Saturday, July 7, 2012

Top Free Agents Still Available

     After a little less than a week, this year's free agent class is depleted of star talent for the most part. Deron Williams agreed to re-sign with Brooklyn. Steve Nash agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that will send him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Ray Allen recently decided to take his talents to South Beach, in the wake of the Boston Celtics agreeing to three year contracts with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. Though most of the star quality talent is gone from the rest of this year's free agent class, there are still many serviceable players who can make significant contributions to their next team. Here's my list of the Top 10 Free Agents remaining, and where I think each of them will go. There are some players who are yet to be with a team due to their restricted free agency (i.e. Roy Hibbert, Eric Gordon, etc.) but they have already signed offer sheets and are waiting for their team from last year to either match it or not in the coming week. They are no longer on the market if they signed an offer sheet.

#10: Marcus Camby, Center, Unrestricted Free Agent

Where will the Camby Man finish out
his career?
Bio: Camby is past his prime, but is still a solid defensive-oriented big man. He's a tough, gritty worker and efficient on the boards. During this late stage of his career, he wants to win a ring. Miami is shaping to be the best situation for him. They need a big body in the middle next to Chris Bosh, because Joel Anthony is simply too short to guard seven footers. Camby joins Ray Allen, and accepts a deal that will allow him to finish out his career in Miami. The Knicks will push hard for Camby, who played in New York earlier in his career. However, Miami has more talent and star power than the Knicks, and therefore, a better shot to go to the NBA Finals this season.

Prediction: Signs with Miami Heat

#9: Courtney Lee, Shooting Guard, Unrestricted Free Agent

Lee will be a sought-after
commodity for his shooting prowess.
Bio: Lee has been a bit of a journeyman in the early stages of his career. He was drafted by the Orlando Magic, then traded to the Nets in a deal that sent Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Magic. After his tenure with the Nets, he was traded to the Rockets. Now, Lee is a free agent, hoping to strike a long-term deal with a team. Chicago is in need of a shooting guard to pair with Richard Hamilton, who is getting older and has been injury prone the past couple of seasons. Lee can start or come off the bench. He's a good shooter with a nice touch, and will be sought out by several teams. However, Chicago has a very good team in place for as long as Derrick Rose is their point guard, and I think Lee will relish the opportunity to play alongside him.

Prediction: Signs with Chicago Bulls

#8: Ramon Sessions, Point Guard, Unrestricted Free Agent

Bio: Last season, Sessions was traded from the Cavaliers to the Lakers, where he played well for a while. However, he completely disappeared in the playoffs, and was simply outplayed by Denver's Ty Lawson and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook. Sessions and the Lakers were in negotiations, but in a shocking twist of events, the Lakers agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns that landed them Steve Nash, shutting down all negotiations with Sessions. It has been rumored that the Mavericks are scouting Sessions, after losing out on Nash, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, and Jeremy Lin. The Mavericks need a point guard desperately, so I think they will give Sessions the money he wants.

Sessions is one of several quality point guards still on the
free agent market.

Prediction: Signs with Dallas Mavericks

#7: O.J. Mayo, Shooting Guard, Unrestricted Free Agent

Can Mayo live up to his draft expectations
with a change of scenery?
Bio: Mayo was drafted by the Timberwolves, but then got traded that night to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love. I think it's safe to say the Timberwolves got the better end of that deal. However, Mayo is not a bust by any means. He can create his own shot and has good size. He can start or come off the bench and produce. He sometimes chucks up unnecessary shots, but he will find a deal eventually. He's lost some market after the Clippers signed Jamal Crawford and the Celtics signed Jason Terry, but he will still have several suitors. He's asking for more than the mid-level exception, but as more teams fill out their rosters, he might have to accept that offer. The Indiana Pacers have been hot on Mayo's trail for a while now, and I think they will finally get him.

Prediction: Signs with Indiana Pacers

#6: Chris Kaman, Center, Unrestricted Free Agent

Kaman is one of the more undervalued centers
in the NBA.

Bio: Kaman was part of the deal that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers. Kaman did not want to play for the Hornets, but still produced some decent numbers. He's now 30 years old, but can still start for a team in need of a center. Indiana has been talking with him, as insurance in case they decide not to match Portland's maximum contract offer to Roy Hibbert. However, I think Hibbert's offer will be matched by the Pacers, and they will leave Kaman in the dust. There are still some teams in need of a center though, including the Hawks, Hornets, Trail Blazers, and Heat, among others. I think Kaman will get a fair deal somewhere, because he still has value and produces. Although the Hawks' main target is probably Dwight Howard, getting Kaman would allow them to move Al Horford to power forward, which is a more natural position for him. They could always put Kaman in a deal for Howard anyways.

