Now that the NBA Draft is over, it is time to focus on what trades will go down during the off-season and what free agents are on the market. Will this be the summer that Dwight Howard gets dealt? Are Pau Gasol's days over in Laker land? Will Deron Williams be the centerpiece for the Brooklyn Nets or will he go back to his hometown and play for the Dallas Mavericks? Aging superstar, Steve Nash gets to pick between a handful of teams, but will he elect to sign with a team for less money in exchange for a chance to win a championship? All of these questions will be answered and much more.
DWIGHT HOWARD is the biggest name in all of the rumors this summer. The Houston Rockets tried to acquire every pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday to swing a deal for Howard. It wasn't enough to convince Orlando to make a move. The Los Angeles Lakers really want to get Howard, but it doesn't look like Howard wants to bring his talents to Hollywood. He doesn't want to copy Shaquille O'Neal. Drafted by Orlando, nicknamed Superman, and this is were he wants the comparisons to end. If Deron Williams elects to re-sign with the Nets, I could definitely see Howard going to Brooklyn.
However, if this is the case, we might have to wait until the 2013-14 season to see the two playing together. The Nets do not have much to offer, so if they can't get a third team involved, they will not be able to give the Magic what they need in a trade.
If, and I mean if, the Lakers acquire Josh Smith in a trade I could see Dwight Howard changing his stance on joining the Lakers. Howard and Smith are great friends and they would love playing on the same squad, and is there a better place to play than in Hollywood? (Calm down New York, maybe if you guys start winning more it would be cool to play at MSG.)
Furthermore, if the Magic can swing a deal to bring in Josh Smith, this could convince Howard to stay in Orlando. Rob Hennigan, the Orlando Magic's new general manager knows what he is doing. He spent the last eight years in San Antonio and Oklahoma City. He was an assistant general manager with the Thunder for the past four seasons, and was a huge reason why the Thunder are where they are today.
Before they can land Josh Smith, or any other player that might convince Howard to stay, they need to find a head coach that will fit Orlando.
PREDICTION: Dwight Howard stays in Orlando and is not dealt this off-season. I see the Magic trying to acquire Josh Smith, or another type of all-star player, to convince Howard to stay. If they can't, then they move Howard by the trade deadline next season. I see Howard ending up in Brooklyn during the season, or after this season when he becomes a free agent. He has let it be known he wants to play in Brooklyn. (The Nets are doing their Jersey Shore fist pumps in Brooklyn because this might convince Deron Williams to re-sign to a max deal with the Nets.)
DERON WILLIAMS has made it clear that his options are down to two teams: Dallas and Brooklyn. The Mavericks have cleared enough cap space, and really threw in the towel on last season, to create enough cap space to give Williams a maximum contract. Their number one goal is to acquire Williams. If they can't convince Williams to come to Dallas, expect the Mavericks to try and bring in a former Mav: Steve Nash.
The Brooklyn Nets have the upper hand in acquiring Williams. They can offer him $26 million more than any other team because of the "home team" rights. They can offer Williams an extra year and that might be enough to convince Williams to stay. Also, the Nets are moving into their new arena, The Barclays Center, and Deron Williams would love to be the face of the Brooklyn franchise.
PREDICTION: Williams will follow the money and stay with the Nets. $26 million is too much money to walk away from. I expect him to sign a 5-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million. Williams will work on convincing Howard to come join him in Brooklyn and show Jay-Z there may be 99 problems in Brooklyn, but winning a title to Brooklyn ain't one.
STEVE NASH has one thing on his mind: NBA Championship. Nash has made well over $100 million over his NBA career, so he will not mind taking a pay cut to join a team that will be in contention next season. I see four viable options for Nash this summer. New York, Dallas, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Miami. If Nash signs with any of these four teams, he will definitely increase the chances of bringing one of these franchises a NBA Championship.
Los Angeles and Miami are the long shots. I really do not see Nash going to either one of these franchises. However, we really never know what might happen during the summer. I really do not think he helps the Lakers enough to put them in as one of the top four teams to win a championship next season. Miami has their eyes set on signing Ray Allen and already have depth at the point guard position with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. We all know LeBron James knows how to run the point too.
New York and Dallas are the two front runners to land Nash. I really do not think Nash wants to play with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have a ton of talent, but they have no team chemistry what-so-ever. It's doubtful that Nash would want to join a team like that.
