March 31, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Utah Jazz small forward C.J. Miles (34) moves the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers small forward Caron Butler (5) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Free Agency 2012: Tracking The Latest Rumors And Deals

The 2012 NBA free agency period is winding down, but there are still some key players available.

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244 Total Updates since June 14, 2012
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NBA Free Agency Feeling Ripple Effects Of New Collective Bargaining Agreement

NBA free agency has hit quite a lull as of late. Part of these doldrums are due to a very active July, but another reason is that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has kind of put the onus on the NBA's middle class to either accept lesser deals or to wait in hopes that they are somehow able to find a bit of leverage when it comes to their bargaining ability.

Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick took a closer look at the recent drop-off in transactions, bringing forward the following (astute) point:

It's worth noting that two of the men who fought during labor negotiations to avoid this pinching of the middle class -- National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher and vice president Maurice Evans -- remain unemployed. They're among the many players playing a waiting game with teams that seem determined to fill out rosters with minimum salary deals, like the one NBPA vice president Roger Mason signed with New Orleans last week.

With the European and Asian basketball markets becoming more lucrative each year, an NBA's average player might be better off taking his talents overseas rather than accepting less than he is worth in the NBA's open market. If not, he will be forced to continue holding out hope that a team will eventually open its checkbook and pay him what he is worth.

For all of the updates regarding NBA free agency, be sure to stay tuned to this StoryStream.

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Robin Lopez Trade To Hornets Officially Complete With Small Changes

A three-way trade that sent Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the New Orleans Hornets has officially been completed, one day after salary cap complications put it on hold. In the trade, the Hornets will receive Lopez and Warrick, the Phoenix Suns will receive Wes Johnson, Jerome Dyson, Brad Miller, a first-round pick and a second-round pick, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will receive a 2014 second-round pick.

The trade had been put on hold on Thursday, with most suspecting that it did not fit into the NBA's trade rules. As it turned out, though, the Suns were also slated to take on $3 million in cash in the original deal, which would have been illegal because they already did so in the sign-and-trade arrangement that sent Steve Nash to the Lakers. Teams can only receive $3 million cash total over the course of a calendar year.

The Hornets receive some much-needed size in Lopez, while the Suns try to revive Johnson's career while taking on additional picks. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, clear enough cap space to complete their two-year, $20 million contract with Andrei Kirilenko.

For more on the Timberwolves, be sure to visit Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota. For more on the Suns, check out Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona. SB Nation's Hornets blog is housed over at At The Hive.

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Andrei Kirilenko Finalizing 2-Year, $20 Million Contract With Timberwolves, According To Report

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finalizing a two-year contract with Andrei Kirilenko, according to a report.

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Timberwolves Helping Facilitate Robin Lopez Trade In Effort To Sign Andrei Kirilenko

The NBA's biggest free agents are off the market already, but there are still some moving pieces out there that should allow the next couple of weeks to remain interesting. The rumors that made their rounds on Tuesday make it seem that way, anyway, as reports surfaced regarding a three-way trade between the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

The main reason for the trade seems to be the Hornets acquiring Robin Lopez in a sign-and-trade deal, but the bigger move would seem to be the Timberwolves throwing in former fourth overall pick Wesley Johnson and a lottery-protected first-round pick in order to clear cap space, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

That seems like a pretty big risk at this point in the offseason to simply clear cap space, but it comes with a solid caveat as that cap space is expected to allow the team to sign Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko. The 31-year-old is under contract with CSKA Moscow at the time, but the former Utah Jazz standout apparently has a small enough buyout that the Wolves have interest in pursuing him.

For more on the Timberwolves, be sure to visit Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota. For more on the Suns, check out Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona. SB Nation's Hornets blog is housed over at At The Hive.

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Nazr Mohammed To The Bulls Could Mean Rockets Land Omer Asik

The New York Post's Peter Vecsey reported late Saturday that veteran center Nazr Mohammed, who spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, will sign with the Chicago Bulls instead of the Brooklyn Nets. The indication from that, according to multiple reports, is that Chicago would not match the offer sheet Omer Asik signed with the Houston Rockets.

Asik signed the offer sheet on Friday, and the Bulls had three days to match. The deal was for $25 million over three years, though if Chicago were to match, the third year comes with a $14 million salary cap hit thanks to the "poison pill" clause that Rockets GM Daryl Morey also exploited in the Jeremy Lin chase.

Asik is primarily a defender, though perhaps one of the very best young big man defenders in the league. Mohammed is also renowned for his defense, though he didn't play much in OKC thanks to a deep rotation including noted defender Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.

For more on the Bulls, visit Blog-a-Bull and SB Nation Chicago.

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Omer Asik Signs Backloaded 3-Year Offer Sheet With Houston Rockets

Omer Asik has been given a three-year offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. The deal is structured just like the Jeremy Lin contract, with an exorbitant third year that could prove too much for the Chicago Bulls to match.

Earlier reports indicated that the Bulls are unlikely to match the offer within three days, likely sending the restricted free agent center to Houston. Asik is considered one of the better defensive big men in the league, though his game is very limited offensively. He averaged just 3.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game last season.

For more on the Rockets, head over to The Dream Shake. Check out Blog-A-Bull for more on the Bulls.

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Rockets Must Wait On Omer Asik, Waive Jon Leuer And Jerome Jordan

The Houston Rockets waived two players on Wednesday, clearing roster space for Omer Asik to come to Houston as the team's second-biggest off-season pickup. The Houston Chronicle reports that Jon Leuer and Jerome Jordan, who came to Houston in trades in the 2012 offseason, were both waived.

Once both players clear waivers, the Rockets will have room to add Asik, and he can officially sign his offer sheet, beginning a three-day period in which the Chicago Bulls, who hold Asik's rights as a free agent, can match Houston's deal or negotiate a trade with the Rockets.

Reports have indicated that the Bulls, notoriously stingy with their spending, will not match Asik's deal, including one from a Houston radio host on Wednesday. Asik's offer sheet, still not officially signed, will reportedly be for three years and $25 million, a rich contract for one of the NBA's finer defensive bigs and a limited offensive player.

For more on Asik and his current team, check out Blog A Bull and SB Nation Chicago. For news and notes on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston.

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Blazers To Match Contract Offer For Nicolas Batum As Expected, According To Report

Nicolas Batum will indeed remain with Portland Trail Blazers. The Oregonian's Jason Quick reports that Portland will match the Minnesota Timberwolves' offer for him, and that general manager Neil Olshey is set to announce the deal this afternoon in Las Vegas.

Batum was the player in the middle of the 2012 NBA free agency period's most contentious tug of war west of Jeremy Lin. Batum and Minnesota agreed to terms early, but Portland indicated it would match. Then Batum expressed his desire to play in Minnesota and then the two teams worked on a sign-and-trade deal before talks fell through, paving the way for the Blazers to simply match the Wolves' offer.

Batum provides flexibility on the wing as an athletic small forward who can guard shooting guards, but his greatest asset is his three-point shooting touch. Batum's a career 37.2 percent shooter from distance, and made 39.1 percent of his threes in the 2011-12 season.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazer's Edge.

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Welcome To The Mikhail Prokhorov Era, New York

With the Kris Humphries contract, the Mikhail Prokhorov era that other NBA owners (and their GMs) feared has arrived. Let the bullion flow.

The Hook is a daily NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.

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Knicks Let Jeremy Lin Go, Refuse To Match Rockets' Offer Sheet

The New York Knicks will not match Jeremy Lin's three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, a Knicks spokesman confirmed to multiple reporters. Rockets GM Daryl Morey celebrated the decision on Twitter:

New York's decision wasn't a surprise, in part because Morey included a "poison pill" third year that would have forced the Knicks into paying an exorbitant luxury tax. After making a combined $11 million in the first two years of the contract, Lin will make $14.9 million in his third season alone. As the New York Times' Howard Beck previously reported, that sum would have triggered a luxury tax penalty of $35 million or more for the Knicks given their existing payroll commitments.

So instead, Lin returns to Houston. Lin played for the Rockets in the preseason last December before being released one day before the start of the regular season -- and several weeks before becoming a household name with the Knicks. Instead of fighting for a roster spot, he returns with a guaranteed starting job -- not to mention an extra comma on his paycheck and a worldwide following of fans.

For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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Jeremy Lin To Join Rockets After Knicks Decline To Match Offer, According To Report

Linsanity will be relocating to Houston next season. The New York Knicks have decided not to match the three-year, $25 million offer sheet presented by the Rockets, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times. This means that Lin will be a member of the Rockets next season.

The news concludes a bizarre few days in which the Rockets tried everything they could to steal Lin away and the Knicks stalled for time. In an attempt to increase the financial pain the Knicks would suffer if they kept Lin, the Rockets decided to exercise a little-used clause in the CBA that would have escalated Lin's salary to $14.9 million in the third year had the Knicks kept him. The Knicks were upset that the Rockets made this late increase and dodged the official paperwork in an attempt to prevent the three-day window to decide on restricted free agents from beginning. In that time, the Knicks traded for Raymond Felton to replace Lin on the roster.

Lin dazzled the basketball nation by starring in a 35-game sample after bouncing around the fringes of the league, but the Knicks, who already owe a combined $62 million in 2014-15 to Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, were reluctant to have another high-salaried player on the roster, given the more punitive luxury-tax penalties that exist in the new CBA.

For more on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston. For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.


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Kris Humphries Signs 2-Year, $24 Million Contract With Nets, According To Report

The Brooklyn Nets made sure big man Kris Humphries will stay around by inking him to a contract worth $12 million a year.

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O.J. Mayo Will Sign With Mavericks, Reports O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo, arguably the NBA's best unsigned free agent, has picked his team. After drawing interest from numerous teams -- notably, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns -- the 24-year-old shooting guard announced via Twitter that he's headed to the Dallas Mavericks:

Details of Mayo's contract have yet to surface, but it's a win for the Mavericks, who have rebounded nicely from a slow start to the offseason. After missing out on Deron Williams and losing Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, the Mavericks have since traded for Darren Collison, landed Elton Brand off amnesty waivers and signed Mayo.

