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The Knicks have gone from being the odds-on favorites to land LeBron James last night (based on...a tweet from Jared Dudley and the fact that "The Decision" will air from Greenwich, Connecticut) to suddenly looking like also-rans, with rumors that James will sign with Miami to create a power triumvirate along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. So where does that leave the Knicks? According to the Oakland Tribune, if the Knicks fail to land James, the team will likely pursue a sign-and-trade with the Warriors, sending David Lee to Golden State in return for Anthony Randolph, and possibly Kelenna Azuibuke and/or Vladimir Radmanovic's expiring contract.
The Nets and Timberwolves reportedly remain in play for Lee (Minnesota would have to pull off a sign-and-trade as well), but this reported package from Golden State might be the best value New York could get for the soon-to-be-departed Lee. Randolph possesses a tantalizing package of impossible skills in his long, wiry frame, and was quite inexplicably never really given a chance by Don Nelson despite the Warriors' struggles last season after dominating the summer league last season and creating buzz as one of the top prospects in the game. Azuibuke is the type of three-point shooter who would thrive in Mike D'Antoni's system (as we saw under Don Nelson, to be sure), and even Radmanovic would give the Knicks decent value as a throw-in contract, given his own long-range accuracy.
As for the Warriors, giving up on Randolph so quickly would be a disappointment, but acquiring a solid rebounder and scorer in the mold of Lee would be more than a decent return. A front line of Lee, Biedrins (assuming he returns to form), with Ekpe Udoh and Brandan Wright is, in theory, more than respectable. The Warriors are expected to offer Lee a contract beginning at $13 million in the first season, raising the total value to $80-90 million.
Of course -- like everything else -- this all depends on where a certain Global Icon lands. Of course.
The Toronto Raptors look to be fine with trading their star power forward Chris Bosh to Cleveland where he can earn a maximum deal and play with LeBron James. Those are two of three things that Bosh really wants, but playing in Cleveland is not one of those. The proposed trade between Cleveland and Toronto would be this multi-player transaction per ESPN:
The exact details of the potential trade have not been solidified, but Toronto likely would get Anderson Varejao and/or J.J. Hickson, Delonte West and perhaps Anthony Parker. A draft pick could be involved as well.
Bosh really wants to play with James but he would rather do so in Miami, Chicago, or New Jersey. He also would like to play with Dwyane Wade in any of those cities as well, but Toronto has zero interest in trading with Miami since they have no players the Raptors want.
SB Nation Raptors blog Raptors HQ would be satisfied with the right deal in a sign and trade regarding Bosh:
If Toronto could get either Hickson or Varejao in addition to West or Parker and a pick, I'd be pretty happy. Both Hickson and Varejao would be nice complements to Andrea Bargnani up front, Delonte West could provide scrappy play at the 1 or 2 off the bench, and of course, Anthony Parker's leadership would be a welcome re-addition despite his declining skills. Toss in a draft pick and the Raps could certainly do a lot worse.
When push comes to shove will Bosh be willing to sign a five year $96 million deal as a free agent and leave a six year $125 million deal on the table which he can make in a sign and trade.
Considering the fact that the Hawks just gave Joe Johnson a huge contract, I think it's pretty safe to say the time for them to win is right now. That's about the only explanation I can come up with for the news that they're pursuing Shaquille O'Neal.
Tim Potvak of Fanhouse is reporting that Shaq is weighing a two-year contract offer from the Hawks for the full mid-level exception. Yup, that's right.
Free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal is seriously considering a two-year deal with the Hawks that starts at the mid-level exception of $5.8 million, according to NBA sources close to both the team and the future Hall of Fame player.
The idea, Potvak writes, is to slide Al Horford over to power forward to make room for Shaq. The Hawks would then entertain offers to trade talented, but enigmatic forward Josh Smith. In other words, to make room for a 40-year old, over-the-hill center, the Hawks would trade arguably their most valuable player last season. I know Smith is a bit of a headcase, but that's just dumb.
Several other writers (Michael Cunningham, Chris Broussard, David Aldridge) have confirmed Shaq's interest in Atlanta. However, Shaq's agent, Perry Rodgers, told Broussard that the Hawks haven't made his client a formal offer. In addition, Aldridge reports that the Hawks aren't planning on trading Smith unless it's for a "major, star player at power forward." So maybe this won't go anywhere in the end.
I hope it doesn't for Atlanta's sake. We learned last season that Shaq doesn't have much left, and while the Hawks do have a need for a true center, they can fill that hole with their mid-level exception much more wisely.
For more, check out SB Nation's Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops.
For a while there, it seemed like Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets were miles apart on a contract negotiation. said of a potential contract extension. A month ago, Melo said “We’ll go to the table and see what’s the best situation for me.” Well I guess they found it. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reports that a league source believes Carmelo Anthony is serious about signing the extension the Nuggets have offered.
Of course, Melo wants something else besides money. He wants help.
Of the Nuggets, he said, “We have pieces,” adding that he would be happy with the addition of “one or two more pieces that’ll work out.” The Nuggets’ nucleus is all under contract for next season.
Asked if the current Nuggets roster can win a championship, Anthony said: “Obviously it didn’t happen this year. They definitely need to add something, definitely.”
After scheming for the past two years in preparation for the summer of 2010, the Knicks entered this summer with grandiose objectives. Visions of LeBron James adorning billboards throughout New York City, with the league's most famous young players playing in the world's most famous arena. Overnight, LeBron would transform the team into contenders and return them to relevance. This was the Master Plan.
Annnnd... That's probably not going to happen.
But could the Knicks land Golden State's whirling dervish of a combo guard, Monta Ellis? According to Marcus Thompson of the Contra-Costa Times, the Golden State Warriors are interested in acquiring the Knicks' free agent big man, David Lee, and willing to consider sign-and-trade offers. And especially given New York's recent signing of Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks aren't likely to have much interest in signing Lee for any other purpose than a sign-and-trade ... for Monta Ellis?
Over at AOL Fanhouse, Tom Ziller mulls over the possibility of Monta Ellis on the Knicks:
It seems to me Ellis is just about the best option out there for the Knicks.
