The 2012 NBA free agency period is into its first day, with Steve Nash getting a lucrative offer from the Toronto Raptors while Dwight Howard wants to move to Brooklyn. In the restricted free agent zone, Jeremy Lin stands out as the biggest name (not necessarily the best player), while Roy Hibbert and Eric Gordon stand above the rest as the best players on the board.
Staying a New York Knicks player? Not so sure. Lin was the sensation of the shortened 2011-2012 NBA Season, with the best way to show his impact on the league and its fans was by seeing the jersey numbers. If Lin would have made the postseason or played a full NBA season, his jersey would be number one. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists, and despite not being an elite point guard, he might get a contract offer that includes an eight digits yearly salary, something the Knicks might not be able to match.
A year to forget for Eric Gordon, who got traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New Orleans Hornets, playing only nine games for them, missing most of the season before making his return in April He averaged 20.6 points per game for the Hornets, but is taking meetings with other teams. He’s looking for a max contract, while the Hornets are looking to re-sign him and secure a young, talented nucleus along with Anthony Davis.
Ryan Anderson is coming off winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award winning season, averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Orlando Magic after seeing a big increase in his playing time. Some argue that without a dominant center to attract attention, Anderson wouldn’t be as good. According to rumors, the Magic are thinking that Anderson will be too expensive to retain, and won’t be matching impressive offers.
An impressive postseason with the Denver Nuggets, when they did give him the minutes, probably means that after being traded from Washington to Colorado last season, the enigmatic McGee, one of the best shot blockers in the league and also a man hiding a little bit of offense just waiting to burst out on a more consistent basis, will be remaining in Denver next season.
Evans hardly got to play during his first two seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, but he’s a little bit more than just a Dunk Champion. He just needs place to give him the minutes to show it, as his efficiency numbers, for the single-digit number of minutes he gets to play in, are rather impressive. The chance of becoming a more significant player doesn’t seem to be waiting for in Utah, and he might like to try somewhere else, with more need for an athletic power forward who’s also an excellent shot blocker, averaging 4 blocks per 36 minutes last season.
People still believe that Randolph’s more than his sliding career numbers suggest. After four seasons in the NBA, Randolph still remains a highly unpolished diamond with a lot of upside and potential but not a lot to show for it on the court, averaging 7.4 points in 15 minutes last season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’ll probably be looking for a significant role and minutes, even if it comes at the cost of money or playing for a team that wins.
After a fantastic 2010-2011 season, Lopez’ injury meant he played only 5 games for the New Jersey Nets in 2012, showing an alarming drop in his rebounding numbers. Knowing he can get a big contract just for his ability to score around 20 points a night, and with the rumors of Dwight Howard wanting to play for the Nets becoming more and more true, there’s a good chance Lopez won’t be playing in Brooklyn next season.
Splitter saw a nice jump in his minutes this season, playing 19 minutes a night, scoring 9.3 points per game while shooting 61.8% from the field. His free throw shooting is alarming, but the 27 year old is a great catch as a backup big man for Tim Duncan, playing less and less every year.
The comparisons to Scottie Pippen have stopped, but that doesn’t mean Batum is a bad player. At 23, there’s still plenty of room for development, with Batum averaging 13.9 points last season and more importantly, showing he’s a fantastic two-way wing player. The Blazers will probably want to match any offer he receives, but it won’t come cheap.
Restricted or not, Hibbert, slowly developing into one of the best centers in the NBA, got an offer for a maximum contract ($58 million, four years) from the Portland Trail Blazers, which now the Indiana Pacers will have to match in hope of keeping him.