Mayo, the third overall draft pick in 2008, should benefit from a change of scenery after four years with the Memphis Grizzlies. He came off the bench in all 66 games last year -- averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game -- but could easily emerge as a full-time starter with the Mavs.

For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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The NBA's Best Unsigned Free Agents At Vegas Summer League

Many of the best players in Vegas need no introduction, but several unheralded standouts are turning heads -- and just might earn themselves a training camp invite.

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Amnesty Clause: Where NBA Teams Replace Insane Contracts With Insane Contracts

Only in the NBA can a team waive a crazy contract to make enough salary cap space to sign another crazy contract. The Hook looks at how strategic amnesty has led to a spate of massive free agent deals.

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Raptors Trade James Johnson To Kings For Future Second-Round Pick

The Toronto Raptors have traded small forward James Johnson to the Sacramento Kings for a future second-round pick. Johnson, out of Wake Forest, was a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls in 2009. The Bulls sent him to Toronto for a late first-round pick to clear salary at the 2011 trade deadline.

Johnson isn't a particularly prolific or efficient scorer, and certainly isn't a three-point shooter, but does play active defense and is one of the best wing shotblockers in the NBA. He has one season left on his contract, and will make $2.8 million in 2012-13 before becoming a restricted free agent. The Kings featured John Salmons and Tyreke Evans at starting small forward last season. If Evans shifts back to the backcourt as expected, the starting three spot could be Johnson's for the taking. The Kings picked up a power forward, Thomas Robinson, in the draft.

ESPN's Marc Stein first reported the trade.

For more on the Kings, visit Sactown Royalty or SB Nation Bay Area. For more on the Raptors, please visit Raptors HQ.

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Knicks 'Close' To Sign-And-Trade For Raymond Felton With Blazers, Jeremy Lin Could Join Rockets

The New York Knicks will have three days to match the offer sheet the Houston Rockets have signed Jeremy Lin to. That is, as soon as they get the aforementioned sheet. And the Knicks, by all reports, will do that, bringing back the player who electrified Madison Square Garden and the NBA in the 2011-12 season.

But if they don't? The Knicks may well turn to their last competent, exciting point guard, Raymond Felton. Yahoo!'s Marc J. Spears reports that the Knicks are nearing a deal that will bring Felton back to New York — and that Linsanity's marriage to the MSG crowd may be over.

Spears is far from the only person reporting a Felton-Knicks link: the New York Daily News' Frank Isola and Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen both reported talks happening shortly before Spears reported the potential deal.

Felton played all of 54 games for the Knicks in 2010-11 before being included in the package that pried Carmelo Anthony from Denver. He was excellent in those 54, averaging 17 points and nine assists per game. But it won't be Mike D'Antoni's offense Felton would run in New York in 2012 and beyond, and Felton's lack of conditioning during the NBA lockout limited him as a Blazer in 2011-12.

For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York. For more on the Blazers, check out Blazer's Edge. And for more on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston.

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Nuggets Offer JaVale McGee 5-Year, $50 Million Contract, According To Report

JaVale McGee is sitting on a five-year, $50 million offer from the Denver Nuggets, according to the Denver Post's Ben Hochman. McGee has not accepted the offer, and he will see if the Nuggets or another team will raise the offer as other big men get claimed.

McGee, a 24-year-old center, is a restricted free agent, which means that while he can sign with another team for a maximum of four years, Denver has the right to match any signed offer. Only Denver can offer a fifth year.

The Nuggets traded for McGee in the massive, surprising Nene deal with the Washington Wizards at the deadline in March. McGee has a reputation for being overeager on defense to the point at which he often leaves the weakside open by chasing blocks and earns a few too many goaltending calls in the process. Despite that, he is a prolific shotblocker and strong rebounder.

For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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The NBA's Max Contract Must Die

Why do players like Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert get maximum contracts? Blame the league's artificial price ceiling on player salaries.

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Like Clockwork, Mavericks Conjure Up A Team

After missing out on Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the span of two weeks, the Mavericks looked dead in the water ... finally. Welp, so much for that.

The Hook is a daily NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.

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Blazers Could Receive Draft Picks In Nicolas Batum Sign And Trade, According To Report

While Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is publicly saying the Blazers will match any offer for Nicolas Batum, it appears they are actually preparing for his departure to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The two teams are currently working on a sign-and-trade arrangement where the Timberwolves would send draft picks back to Portland to secure Batum, according to ESPN's sources.

The current parameters of the deal have the Timberwolves sending two first-round draft picks and a veteran small forward to the Blazers, according to the report. The Timberwolves would have to get a third team involved to find the veteran small forward. Earlier reports suggested they were interested in trading for Chicago Bulls forward Kyle Korver, so perhaps that's the missing piece.

The Timberwolves cannot trade their own first-round pick in consecutive years -- they dealt their 2012 pick several years ago, and it ended up with the Hornets -- but they do have an additional lottery-protected pick from the Houston Rockets that they could send to Portland.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazer's Edge, and make sure to read their posts on Batum's offer from the Wolves and Portland's free agent strategy.

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Eric Gordon Officially Signs 4-Year, $58 Million Offer Sheet With Suns

After much talk about it, the Phoenix Suns have officially signed Eric Gordon to a four-year, $58 million offer sheet. The team announced the move in a release on Wednesday evening:

"We are excited that Eric Gordon wants to be a Phoenix Sun, and are gratified by his choice to play here," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.

Unfortunately for the Suns, Gordon's choice to sign with Phoenix does not mean he will end up a Sun. The New Orleans Hornets can match Phoenix's offer sheet for Gordon and retain his rights — an outcome that Gordon has been vehemently against, saying he would be "disappointed" if the Hornets matched the offer.

New Orleans will have three days to match the offer, and are expected to do so. The two teams could also work out a sign-and-trade deal that would get Gordon to the desert and land the rebuilding Hornets some talent in return.

For more on the Hornets, check out At The Hive. For more on the Suns, visit Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona.

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Blazers Still Plan On Matching Offers For Nicolas Batum, Neil Olshey Says

The Portland Trail Blazers have a couple of irons in the fire in the 2012 NBA free agency period, but the one that represents retaining Nicolas Batum is about to get pulled out. Portland GM Neil Olshey said Wednesday that the Blazers still plan on matching a Timberwolves offer sheet for Nicolas Batum.

The Wolves have signed Batum to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet, but Portland can match any offers for Batum, a restricted free agent. The main reason Portland wouldn't do so is to execute a sign-and-trade deal with Minnesota, but Olshey also said Wednesday that he doesn't see assets worth working out such a deal on Minnesota's roster.

Batum, for his part, has said that he wants to play for the Timberwolves. Letting Batum slip away to Minnesota would help clear room for Portland to sign Roy Hibbert, but the Indiana Pacers are set to match Portland's offer sheet for Hibbert, meaning there is plenty of room to sign Batum.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazer's Edge, and make sure to read their posts on Batum's offer from the Wolves and Portland's free agent strategy.

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Brook Lopez Has Maximum Contract Offers From Blazers, Bobcats, According To Report

An earlier report suggested that Brooklyn Nets restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez had one maximum contract offer sheet from a team other than the Nets. As it turns out, he might actually have two. The Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats have both told Lopez that they would be willing to sign him to a four-year max contract, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The Nets would have the ability to match any contract Lopez receives, but that would mean they couldn't leave open the option of trading Lopez for Dwight Howard. That's why the Nets are negotiating a deal themselves with Lopez that would provide him the five-year maximum contract only he can provide. Without that fifth year, Lopez could sign the Blazers' or Bobcats' offer and kill any Howard trade possibility.

Lopez played in just five games last year as he recovered from a foot injury.

You can track all the Dwight Howard trade drama by visiting this StoryStream. For more on the Nets and Magic, check out NetsDaily and Orlando Pinstriped Post. The latest updates on all NBA news and rumors are at SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Brook Lopez, Nets Continue Negotiations On Maximum Contract, According To Report

The Brooklyn Nets and center Brook Lopez continue negotiations on the terms of what essentially would amount to a maximum contract extension, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. As of now, the two sides have agreed to fully guarantee the first four years for $58 million. The hold-up remains the fifth year.

The Nets' urgency for resolving the Lopez situation has a lot to do with preserving the chance at trading for Dwight Howard. If the Nets sign Lopez to a contract, they have only 48 hours to deal it in a sign-and-trade if they so choose. Otherwise, they must wait until December 15 to trade Lopez again. Lopez would be the centerpiece of the Nets' trade package for Howard.

The urgency for all of this increased because Lopez has a maximum contract offer on the table from another team, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times.

Lopez, a restricted free agent, is weighing a maximum-salary offer sheet from a rival team, according to a person with knowledge of the proposed deal. If Lopez were to sign the offer sheet, it would eliminate him as a trading chip and kill the Nets’ chances of landing Howard this summer.

It was not immediately known which team was preparing the offer sheet, but three teams have the cap room to do so: the Charlotte Bobcats, the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers.

If Lopez signs that offer sheet with another team, the Nets would have three days to match it, but they cannot match it and then trade Lopez for Howard. That's why the Nets are moving quickly to resolve Lopez's status while also engaging with the Magic on trade scenarios for Howard.

You can track all the Dwight Howard trade drama by visiting this StoryStream. For more on the Nets and Magic, check out NetsDaily and Orlando Pinstriped Post. The latest updates on all NBA news and rumors are at SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Brook Lopez, Nets Negotiating Max Contract Extension, According To Report

The Brooklyn Nets certainly want Dwight Howard, but with a deal not in sight the team has inched closer to other options, such as negotiating a maximum contract with center Brook Lopez, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Such a deal, if or when it is signed, would prevent the Nets from trading Lopez until December, when teams are allowed to move players who signed new contracts.

Both sides still need to work on the length of the contract, which could be four years and $58 million or five years and $78 million. Also, the Nets want to make sure they will be covered in case Lopez's right foot becomes an issue. It broke twice this past season.

With the Nets seemingly moving out of a potential deal for Dwight Howard, NBA eyes will turn elsewhere to see where the center might wind up.