Under the assumption James and Wade aren't NY-bound, there simply aren't many perimeter players worth big salaries left on the free agent market. The Knicks let Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson, Toney Douglas and Sergio Rodriguez run the offense last season. That's just not going to get it done. Ellis soaks up possessions and scores in bunches; he's a credible threat to drop 50 every night.
You could replace Ellis' name with Stoudemire's in that sentence and get away with it. Ellis is, in several ways, Stoudemire's guard doppelganger. Neither has a reputation for defensive work ethic. Neither will win a "best teammate" award any time soon. Neither are perfect. But these are scoring wizards, effective in transition and aggressive as all get-out. And they'd be playing for Mike Freakin' D'Antoni. Even if they don't win half their games, they'd be refilling Madison Square Garden with much-needed bombast.
Indeed, while that appraisal of Ellis owes to some embellishment—Ellis, the "credible threat to drop 50" has never scored 50 points in his career—it's true that if Ellis were unleashed in "Mike Freakin' D'Antoni's" system, the results could produce quite the offensive spectacle. And as Ziller points out at Fanhouse, in the absence of becoming an overnight contender on the strength of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, any sort of entertainment in the world's most famous arena would be a step in the right direction for the Knicks.
That, and Monta Ellis as Amare's backcourt doppleganger is SUCH a good call. Just perfect.
This offer keeps the 29-year-old Johnson in Atlanta for six years. Undoubtedly happy news for head coach Larry Drew, who took over the reins in June.
But are the Hawks done? Our Hawks blog, Peachtree Hoops, had this to say about Johnson's signing before it was official:
While the Johnson signing is a bold move the situation calls for another bold move. The Boston Celtics acquired Ray Allen and then completed another bold move by trading for Kevin Garnett. They thrust themselves into luxury tax land for the chance to win a championship which they did. This Hawks team can't make one bold move just to bring back the same team that fizzled out in the second round of the playoffs last year. Rick Sund can't believe that his summer is over now. In fact it is just started. This can't be it. We can't sign this year's Joe Smith to round out the roster and say we will just break through to the Finals with a new coach.
If ownership and management really believes that then Joe Johnson is the least of this franchise's problems.
(Note: it was originally reported here that Dwyane Wade's second meeting with the Bulls took place on Saturday, when in fact it took place on Friday. This post has since been corrected.)
On Friday, we noted that Dwyane Wade seemed interested in signing with the Chicago Bulls. After a second meeting, he didn't seem as enthused. From NESN:
Wade also had two meetings with the Chicago Bulls on Friday, and was leaning toward the franchise when he entered the second meeting, but wasn’t as confident when he left.
"It's going to take the weekend for everyone to think about what they want to do," Wade said after the second meeting with the Bulls. "This is not an easy decision to make, and everyone thinks it is."
Instead, Wade's attention seems to have shifted to the New York Knicks:
Dwyane Wade was humming a similar tune. He said his meeting with the Knicks on Friday morning in Chicago was "very good," and that he was "intrigued." He even went as far to quote Billy Joel, claiming he was in a "New York state of mind."
And for the four millionth time, our apple cart of assumptions and expectations of this free agency period has been overturned. The Knicks grow closer to signing Amar'e Stoudamire, and at this point they appear unlikely to secure LeBron James. The idea of an Amar'e/D-Wade pairing in New York is just about as intriguing as any other result we could end up with by the end of free agency.
The craziest free agency season in the history of the NBA is getting crazier by the day. Today, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski cites a source who says that free agent Dwyane Wade, who has spent his entire career with the Miami Heat, is giving serious thought to signing with the Chicago Bulls.
Dwyane Wade will meet privately with Chicago Bulls officials for a second time in two days on Friday and is seriously contemplating leaving the Miami Heat to join his hometown team, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
[...] “D-Wade and LeBron [James] want to play together, but neither one wants to commit to each other,” a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.
Wade and LeBron seem interested in playing on the same team. The Bulls can present a strong case for LeBron to make the move to Chicago, and it's reasonable to assume that Wade is at least intrigued by the prospect of playing in his hometown.
In the coming days, we'll find out whether this comes to fruition. In the meantime, step back and consider the spectacular possibility of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Derrick Rose wearing the same jersey.
How are Arizona natives feeling about Amar'e Stoudemire moving on from the Suns? SB Nation Arizona's Seth Pollack writes that the Suns' offer was quite fair.
The Suns did their best to keep him and to protect the franchise from a contract that could have dragged the entire organization down. Amare did what he felt he needed to do. I have no finger of blame to point in this.
I wish Amare nothing but the best; now it's time to move on.
Pollack closes by saying this:
Welcome to the Hakim Warrick era, may it only last one season until the Suns have cap space and flexibility to find another All-Star-caliber frontcourt player, which as the Chicago Bulls can tell you is easier said than done.
I'm not sure the Suns will have that flexibility, since they are paying a decent amount of money for Channing Frye and Warrick and may elect to give extensions to
Goran Dragic Jared Dudley and Robin Lopez in 2011, but we'll see.
Regardless, it's the end of Stoudemire's free agent saga in Phoenix this summer, one way or another. As a way to see the path in visual form, here's a great graphic from SB Nation Arizona.
It took a while for Dirk Nowitzki's agent and Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson to touch base for a meeting, raising some eyebrows about whether Dirk would shock everyone and leave the team. But eventually, the two sides did meet, and according to Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas, it appears a contract offer came out of that meeting.
Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson presented an offer to Dirk Nowitzki's advisor, Holger Geschwindner, as their long-standing talks resumed Friday morning and could wrap up with Saturday's scheduled meeting.
The Mavericks were expected to present Nowitzki with the maximum offer. The most he can re-sign for is four years and $96 million.
Nowitzki himself was not at the meeting, but the Mavericks are hopeful he'll accept quickly so they can turn their attention to finding Dirk's running mate in a sign and trade.
The Amar'e Stoudemire sweepstakes are underway, and the first team to make headway appears to be the New York Knicks. According to Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks have offered Stoudemire a five-year maximum contract.