If Nash cares about making the big bucks he will go to Toronto. The Raptors are prepared to offer a contract that will allow him to have post-playing options in Toronto. Lets not forget that Toronto GM, Brian Calangelo, already has a good relationship with Nash from their days working together in Phoenix.
Dallas has their eyes set on signing Deron Williams, but if that does not happen Nash is not a bad option B. The Mavericks have a ton of cap space and can offer Nash a little more money than the Lakers, Heat, and Knicks.
PREDICTION: Steve Nash will be going back to the Dallas Mavericks. I see Deron Williams staying in Brooklyn and Dallas will move on to acquire the second best free-agent point guard this summer.
THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS have to make a splash this summer. The group they have together is not going to bring in their 17th NBA Championship. They are putting Pau Gasol on the market to see what they can get. The Minnesota Timberwolves are extremely interested in acquiring Gasol.
However, I do not think Derrick Williams is enough to convince the Lakers to trade their all-star power forward. Pau Gasol is a top-five power forward in the NBA, and he tends to get overlooked still. If Minnesota does not add more, or find a third team to get involved, the Lakers will probably not trade Gasol to Minnesota.
There are rumors that the Atlanta Hawks are interested in Gasol in exchange for Josh Smith. Smith has expressed interest in leaving Atlanta, and this trade could helping out both teams next season. Atlanta would have a dangerous combo of Gasol and Al Horford in the frontcourt to pair with Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague in the backcourt.
The Lakers would add exactly what they need. They need some athleticism and J-Smoove presents a ton of that. Also, this could entice Dwight Howard to change his mind on playing with the Los Angeles Lakers because of his close friendship with Josh Smith.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been talking to the Houston Rockets too and could bring back a combo of Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola for Gasol. The Lakers would love to get their hands on one of Houston's first round selections too. Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, and Terrance Jones all have a ton of athleticism that would help an aging Lakers team.
I simply do not see the Lakers making a move with Minnesota for Derrick Williams because the Lakers need to win now. Kobe Bryant has three or four years left of playing at a high-level and they do not want to enter a rebuilding mode during this span.
Furthermore, the Lakers need help adding scorers on the perimeter. Expect the Lakers to go after a couple of these names: O.J. Mayo, Jameer Nelson, Steve Novak, Ray Allen, Anthony Parker, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Jason Terry. They are just some of the names that could help an aging Lakers squad who struggle scoring from the perimeter.
PREDICTION: The Lakers make a deal with Atlanta and get Josh Smith. This move helps out both teams tremendously. The only thing that can set this trade back is Josh Smith is a free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season. They add a point guard and let Ramon Sessions sign elsewhere. I think Steve Novak would be a perfect fit for the Lakers, but the Knicks will do everything possible to keep him in the Big Apple.
Also, if the Lakers could convince Jason Terry to come in that would be huge. Terry has been one of the best bench players over the last six seasons and would help the Lakers weak perimeter offense. He is a restricted free agent so it will probably be unlikely for the Lakers to get him because Dallas would be able to match any offer to keep "The Jet" in Dallas. Especially if D-Will signs with the Nets, it will almost be a lock that Terry will re-sign with Dallas. If they get their hands on Williams, the Mavericks will probably let Terry walk.
RAY ALLEN will be 37 on July 20th, but the guy can still stroke the rock. A lot of people say he is too old and can not shoot anymore. Those people must not have paid too much attention last year. Allen's shot 45 percent from deep last season and ranked fourth-best in the NBA. He struggled in the playoffs shooting the deep ball, but it was mainly because he was playing on one good ankle.
Possible suitors for Allen include a handful of teams. The Miami Heat look like the front runners to land Allen. He wants to win another NBA Championship, and what better place to go than to the reigning champs.
The Boston Celtics are trying to keep Allen in Boston, but they have some other moves they are trying to accomplish. With the emergence of Avery Bradley last year, the Celtics won't miss out too much if they let Allen go. They want to bring Brandon Bass back and re-sign Jeff Green. Those will be the Celtics main targets after Kevin Garnett decided to sign a three-year deal with Boston.
The Los Angeles Lakers need some help on the perimeter. Ray Allen is not one of their first options they want to bring in, but it is still a possibility. The Lakers were tied for 25th in the NBA in three-point shooting last season. Ray Allen would help them tremendously in that department. However, there are some other three-point shooters that the Lakers will look to acquire for a cheaper price than Allen.