You can track all the Dwight Howard trade drama by visiting this StoryStream. For more on the Nets, Magic, Cavs and Clippers, check out NetsDaily, Orlando Pinstriped Post, Fear The Sword and Clips Nation, respectively. The latest updates on all NBA news and rumors are at SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Nicolas Batum Says He Wants To Play For Minnesota Timberwolves, Leave Portland Trail Blazers

Nicolas Batum is a restricted free agent, which gives his current team, the Portland Trail Blazers, the right to match any offer given to him. However, there has been a lot of noise recently that he wants to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have signed him to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. Now, that noise has been confirmed by the player himself.

In an interview with NBA.com's David Aldridge, Batum said that he's ready to move on from the Blazers and have a new beginning in Minnesota.

"I’m a restricted free agent," Batum said. "I know the situation. Anywhere I sign, the Blazers are going to match. But my first choice was, and is, Minnesota. That’s where I want to play and that’s where I want to put my family. I’ve got nothing against the fans (in Portland) and nothing against the city. But this is a basketball decision and basketball wise, I want to be there."

The Blazers had previously indicated they would match any offer to keep Batum, but that stance has softened in recent days. Batum told Aldridge that the two sides are now working on a sign-and-trade arrangement.

Batum is excited to play in new coach Rick Adelman's offense, believing that the Blazers' slower pace stunted his game a bit. The Timberwolves, according to Aldridge, told Batum they believe he is the "missing piece" for their roster.

For more on Batum and the Blazers, head to Blazer's Edge. For more on the Wolves, hit up Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Blazers Decision On Nicolas Batum Will Be In 'Best Interest' Of Portland, GM Says

The Minnesota Timberwolves made an offer to restricted free agent Nicolas Batum last week in an effort to become Portland Central, but word quickly leaked that the Trail Blazers would match the Wolves offer. Fast forward a few days, however -- heading into the end of the free agency moratium on Wednesday morning -- and that seems as though it might not be the case.

Batum is likely sitll going to end up with the Blazers, but general manager Neil Olshey was rather coy when answering questions related to the restricted free agent during a press conference on Monday to introduce the team's new rookies.

Answering questions with questions is always a risky proposition, of course, but Olshey's other comments at the press conference -- transcribed by our friends at Blazer's Edge -- are just as interesting.

What can you say about Nicolas Batum's situation?

We're not going to comment on free agents. We're in the moratorium. He's going through his process. As was reported, we had lunch with his agent. We had a good discussion with him. We have some strategic things that will have to be handled. We're all working off word of mouth until tomorrow night at 9 o'clock.

I thought you said you would match any offers?

Look, we've all heard things. I had a conversation with his agent, I had a conversation with David Kahn of the Timberwolves, that will remain private. Like I said, what you will see at the end of this, I believe what we did at the end of the day was in the best interests of the organization, today and in the future.

It's difficult to surmise exactly what Olshey's private conversations with Kahn led to or what "strategic things" the Blazers planned to get done, but this might just lead to a more interesting Batum saga than originally planned.

For more on Batum and the Blazers, head to Blazer's Edge. For more on the Wolves, hit up Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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NBA Free Agency Rumors: J.R. Smith To Re-Sign With The Knicks

The New York Knicks and J.R. Smith didn't exactly seem like a match made in heaven last season, but Smith didn't have a ton of options when he returned from playing in China during the NBA lockout. He apparently enjoyed his time with the Knicks, however, and might have even given the Knicks a bit of a sweetheart deal to return to New York.

Smith will sign a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Knicks when free agents are able to officially sign with their teams on Wednesday morning, according to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling. As was the case last season, the second-year is a player option -- even though Smith eventually opted out this year before deciding to return.

"I have decided to re-sign with the Knicks. I just felt that, despite my other options, New York is the best situation for me," Smith said in a statement released to ESPNNewYork.com. "Coach (Mike) Woodson showed a lot of faith and trust in me last season, as did (Knicks owner) Mr. (James) Dolan and the organization.

"My teammates are great to play with and New York fans are the best. I can't wait to get started."

While Smith can be a bit of a handful, the contract seems overtly reasonable when comparing it to other deals signed this offseason. It seems as though the free agent money might be starting to dry up.

For more on the Knicks, head to Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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Knicks Get Marcus Camby In Sign-And-Trade With Rockets

The New York Knicks seemed to be losing ground in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets' acquisition of Joe Johnson and pursuit of Dwight Howard, and the Miami Heat's signing of Ray Allen. After their surprise deal with Jason Kidd, the Knicks have picked up another veteran, Marcus Camby, in a sign-and-trade.

Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Knicks reached a deal with Houston to acquire Camby, who spent 2011-12 with the Portland Trail Blazers and Rockets, and will sign him to another contract worth $12.2 million over three years.

New York will send Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, second-round picks in 2014 and 2015, and cash to the Rockets for Camby, who remains one of the NBA's best rebounders despite his age. Camby turned 38 in March, but pulled down 9.0 boards per game in 2011-12 in less than 23 minutes of action per contest.

CBS Sports' Ken Berger notes that Harrellson and Jordan can both be waived by the Rockets with no penalty, thanks to their non-guaranteed contracts.

For more on the Knicks, head to Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York. For more on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston.

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It's Just Business: An Inside Look At Loyalty In Pro Sports

Ray Allen left the Celtics for the Heat. Does that make him a traitor? Dan Grunfeld answers that question while also explaining why loyalty in sports is not always as cut and dry as it may appear.

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Courtney Lee Meets With Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, According To Report

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers reportedly met with free agent Courtney Lee in Orlando on Saturday, according to Sam Amick of SI.com. The Houston Rockets are reportedly interested in a sign-and-trade that would send the guard to Boston.

From Amick:

Source confirms Boston coach Doc Rivers met with free agent shooting guard Courtney Lee on Saturday and that Houston - his former team - is interested in a possible sign-and-trade to send Lee to the Cs. The meeting was in Orlando, where Lee trains and where Rivers lives in the offseason, so it was a convenient connection. In addition to the suitors @ESPNSteinLine listed in his report on the meeting (Minnesota, Atlanta, Indiana, Dallas and Phoenix), source says Washington is in the mix. Chicago is also interested but a necessary sign-and-trade with the Bulls seems unlikely.

The Celtics are still reeling from the loss of Ray Allen to the Miami Heat. Lee would help fill the void. He averaged 11.4 points per game last season and shot 40.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Boston doesn't have enough room under their salary cap to sign Lee outright, but a sign-and-trade would allow them to finagle the move.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls have also been mentioned in connection with the 26-year-old shooting guard.

For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog and check out SB Nation Boston.

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Ersan Ilyasova To Re-Sign With Bucks, According To Report

Ersan Ilyasova, the Turkish power forward who finished second in Most Improved Player voting in the 2011-12 season, will sign a five-year, $45 million deal to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks, reports Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype. Sierra said that Ilyasova's agent claims the deal will be done this week.

Ilyasova has spent four years in the league, all with the Bucks, though he made his debut in 2006 as a 19-year-old. Now 25, Ilyasova spent two years (2007-09) in Europe after a rough start to his NBA career, but then returned to the Bucks. In 2012, he'd been rumored to be a target of the Brooklyn Nets (assuming a Dwight Howard trade couldn't be consummated). But staying in Milwaukee likely left him the best payday.

Last season, the Turk started 41 games, averaging 13 points and 8.8 rebounds. He had 20 double-doubles, including one monstrous 29-25 game against the Nets.

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Ray Allen To Sign With Heat, Tweets Owner Micky Arison

Free agent guard Ray Allen was torn between signing with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Allen was finally able to come to a decision even after leaving Miami with a contract. According to Heat owner Micky Arison, Jesus Shuttlesworth will be bringing his talents to South Beach.

Allen will be entering his 17th season in the NBA, spending the past five seasons with the Boston Celtics after being acquired in a trade with the then Seattle SuperSonics. The Heat were looking for another three-point shooter to replace Mike Miller, and Ray Allen was looking to try and add another ring towards the end of his career.

For more on the Miami Heat and Ray Allen, visit SB Nation's Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay.

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The Hook: NBA Lockout Never Meant To Stop Insane Free Agent Deals

The Hook explores how lower aggregate costs but the retention of laughably high player salaries is exactly the result NBA owners wanted in the lockout deal.

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Knicks Plan To Match Jeremy Lin's Offer From Houston Rockets, According To Report

The New York Knicks agreed to terms with free agent point guard Jason Kidd on Thursday, but that doesn't mean they're giving up on Jeremy Lin. The Houston Rockets might want the Knicks to do that considering the offer they made to Lin on Thursday, but apparently Linsanity isn't going anywhere.

Quite a few people assumed the Knicks planned to match the offer, but the New York Post's Marc Berman quoted from a source confirming as much for his story on Friday morning.

"He's their guy," one NBA official debriefed on the Knicks' strategy said. "They'll match."

The Knicks officially will be presented the offer sheet Wednesday, the day the NBA's free-agency moratorium ends, and will have three days to match it. It should take them three minutes.

Matching the offer will push the Knicks further into the luxury tax during the third year of Lin's contract, but New York apparently believes his on-court abilities and the ability to contribute to off-court marketing strategies will help make up for the luxury tax bill ... and that will almost certainly be the case.

For more on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston. For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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Blazers To Match Nicolas Batum Offer Sheet, According To Report

The Portland Trail Blazers have some solid building blocks on their roster, but the loss of restricted free agent Nicolas Batum would be a rather large blow. That apparently isn't going to happen, however, as the Blazers have decided they'll match any offer their French forward receives.

Technically no offers can be made until July 11, but it was reported on Thursday that the Minnesota Timberwolves intend to make an offer to Batum. As soon as new general manager Neil Oshley and the rest of the Blazers brass heard about that, they scheduled a face-to-face meeting to let Batum know that he'll have to play at least another year in Portland.

Some of the quotes from Batum's agent make it seem as though that might not make the player happy, but the Oregonian reports that the Blazers won't waver from their decision to keep him around.

After Batum met with Minnesota last weekend, Olshey requested a face-to-face meeting, and despite a sometimes acrimonious relationship with Blazers brass, Ndiaye agreed to the afternoon meeting at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. The Blazers were represented by Olshey, director of college scouting Chad Buchanan and salary cap specialist Joe Cronin.

"We appreciated the face-to-face meeting to get our message across," Olshey said. "And that message was that we intend to match any offer and we will not facilitate any sign-and-trade scenarios."