The framework of a deal is in place and the two sides are expected to talk again soon, sources said.
The contract is expected to be worth around $100 million for the five years. The Suns offered Stoudemire $96 million for five years, but only the first three years were fully guaranteed, so Stoudemire rejected it.
In a move that perhaps augurs the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire from Phoenix, the Suns have signed former Bull Hakim Warrick to a four year, $18 million deal, according to .
The soon-to-be 28-year old Warrick is a solid if unspectacular option for the Suns (PER of 15.6, 16.9 and 16.2 the past three seasons), as an athletic four-man with a bit of range to his offensive game. But the big story is that Warrick's signing is likely an indication the Suns have resigned themselves to losing Amar'e Stoudemire. Indeed, Stoudemire reportedly turned down the Suns' final offer, which was a max deal -- albeit, with only three of the five years guaranteed, per Yahoo! Sports (the final two seasons would have been guaranteed if Stoudemire reached certain minutes played incentives). Stoudemire reportedly expects to receive a fully guaranteed max offer from the Knicks.
As for the Suns, after retaining Channing Frye and picking up Hakim Warrick, the team seems to be looking to replace Stoudemire's production by committee. And SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun certainly likes it:
Clearly, Robert Sarver was not willing to wait around and see another one of their targeted free agents get scooped up by another team as happened to Amir Johnson, who signed a rather large contract (5yrs/$34m) with the Raptors yesterday. [...]
The Suns, wisely, won't try and replace Amare with one guy but will have a group approach and seek a longer term "star" solution down the road. Given the options at power forward in this market, that's the best approach.
Gut reaction, I like the deal. It was decisive and fills a roster need without making a long or large commitment that will limit flexibility to go after better players should those opportunities arise.
For more on the Suns and Hakim Warrick, check out Bright Side of the Sun.
We already knew it was unlikely Amare Stoudemire would return to the Suns. Now, we can pretty much lock it up. According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, Stoudemire turned down Phoenix's final offer - a five-year, $96 million contract extension.
For more, visit SB Nation Arizona.
Of all the mid-tier free agents that have yet to sign, Washington's Mike Miller is probably the one generating the most interest. He's reportedly talked to the Knicks and Heat, among many other teams, and remains in contention to be re-signed by the Wizards.
The team that wants him the most, however, appears to be the Los Angeles Lakers. Via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin:
The Lakers have opened discussions with free-agent swingman Mike Miller, a source close to the situation said Thursday.
Miller is a former NBA rookie of the year and sixth man of the year. He averaged 10.9 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting on 3-pointers for Washington last season, his 10th in the league.
The problem is that the Lakers are reluctant to give Miller the full mid-level exception (about five years and $30 million), because they are well over the luxury tax and have several other holes to fill. Worse, even if they were willing to give him the full mid-level exception, that might not be enough in this climate, as Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski writes:
Washington sharpshooter Mike Miller is generating significant interest and league executives expect him to command a multiyear contract with a starting salary greater than the midlevel exception.
The Celtics have re-signed Paul Pierce to a four-year, $61 million contract, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
For more on this, check out SB Nation Boston's StoryStream here.
Amare Stoudemire and his agent Happy Walters (go ahead, chuckle at his name) have had numerous meetings with the Suns to try to work out a contract extension over the past year or so. They've rekindled talks when they seemed dead and have tried everything to work something out.
But now, it appears that they've finally reached an impasse they cannot solve. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides are very far apart, and it's unlikely Stoudemire will return to the team.
Amar'e Stoudemire has yet to get the five-year offer from the Suns he wants, making a league source call a return to Phoenix "highly unlikely." He met two hours late Wednesday with Miami, and his agent said he received a better offer from another team Thursday and plans to go to New
Yorkfor a meeting Monday with the Knicks.
Walters told Coro that Stoudemire and the Suns are "not that close to an agreement." I think we can safely say Amare's not coming back, especially after the Suns elected to keep Channing Frye.
This frees Stoudemire to be pursued by teams with cap room. According to ESPN's Ric Bucher, Stoudemire met with Heat president Pat Riley last night. The Nets, Bulls, Knicks, Rockets and Maverics are also in the mix.
If Drew Gooden can get $32 million over five years and Amir Johnson can get $34 million over that same time, surely Channing Frye was worthy of getting at least in the $30M range. Phoenix’s initial offer of $25M came up a little short but their counter-offer hit the mark. According to Yahoo! Sports, Frye and the Suns have agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract.
Bright Side of the Sun is elated as they’ve thought Frye deserved the max contract to begin with. Now, about this Amare business…that’s another story.
For more on Frye and the Suns, check out Bright Side of the Sun.
Some would say Amir Johnson has recently become one of the NBA’s best kept secrets. Well the secret’s out and the Raptors don’t want anyone else getting in on their good thing. Toronto locked Johnson up with a five-year, $34 million contract Thursday.
Johnson, 23, averaged 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while playing all 82 games for the Raptors last season. Bradbury said Johnson considered about four teams before agreeing quickly to return to Toronto on the first day of free agency.
That sounds like a lot of money for a guy who scores six points a game but, given what we’ve seen dolled out so far, it’s par for the course really. That said, RaptorsHQ is glad to see Amir back in a Toronto uniform but has to wonder if $7M/year is just a little too much.
Yes, I’m happy that Amir, an underrated defender, rebounder and shot-blocker is back, but it’s a bit of a hefty price tag for someone who still struggles with foul issues is it not?
In fact, you have to wonder if Bryan Colangelo didn’t back himself into a corner on this one; it sounds like teams such as Golden State were interested, and by paving the way for Chris Bosh to leave, it doesn’t sound like he had much choice really…unless he wanted to kick off the Ed Davis Era.
Keep an eye on RaptorsHQ for more updates and opinions.
Channing Frye apparently wants Drew Gooden money. And honestly, who can blame him. After the peripatetic Gooden somehow landed a $32 million, five year deal from the Bucks, John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR reports Frye has turned down a $25 million, five year offer from the Suns, and wants the team's full mid-level exception, which would come out to roughly equivalent to what Gooden received: $32-34 million over five seasons.
