Now that the NBA regular season is over, fourteen teams are already looking ahead to next season. The 2012 NBA free agency class features more talent than the 2011 class but still nowhere near 2010 when guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, and David Lee were all on the market. Here are the top ten NBA unrestricted free agents available this summer. Click here for The Sports Bank’s 2012 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Deron Williams, PG, Nets (PO)
D-Will will almost certainly opt out of the final year of his contract worth almost $17.8 million in hopes of signing a long-term deal with a contender. The Nets need to re-sign Williams in the worst way imaginable especially since they are moving across the river to Brooklyn next season. However, Williams won’t be part of that transition if the franchise does not surround him with better pieces.
2. Steve Nash, PG, Suns (UFA)
He is 38 years old but still proved to be one of the best assist-men in the league this past season. Nash is still chasing that first ever ring and with Phoenix not in a position to contend for a title in the near future, it may be time for Nash to take his talents elsewhere. He has stated in the past that he enjoys playing in Phoenix and while that loyalty is admirable, several teams will likely try to lure Nash away from the Suns.
3. Tim Duncan, C/PF, Spurs (UFA)
The big fundamental isn’t near the player he was a few years ago as the Spurs have limited his playing time in order to keep some of the tread off his tires. Still, he is extremely productive and reliable despite the fact that he just turned 36 years old. Let’s be honest though; no way the Spurs don’t re-sign Duncan.
4. Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics (UFA)
Add KG to the list of aging veterans to hit the open market this summer. It will be interesting to see what Boston does this off-season with both Garnet and Allen free agents. This much is sure though; the Celtics won’t offer KG anywhere near the $21-plus million he made this past season. If Boston tries to lowball him or looks to get younger, there should be plenty of title contenders knocking on Garnett’s door.
5. Gerald Wallace, SF, Nets (PO)
The Nets panicked prior to the trade deadline and gave up a lottery pick to land Wallace in hopes that he would be enough to convince Deron Williams to re-sign with the team. However, Wallace has a player option on the final year of his contract and could choose to become an unrestricted free agent. His decision could depend on what Williams does but expect Wallace to test the market to see what sort of demand he will have as a free agent.
6. Ray Allen, SG, Celtics (UFA)
Yet another 36-plus year old entering free agency. Allen posted his lowest scoring average since his rookie season but shot a career-high 45.3% from downtown. Like Garnett, the Celtics likely won’t be offering Allen a long-term, high-priced deal and could look for a younger replacement. While Allen is on the final legs of his career, those legs can still knock down triples and will draw major interest from title contenders searching for a sharpshooter.
7. Kris Humphries, PF, Nets (UFA)
After a breakout season last year, the former Mr. Kim Kardashian did not receive the long-term contract he was hoping to get last off-season and instead signed a one-year deal. Humphries posted even better numbers this past year, averaging career-highs in points and rebounds. That should be enough to earn him a lengthy offer from some team. If Williams and Wallace are leaving the Nets though, Humphries could join the exodus.
8. Chris Kaman, C, Hornets (UFA)
I am still surprised New Orleans didn’t trade Kaman prior to the trade deadline with the likelihood of him leaving the Big Easy this summer. Emeka Okafor is still under contract for two more seasons so expect Kaman to look for a full-time starting gig somewhere else since the Hornets won’t be able to afford paying both guys. Teams always tend to overpay for size so the seven-footer should be able to get a multi-year deal in excess of ten million dollars per year.
9. Raymond Felton, PG, Blazers (UFA)
ESPN.com lists Felton as 205 pounds. If he weighs 205 pounds then Eddy Curry comes in at 245. Felton had his worst season since his rookie year and I don’t think Portland will be willing to make him an offer to be their long-term point guard. It will be interesting to see what kind of worth Felton will have on the market with so many other veteran point guards available. He could be in for a repeat of two summers ago when he signed a short-term deal due to a lack of long-term interest from teams.
10. Jason Kidd, PG, Mavericks (UFA)
More than any other veteran on this list, the 39-year old showed his age and appearing to be a shell of the player he once was. All indications suggest Dallas will look to get younger this off-season so unless Kidd takes a major pay cut and possibly accepting of a role as a reserve, he could be on his way out of town. There won’t be a ton of interest for Kidd but a team needing a veteran starter should be able to get Kidd at an affordable rate.
Other Notable Unrestricted Free Agents:
Nick Young, SG, Clippers (UFA)
J.J. Hickson, PF, Blazers (UFA)
Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Bucks (UFA)
Antawn Jamison, PF, Cavaliers (UFA)
Andre Miller, PG, Nuggets (UFA)
Chauncey Billups, PG, Clippers (UFA)
Ramon Sessions, PG, Lakers (PO)
Jason Terry, SG, Mavericks, (UFA)
Marcus Camby, C, Rockets (UFA)
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.