It shouldn't be surprising that the Blazers intend to keep Batum -- even if they don't hammer out a long-term agreement, Portland will have to pay him less than $5 million this season -- but it'll be interesting to see if any feelings were hurt during this quick ordeal.

For more on Batum and the Blazers, head to Blazers Edge. For more on the Wolves, hit upCanis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Nicolas Batum Agrees To Timberwolves' Offer Sheet

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been rumored to be interested in signing Nicolas Batum to an offer sheet for a while, but they finally made it official Thursday night, agreeing to terms with the restricted free-agent forward.

The deal is reportedly worth $45 million over four years with bonuses that could make it worth $50 million. Batum's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, told the Associated Press Batum is hoping the Trail Blazers either do not match the offer or work out a sing-and-trade deal with Minnesota.

Previous reports have said Portland intends to match any offer sheet Batum signed and will not look into trading the fourth-year forward. Batum and his agent met with the Blazers officials Thursday to discuss the 23-year-old's future with the organization.

Ndiaye said Batum has great respect for the Blazers and their fans, but believes playing for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and alongside point guard Ricky Rubio and forward Kevin Love was the best situation for him.
"It was a very cordial meeting. There were no hard feelings," Ndiaye said. "So Nicolas basically talked about his four years with the Blazers and he expressed that maybe it was time for him to look at a place where it could be more happy."

Batum can't officially sign with Minnesota until July 11. Then, the Blazers would have three days to match the offer.

For more on the T'Wolves, head to Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Brandon Roy Will Sign With Timberwolves, According To Report

Brandon Roy didn't play in the NBA in 2011-12, having "retired" in the 2011 offseason after a degenerative knee condition diminished the form that made him one of the league's best shooting guards for part of the last decade. But he's going to play in 2012-13, and will reportedly do so for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Oregonian's Jason Quick reports that Roy has come to a verbal agreement with the Wolves, a team in need of some scoring punch on the perimeter.

The Wolves used Martell Webster (6.9 points per game), Wayne Ellington (6.1 points per game) and Malcolm Lee (3.3 points per game) at shooting guard in 2011-12. Roy scored just 12.2 points per game in 2010-11, but his career average of 19.0 points per game is a little healthier — and if he's a little healthier than he was at the end of his Portland career, he could be a big pick-up for the Wolves.

For more on the T'Wolves, head to Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Blazers Will Match T'Wolves' Offer For Nicolas Batum, According To Report

The Portland Trail Blazers are likely hoping that their offer sheet to the Pacers' Roy Hibbert remains unmatched until the deadline to retain his services. But they have wasted little time in deciding to match an offer for one of their own: Portland will reportedly match the Timberwolves' offer to forward Nicolas Batum, keeping him in Rip City for the next few years.

Minnesota had reportedly offered Batum $45-50 million over a four-year deal, a big bump up from the $4 million he is scheduled to make on the final year of his rookie contract with Portland. But with the Blazers matching the Wolves' offer, Batum will have a choice: stay in Portland and play out that year of his rookie contract, or sign the long-term deal with the Blazers and become a part of their core for years to come.

For more on Batum and the Blazers, head to Blazers Edge. For more on the Wolves, hit up Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Pacers May Not Match Blazers' Max Offer To Roy Hibbert, According To Report

The Portland Trail Blazers made the first big splash as the free agency period opened, offering restricted free agent Roy Hibbert a max contract as the clock struck midnight July 1. According to TNT's David Aldridge, the Indiana Pacers are still deliberating whether to match the four-year, $58 million offer sheet the Blazers gave the All-Star center:

Hibbert has improved in each of his four seasons as one of the true centers in the league, culminating in an appearance in the 2012 All-Star Game. But the Pacers and Kevin Pritchard are apparently hesitant to match the max money offered. They had already met with free agent center Chris Kaman as a possible backup plan to losing Hibbert, and have signed guard George Hill to a reported five-year, $40 million contract.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazers Edge. For more on the Pacers, visit Indy Cornrows.

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Jason Kidd To Sign Multi-Year Deal With New York Knicks, According To Report

The exodus from the Dallas Mavericks during the 2012 offseason continues. On Thursday, early reports came out that veteran star Jason Kidd will not be returning to the Mavs for the 2012-13 season, which is a move that comes as a surprise to many.

Marc Stein of ESPN reports that Kidd has decided to leave the Mavs and head east. Stein's sources tell him that Kidd will be taking a multi-year deal with the New York Knicks.

Kidd has been with the Mavericks since 2008 and helped the team win an NBA championship in 2011. Many expected Kidd to wrap up his career with the Mavs, the team that originally drafted him in 1994 and for whom he played his first two NBA seasons.

For more news and information regarding the New York Knicks, please visit Posting and Toasting or check out SB Nation New York. For updates and perspective on the Dallas Mavericks, stop by Mavs Moneyball or head on over to SB Nation Dallas. You can track all NBA free agency and trade rumors and updates by visiting SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Brandon Bass Stays With Boston Celtics, Signs 3-Year Deal, According To Report

The Boston Celtics have been very busy this offseason. They have already made Kevin Garnett the highest-paid player in NBA history, picked up Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in the 2012 NBA Draft and are hard at work attempting to bring back Ray Allen. They will also bring back a key component of the 2011-12 Celtics squad that made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics have agreed to a new three-year deal with power forward Brandon Bass, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

In Bass' first season with the Celtics in 2011-12, he set career highs for himself in minutes per game (with 31.7) and points per game (with 12.5).

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Chauncey Billups Signs 1-Year Contract To Return To Clippers, According To Report

One of the big moves the Los Angeles Clippers made prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 NBA seasons was the acquisition of guard Chauncey Billups. Although Billups was only able to play in 20 games for the Clippers before suffering a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, it appears as though he will return to the team for at least one more year.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that the popular veteran will be returning for the 2012-13 season. Billups is expected to sign a one-year deal with the team on July 11. The contract could be worth up to $4.3 million if Billups successfully reaches all bonuses.

Billups was a definite impact player during his time on the court with the Clippers and brought a much-needed veteran presence to a young team. The Clippers will be hoping to benefit from his leadership over a full season this time.

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Kyle Lowry Traded To Toronto Raptors, According To Report

After losing out on Steve Nash, the Raptors have rebounded, acquiring Kyle Lowry in a trade with the Houston Rockets.

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Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks Closing In On Multi-Year Contract, According To Report

The Dallas Mavericks were in the running for free agent point guard Deron Williams, but with Williams' decision to return to the Brooklyn Nets and Jason Terry joining the Boston Celtics, the Mavericks' options appear to be limited at the position. The team also missed out on Steve Nash, who will be heading to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal.

The Mavericks might have found a solution to their point guard problem, as they're closing in a multi-year contract with Jason Kidd, according to a report by ESPN.

Jason Kidd appears prepared to end his career where he started it -- with the Dallas Mavericks. The 39-year-old is closing in on a multiyear deal, a source close to the situation said. The source said the deal is not completed, but barring any snags, Kidd will close out his career alongside Dirk Nowitzki. The value of the contract was not known.

Kidd will be entering his 19th season in the NBA and if the deal is signed will very likely close out his NBA career with the team who drafted him originally. Kidd spent the first three seasons of his NBA career with the Mavs before spending time with the Phoenix Suns, then-New Jersey Nets, and then returning to the Mavericks.

For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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George Hill's Contract With Pacers Is Worth $40 Million, According To Report

George Hill's new contract with the Indiana Pacers is a five-year deal that will pay him $40 million over the course of the contract, according to HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy. Hill, a restricted free agent, agreed to terms with the Pacers on July 2.

Hill, who was acquired by the Pacers in a 2011 draft-day trade with the San Antonio Spurs, emerged as the team's starting point guard late in the season. On the year, he averaged 9.6 points and 2.9 assists per game, but he fared much better in the postseason, upping his scoring average to 13.5 points per game. He is expected to once again share the point-guard position with Darren Collison next season.

The Pacers now must decide whether to match a four-year, $58 million offer sheet for center Roy Hibbert. If they do, they probably won't be very active in free agency beyond that.

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Suns Agree To Terms With Goran Dragic, According To Report

When the Suns traded Steve Nash to the Lakers on Wednesday, it left them with a gaping hole at point guard. It didn't take Phoenix long to start filling that hole, agreeing to a four-year, $34 million deal with Goran Dragic several hours.

The deal will bring Dragic back to Phoenix, where he played his first two and a half seasons. Originally a second- round pick of the Spurs in 2008 whose rights were later acquired by Phoenix, Dragic was traded by the Suns along with a first-round pick for Aaron Brooks during the 2010-11 season.

Dragic averaged a career-high 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game last year while starting 28 games for the Rockets. He will join recent first-round pick Kendall Marshall in attempting to replace Nash in Phoenix.

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Ray Allen Set To Visit Heat, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Excited

Dwyane Wade took to Twitter on Wednesday to proclaim that Thursday will be a big day for the Miami Heat.

Shortly thereafter, LeBron James agreed.

What were Wade and James looking forward to? That would be the visit of free agent shooting guard Ray Allen. The 36-year-old Allen will visit Miami Thursday before heading to visit the Clippers on Friday. Miami can offer Allen their mini mid-level exception, worth just over $3 million per season, while the Clippers can offer their full mid-level exception, starting at $5 million per year. The Boston Celtics are also interested in retaining Allen's services, and have reportedly offered the guard a two-year deal worth $12 million.

Allen averaged 14.2 points per game last season while battling an ankle injury. It was the second-lowest scoring average of his 16 NBA seasons, but he shot a career-best 45.3 percent on 3-point attempts.

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Grant Hill Rumors: Guard Will Follow Steve Nash To Lakers Or Retire?

Following the announcement that Steve Nash had been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, there was speculation that former Phoenix Suns teammate Grant Hill could follow him to L.A. Now, it appears Hill may either sign with the Lakers or choose to retire.

Hill has played 17 seasons in the NBA, including the last five with Nash in Phoenix. The 39-year-old was rumored to be considering the Lakers even before Nash was traded to Los Angeles. HIll recently underwent the same platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment with which Kobe Bryant and others have had success.

