We here at Court of Appeals love to speculate about new faces in new places. With the playoffs yet to unfold, we still couldn't help but get a head start on where the top free agents next year will land. Without a champion yet crowned, here are the predictions for next year's free agents.
Deron Williams PG, UFA (P) - Dallas Mavericks
The Brooklyn Nets only have themselves to blame for
having Williams slip through their fingers. Not being able to land any
other assets, mainly Dwight Howard, has rendered D-Will with no other
options but to skip town. Attaining Gerald Wallace at the deadline was
the last desperate attempt from the Nets to retain Williams, but was not
nearly enough. Williams is a Dallas native, and has the opportunity to
be the new face of an aging franchise. Mark Cuban isn't stingy with his
money, and will happily shell out the big bucks to land, and probably
overpay the superstar point guard
Andrew Bynum C, (P) - Los Angeles Lakers
Not exactly a free agent, but we're going to count it with all the options LA has with their two big men. With all the childish antics Bynum has put the Lakers through, he
is still their project. With Kobe probably trying to stick around a few
more years, I see the Lakers swapping Gasol for somebody like Kevin
Martin, or the like to relieve scoring pressure. Big guys are a luxury
and Bynum has the potential to be one of the best, even if he never
grows up. His option will get picked up by LA.
Kevin Garnett PF/C, (UFA)- Boston Celtics
Steve Nash PG, (UFA) - Phoenix Suns
Steve is probably the biggest question mark going into free agency. He's old, but still has it. He's loyal, but still has Championship ambitions. Nash has been mentioned in the same sentences as Miami, LA, NY, Utah, Orlando, and Toronto. In short, nobody knows. Steve is a guy who has garnered success on and off the court in Phoenix, and at this point in his career it wouldn't make sense for him to move his life away from Arizona. Steve will either go big, as in market, or play it safe and stay in Phoenix and finish out his career with the city and team he loves.
Goran Dragic PG, (UFA) - Utah Jazz
When teams start to contact "The Dragon," the talk will be about paying him the big bucks, the big bucks that Houston can't afford to match. When these whisperings start becoming more and more real, the Rockets will look for the perfect match to sign and trade. The Jazz are that match. The Jazz can offer them Devin Harris, trade picks, and a young talent in the form of Paul Millsap or Derrick Favors. They can also afford to take on another player to relieve Houston of some monetary obligations. Dragic fits everything Utah needs: a play making point guard, three point threat, and a solid on-ball defender.
Ray Allen SG, (UFA) - Atlanta Hawks
Eric Gordon, SG (RFA) - New Orleans Hornets
No way do the Hornets let the key piece to the Chris Paul trade get away. They will match any offer that comes Gordon's way. And the potential of Air Gordon will be stymied by the basketball wasteland that is the New Orleans Hornets.
Chris Kaman C, (UFA) - Portland Trail-Blazers
care less about his future with New Orleans. With the ever-injured Greg Oden, Portland lacks a big guy. If the Blazers want to be contenders in the West, they're going to need to have a more solid center than Hasheem Thabeet, or Joel Pryzbilla. Imagine the mid-range majesty that a Kaman-Aldridge lineup would have. If Kaman were smart he'd take a pay cut and head northwest. The Blazers don't have a whole lot of cash to spend, but if they spend it wisely, they'll spend it on Kaman.
Jason Terry SG, (UFA) - Miami Heat
The Heat's blaring deficiency is their lack of depth. With a proficient scorer like Jason Terry coming off the bench, the heat could be even more of a contender. Terry is a cerebral player, who likes to be an emotional leader. I think he'll roll the dice, move to the dark side and join the Heat in the quest of another championship trophy. Who knows, he might even tat up his other bicep.
OJ Mayo SG, (RFA) - Brooklyn Nets
running a little slow that day. Mayo can finally make his departure from Memphis, and join a team where he can start and turn himself into an all-star caliber player.
Nicolas Batum SG, (RFA) - Boston Celtics
Tim Duncan C, (UFA) - San Antonio Spurs
The dude bleeds silver and black
Ersan Ilyasova SF, (UFA) - Toronto Raptors
Turkoglu 2.0 Canada.
Michael Beasley SF, (RFA) - Brooklyn Nets
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be happy to finally get themselves out of the Beasley era, finally opening the door for Derrick Williams to blossom. I don't think Beasley will be able to pass up the allure of playing in Brooklyn for rap mogul Jay-Z. The Wolves will have no problem not matching any offer, and Beasley could be up for a nice bidding war between a few teams including the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.