The 26-year old Frye averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Suns last season (and for the more APBR-inclined of you, a 15 PER), in addition to connecting on nearly 44% of his three-point attempts, as a key reserve for the surprising Suns. Considering the relative dearth of "stretch fours" -- at least affordable ones -- the full mid-level for a 6-foot-11 sharpshooter of Frye's caliber seems fairly reasonable. indeed, SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun has issued a constant refrain of "Pay Frye" throughout Thursday, after lesser players like Gooden and Darko Milicic have set the market at absurd early levels.
Still, it's not immediately clear what other teams could be in the market for Frye. Early reports indicated he was waiting for the superstar troika of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to settle, presumably between Chicago and Miami, before making his own decision. It wasn't clear whether Frye was hoping to catch on with one of those hypothetical super-teams, which wouldn't be possible since teams that started the summer with cap space don't have mid-level exceptions, or if he thought a team that missed out on one of those max players would offer him the full mid-level (for teams looking for sign-and-trades) or more (for those with the cap space).
For more on Frye and the Suns, check out Bright Side of the Sun.
According to David Aldridge, Marc Stein and Adrian Wojnarowski, the Memphis Grizzlies will re-sign Rudy Gay to a five-year, $81.6 million contract, the maximum he can receive under the current collective bargaining agreement.
For more on this, check out our StoryStream here.
Another minute, another long-term contract offer for a role player on the first day of free agency. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Suns have offered Channing Frye a five-year, $25 million contract.
Channing Frye considering Suns 5-year, $25 million offer, and waiting on the likes of Chicago and New York to have resolution on big stars.
My god, what is with all the five-year mid-level contracts? I thought we all learned how badly these often end up.
Setting that aside, though -- because hell, if Drew Gooden is worth $33 million for five years, Frye is definitely worth $25 million for the same amount of time - here's an even more pressing question: why is Frye waiting around? As we discussed the other day, teams don't get to use a mid-level exception (the value of the contract offer from Phoenix) if they are under the cap at the beginning of free agency. So if Frye is waiting to see if the New York/Chicago superteam comes together, he's going to find that he won't get a contract worth anything close to what he'll get from Phoenix. Perhaps he really cares about winning and will take a pay cut, but it's so unprecedented to leave that much money on the table.
I guess we'll see, but it's odd all around.
The Milwaukee Bucks appear to be close to re-signing John Salmons to a five-year, $39 million contract, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge.
For more on Salmons, check out our StoryStream here.
Make of this what you will: Dirk Nowitzki will fly back to Dallas a day later than originally expected, arriving on Friday morning according to ESPN's Marc Stein, after stopping over in New York on Thursday, per a report from DallasBasketball.com.
So what is Nowitzki doing in New York? Cue the baseless speculation! Meeting with low-level officials from the Nets and Knicks (who sent contingents of their owner/coaches/former players to woo LeBron in Cleveland)? Or a secret rendezvous with Bulls officials? Or how about having dinner with Jason Kidd. Indeed, according to a report passed along by ESPN Dallas' Tim McMahon, Nowitzki will idle away some of time in the Big Apple over a meal with his (former?) teammate.
The Mavs, for their part, are continuing to put a brave face on the situation, claiming that there's nothing to see here, just move along folks. Mavs GM Donnie Nelson told DallasBasketball.com
[Nelson does] not believe Nowitzki's time in New York is designed to allow the free-agent superstar to meet with other suitors, and assume his visit with Mavs officials in Dallas on Friday will be his first - and hopefully only - job interview.
Impressive spin. Bravura performance, really. Nelson went on to tell reporters that he "doesn't think a day [waiting to meet Nowitzki] is going to matter" but that "if you're talking a week or something" then it'd be "a different story." But that doesn't exactly sound like someone who's apprised of Nowitzki's intentions. Although Nelson did finish with a tour de force of spin that would make Ari Fleischer blush, explaining why Nowitzki may have put off returning to Dallas for a day (via Marc Stein):
[Nowitzki] really doesn’t want fanfare [of airport reception]. ... That’s probably the major piece of it
Probably...right? Because there won't be any fans waiting to mob Nowitzki on Friday, rather than Thursday...right? If it sounds like Nelson is not in control of the situation and is completely grasping at straws, it's because he is. Remember, Nelson was going to fly out to Germany to court Nowitzki, before the star German decided to head back to Dallas instead, before deciding to hang out in New York for a day. Not exactly a sign of the apocalypse for the Mavs, but certainly at least a case of mixed signals between the team and their presumptive franchise player.
Granted, the smart money is still on Nowitzki staying with the Mavs, and Dallas trying to land a marquee free agent to pair with the big German via a sign-and-trade, but the maybe, just maybe our assumptions that Nowitzki would never leave Dallas were wrong. There's at least a little smoke.
It's not official official until July 8, but Chad Ford is reporting the Timberwolves have re-signed Darko Milicic to a staggering four-year, $20 million contract.
For more on the signing, check out our StoryStream here.
Kevin Durant is not a free agent this year (if he was, holy hell), but he could be a free agent next year if he does not sign a contract extension. Obviously, the Thunder do not want that to happen, because we're talking about Kevin Durant.
So while everyone else was wooing other teams' free agents at 12:01 last night, the Thunder were at Durant's house to talk about a new contract, according to Sam Amick of Fanhouse.
A source close to the situation told FanHouse Thunder officials were at the Oklahoma City house of small forward Kevin Durant at 11:01 p.m. local time (12:01 a.m. ET), making their intentions known at the earliest time allowed by league rules that they intend to offer an extension. ESPN.com first reported the visit.
While figures of the deal were not discussed, the Thunder are expected to eventually propose a maximum deal for five years and approximately $85 million. Anything less, and they will be endangering Durant's future with the up-and-coming team. The two sides can't sign a possible deal until July 8 and have until Oct. 31 to do so.
Durant wants to stay in Oklahoma City, and the Thunder want to keep him, so chances are this gets completed sooner or later.