In Los Angeles, Hill could provide a boost to the thin Lakers bench.

For more on the Suns, please visit Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona. For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen and Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles.

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Goran Dragic Rumors: Bobcats Make Offer, Suns In Pursuit

The Charlotte Bobcats have prepared an offer for unrestricted free agent point guard Goran Dragic, according to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but with Wednesday's trade that sent Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns may be in hot pursuit of the 26-year-old Slovenian point man, who played for the Houston Rockets last season:

As you may remember, Dragic spent the first two-plus seasons of his NBA career with with Suns before being traded (along with a first-round draft pick) to the Rockets for Aaron Brooks in February 2011. Dragic appeared in all 66 games of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season for Houston, making 28 starts and averaging a career-best 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game.

Clearly, the Nash trade has created a domino effect. The Suns are now in need of a young, solid point guard, meaning Dragic's value on the free agent market has increased. But will the Bobcats' offer win out?

For more on the Suns, please visit Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona. For more on the Bobcats, visit Rufus on Fire.

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Steve Nash Rumors: Knicks Emerge As Leader In Sign-And-Trade Arrangement, According To Report

After it looked like the Toronto Raptors were the favorites to land Steve Nash, the New York Knicks have surged back into the lead, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. The Knicks are looking at a sign-and-trade arrangement that would likely center around promising young guard Iman Shumpert, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. However, they are also looking for a third team that can provide assets so they wouldn't have to deal Shumpert.

After it's all said and done, the Knicks would likely sign Nash to a three-year contract worth between $27-30 million, according to Wojnarowski. The current arrangement has the Knicks sending Shumpert, Douglas and three other players back to Phoenix.

It looked like any sign-and-trade arrangement between the Phoenix Suns and Knicks would fall apart once the Toronto Raptors signed guard Landry Fields to a three-year offer sheet. Previous reports suggested that Fields was one of the cornerstones the Suns wanted in any sign-and-trade. However, it looks like the two sides are vigilant in getting a deal done even if Fields isn't involved.

For more on the Suns, please visit Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona. For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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NBA Free Agent Rumors: Jamal Crawford Receives Contract Offer From Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers met with Jamal Crawford on Tuesday and wound up offering him a contract, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears.

No financial terms are yet known, but with at least four teams also pursuing him, Crawford will certainly receive competitive offers. In Los Angeles, he would be able to play with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but neither might be too happy to see a career 40.8 percent shooter on the court with them. He shot 38.4 percent from the field this past season, his worst since shooting 38.6 in 2003-04.

Crawford signed a contract last December with the Portland Trail Blazers and had an opt-out clause in it for the second year, which he chose to exercise.

For more on the Clippers, check out Clips Nation. Stick with our NBA Free Agency StoryStream for the latest rumors and signings.

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NBA Free Agency Rumors: Lakers Pursuing Steve Nash

With Deron Williams off the open market and staying with the Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash is now the top point guard target for many teams. Enter the Los Angeles Lakers, reports NBA.com's David Aldridge. While the team can offer only a $3.09 million exception, the likely course of action the Lakers are pursuing is a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns.

Aldridge speculates that the Lakers could offer point guard Ramon Sessions and forwards Jordan Hill and Matt Barnes in any proposed deal. Metta World Peace, however, is not a piece the Suns would take back. There are some NBA insiders, though, that believe the Suns wouldn't want to make a trade with a team in the Pacific Division.

Nash, 38, reportedly has a three-year, $36 million offer on the table from the Toronto Raptors. Still, Aldridge reports that Nash is giving the Knicks more time to work out its own sign-and-trade deal with the Suns. The Dallas Mavericks are also apparently increasing their pursuit of Nash -- who played six seasons there before leaving in 2004 -- now that Williams has decided to stay with the Nets.

For more on these teams, check out Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll and Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun.

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Brandon Roy's Comeback Bid Supported By Fellow Seattle-Area Players

Brandon Roy has the full support of his fellow players from Seattle's hoops scene in his attempt to return to the NBA.

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Eric Gordon, Suns Agree To Max Contract

New Orleans Hornets restricted free agent Eric Gordon has agreed to a max contract with the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, according to Paul Coro of AZCentral.com. It is expected to be worth $58 million over four years.

The 23-year-old shooting guard is unable to officially sign the offer sheet until July 11, when the free agency signing moratorium ends. At that point, the Hornets would have three days to match the offer. Coro and other sources are already reporting that the Hornets will match the deal.

In a prepared statement (via AZCentral.com), Gordon already sounds like a player who wants to get out of the Big Easy:

"After visiting the Suns, the impression the organization made on me was incredible," Gordon said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Sarver, Lon Babby, Lance Blanks, the front office staff and Coach Gentry run a first-class organization, and I strongly feel they are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now."

With the Hornets expected to match the offer, they will likely need to deal with a disgruntled player who has implicitly criticized the organization.

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NBA Free Agency: Courtney Lee Unrestricted After Rockets Pull Qualifying Offer

In a bit of a surprising move, the Houston Rockets have pulled their qualifying offer from guard Courtney Lee, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.

The Rockets are reportedly hot after free agent point guard Jeremy Lin, and pulling their offer for Lee has some speculating that it's a way to make room for Lin on the roster. It's still possible, though unlikely, the Rockets will try to keep Lee.

Lee should garner plenty of interest on the open market for his services. Originally drafted by the Orlando Magic, Lee was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a move for Vince Carter, and then part of a four-team deal that sent him to the Houston Rockets. Lee played in 139 games for the Rockets over the past two seasons.

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Deron Williams Agrees To 5-Year, $98.8 Million Deal With Nets

The Deron Williams sweepstakes has come to an end, as the highly coveted point guard has chosen to remain with the Nets as they move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

Williams took to his personal Twitter account on Tuesday evening to break the news himself, posting a picture of the new Brooklyn Nets logo. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports later reported that Williams has reached an agreement with the Nets for five years and nearly $100 million. (Ken Berger of CBS Sports puts the exact number at "approximately $98.75 million," while ESPN.com salary cap guru Larry Coon says the final figure "should be $98,772,321.")

Wojnarowski also reported that the Nets are working on retaining the services of power forward Kris Humphries.

Marc Stein of ESPN reported that Williams chose the Nets deal over a four-year, $75 million offer from his other suitor, the Dallas Mavericks. The collective bargaining agreement prevented the Mavericks from offering a fifth year.

The deal is a huge coup for the Nets, as they are hoping to make a big splash in their first season in Brooklyn. The Mavericks have now lost out on Williams and lost Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics on the same day, and will need to go back to the drawing board.

For more on Williams and the Nets, check in with NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Nets, Bucks Discussing Ersan Ilyasova Sign-And-Trade If Dwight Howard Deal Fails, Reports Say

The Brooklyn Nets continue to work to acquire Dwight Howard in a trade with the Orlando Magic, but if that fails, they have a backup plan in place. The Nets have talked to the Milwaukee Bucks about conducting a sign-and-trade for forward Ersan Ilyasova, with Kris Humphries being the likely piece heading back to Milwaukee. The news was first reported by Peter Vescey and confirmed by the New York Post's Fred Kerber.

The Nets appear to want to recruit a third team to pull off this complicated maneuver to land Ilyasova if the Howard trade falls through. It remains unclear who that third team would be, but one's best guess is that Humphries would be re-routed to that squad, with additional assets heading to the Bucks

Ilyasova had a breakout year for the Bucks last season, averaging 13 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range. The 25-year-old was especially good in the second half of last season.

For more on the Nets, visit Nets Daily and SB Nation New York. For more on the Bucks, visit Brew Hoop.

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Reggie Evans Traded To Brooklyn Nets For Future 2nd-Round Pick, According To Report

Needing additional players to fill out a roster around Joe Johnson and (hopefully, for their sake) Deron Williams, the Brooklyn Nets have acquired reserve forward Reggie Evans from the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second-round pick, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Evans will sign a three-year, $5 million deal, and the Nets will acquire him using a portion of the $3 million trade exception the tema received in last season's deal for Gerald Wallace.

Evans has made a career out of being a nuisance, since he lacks very many skills on either side of the ball besides rebounding. However, he also helped the Clippers get past the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last year, annoying Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol inside. Nevertheless, the Clippers have little use for him after acquiring Lamar Odom in a three-way trade with the Mavericks and Jazz.

For more on the Nets, visit Nets Daily and SB Nation New York. For more on the Clippers, visit Clips Nation and SB Nation Los Angeles.

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Jason Terry Likely To Sign With Celtics, Mavericks Unlikely To Match Offer, According To Report

It looks like Jason Terry's departure from the Dallas Mavericks to sign with the Boston Celtics will indeed be happening. The Mavericks, in an attempt to maintain their salary-cap flexibility, are unlikely to match or exceed the Celtics' three-year offer for Terry, according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Jeff Caplan.

Terry reportedly agreed to a contract with the Celtics that would pay him the value of the $5 million mid-level exception annually, but had wanted to take it back to the Mavericks to see if they would exceed the offer. The Mavericks need to save salary-cap space for Deron Williams, so it's not a surprise that they appear uninterested in meeting the Celtics' price.

Terry, who will turn 35 in September, averaged 15.1 points per game on 43-percent shooting last season. The former Sixth Man of the Year is expected to provide a much-needed scoring boost for the Celtics' second unit.

For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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NBA Free Agent Rumors: Jeremy Lin Meeting With Houston Rockets Wednesday

The Houston Rockets, who are suddenly mired in a difficult negotiation for their own free-agent point guard, Goran Dragic, will reportedly explore a well-known alternative. The Rockets will spend their July 4 meeting with New York Knicks restricted free agent Jeremy Lin, according to a report from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

It would seem unlikely that the Rockets could steal Lin away from the Knicks, but New York general manager Glen Grunewald has decided to let Lin explore his market instead of aggressively trying to keep him. The Knicks have been interested in Steve Nash and had been working on potential sign-and-trade arrangements to land him. That effort took a hit with the Raptors signing Landry Fields, a key cog in a potential sign-and-trade deal with the Suns, to an offer sheet.

While the Knicks would likely want to match Lin, the Rockets could make it difficult by giving Lin a poison pill contract that would cause his contract to escalate in the third year. The Rockets pulled a similar maneuver in giving Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik an offer sheet over the weekend.

