D-Will has narrowed it down to the Nets and the Mavs. The Nets can offer Williams 5 years, $100 million while the Mavs can only offer 4 years, $74 million. Both Brooklyn and Dallas have owners committed to winning. Brooklyn has the market and the new stadium to entice Williams but Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki and a team only one year removed from winning a championship. At the end of the day though, the 28-year-old point guard may not be able to resist the pull of $26 million more and should return to the Nets.
2. Tim Duncan – Unrestricted
This is an easy one. Duncan says he’s a “Spur for life” and San Antonio wants to bring him back. So he’ll finish out his career as a Spur.
3. Steve Nash – Unrestricted
The Suns, Knicks, and Raptors will be Nash’s top suitors this offseason. Though the Raptors can offer Nash the pull of his Canadian homeland, they can’t offer him a contender. At age 38, Nash’s best chance to win a championship may be teaming up with Carmelo and Stoudemire, which would land him in New York. Though if D-Will does resign with the Nets, Dallas may end up making a strong push for Nash.
4. Eric Gordon – Restricted
Gordon will garner interest from many teams: Indiana, Houston, Phoenix, New Jersey (if D-Will leaves), and Dallas (if D-Will doesn’t come). Still New Orleans has the rights to match any offer Gordon gets. Gordon was the centerpiece in the Chris Paul trade and though the Hornets drafted Austin Rivers, who plays the same position, it is unlikely they would let Gordon walk for nothing. He’ll probably be a Hornet for years to come.
5. Roy Hibbert – Restricted
With free agency not even 24 hours old, Hibbert has already been offered a max contract for 4 years, $58 million from Portland. If Hibbert signs the Blazers offer sheet, the heat will be on the Pacers, who will have three days to match that offer. It would be hard to see the Pacers, a team on the rise, let Hibbert leave for nothing after drafting him in 2008. They’ll pay up and the 25-year-old big man will be back in Indiana next year.
6. Brook Lopez – Restricted
Now that Howard has requested a trade to the Nets, the pressure is on the team to pull it off. It would have to involve a sign-and-trade with Lopez as the centerpiece for it to work. If Howard comes to Brooklyn next season, Lopez would head down to Orlando.
7. Goran Dragic – Unrestricted
Steve Nash’s understudy proved he could play last season when he filled in for Kyle Lowry and averaged 18 ppg and 8.4 apg. He’s due for a payday. He should return to the Rockets even though the Suns, Hornets, and Mavs will pursue him.
8. O.J. Mayo – Unrestricted
Mayo has been a polarizing figure. The talent is there but so are the character issues. Those issues have assured Memphis won’t resign Mayo. Brooklyn, Boston, who tried to acquire him at the trade deadline, and Indiana are some of the interested teams. With Allen likely going to Miami, Boston will go after Mayo, but it seems like a desperate Nets team looking to build a contender will overpay him. Mayo should be in a Nets jersey next year.
9. Jameer Nelson – Unrestricted
Nelson opted out of the final year with the Magic to join a point guard-heavy free agent class. Many teams are interested in point guards but at the end of the day, Nelson should resign with the Magic. However if teams like Dallas or Portland miss out on big free agents like D-Will, Steve Nash, or Roy Hibbert, don’t be surprised to see them go after Nelson with an offer he may not be able to resist.
10. Chauncey Billups – Unrestricted
Billups is a winner period and brings intangibles that a stat sheet can’t quantify. The Clippers, Bulls, 76ers, and Rockets all have interest in Billups. His decision may be the most unpredictable of all the free agents. Taking a good guess, Billups joins the Bulls next year hoping to win another ring along side D-Rose.
Kidd has expressed a strong interest in backing up Deron Williams next year. So he will likely follow Williams to either the Nets or the Mavs.
12. Ray Allen – Unrestricted
Miami, Memphis, and Boston are all pursuing Allen. Miami can only offer 2 years, $6 million and Memphis can offer 2 years, $10 million. Boston can make the biggest offer at 2 years, $12 million. But money should take a backdrop to winning for the 36-year-old free agent. Allen will be taking his talents to South Beach next season.
Other Notable Free agents: Andre Miller – Unrestricted, Chris Kaman – Unrestricted, Jeremy Lin – Restricted, Jamal Crawford – Unrestricted, and Brandon Roy – Unrestricted.
Note: Kevin Garnett and Gerald Wallace were scratched from this list because both have already signed with teams. Garnett is returning to the Celtics for 3 years, $34 million. Wallace has resigned with the Nets for 4 years, $40 million.