Prediction: Signs with Atlanta Hawks

#5: Brook Lopez, Center, Restricted Free Agent

If there's any sure thing in free agency besides Duncan returning
to the Spurs, it's Lopez returning to the Nets.
Bio: Lopez received a qualifying offer from the Nets, but will most likely get more money than the $7.6 million in that qualifying offer. The Nets have a hole at center and he is their best option at the moment. He is often criticized for his rebounding and defense, but Lopez is one of the better offensive centers in the game. Last season, he was limited to only five games with foot injuries. He hasn't garnered many suitors, so the Nets might be able to re-sign him for a discounted price. Lopez is needed not only for his production, but also if the Nets want to realistically swing a deal for Dwight Howard.

Prediction: Re-signs with Brooklyn Nets

#4: Lou Williams, Point Guard, Unrestricted Free Agent

Williams is surely leaving Philly,
but where will he go?
Bio: Williams came off the bench for the 76ers, but he was their leading scorer. It does tell you how woeful the Philadelphia offense was, but it also tells you how effective Williams can really be. Williams is a good shooter and is an average passer. I think he's better off the bench because he provides energy and instant offense. He's not afraid to take the big shots, so he's very confident. Williams is a smart player, and I don't believe he's reached his ceiling yet. After Philadelphia announced the signing of Nick Young, Williams tweeted his farewells to the "City of Brotherly Love." Expect several suitors including the Bulls, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, and others to go after him. I think the Blazers do have the biggest need though, because they have lost Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Jonny Flynn all in free agency. If rookie point guard Damian Lillard struggles, Williams can provide some relief.

Prediction: Signs with Portland Trail Blazers.

#3: Kris Humphries, Power Forward, Unrestricted Free Agent

Humphries has value, so will the
Nets have the cap flexibility to sign him?
Bio: Humphries was a reserve early in his career. He was seldom used and played garbage minutes. However, once he got playing time for the Nets, his game elevated. In the past two seasons, Humphries has averaged double-doubles and is steadily improving during the prime of his career. He has developed a short range jumper, but is still a physical bruiser inside, something Brook Lopez is not. Humphries plays with a lot of intensity every night, and Nets GM Billy King knows he's a key piece to the franchise. Humphries will get suitors and will get paid like he deserves, but he will get paid by the Nets.

Prediction: Re-signs with Brooklyn Nets.

#2: Ersan Ilyasova, Power Forward, Unrestricted Free Agent

Ilyasova will have suitors,
including some from Europe.
Bio: Ilyasova was drafted by the Bucks in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft. After playing internationally for a few seasons, he came over to play in the NBA. This season, Ilyasova broke out and became the starting power forward for the Milwaukee Bucks. He had an incredible career game against the Nets, when he scored 29 points to go along with 25 rebounds. Ilyasova has a knack for getting rebounds, and he can shoot the ball from the outside. His post moves aren't bad, but he is improving every season and will get paid this summer. There's swirling rumors connecting him to the Nets if they don't land Dwight Howard, but I believe that after the 76ers amnesty Elton Brand, they will lay out all their cards on the table to sign Ilyasova. He's the power forward they need.

Prediction: Signs with Philadelphia 76ers

#1: Tim Duncan, Center, Unrestricted Free Agent

Bio: Duncan is truly the most established, talented player left in this year's free agency class, but he's been quoted as saying he wants to be "...a Spur for life." I have to believe that after they make any smaller, necessary moves, the Spurs will sign him to a deal that will allow him to finish out his career in San Antonio. He is the face of the franchise and I believe he'll wait for the Spurs to give him a deal, I just can't imagine him going anywhere else.

Duncan will be "A Spur for life."
Prediction: Re-signs with San Antonio Spurs

Some honorable mentions who just missed my Top 10: Carl Landry, Jeff Green, Randy Foye, Antawn Jamison, D.J. Augustin.
Green is expected to stay with the
Celtics after heart surgery last year.

Honorable Mention Predictions

1. Carl Landry signs with Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Jeff Green re-signs with Boston Celtics

3. Randy Foye signs with New York Knicks

4. Antawn Jamison signs with Charlotte Bobcats

5. D.J. Augustin signs with Houston Rockets

     Though most of the All Star talent in this year's free agent class have agreed to contracts, there are still several contributors who can produce for whatever team they play for next season. How will the rest of the free agent frenzy unfold? Stay tuned, there's still a lot more business to be handled this summer.

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