Two years ago, names like James, Wade, Bosh, Johnson and Stoudemire set the NBA offseason on fire and completely revamped what free agency was like. It created a boon of interest in the sport, and the residue effects are still being felt today. Not even last year’s extended lockout could do enough to damper the enthusiasm people have for this time of year, when there are more rumors and trade reports than basketballs being dribbled and dunked. This summer, we don’t have quite the star power of 2010, but we also don’t have the abbreviated offseason from 2011. Now, 2012 kind of feels like the best of both worlds.
For Dime‘s 2012 Free Agent Tracker, we put together the master list of every free agent in the League, then we broke them up into tiers: From the franchise-caliber superstars down to the guys scrapping for jobs who could find themselves in Europe or the D-League next season. Throughout the free agency period, we’ll keep the list updated with info on who is talking to which teams, who’s signed, who’s sealed, and who’s delivered. With training camps still a long ways off, and mostly everybody starting to formulize a free agency plan, here’s the latest update (R = restricted free agent):
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Franchise superstars. You don’t just build teams around these guys, you build championship-caliber teams. They aren’t just the face of your franchise, they’re the icons who may end up with their statue outside the arena someday.
*Deron Williams – signed five-year, $98 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
â€¨Maybe not full-on superstars, but they’re at least All-Star material. They could be the focal point of an OK team, but you’d rather have them as a No. 2 or No. 3 on a great team.
*Tim Duncan – signed three-year, $36 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs.
*Kevin Garnett – re-signed in Boston for three years and $34 million.
*Eric Gordon (R) – signed 4-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns (New Orleans matched).
*Steve Nash – signed a three-year deal worth $36 million with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Solid starters who could crack All-Star level given the right circumstances. They can help carry certain teams and will take over a game here and there, but at this point they’re ideally a third option at best.