For more on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston. For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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Jason Terry Will Give Mavericks A Chance To Counter Celtics' Contract Offer Before Deciding, Report Says

Hold the phones on Jason Terry heading to the Boston Celtics. ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that Terry will give the Dallas Mavericks a chance to "counter" the Celtics' offer before he makes a final decision.

Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears is reporting that Terry was "closing in" on a three-year contract with the Celtics for the mid-level exception, which would be just under $16 million. The Mavericks can offer Terry more because they have Larry Bird rights on him. It appears that Terry will give the Mavericks a chance to offer him more money if they so choose. Now, it's up to Dallas to figure out if it's worth paying the 35-year old to stay with the franchise for longer than three years for just under $16 million.

The Celtics originally wanted to pursue O.J. Mayo, according to HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy, but he asked for more money than the Celtics were willing to give.

For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Jason Terry Finalizing Contract With Boston Celtics, According To Report

The Boston Celtics are closing in on a multi-year contract for Dallas Mavericks' guard Jason Terry, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Terry, who will turn 35 next season, has been with the Mavericks for the past eight seasons.

The Mavericks' ace sixth man averaged 15.1 points per game on 43-percent shooting in 2011-12, his 13th in the league. He would likely assume a similar role for the Celtics next season behind Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in the backcourt.

It remains unclear how much Terry would end up making, but his addition does throw Ray Allen's future in Boston in doubt. The Celtics could certainly still afford to keep Allen, and coach Doc Rivers has been quoted saying he'd like both players on his team, but it's unclear if Allen will be interested in returning to a much more crowded backcourt. Allen currently is drawing interest from the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, among other teams.

For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Landry Fields Signs 3-Year Offer Sheet With Toronto Raptors, According To Report

As they continue to pursue free-agent point guard Steve Nash, the Toronto Raptors have made another move, signing New York Knicks' guard Landry Fields to a three-year offer sheet that will "approach $20 million," according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Knicks will have three days from July 11 to decide whether to match the offer for the restricted free agent.

Exact terms of the deal remain unclear, but Stein reports that it will likely have a third-year spike in salary, which is similar to the offer sheet Omer Asik reportedly received from the Rockets.

Fields was a top prospect at the beginning of his career, rising from a second-round pick to being an untouchable piece in the Knicks' trade for Carmelo Anthony in the middle of 2011. However, his game fell off dramatically once Anthony arrived. The hope for the Raptors is that his game will be reinvigorated by Nash, or at least by not playing with Anthony.

The move also hurts the Knicks' ability to offer Fields as a sign-and-trade piece to the Suns as a means to acquire Nash and pay him a larger salary.

For more on the Raptors, visit Raptors HQ. For more on the Knicks, visit Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.

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NBA Free Agency: Ray Allen To Visit Miami Heat, Then The Clippers

The Boston Celtics are hoping to keep their team intact, but that job is shaping up to be tougher than it initially looked. The team was able to lock up Kevin Garnett early in NBA free agency, but Boston's being forced to wait with Ray Allen.

Allen has options and, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge, he's weighing them thoroughly before making a decision.

The 36-year-old free-agent guard will visit the Miami Heat on Thursday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, according to a source, and listen to their pitches. The Heat can only offer Allen their mini mid-level exception that starts at $3.09 million next season, the same exception Miami used last year to sign free-agent forward Shane Battier. The Clippers have their full mid-level available at $5 million. Boston has offered Allen a two-year deal for $12 million.

Aldridge further reports that Allen also had conference calls with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, but the veteran sharpshooter currently has no plans to meet with them.

For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Joe Johnson Trade To Brooklyn Nets Completed, According To Report

The Hawks and Nets have agreed on a five-player trade that will send Joe Johnson to Brooklyn, according to a report.

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NBA Rumors: Warriors Try To Grab J.J. Hickson Again

"J.J. Hickson" and "mid-level exception" are not two phrases anyone ever wants to hear in the same sentence. But Marcus Thompson III of the Contra Costa Times reports that the Golden State Warriors have opened talks with the outcast forward in hopes of adding him to Mark Jackson's arsenal.

Hickson is an unrestricted free agent as the Portland Trail Blazers -- who claimed him off of waivers after the Sacramento Kings cut him in March -- did not extend a qualifying offer. The Warriors had an agreement to bring in Hickson on the cheap in March once the Kings waived him, not expecting the Blazers or any other team to claim him off of waivers.

Now the Warriors are free to bid on his services. The Warriors have Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Andris Biedrins in the frontcourt. On Thursday, the team drafted center Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt at No. 30, as well.

For more on the Warriors, please visit Golden State Of Mind and SB Nation Bay Area.

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Denver Nuggets Reportedly Sign Andre Miller To 3-Year Deal

Denver acquired Miller for the second time in a draft day deal in 2011.

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Omer Asik Reportedly Signs 3-Year, $25 Million Offer Sheet With Rockets

The pressure is on the Chicago Bulls if they want to keep their dominant bench unit intact after the Houston Rockets have reportedly signed restricted free agent center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25 million offer sheet, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

Asik combined with Taj Gibson to form the best defensive big-man tandem in the league. Asik, who turns 26 on Wednesday, averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and a block in 14 minutes per game. He had been the subject of numerous trade rumors over the past two years because a defensive-stopper type center is always in demand, and his talents have largely been wasted backing up Joakim Noah.

For more on Asik and his current team, check out Blog A Bull and SB Nation Chicago. For news and notes on the Rockets, visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston.

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Steve Nash Reportedly Meets With Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets' top priority is re-signing point guard Deron Williams, but they're exploring other options in case he decides to bolt to Dallas. According to Nets beat writer Stefan Bondy, the Nets are meeting with free agent point guard Steve Nash on Sunday.

Nash seems unlikely to return to Phoenix, and is attracting interest from multiple suitors. The Toronto Raptors are openly courting him, and are rumored to be offering a three-year deal worth eight figures per season. The Nets will almost certainly not be interested in signing Nash if Williams decides to return, but they could do worse than the 38-year-old two-time MVP if they don't get to keep Williams. At the very least, Nash should help the team get some folks in the seats early next season, and he's still a starter-quality point guard.

For more on the Nets, head over to NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Steve Nash Reportedly Offered 3 Years, $36 Million Contract By Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are reportedly pushing hard to bring two-time MVP Steve Nash home to Canada. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Raptors offered the 38-year-old point guard a three-year, $36 million contract, blowing away all reasonable projections of what kind of contract offer Nash would merit. The deal would actually be a slight raise over Nash's previous contract. According to Basketball Reference, Nash had a salary of less than $11.7 million in '11-'12.

The offer was thrown around late Saturday night, but Stein's sources say that offer has been made. The Suns drafted North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall in last week's NBA draft with their first-round pick, leading to speculation they weren't prepared to match any hefty offer for Nash, who averaged 12.5 points and 10.7 assists last season.

Nash has also been rumored to be in discussions with the Mavericks for a reunion with his good friend Dirk Nowitzki -- he played in Dallas for six years earlier in his career, helping to turn the franchise into an annual contender -- as well as the Knicks and Nets.

For more news on where Nash may end up, check out Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona.

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Gerald Wallace Deal Is Rich, But Unavoidable And Possibly Smart For Nets

The Brooklyn Nets could not get away with losing Gerald Wallace unless everything happened so quickly at the start of free agency that the team was ready to compete without him. Things appeared to be happening quickly, but when the clock struck Free Agency, Brooklyn didn't have a commitment from Deron Williams, didn't have a trade for Dwight Howard or Joe Johnson and didn't have a bead on any other free agents. They couldn't wait for Williams; inactivity would be a risk when it came to keeping Deron.

So the Nets locked up Wallace quickly at four years, $40 million. Some folks will grouse about the length of the deal, which is fair. Some will ask who else would have offered that much money for an aging athlete who has been drifting from his peak. That's fair, too. But the Nets truly were bidding against themselves. When they traded their first-round pick (No. 6, in the end) for Wallace at the deadline, knowing he would likely opt out at year's end, they guaranteed they'd pay him more than anyone else in free agency. That was a part of the deal. This decision was made long ago.

And Wallace is still a very good player; I surmise he'll be underpaid or fairly paid next season at $10 million. The fear is that he'll fall apart in time and not be worth it by, say, 2014-15. But this isn't an Amar'e Stoudemire/Joe Johnson contract -- a $20 million monster of a deal that will be extremely painful to work around or move. This is about $10 million, or slightly above the average starter's salary. If by the end of the deal Wallace is a barely suitable starter? He's only overpaid by about 50 percent or so. In the meantime, you get a fairly paid above-average player.

There will be plenty of deals to lampoon over the next couple of weeks. Save your ire for them. This isn't a bad deal for the Nets.

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Nets, Gerald Wallace Agree On 4-Year, $40 Million Deal, According To Report

Gerald Wallace has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $40 million with the Brooklyn Nets, according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post. ESPN's Marc Stein reportedly early Sunday that a deal between the small forward and team was on track. The Nets traded their first-round pick (which ended up being Damian Lillard) to the Portland Trail Blazers for Wallace at the deadline. Crash opted out of the final year of his contract, and will now get paid more, assuming the report is accurate.

The Nets have any number of other irons in the fire, including reported talks involving Joe Johnson, Luis Scola and O.J. Mayo. Dwight Howard has also renewed his request to be traded to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is also waiting on a decision from free agent point guard Deron Williams, who will reportedly decide between the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks in the coming days.

For more on the Nets, visit NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Lakers Rumors: L.A. Hopes To Bring Back Ramon Sessions, Also Looking At Veteran Point Guards

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to bring unrestricted free agent Ramon Sessions back to the team, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN L.A., but will also contact veteran free agents in an effort to have a point guard in hand should Sessions go elsewhere. The veteran free agents that the Lakers may pursue include Chauncey Billups, Jameer Nelson and Kirk Hinrich.

Sessions' agent told McMenamin that several other teams reached out to the point guard, but that no meetings are currently scheduled. The Lakers traded for Sessions in March, sending a first-round pick and Luke Walton to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sessions trade also led to Lakers legend Derek Fisher being traded and winding up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who knocked L.A. out of the playoffs.