All of the usual suspects have been connected with Jazz unrestricted free agent Carlos Boozer -- the Heat, Nets, Bulls, and Knicks. For all of the aforementioned teams, Boozer is more or less a Plan C in case they miss out on Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire. And, of course, the Jazz remain in conversations with Boozer, although it's considered quite a longshot for the former Dookie to stay with the team.
But, according to the Deseret News, another option has emerged for Boozer: a sign-and-trade to the Magic. The rationale for Orlando would be that Boozer is the type of post scorer who would complement Dwight Howard's rebounding and shot-blocking to provide them with a more balanced offense -- not to mention Boozer's close relationship with Howard. As for what the Magic would have to give up to acquire Boozer, the Magic's official team website floated a package including Marcin Gortat as well as J.J. Redick and/or Mickael Pietrus as a potential deal. Indeed, Gortat may be expendable after the Magic selected Kentucky freshman center Daniel Orton at the end of the first round of last week's NBA Draft, and such a deal would certainly be enticing for a Jazz team likely to lose sharpshooter Kyle Korver, provided Utah could afford to take on that amount of salary.
A year ago, Bucks general manager John Hammond won Executive of the Year because he made several bargain-basement signings that propelled the Bucks into the playoffs. It was a brilliant strategy that more general managers really should emulate.
That was last year, though. This summer, Hammond and the Bucks have made a number of curious decisions that make you wonder whether they learned anything from their previous success. First, they traded for Corey Maggette, who is overpaid and has a long-term contract that could hamstring the small-market Bucks. Now, they've apparently wasted no time in signing Drew Gooden to a five-year, $32 million contract.
Via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Gooden has played for eight teams in eight seasons, and hopes to find some stability with the fast-rising Bucks.
This is a staggering commitment to a player that has never proven to be reliable in his NBA career. Gooden, as mentioned above, has played for eight teams in eight years, confounding everyone with his lack of concentration, his defensive issues and more. It's debatable whether Gooden is worth half of what the Bucks gave him. Throw in the five-year commitment, a killer for a small-market team, and the impatience in doing this on the first day of free agency, and you have to wonder what Hammond was thinking.
Making matters worse, the Bucks are also progressing on a long-term contract for John Salmons. Salmons makes sense if the Bucks hadn't traded for Maggette, but with Maggette in town, he's superfluous. At the end of the day, the Bucks are spending too much money on supporting players and are going away from what made them so successful last season.
For more, check out SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop.
Wednesday night, just a few hours before the opening bell on 2010 Free Agency, San Antonio's Richard Jefferson threw a curveball. Err... What's crazier than a curveball? A knuckleball?
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported it first:
Christmas morning in Spurs front office with Richard Jefferson opting out of $15 million. Incredible.
Keep in mind: This isn't like Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki opting out $20 million dollar deals. Those guys will make the same money, with more years on their deal. But Jefferson? He'd be lucky to make $5 million dollars next year. Any way you cut it, Jefferson's taking a pretty huge risk here.
Although it is a calculated risk, as Jefferson explained to AOL Fanhouse months ago:
That's a situation I think every player will look at at the end of the season,'' said Jefferson, making $14.2 million this season and due to earn $15 million in next season's final year of his deal if he doesn't opt out. "I probably wouldn't make 15 (million dollars) some place, but you could somehow recoup some of that over a multi-year deal and get some guaranteed money for the next few years.
"So you figure it out. If you're able to get four years and 40 (million dollars by opting out) from someone, it's like, 'OK, I did lose out on 15 (million dollars). But I'm going to get basically a $25 million extension.' Those are things that you think of at the end of the season.''
And indeed, there are reports that Jefferson could be in talks with the Spurs about a longer deal that would prorate the money he gave up in 2010-11. Again from Yahoo! Sports:
Sources said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been personally working out Jefferson in San Antonio. The free-agent forward could re-sign with the team at a number that lowers the franchise’s luxury-tax hit while guaranteeing him more money on the back end of a multiyear contract.
But again. You can rationalize this decision all sorts of ways, but any way you cut it, we're talking about a massive risk for Jefferson, and a huge coup for the San Antonio Spurs, who now have more flexibility than they ever imagined.
Personally, I think RC Buford and Greg Popovich blackmailed him. That had to be it, right? Did Richard Jefferson have a sextape that he didn't want the world to know about? A definite maybe.
And whatever RJ's reasons, it was the biggest surprise of free agency so far.
There are a lot of teams in the Chris Bosh sweepstakes, but one team that you should keep an eye on is the Houston Rockets. While they do not possess the cap space to sign Bosh outright, they have plenty of sign-and-trade assets, including first-round picks from the Knicks in 2011 and 2012 (note: the 2011 first-round pick is merely the right to swap picks) that they can use to bring Bosh to town.
Therefore, they're making a hard push to one-up the Miami Heat and others to land the Toronto star. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey met with Bosh in Dallas late last night to try to sell him on their team.
The Rockets have been targeting Bosh for months. Their pitch to Bosh is pretty straightforward. They believe he is a perfect fit with the existing talent they have on their roster and they can offer Bosh a return home to Texas.
The Rockets will also stress that if Bosh joins the Rockets, they're likely a 60-win team. If he forms a triumvirate with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami, the Rockets believe the team won't have enough supporting talent to support a championship team. The Rockets believe such a pairing would produce a 45-win team.
It's a dubious premise, but it's worth a shot. And hey, Bosh actually met with them, so he has to be a little intrigued. As Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports, that in and of itself is a big step.
For much of the day, he was not sure he would get an audience with Chris Bosh.
Now he can't be sure if it will be enough.
He met with Bosh late Wednesday into early Thursday in Dallas and got to make his case about why he believes Bosh can win championships in Houston.
He did not know if the meeting would happen until well into the evening. He did not even know where Bosh was until then. Once they were together, however, he found Bosh to be interested and ready with questions that indicated he would definitely consider the option.
So yeah, don't count the Rockets out. They even had Yao Ming do some recruiting on Twitter, so clearly, they're showing Bosh how much they want him. I still think he ends up in Miami, but you have to admit that Houston has surprised us before.