The Phoenix Suns are the dark horse in this race. They have more cap space to offer Allen and are rumored to offer him close to 20-million for three years. This all comes down to whether if Allen is about winning championships or cares more about making one last big contract before he retires.
PREDICTION: Ray Allen hosts a one-hour television show on ESPN announcing he will bring his talents to South Beach. Okay, everything but the one-hour television show will happen. Allen will sign a two-year deal with the Heat as he tries to pursue some more jewelry. Just imagine how awkward that will be with Allen rocking a Heat jersey at TD Garden against the Boston Celtics. We will have to wait and see if that happens, but Miami's first goal this summer is to add Ray Allen to their squad.
O.J. MAYO is a guy that continues to get overlooked. but he has a very underrated game. In his four-year career he is averaging 15.2 points/game, 3.3 rebounds/game, 2.7 assists/game, 38% from deep, and a 82% career free-throw shooter. Not bad for a bench player.
Memphis was never a great fit for Mayo. Now he gets a chance to explore his options. There are a number of teams that would love to add him to their squad. The Lakers, Celtics, Clippers,and Nets are looking like the front runners to land Mayo.
If Boston doesn't bring back Allen, they will turn their attention to Mayo. He is only 24-years old and would form a nice backcourt with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Boston would be better off letting Allen walk and signing O.J. Mayo. They need to get younger, and this move would help them add some youth. There has always been a rumor out there that Mayo is not a coaches player, but we all know this would change with Doc Rivers calling the shots.
The Lakers need to add some depth in their backcourt, and Mayo could help fix that problem. Just like the Celtics, the Lakers need to add some youth. Mayo is very familiar with Los Angeles as he played his college ball at USC. This time the money he collects won't be in a dark alley from Tim Floyd.
The Clippers and Nets both need to add some depth. Los Angeles needs to add some help if Randy Foye decides to sign elsewhere. Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups (if he re-signs with the Clippers, all signs point to him staying in Clipper-land), O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, and DeAndre Jordan are not a bad seven to have.
The Nets need to keep adding pieces to convince Dwight Howard they want to win now. Adding O.J. Mayo, along with re-signing Deron Williams, is a pretty good start to that. The Nets will still have some cap space leftover if they sign D-Will to a max contract, so adding Mayo would be a nice fit for Brooklyn.
PREDICTION: If Ray Allen leaves Boston, and the Celtics give Mayo a nice mid-level deal.
ERSAN ILYASOVA is one of the best kept secrets in the NBA. Ilyasova posted a 29 point / 25 rebound game last season against the New Jersey Nets. He is one of the most underrated players in the league. In his fourth season last year, he posted a career best 13 points/game and 8.8 rebounds/game. He shot nearly 50% from the floor, 45% from deep, and 79% from the charity stripe. Pretty remarkable numbers for a power forward.
The Brooklyn Nets are extremely interested in bringing Ilyasova in. Just imagine if the Nets dreams come true. Deron Williams, O.J. Mayo, Gerald Wallace, Ersan Ilyasova, and Dwight Howard. However, we all remember how the Nets off-season went two years ago. They wanted LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, and Chris Bosh. They ended up with Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar.
The Milwaukee wants to keep Ilyasova in a Buck uniform. They were close to making the playoffs last season and they feel they have a chance to be a competitive team next year. However, their main focus should be on re-signing Ilyasova. After the All-Star break he was playing great ball by averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Watch out for the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers to be possible suitors for the young star from Turkey.
PREDICTION: Jay-Z will use his (blue) magic and get Ilyasova to bring his talents to Brooklyn. The Nets future could look very bright if D-Will chooses to sign a long term deal because he is the perfect centerpiece to build around. This summer all depends on Williams for the Nets future. They will either get back to their winning ways when J-Kidd was running the point, or will continue their losing ways if Williams chooses to bounce to Dallas.
FIVE NAMES TO WATCH CLOSELY
ERIC GORDON is a name to pay attention to. All the signs point that he will re-sign in New Orleans. Imagine him balling with Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis for the next five-plus years. That could be a very dangerous team if Rivers and Davis reach their potential.
Gordon has had problems with staying healthy and has missed 107 games already because of injuries throughout his four-year career. Expect the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trailblazers to pursue Gordon too.
