NBA Free Agents 2012: Best Destinations for Top Notch Players

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2012

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 24:  Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts near the end of the 96-87 defeat of the Phoenix Suns during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2010 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. 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 Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Deron Williams and Steve Nash have already committed to their NBA futures this offseason, but they aren't the only headline names on this year's free-agent market.

Several high quality players are still there for the taking, and certain teams fit their needs more than others. 

Let's take a look at the best landing spots for the top names remaining on this year's free-agent market. 

Eric Gordon

Gordon's future may seem like a foregone conclusion. If he had his way it probably would be, but according to TNT's David Aldridge, the New Orleans Hornets aren't ready to let him go without a fight.

Despite his request, league sourcereiterated tonight that Hornets will match $58M sheet Suns committed to Eric Gordon Tuesday.

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 5, 2012

Some people may frown on the Hornets here, but who can blame them? Gordon is one of the league's best young guards and his presence is vital to New Orleans' rebuilding effort. 

Let's take the "where will he sign" factor out of this one. Gordon's best fit is in New Orleans. He would have a chance to build his own legacy (away from Anthony Davis) in Phoenix, but the Hornets are going to be a very exciting team in the next few seasons.

Gordon, along with Davis, Austin Rivers and Darius Miller, could form one of the best young nucleuses in the game. The group would have every necessary element for a successful basketball team covered, but it all hinges on Gordon's presence. 

Phoenix's offer is tempting, but Gordon should stay put. Hornet fans will love him and, in time, they will love this team.

Nicolas Batum

According to Fran Blinebury of NBA.com, the Minnesota Timberwolves are prepared to make Batum an offer. 

The Wolves are evidently getting ready to extend a four-year, $50-million offer to Portland swingman Nic Batum.

Batum should stick with Portland provided the money is right, and they want him back. I don't see why they wouldn't. The 6'8'' swingman is versatile, capable on both ends and young. 

The Trail Blazers are going to be one of the Western Conference's teams to watch next year. Adding Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard through the draft was a major boost, and Roy Hibbert's potential signing (as reported by Sports Illustrated) adds to their bevy of talented players. 

Batum would add a defensive presence and athleticism to the Portland roster. He has a better chance of winning right now in Rip City, and loyalty should play a factor.

I think Batum flies under the radar in terms of talent and value. He brings a lot to the table on both ends of the floor, and guys like that aren't easy to come by.

Ersan Ilyasova

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Wednesday night that the Bucks have made an offer to Ilyasova. 

The Bucks have offered Ilyasova a five-year contract worth nearly $40 million, league sources said, and so far have shown no desire to partner in a sign-and-trade deal that the Nets need to acquire him.

Wojnarowski also mentions that the Nets will pursue the face-up forward if Dwight Howard doesn't land in Brooklyn. He's a knockdown shooter who would help Deron Williams and Joe Johnson a great deal.

If I were Ilyasova, I'd take my services further East from Milwaukee. Brooklyn has a solid group in place with Williams, Johnson and Gerald Wallace's underrated presence on the wing. Ilyasova definitely isn't Howard, but he brings a unique skill set to the table.

Ilyasova's presence would also stretch the floor. He is an excellent three-point shooter, and he handles the ball very well for a man his size. He would open up the paint for Williams to penetrate and kick out, subsequently improving Brooklyn's offensive flow.

He's a top-notch player without a household name. Don't let his modest reputation fool you.

Ilyasova can play, and he should play in Brooklyn next season.

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