Joe Johnson is still technically a free agent, but it appears he won't be for longer. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Johnson is leaning towards staying with the Hawks.
The Atlanta Hawks offered Joe Johnson a six-year, $119 million contract Thursday morning, and sources close to the All-Star guard expect him to accept the max deal soon.
The Hawks moved quickly at midnight ET to try to secure their franchise star and offered the contract that Johnson's agent Arn Tellem sought from the organization. Sources say ownership OK'd the max offer and general manager Rick Sund delivered it in Los Angeles.
Yesterday, reports indicated the Hawks would offer him the maximum six-year contract to stay in Atlanta, and it appears they indeed did so on the first night of free agency.
The contract was mocked by many all over the Internet because few really believe Johnson is worth the contract he's about to sign. The former blogger for SB Nation's Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops, for example, tweeted this last night.
Blog retirement is coming to an end if this six year max deal goes down. The return will rely heavily on profanity.
It's true that the thought of Johnson making an average of $20 million for the next six years is a pretty sobering thought and will likely come back to bite the team down the road. The flip side, of course, is that losing Johnson for nothing stunts whatever progress the Hawks have already made, and offering him a maximum contract is the only way to keep him from bolting to another team. Both points have merit. Atlanta was really between a rock and a hard place here.
This isn't to defend the decision they made - it was a bad one. It just goes to show that, sometimes, there are no good options.
All along, we've overlooked Dirk Nowitzki as a real power player in the Summer of 2010. He'd never leave, we thought. And he may not. But Dirk would be idiotic if he didn't at least consider it.
So on the heels of earlier reports which had Dirk opting out and almost certainly re-signing with the Mavericks, we now have this. From ESPN's Marc Stein:
Mavericks announce that team president Donnie Nelson, just before boarding flight to Germany, informed Dirk now flying back to States on Thursday.
The Mavericks brass was all set to fly to Germany and sew up a contract extension with Nowitzki... So wait a second. Why would Dirk fly back to the states? Because he's going to meet with the Bulls? Sign a max offer to play in Chicago? And add a perimeter threat to perfectly offset the brilliant slashing on LeBron James and Derrick Rose, forming a dynastic nucleus that will capture the NBA Championship for years to come?
Whoa whoa whoa. Don't get ahead of yourselves here.
But it's a fair question. If Dirk Nowitzki can't sign a contract until next week, and the Mavericks were already planning on visiting him at home in Germany, then... Why would Dirk come back to the states?
The Mavericks, for their part, are looking at this glass half-full.
So, stay tuned. The Mavericks will no doubt act as if there's nothing to see here, but make no mistake: If Dirk's actually available, he's as good as anyone on the open market, and there will be a feeding frenzy among teams with cap space.
And somehow, July 2010 just got even more confusing.
All along, we've figured that Joe Johnson was primed to be the guy who would join forces with LeBron James or another big free agent and become their sidekick. The Atlanta Hawks, however, have other ideas. They'd like to keep Johnson, their best player in many, many years.
And apparently, they're willing to pay what's necessary to do so. According to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Hawks are ready to give Johnson a max contract.
Source says Hawks to offer Joe Johnson max 6 yr Bird rights deal at start of free agency
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski says this is bad news for other teams.
AJC report that Hawks preparing 6-year Bird Rights deal is devastating news to potential Joe Johnson suitors. He wants to stay in Atlanta.
I'm guessing SB Nation's Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops won't be too thrilled with this news, considering they wrote this at the beginning of the day:
Joe is/has been a great player, but has always been miscast as some sort of superstar, even in star-starved Atlanta. His numbers, beyond All-Star game count, has never proven that reputation out. He's a great shot maker, plays a very physical brand of basketball, but it seems the rest of the league and those who watch the NBA is getting around to the same conclusions as Bird Watchers have....Joe is not a max player, doesn't quite rise to the level of a top-shelf free agent, candidate, and is, at best a fallback plan for a team that has the financial resources to swallow an above market contact well beyond the years of peak performance.
Amar'e Stoudemire has exercised the opt-out clause in his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, his agent Happy Walters tells Y!
The Suns can still retain Stoudemire with a new contract, of course, but this could be a sign that he is indeed seriously considering leaving the team.
The first shoe in the great free agency derby of 2010 may be dropping soon, because the Miami Heat may be on the verge of acquiring Chris Bosh in a sign-and-trade deal.
Dan LeBatard is reporting that a deal that would send Bosh to Miami for Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony is done.
I hear bosh-miami is done ..bosh-wade shared agent avoids tampering...its why beasley, chalmers, anthony still here...raptors get them
However, a source in Toronto denied the news to Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail, saying there is "no truth" to that rumor.
Chris Bosh may well end up in Miami, but with the NBA's free agent window not yet open, reports of a deal in place that would return Canadian national team member Joel Anthony, forward Michael
Beasleyand guard Mario Chalmers are premature.
"There is no truth to that," said one source with knowledge of the situation.
A major issue is that Miami is loath to part with players as they try to bring LeBron James or Bosh or both to play with Dwyane Wade because they have so few as it is. Only Chalmers and Beasley are under contract for next season as the Heat have jettisoned most of their roster to make room for three ‘max'-type deals to keep Wade and team him with fellow Team USA members Bosh and James.
In other words, the specific sign-and-trade arrangement hasn't been finalized. Still, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel strongly indicates that it's only a matter of time until Bosh is in Miami.
A long-time NBA agent representing several players on the upcoming free-agent market told the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday that he expects the Miami Heat to land Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Bosh during the impending NBA free agency period.
Winderman also reports that teams can begin to discuss sign-and-trade possibilities with each other before the July 1 moratorium is lifted.
At this point, it's becoming clear that Chris Bosh wants to play in Miami. Both the Raptors and Heat probably know this, so they're trying to figure out if there's a way they can come to a sign-and-trade agreement that allows Bosh to sign a six-year contract and also allows the Raptors to get something instead of losing Bosh for nothing. As we mentioned here, sign-and-trades take time to work out, because they require cooperation among all sides. The two teams are probably haggling now to find the right deal, but they should eventually reach an agreemnt.
