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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Early Bird Gets the Worm: Premature NBA Free Agency Predications

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

KG made 21.2 Million dollars last year in the final year of a loaded contract. While KG is one of the older guys in the league, he's still probably the most fiery competitor. With scoring and coming up big rebounding, he carried the Celtics through the late part of the season and in the playoffs. The Celtics will probably give him a couple more years with an an option. Garnett will be willing to take the pay cut considering his age, and having the opportunity to play a few more seasons with an elite distributing point guard.

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

Allen will finally be 1/3 of the big three to leave the biblical Boston Three-Party. The Hawks are looking down the barrel of 8 unrestricted contracts for 2012, and will look outside their talent pool to get them over the second round hump. Allen makes sense for this team. He's a veteran, a leader and a scorer. He'll give Joe Johnson, Teague and Horford guidance, as well as relieve scoring pressures from Johnson. He still has a couple good years in him left, and the Hawks would be the perfect fit for Allen.  

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

Kaman made it no secret that he could 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

Mayo is ready to step into the spotlight for an NBA team, and begin his legacy. With Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph in the picture in Memphis, there is just no room for Mayo to blossom into a superstar. Memphis GM Chris Wallace tried to send Mayo to the Pacers at the deadline, but maybe his Rolex was 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

The Celtics need to be on a mission to recruit elite young talent as the big three continue to count their days. The Flying Frenchman is a great scorer, lanky defender and lights out three point shooter. Portland has the #4 highest salary, and Boston has the #2. Unfortunately for Portland, Boston has the ability to spend the money that the small market Portland doesn't have. Batum would be a great fit with Rondo.

Tim Duncan C, (UFA) - San Antonio Spurs

The dude bleeds silver and black

Ersan Ilyasova SF, (UFA) - Toronto Raptors

With Ersan, there's no beating around the bush. Recently, he made the candid comment that, "Financially, whoever pays me more will be the team that I decide to sign with." There's only a few teams underneath the cap that would be willing to cut Ilyasova a giant check. Toronto's penchant for over payed mediocre foreign players makes them the prime candidate. Ilyasova's comment shows that he has no interest in winning, but is merely in it for the cash. Some guys are like that. Either way, the guy is a great rebounder and scorer. But his disinterest in winning leaves something to be desired. Get ready for 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.

Court Adjourned. 

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