The first big moves of the 2012 NBA free agency periods weren’t signings but big trades pulled off by the Atlanta Hawks, shipping All-Star guard Joe Johnson for no less than 7 players, to the New Jersey Nets, meanwhile sending Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris. Like the Nets, they’ve got Dwight Howard on their minds.

Joe Johnson is earning maximum money (owed over $80 million in the next four years) for less than that in production, and two seasons after giving him the massive contract extension, the Hawks decided it’s time to start dumping big contracts and build in a different direction, probably around Josh Smith and one or two big signings in the 2013 summer – Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

Howard at the moment is talking about wanting nowhere but Brooklyn, but the Hawks offer the possibility of playing with a close friend (Josh Smith, if he’ll stay that long) and maybe another major free agent next year. Chris Paul gave up on an extension with the Clippers, preferring to take his chances next year – either with another team or stay with the Clippers, but for more money, thanks to the CBA.

The Nets got the first part of their plan to get a three All-Star nucleus going by landing Joe Johnson, in return for five expiring contracts – Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams, one sign-and-trade with DeShawn Stevenson and a future draft pick. Their next goal is keeping Deron Williams from signing with the Mavs, and then pursuing Dwight Howard. The plan? Re-Sign free agents Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, and send them along with MarShon Brooks and future draft picks for Dwight Howard, knowing Howard’s contract expires in 2013.

The Hawks moved Marvin Williams after six disappointing season, in which he never lived up to his high pick (number 2, 2005) in the Draft, even ahead of Chris Paul. The swing-man hasn’t averaged more than 10.4 points per game over the last three seasons, and will be owed by the Jazz $16 million for the next couple of years. Devin Harris, an 8 year veteran with an All-Star appearance in 2009, averaged 11.3 points and 5 assists per game. He has one more year left on his contract, worth $8.5 million.

The rest? Rumors. Ray Allen is touring, visiting the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers. After 5 seasons with the Boston Celtics, it might not all be about money. The Celtics can offer him a two-year, $12 million contract while the Miami Heat or the Memphis Grizzlies can’t give him more than $3 million dollars a year. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks are also interested in the 10 time All-Star, averaging 14.2 points per game last season. Doc Rivers said he doesn’t see Allen playing anywhere else but Boston next season.

The Chicago Bulls are going after both Brandon Roy and Derek Fisher, but aren’t alone in the process. Fisher is supposed to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being a crucial piece off their bench in their playoff run, losing to the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. Fisher is chased by several teams, but the Bulls are desperate to land a point guard while Derrick Rose recovers from surgery, although Fisher has proved he’s not starting material.

Brandon Roy is also intriguing many teams, probably hoping to see what the best offer will be. In Chicago, who have both Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng (also injured at the moment), Roy will probably be a bench player. Chicago also need to make a decision regarding Omer Asik, who got a three-year, $25 million offer from the Houston Rockets, needing to match it in order to keep the young center.

Another team who need to match an offer for a center are the Indiana Pacers, considering on what to do regarding Roy Hibbert. Hibbert made his first All-Star game last season and averaged 11.7 points and 11.2 rebounds during the postseason. He got a four-year, $58 million offer from the Portland Trail Blazers. The Pacers looked bound to keep him no matter what initially, but some voices suggest that they’re a little bit afraid of the price tag.

Still with the Portland Trail Blazers, who will hope Nicolas Batum’s visit to Minnesota with the Timberwolves doesn’t involve into an offer, reportedly a four-year $40-50 million deal, which the Blazers will have to match in order to keep their French small forward. Most sources say the Blazers are really high on Batum’s improvement and development, and will probably match that kind of offer sheet.

Image: Johnson Williams