The Minnesota Timberwolves technically have enough cap room to make a run at LeBron James, but unless you're Sam Smith, you know that LeBron would never sign there. The Timberwolves obviously know this, because they have reportedly set their sights on a different free agent small forward: Rudy Gay.
The Timberwolves will target Memphis restricted free agent Rudy Gay when the NBA's free agency period begins Wednesday night, according to a league source.
Wolves boss David Kahn on Monday said he will call at 11 p.m. Wednesday two agents he wouldn't identify and seek to arrange for their clients to visit Target Center and meet with team personnel, including owner Glen Taylor.
If signed, Gay will join a suddenly crowded Timberwolves wing core that includes Corey Brewer and newcomers Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster. Last year, Kahn loaded up on point guards. This year, it appears he's loading up on wings.
Don't count out the Phoenix Suns just yet in the Amare Stoudemire sweepstakes. According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, the Suns met with Stoudemire yesterday and "made progress" on a contract extension.
Suns All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, agent Happy Walters, Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver and Suns Coach Alvin Gentry had a long meeting and "made progress" on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, according to Walters.
Stoudemire participated in much of the meeting, as Walters and the Suns' brass met for more than three hours in regard to a contract extension.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski fills in more details:
Sources say the two sides are expected to resume talks on Wednesday, and Stoudemire is holding off opting out of the final $17.6 million season of his deal to make him a free agent. Free agency begins at midnight ET, and sources say it's still possible Stoudemire will opt out of his contract and continue negotiations with the Suns while also meeting with other teams.
The fact that Stoudemire has not yet opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent is really telling here. Perhaps he is going back to Phoenix after all.
For more on Amare Stoudemire, check out SB Nation's Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun.
And the list of marquee players on the market grows longer. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Boston's Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.
It seems hard to believe that Pierce will play anywhere other than Boston, since he's done so much for that franchise. However, according to Stein, Pierce will at least listen to other offers.
Pierce's name has scarcely been mentioned in the buildup to the summer 2010 free-agent bonanza because, as with Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, most rival executives believe that the Celtics would never allow the 2008 NBA Finals MVP -- who has maintained for some time that he wants to retire a Celtic -- to leave the only team he's ever known.
Pierce, though, could wind up emerging as one of the more interesting big names to track. Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Pierce will begin free agency by talking first to the Celtics when the market opens at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, but the 32-year-old is preparing to field other offers.
In the end, he probably goes back to the Celtics, but you never know.
After sitting out the entire 2009-2010 season with a foot injury, Yao Ming felt it was necessary to accept his player option for the 2010-2011 season. The move will pay him $17 million for the upcoming season which is more then he would have received on the free agent market.
Yao just felt like Houston was the best place for him to be:
"To miss one year is a long time,'' Yao said. "I've never been in this situation before, and I'm getting as much information as I can about my foot, to see what's the best for me and best for the Rockets. I decided a couple of days ago, and there's no one better than the Rockets now.''
SB Nation Houston feels that Yao has a huge set of expectations for himself this upcoming season:
By and large, he [Yao] is putting a huge chunk of the marbles into this coming season. Not to say that Yao wouldn't re-sign with the Rockets had he opted out, but in this case, he gives the front office one less problem to deal with. He also puts himself in the hot seat. If he performs well, he'll get a nice long-term deal next season. If he gets hurt, he won't get nearly as much money as he could have right now.
With Yao now officially a Rocket this will also boost their chances of bringing in a running mate to play along side Yao.
This isn't exactly a surprise, but Dirk Nowitzki will officially be a part of the 2010 free agent class, at least technically. ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that Dirk has filed the necessary paperwork to become an unrestricted free agent.
However, the move is expected to be a mere formality, since the Mavericks are reportedly working on a new contract that'll keep Dirk in Dallas. Via Stein:
The move has been expected since an ESPN.com report in mid-May that Nowitzki planned to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. But Mavericks officials have remained confident that they will secure a verbal commitment from Nowitzki on a new four-year deal early in free agency.
A four-year deal could pay Nowitzki up to $96 million. He cannot receive a longer contract because of an NBA rule that prevents teams from giving out maximum long-term contracts to players who will be at least 36 years old during the duration of their new contract. Nowitzki is currently 32 - hence, the four-year offer.
Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson will reportedly travel to Germany to formally present the offer at the start of free agency, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier Tuesday, ESPN reported that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James had a mini free agent summit in Miami last weekend. However, according to Miami radio station 790 The Ticket, this was impossible because Wade was actually in Chicago last weekend.
ESPN is reporting that Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had a meeting about their futures right here in Miami.
The station even got a copy of Wade's itinerary from last weekend, which is as follows.
Thursday: Las Vegas
Friday: Chicago (in court to wrap divorce case)
Saturday: Still in Chicago, "Taste of Chicago" w/ kids, Saturday night dropped kids off at new ex-wife
Sunday: All day in Chicago, met w/Mike Wallace at O'Hare
Sunday night - flew back from CHI to destination X
Now that's dedication. I guess this meeting didn't really happen after all.
Of all the many wacky scenarios that have been discussed this summer, the one that's probably the scariest for other NBA teams is the one that has LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all playing for the same team next year.
So if you're a fan of an NBA team other than the Miami Heat, this ESPN report should scare you.
Sources close to the situation said Monday night that three of the biggest names in basketball -- Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James -- met over the weekend in Miami to seriously discuss their futures, with a focus on the increasingly plausible possibility of those three teaming up with Wade's Heat.
Before you freak out, though, understand that there are a lot of hoops to jump through. James is reportedly still non-committal about where he'll end up next year, and the Heat do not currently possess enough cap room to give all three guys maximum contracts (though trading Michael Beasley would do the trick).
However, the three players are supposedly confident all the logistics can be worked out.
But sources told ESPN.com that James, Wade and Bosh all expressed confidence at the meeting that contractual complexities to make this ambitious triple signing work can be achieved, although it was not immediately clear if all three players would receive an equal amount or if one or two would receive the max. Another variable is whether Bosh would be willing to sign with the Heat outright or if he wants to hold out for a sign-and-trade.