Sessions will be looking for more than $4.5 million in free agency. He opted out of a contract that would have paid him that much next season.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles.

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Timberwolves Reportedly Set To Offer Nicolas Batum $45-50 Million Over 4 Years

The Minnesota Timberwolves will meet with small forward Nicolas Batum on Sunday, and according to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest, are mulling an offer of $45-50 million over four years for the Frenchman. Batum is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Portland Trail Blazers will have the opportunity to match any contract offer sheet that Batum signs.

Haynes reports that the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors have also reached out to Batum. The Sacramento Kings have been reported to have interest as well, though likely not at that price.

The Wolves are said to be chasing Brandon Roy, who retired as a Blazer a year ago, and have a meeting set with Jordan Hill. What a successful Batum gambit would mean for the Wolves and second-year forward Derrick Williams is unclear; it might lock Batum in as a long-term reserve in Minnesota.

For more coverage of the Timberwolves, please visit Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota. For more on the Blazers, visit Blazers Edge.

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Blazers Offered Roy Hibbert A Max Contract, According To Report

The Portland Trail Blazers and one other unnamed team have offered All-Star center Roy Hibbert a maximum value contract, reports SI.com's Sam Amick. The Indiana Pacers, Hibbert's team of four years, offered less than the max, which would start at roughly $13 million per season.

Amick reports that Hibbert may sign Portland's offer sheet, forcing Indiana to decide whether to match. You would have to believe that Indiana would match, given Hibbert's importance to the club.

Hibbert and Eric Gordon (also seeking the max) are the only two restricted free agents likely to draw contracts at or near the max this offseason. JaVale McGee and Brook Lopez are also expected to come in with high-dollar contracts.

The Blazers are low on centers, but did pick up Meyers Leonard from Illinois in the 2012 NBA Draft on Thursday.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazers Edge. For more on the Pacers, visit Indy Cornrows.

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NBA Rumors: Raptors Prepared To Offer Steve Nash $12 Million Per Year, Maybe 3 Seasons

Steve Nash is one of the more popular NBA free agents; two MVPs and an impeccable reputation as a court leader with lovely numbers to back it up will do that. But he's also 38 years old with a history of back pain. That makes a report like the one Sam Amick of SI.com presented late Saturday a bit jaw-dropping.

Sources confirmed that the Raptors are likely to offer a deal that pays approximately $12 million annually, though it remains to be seen whether it is for three guaranteed years or two years with a team option in the third season.

So according to Amick, a spot-on reporter, Toronto is prepared to offer Nash $24 million to play through age 40, or $36 million to play through age 41. This for a team that has missed the postseason for three straight years and will be integrating two major rookies (Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross).

That seems risky. Analysis!

For more on the Raptors, please visit Raptors HQ.

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NBA Rumors: Eric Gordon To Visit Pacers, Rockets And Suns In Search Of Massive Deal

Eric Gordon, a restricted free agent, is seeking a four-year deal worth $58 million, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard. To get that deal, the shooting guard will meet with the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns over the next three days, and the Portland Trail Blazers and possibly the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats after that, says Broussard.

The New Orleans Hornets can match any offer sheet signed by Gordon. They could also save folks some frequent flier miles by offering that deal to Gordon themselves. The two-guard played just nine games last season, but was the centerpiece of the club's Chris Paul trade in December. The Hornets drafted Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers on Thursday to help rebuild the club.

We ranked Gordon as the No. 3 free agent on Saturday, behind Deron Williams and Roy Hibbert, and projected a max or near-max deal.

For more on the Hornets, please visit At The Hive.

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Rockets Visit Omer Asik As NBA Free Agency Officially Begins

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a tradition of camping out to meet with free agents as soon as allowed under NBA rules. In 2010, Morey quickly pitched the Rockets to Chris Bosh. That didn't work. Last summer, the big play was aimed at Marc Gasol. That didn't work. This year, Morey's focused in on Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik. Maybe it will be different?

Here's what Morey tweeted just before midnight ET.

Like Gasol a year ago, Asik is a restricted free agent. It's believed that the Bulls will make every reasonable effort to match. Asik's primary draw is as a defender. Houston currently does not have a center on the roster. The Rockets traded Samuel Dalembert to the Bucks last week.

For more on the Rockets, please visit The Dream Shake and SB Nation Houston.

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Timberwolves Top Brass Visited Brandon Roy In Seattle On Friday

How serious is the Minnesota Timberwolves' pursuit of retired two-time All-Star Brandon Roy?

Pretty serious!

Roy announced his retirement in December after a couple of years of knee injuries after knee injuries. Instead of filing for medical retirement so that the Portland Trail Blazers could receive cap relief, the Blazers used the amnesty waiver on Roy. Some (including yours truly) considered it a ruse to avoid fan outrage at using the amnesty clause on Roy, a beloved player. Given that Roy is prepared to return to the NBA less than a year later, that is a bit more believable.

The Wolves actually drafted Roy in 2006 and traded him to the Blazers for Randy Foye, setting off a terrible chain of events for the entire state of Minnesota.

For more coverage of the Timberwolves, please visit Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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NBA Rumors: Nets Also Looking At Luis Scola, O.J. Mayo

The Brooklyn Nets have all of their eggs in Deron Williams' basket, as the free agent will apparently make a decision to stay with the club or not in the next couple of days. Either in preparation of putting talent around D-Will or in anticipation of fielding a team with more than three players, the Nets are looking at additional players at free agency opens and trades get going. In addition to a potential trade for Joe Johnson, the Nets have also discussed a trade for Luis Scola, reports Yahoo!'s ace reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.

Woj reports that the teams were in deep talks on Saturday, but Dwight Howard's decision to again request a trade to the Nets may have ended the trade for now. News about Howard broke in the hours before the official start of free agency.

Woj also reported that if a trade for Johnson falls through, the Nets, flush with cap space, are prepared to make a major free agent offer to O.J. Mayo.

For more on the Nets, visit NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Nets Reportedly Discussing Joe Johnson Trade

The Brooklyn Nets' aspirations of pairing Deron Williams and Dwight Howard might be petering out, according to one report. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Nets could be in the process of making a trade with the Atlanta Hawks for swingman Joe Johnson that would give Brooklyn a top-line backcourt and allow the Hawks to dump Johnson's remaining $90 million contract.

There are a number of factors at play. Most notably, Orlando's will have to decide whether or not they'll trade Howard -- who has one year remaining on his contract -- as well as Williams, who has yet to decide on his future with either the Nets or his hometown Dallas Mavericks:

It's doubtful Nets GM Billy King would make a deal for Johnson without the blessing of Williams and an assurance from Williams that he would re-sign with the Nets

King and new Atlanta GM Danny Ferry – former Duke teammates and close friends – have discussed the possibility of a Johnson trade that would mostly constitute a salary dump for the Hawks.

While Brooklyn's future is almost completely in flux and suffering no shortage of differing opinions as to the direction of the relocated franchise, there's a consensus among Atlanta fans that shedding Johnson would create a bright new future:

For more on the Brooklyn Nets, check out Nets Daily. Atlanta Hawks news and info can be found at Peachtree Hoops, and all your NBA free agency coverage is available at SB Nation's NBA page.

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Ranking The 2012 NBA Free Agents: From Deron Williams To Hasheem Thabeet

We rip through the top 83 NBA free agents of 2012. And by top 83 free agents, we mean the 40 or so good players available and then 40 or so players named Matt Barnes or Baron Davis.

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NBA Rumors: Grizzlies To Bid On Ray Allen

The Memphis Grizzlies will attempt to woo Ray Allen when free agency begins Sunday, reports Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. The Grizzlies will reportedly offer Allen their full mid-level exception worth $5 million per season.

Allen, who has been with the Boston Celtics since the 2007-08 season, is an unrestricted free agent. At 36, he's the league's all-time leader in three-pointers made. Even in an injury-plagued 2011-12 season he hit more than 100 threes for the 13th consecutive season and shot 45 percent from behind the arc.

Boston, which reportedly locked up Kevin Garnett ahead of free agency, is believed to be interested in bringing Allen back, though for less money. Allen has also been linked to the Miami Heat, who knocked the C's out in the East finals on their way to the championship this season.

Allen will turn 37 in July. He's logged 48,000 minutes in the NBA, including the playoffs, over 15 seasons.

For more on the Grizzlies, please visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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NBA Free Agency: Deron Williams And Jason Kidd To Mavs Or Nets, According To Report

Deron Williams is by far the best unrestricted free agent on the market this offseason, and when free agency starts Sunday it appears he'll have a buddy tagging along: Jason Kidd. According to a report by ESPN's Ric Bucher, the two have spent the weekend golfing together in the Hamptons on Long Island, and plan to be somewhat of a package deal. From Bucher's report:

Mavericks free-agent point guard Jason Kidd will also join whichever team Williams chooses, sources said.

[...]

Another source with business ties to both Kidd and Williams says that the two already have decided to play together for the Nets next season. However, multiple sources say Williams is still torn about his decision.

Kidd, of course, was traded from the Suns to the Nets for Stephon Marbury more than 10 years ago and pretty much single-handedly revived the franchise, carrying them to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances against the Lakers in 2002 and the Spurs in 2003 (they lost each time).

Williams will fetch a max contract, and New York Daily News columnist Mitch Lawrence wrote that a source close to Williams believes he'll go to Brooklyn, who can offer him $26 million more than any team, thanks to a provision in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For more on Williams and the Nets, check in with Nets Daily. If you want new and updates on Williams' other suitor, check out Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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NBA Free Agency: Kevin Garnett To Sign Multi-Year Deal With Celtics, According To Report

Kevin Garnett will sign a new contract with the Boston Celtics once NBA free agency opens, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The deal will reportedly be for at least two seasons, and possibly a third. The report cites an anonymous source who said that once KG decided he wanted to continue to play, he never considered signing with any team but the Celtics.

Garnett was traded to the Celtics in 2007, and the team won the 2008 NBA Championship in his first season in Boston. The club has been back to the NBA Finals once since then, and to the Eastern Conference Finals two additional times, including this season. Garnett is 36 with tons of miles on his treads.

