why Eric Gordon Will Return to New Orleans

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    Eric Gordon is coming off major injuries the last couple years and his durability will be a topic of concern among the 2012 NBA free agents.

    Gordon made $3.8 million with the New Orleans Hornets in the 2011-2012 season and missed a ton of games due to injury but in his four seasons in the NBA he has always been a consistent scorer.

    Moreover, Gordon is a restricted free agent and the Hornets will match any offer he gets from other teams during the NBA free-agency period.

    In Sports Illustrated, Gordon also praised the situation he is in with the team, the coach and the city of New Orleans, "The first thing I'd say is that we have a very underrated coach," Gordon said. "He's one of the best coaches out there, and we're definitely an underrated team. The Hornets really do have good fans, too. Overall, it's better than what people probably would think if they hadn't lived here. It's been enjoyable."

    Look for the Hornets to sign Gordon in the 2012 NBA free-agency period to a multi-year deal. 

Will Roy Hibbert Sign Back with Indiana Pacers?

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    Among the 2012 NBA free agents is one of the best young big men, Roy Hibbert. Hibbert became an All-Star this year and has been a double-double machine.

    He is truly efficient in field-goal percentage (50 percent) and free-throw percentage (71 percent) and averaged career highs this year in points (12.8), rebounds (8.8) and blocks (2).

    He also has been a major contributor in leading the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs in 2011 and in 2012.

    Right now Hibbert is only making $2.6 million from the Pacers and is a restricted free agent so look for the Pacers to match any offer he gets from the 2012 NBA free-agency sweepstakes.

    Moreover, Hibbert is such a vital piece to the Pacers that he will re-sign with the Pacers during the NBA free-agency period. 

Will Brook Lopez Move to Brooklyn?

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    Another big man that is 7'0'' with extremely polished offensive skills that will be coveted heavily among the 2012 NBA free agents is Brook Lopez.

    Lopez is widely known in the NBA for his great offensive efficiency and poor defensive skills.

    Lopez only played five games this season due to a season-ending injury but has consistently been one of the better scorers as a big man in his brief NBA career.

    Lopez is extraordinary gifted from the field with a career field-goal percentage of 50 percent and an astonishing 80 percent at the free-throw line.

    He is a liability on defense and as a Net this past season he made $3.1 million and is a restricted free agent for the upcoming 2012 NBA free-agent class.

    With Deron Williams going to Dallas, the Nets will look to re-sign all their other assets starting with Brook Lopez, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov will most likely overpay Lopez to stay with the Nets when they move to Brooklyn. 

    Come July 1, when NBA free agency begins, Brook Lopez will be saying "Hello, Brooklyn!" 

Why Gerald Wallace Will Stay with Brooklyn

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    Gerald Wallace will be a stat-sheet stuffer among the 2012 NBA free agents.

    Wallace does a little bit of everything; he can be a consistent scorer, rebound, block shots, get steals, and shoot from the perimeter.

    He has a variety of skills and made $9.5 million this past season with the Brooklyn Nets after playing a majority of the season with the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Wallace has a player option and is looking for a multi-year deal and Billy King, general manager of the Nets, will most likely sign Wallace to just that during the 2012 NBA free-agency period. “Obviously he’s a big part of it and his reality being 30 years old, this is probably going to be one his last chances to get a big contract before he gets beyond that,” King told the New York Daily News. “So our goal is try to get him where he’s comfortable with the numbers, we’re comfortable with the numbers, and we keep him in the fold.”

    Furthermore, Wallace will re-sign with the Nets during the 2012 NBA free-agency period. 

Will Nicholas Batum Stay in Portland or Go Elsewhere During Free Agency

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    The 2012 NBA free agents will feature another stat stuffer that is a solid jump shooter who hit 39 percent from the three-point line, 84 percent from the free-throw line, and had career highs in points (13.9) and rebounds (4.6) during this past season.

    Batum made $2.2 million this past season with the Portland Trail Blazers and will be a restricted free agent in the upcoming 2012 NBA free-agent class.

    Portland will most likely match any offer on the table but the young 23-year-old Batum might head to the San Antonio Spurs and join his friend and former Portland teammate Patty Mills.

    Just last week, Batum told L'Equipe TV that "San Antonio is an option for me. There are 30 NBA teams, so I'm going to look at everything and see who's best. But it's clear that San Antonio is not a bad option. I don't want to leave Portland, but I'm going to look at everything and see what's best for me."

    Furthermore, look for the young Batum to sign with San Antonio Spurs during the 2012 NBA free-agency period for a multi-year deal worth a little less than $10 million a year. 

The Most Underrated Player in the 2012 NBA Free Agent Class

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    Rounding out the top 10 of this season's top 2012 NBA free agents is the most underrated: Ersan Ilyasova.

    Ilyasova played incredible for the Milwaukee Bucks this past season with career highs in field goal percentage (49 percent), three-point percentage (46 percent), points (13.9) and rebounds (8.8).

    Moreover, Ilyasova only made $2.5 million for the Bucks this past season and will be an unrestricted free agent starting July 1.

    Ilyasova was on record saying he will go to whatever team pays him the most, “When I look at it I have to remember that it’s a business,” said Ilyasova. “Some teams overseas wanted to buyout my contract but I wanted to finish this season in the NBA. This is where I want to be right now, but we will see what happens in the future. Financially, whoever pays me more will be the team that I decide to sign with.”

    Furthermore, Ilyasova will go to a team that has a lot of cap room and one of the teams that will be targeting him heavily during the 2012 NBA free-agency period will be the Brooklyn Nets.

    If Ilyasova doesn't go overseas, he will most likely end up in Brooklyn, baby.