At this point, it's pretty much common knowledge that Chris Bosh won't be returning to Toronto, but in case there was any doubt, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo all but confirmed it in a radio interview on Toronto's 590 the Fan yesterday.
SB Nation's Raptors blog Raptors HQ picked out the money line:
It's likely that he will leave
A source close to Bosh told Bruce Arthur of the National Post that while Bosh hasn't decided where he'll go instead, he's tired of carrying mediocre Raptors teams.
A source close to Bosh on Monday was asked if Bosh had made a final decision on where to play next year, and the source said, "He hasn't." The source, however, conceded that Bosh is tired of being the centrepiece of a team that has yet to escape the first round of the playoffs during his career.
"It's like if you went to work every day and you worked hard, and you never got a promotion," the source said. "You want a chance to get ahead."
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Mavericks are very serious about pursuing a sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks for Joe Johnson. The productive wing player will be meeting with the Knicks on July 1st but Dallas doesn’t think the Knicks will have the ability to lure the 29-year-old.
The Mavericks are unlikely to engage the Cleveland Cavaliers into a sign-and-trade for LeBron James, but Johnson has emerged as a realistic target for the Mavericks. Johnson, is more likely to embrace a sign-and-trade to the contending Mavs than sign a free-agent contract with New York or Chicago, sources said.
“New York is far from his first option,” one source with knowledge of Johnson’s thinking said.
SBNation Dallas will have any updates and reactions.
With all the turmoil in Phoenix recently, especially with the losses of GM Steve Kerr and assistant GM David Griffin, the chances of the Suns retaining Amare Stoudemire have lessened. However, that's not stopping the Suns from making one last effort to keep Amare in Phoenix for the long term.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns will sit down with Stoudemire Tuesday in Los Angeles to make their pitch.
Unless Sarver comes with a maximum offer that convinces the All-Star forward to stay, Stoudemire will opt-out of the $17.6 million left on the final year of his contract and declare himself a free agent.
Stoudemire reportedly wants to stay in Phoenix, but is concerned about all the upheaval in the front office. If Stoudemire leaves, Phoenix will reportedly consider New York's David Lee.
The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams without cap room this summer, but that isn't expected to stop them from trying to make necessary upgrades to a team that has come up short of a title the last two years. According to Ken Berger, the Magic are seriously considering making some pretty big moves.
To that point, the Magic are said to be actively considering trade scenarios that could provide Dwight Howard with a post-up power forward to play with, a play-maker to replace what Hedo Turkoglu brought to the 2009 Eastern Conference championship team, or a dynamic point guard.
Here's where things get really interesting. According to Berger, that "dynamic point guard" could be none other than Washington's Gilbert Arenas.
A person with knowledge of the Magic's plans said a trade for Gilbert Arenas, the one-time superstar whose reputation took a massive hit with his gun suspension last season, remains a "definite possibility." Smith has a good relationship with Arenas, but a stumbling block could be the fact that Howard has questions about whether Arenas would fit in. If Howard gets the answers he's looking for, there could be legs to the Arenas-to-Orlando scenario.
If true, this shows that Orlando is really desperate to take that next step.
There was a fun little rumor in the New York Times on Sunday that suggested LeBron James and Chris Bosh were headed to the Bulls as part of a package deal. One league executive even went so far to say that it was a "done deal."
It may end up happening in the end, but it's certainly not a done deal yet. At least that's what Chris Bosh's agent said.
"Completely untrue," Bosh's agent Henry Thomas told NBA.com via email. "He hasn't decided anything."
The Bulls do want Bosh, though, and will reportedly meet with him and Joe Johnson first so they can secure one commitment before talking to James, according to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald. However, Bosh also said that he's very interested in playing for the Miami Heat, meaning the Bulls will have a tough sell.
``Miami is in top contention,'' Bosh said during a quiet moment at DJ Irie's charity golf tournament in Miami Beach. ``With the money they have, the cap space they have, the rights on Dwyane [Wade], him possibly staying. And just having a good organization; they are known as a first-class organization. Dwyane is going to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game when it's said and done.''
One darkhorse in the Bosh sweepstakes? Houston. The Rockets are very interested in working out a sign-and-trade deal to bring in Bosh, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Amid indications Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh will seek to join another top free agent on a team with cap space, a person with knowledge of the Rockets' thinking said Houston is confident it will be in the running and is considering seeking another enticement.
The individual familiar with the Rockets' thinking said Houston could attempt to give Bosh a chance to sign with an All-Star guard by making a run at Atlanta Hawks free agent Joe Johnson.
The New York Knicks probably have bigger fish to pry than Joe Johnson, but if ESPN's Chris Broussard is to be believed, it is Johnson, and not LeBron James or anyone else, that will be the first to meet with the Knicks come July 1.
When the clock strikes midnight ET in New York on July 1, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni will be in Los Angeles meeting with Johnson, who will hold all of his meetings with clubs on the West Coast. The Knicks' brass will fly to northeast Ohio to woo James at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Broussard reports that the Knicks have "emerged" as Johnson's first choice, according to league sources, and he is willing to take less money to play there if the Knicks and Hawks cannot work out a sign and trade arrangement.
However, CBS Sports' Ken Berger writes that no meeting has been scheduled yet, though he does expect to get a call from the Knicks soon.
Hawks free agent Joe Johnson is expecting a hard sell from the Knicks in the event LeBron opts to go elsewhere. Johnson has set up shop in Los Angeles with his agent, Arn Tellem, who has an excellent relationship with Walsh. As of early Monday, Johnson had yet to schedule any free-agent visits - in L.A. or elsewhere.
Berger also writes that the Clippers are a darkhorse in the Johnson sweepstakes. Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Mavericks will also make a run at acquiring Johnson in a sign and trade, adding that the Knicks are not his first option.
Is it hyperbole to say that? Probably. But it's also kind of true. With the possible exception of 1996, when Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Reggie Miller were the headliners, there has never been a free agent class as decorated as this one. Besides LeBron James, the following players are on the market:
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