PREDICTION: The New Orleans Hornets have a ton of cap space after trading Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington. They cut Rashard Lewis to save close to $10 million. They will match any offer to keep Gordon in New Orleans to start the rebuilding process. It sure looks like David Stern made the right call when he vetoed the three-team trade with the Lakers, Rockets, and Hornets during last summer. This team looks like they could be a very dangerous team in the near future if everything falls into place.
BRANDON ROY looks like he is on track to make a comeback. He will be an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team he wants to after the Blazers used their amnesty policy on Roy last December. He received the same surgery Kobe Bryant did last summer and is looking like he is ready to give it a go.
A ton of teams will lineup to sign Roy. We all remember what this guy can do when he is healthy. In his five-year career he averaged 19 points/game, 4.3 rebounds/game, 4.7 assists/game, and one steal/game.
He should come at a reasonably low cost because of his knee issues. No one is sold that the surgery will ensure he will be able to play for the long road.
Expect the Timberwolves, Mavericks, Bulls, Pacers, and Warriors to try and pursue Roy this summer.
PREDICTION: This one is truly a guess because Roy will come at a cheap price. It will likely come down to the Bulls and Timberwolves. Ironically, he'll probably wind up in Chicago because the Bulls will need some help as Derrick Rose rehabs his knee. Rose is expected to miss most of the 2012-13 regular season recovering from his torn ACL during the first round of the playoffs. Roy would be a perfect fit to help out Chicago while they wait for Rose to heal up.
JEFF GREEN is a very solid player in this league. I think a lot of people forgot about how talented he is because he missed last season with aortic aneurysm in his heart that required heart surgery.
Green is averaging 14 and 6 during his four-year career. Those are pretty decent numbers, especially when you consider he played his first three-plus seasons with Kevin Durant. He played with Russell Westbrook for two-plus seasons, and lets just say he was not the first or second option playing with those two.
The Boston Celtics have made it clear that they plan on being very aggressive in re-signing Green. They don't want to get two months of basketball from a guy they traded Kendrick Perkins for. Green is perfect for the Celtics because he can play the three and four, which will allow more rest for both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics had major success last season with Garnett at center too, so they could plug Green as their starting power forward.
PREDICTION: I think Green will listen to all the offers on the table, but he will most likely remain in Boston. Green is the Celtics third priority this summer as they already re-signed their first priority. (Kevin Garnett reportedly signed a 3-year deal worth 34-million.)
MICHAEL BEASLEY is a talented player but just has not met his potential. Coming out of Kansas State he was an absolute monster. but he's been frighteningly inconsistent during his four-year NBA career.
Beasley is only 23-years old so he is still has a long NBA career in his future.
Michael Beasley could help out a ton of teams in this league. He is a very capable scorer and has shown he can be a capable rebounder. The Clippers seemed like they were a front runner in pursuing Beasley, but then they made a deal to acquire Lamar Odom. Their big brother in Staples Center also seems very interested in signing Beasley. The Lakers need to add some depth inside. Furthermore, Beasley can play both the wing and the four so he fits perfectly for the Lakers. They need some help at both positions. Jordan Hill is a free agent so if he walks, expect them to go hard after Beasley.
The Dallas Mavericks seem extremely interested in signing Beasley. They need some help to back up Nowitzki at the four and could use Beasley as a small forward or stretch four power forward.
PREDICTION: Beasley signs with the Lakers. If the Lakers can swing a deal for Josh Smith and bring in Beasley, they will add some much needed athleticism to their roster. Beasley is a solid player from 18-feet out and has a decent inside game. This move would help the Lakers down the road and if Beasley does reach his potential, he will be a steal for any team that acquires his talents.
ANDRE MILLER has proven to be a very capable point guard in the NBA. He is a savvy veteran who can help out any team that needs some depth at the point. During his 13-year career Miller is averaging 14 points, seven assists, and four rebounds a game.
The Miami Heat will also try and land Miller to backup Mario Chalmers at the point, and be a role model for Norris Cole. The most the Heat can offer Miller is three-million a year, and that should be enough money to convince him to contend for a championship-caliber team.
The Denver Nuggets want to re-sign Miller. He was a vital player for their team last year as Miller and Ty Lawson formed one of the best 1-2 punches at the point last season.
Expect a handful of other teams to try and bring Andre Miller in. He is a very capable player still and should come at a reasonable price.
PREDICTION: Presumably, the Lakers are working on deepening their frontcourt and signing some perimeter players instead of re-signing Ramon Sessions or any other point guard. They will find a way to sign Miller.