The Celtics have three other major free agents to deal with, assuming they lock up Garnett: Ray Allen, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. All three are unrestricted free agents.

Free agency begins at midnight. Deals can officially be signed on July 11.

For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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NBA Rumors: Steve Nash Talks About Leaving The Suns

If there was any question as to whether two-time MVP Steve Nash would consider leaving the Suns after eight seasons in Phoenix, let that be put to rest. Speaking to ESPN's Marc Stein, the point guard said that for the first time since joining the Suns in 2004, he can see himself playing for another team. Via Bright Side Of The Sun, here's what Nash told Stein this week in New York at an annual soccer event the point guard puts on:

"I couldn't list a favorite ... But I do know that for the first time I realize that it might not be Phoenix. I would have said even in the middle of (last) season or last year that I would have thought I probably would have stayed in Phoenix forever. But it's come to a point now where I'm facing the reality that's not (the case)."

The Toronto Raptors are making a serious push to add Nash; the point guard grew up in British Columbia and represented Canada in international play. John Hollinger has also suggested that the Brooklyn Nets could end up throwing gobs of money at Nash if Deron Williams walks. No team can pay Nash more than Phoenix, but if it's about more than money, or if the Suns decide to begin looking beyond Nash, he could be in a new uniform in October.

For more on the Suns, please visit Bright Side of the Sun and SB Nation Arizona.

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NBA Free Agency: Brandon Roy Meets With Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves met with free agent guard Brandon Roy on Friday, writes Minneapolis reporter Darren Wolfson (via SB Nation Minnesota). Roy was waived via the amnesty clause in December by the Portland Trail Blazers due to continued knee issues; before the waiver, he announced his medical retirement. Some of us sniffed that out as a ruse, a way to make the Blazers' amnesty waiver more palatable to fans. If Roy returns this quickly, it will have been obvious.

The Wolves desperately need backcourt help for Ricky Rubio. J.J. Barea was not great in his first season in Minnesota, and the Wolves didn't pick up a wing in the 2012 NBA Draft. They did trade the No. 18 pick for Chase Budinger, who could fill some minutes at small forward and two-guard, but Roy -- if he's even a shade of his former All-Star self -- is a much bigger fish.

The Wolves were able to meet with Roy before the start of free agency on Sunday because he has been a free agent for several months. Most players remain under contract until June 30.

For more coverage of the Timberwolves, please visit Canis Hoopus and SB Nation Minnesota.

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Jameer Nelson Opts Out From Magic, Will Become Free Agent, According To Report

While the Orlando Magic are trying to figure out what to do with All Star center Dwight Howard, the team now has to decide what they're going to do about starting point guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson has decided that he will opt out of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The belief is that Orlando will re-sign Nelson to a 2-3 year deal, but it's very possible Nelson could break for another team in free agency leaving the Magic wondering what to do with Howard and a hole at the point guard position. The only other point guard under contract for Orlando currently is Chris Duhon.

For more on the Orlando Magic, visit SB Nation's Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post and SB Nation Tampa Bay.

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NBA Free Agency: Steve Nash To Be Courted By Toronto Raptors

The 2012 NBA Draft took place on Thursday night, leaving free agency as the next stop in the world where basketball never sleeps. The majority of folks are still focused on Thursday night's happenings, but there was some new news Friday morning relating to Steve Nash.

Nash is no longer in his prime, of course, but the Phoenix Suns guard can certainly still play a high level of basketball, and with his six-year deal with the Suns now complete, there are plenty of teams interested in acquiring his services for next season. ESPN's Marc Stein reports one of those teams is the Toronto Raptors.

There's a good bit of history between Colangelo and Nash, and the prospect of playing in his home country might make the Raptors a darkhorse in the Steve Nash Sweepstakes, but it's quite possible even a "five-deep contingent" won't even be able to woo Nash enough to get him to play out his final years on a currently sub-par team.

That said, it'd be a great story ... and Toronto certainly seems to have the right all-in approach of making it possible.

For more on the Raptors, be sure to visit Raptors HQ.

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Dirk Nowitzki Openly Pines For Deron Williams

Deron Williams has apparently narrowed his choices for potential free agency destinations down to his current team, the Brooklyn Nets, and the team that plays in his hometown, the Dallas Mavericks. In case there was any question whether or not the Mavericks are interested in Williams, their best player decided to make his opinions on the scenario public in a radio interview with Dallas' KCTK:

We’d love to have him run the show here... I hope we have a good shot. He’s from here. His mom lives here. He likes it here.

Currently running the show in Dallas is Jason Kidd, who is also on the market as a free agent. While Kidd has been more than serviceable for the Mavs as his career wanes, Williams is a franchise-type player who would quickly put the Mavericks back in the conversation of title contenders. Dallas pretty much scrapped its 2010 championship team in hopes of landing Williams in the 2011 free agent market, and now, the decision is in his hands.

New Jersey, of course, made its overture to Williams in the form of a gigantic birthday wish, and not to be out-done in the category of semi-depressing attempts at making Deron Williams play for his team, Dirk Nowitzki had this to offer:

He loves golf, and we have great golf courses.

What'll it be, Deron? Golf, or birthday presents? Tough choice to make.

For more on the Dallas Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball or SBN Dallas. For more on the Nets, there's NetsDaily and SBN New York.

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Deron Williams Will Sign With Nets Or Mavericks, According To Report

Deron Williams is widely considered to be the jewel of the 2012 NBA free agency class and even though free agency doesn't begin until July 1, Williams has already narrowed his suitors to the Nets and Mavericks according to a report from ESPN.com.

The Nets and Mavericks have been seen as the most likely suitors for Williams for a while. New Jersey can offer Williams the most money while Dallas presents the opportunity to play in his hometown. The Nets can offer Williams a five-year contract worth just under $100 million while Dallas can offer four years and close to $75 million.

Williams has previously said his decision will be based on which teams gives him the best chance to win.

"I want to go to a place where I feel like they will have a chance to build and build fast," Williams said according to the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not really in the mood for being part of a rebuilding process. I'm getting older. I'm about to be 28. I want to win. I want to win now. Also, I want to live in a place where I want to live and my kids will enjoy living. That's pretty much it."

NBA free agency begins at midnight on July 1.

For the latest news and rumbling from around the league, check out our NBA Free Agency Rumors 2012 StoryStream. For more on Kidd and the Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas. For more on the Nets, head over to NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Ramon Sessions Will Opt Out Of Contract And Become Free Agent, According To Report

The Los Angeles Lakers apparently learned what seemed to be the inevitable on Tuesday morning: Ramon Sessions might return to the team, but not under his current contract.

Sessions was acquired by the Lakers in a mid-season trade and looked quite solid in their run to the NBA Playoffs, but the team knew they'd likely only get the remainder of this season from him when they agreed to the trade. Sessions had a $4.5 million option for next season, but has apparently decided that he can make more money on the open market.

The Lakers are likely still interested in Sessions' services, but only at the right price. And, since the vagabond point guard decided to opt out of his contract, he's likely entering this offseason looking to get paid.

Keep up with the Lakers offseason at Silver Screen and Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For the latest news and rumbling from around the league, check out our NBA Free Agency Rumors 2012 StoryStream.

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NBA Free Agency: Jason Kidd Wants To Play For Mavericks Or Nets

Jason Kidd brought up the New Jersey Nets and the Dallas Mavericks when asked where he hopes to land in free agency this offseason. The veteran point guard would like to return to the Mavs, but is very interested in the Nets especially if they manage to re-sign Derrick Williams.

Kidd has no illusions about where he is in his career. He could be very effective coming off the bench for the Nets, or running the floor in partnership with Williams. He is also very familiar and comfortable with the Mavericks having spent the last four seasons in Dallas.

Kidd averaged under 30 minutes per game last season for the first time in NBA career. His numbers dipped to 6.2 points and 5.5 assists per game, both career lows.

For more on Kidd and the Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas. For more on the Nets, head over to NetsDaily and SB Nation New York.

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Jason Terry Uninterested In Potential 1-Year Deal With Mavericks

If the Dallas Mavericks decide to punt the 2012-13 season and reserve long-term cap space for the 2013 free agent class of Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Jason Terry will be playing somewhere else. The guard told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that he has no interest in returning to Big D on a one-year rental.

"It's a tough situation," Terry said. "I'm finally in a position where I can kind of predict my own future, so to speak. I want to stay here in Dallas. That's always been my goal. But it needs to be long-term. If they're not ready to step up and do that, then I'll have to make my home elsewhere."

Terry sounds a lot like Tyson Chandler did a year ago, only instead of contract length being the wedge between J.E.T. and the Mavericks, with Chandler it was contract size. There's no question that, if Dallas punted, it'd give Terry a massive one-year deal. The more punitive luxury tax penalties don't kick in until 2013-14, and Dallas has Terry's Bird rights, so there'd be no particular harm in paying J.E.T. $12 million for next season.

But if Terry would rather lock in his last big contract, he should be able to find a partner elsewhere. The free agent class is fairly shallow, and Terry is far from the oldest dollar-seeker out there.

For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Jeff Green Receiving Free Agent Interest Beyond Celtics

Jeff Green, who is an unrestricted free agent after a heart condition requiring surgery ended his 2011-12 season with the Boston Celtics before it began, is receiving strong interest as he prepare to return to the court, his agent David Falk told SI.com's Sam Amick.

Green had surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm in early January, and is said to be back to 100 percent. He'd signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Celtics in December as a restricted free agent, but the discovery of the aneurysm led to the voiding of the deal as Green had to go under the knife. Because Green was waived, he is now an unrestricted free agent.

Falk implies that while Boston remains at or near the top of the list, Green's camp will listen to all offers. Green was traded to the Celtics in February 2011 in exchange for Kendrick Perkins. He'd be drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007 with Boston's No. 5 overall pick, conveyed to Seattle in the Ray Allen trade.

For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Lou Williams Opts Out, Becomes Free Agent

Lou Williams, the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award this season, has reportedly opted out of his contract and will become a free agent.

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Jamal Crawford Says He'll Opt Out Of Blazers Contract, Re-Enter Free Agency

Shocking no one, Jamal Crawford told a Seattle TV station that he plans to opt out of his 2012-13 contract with the Portland Trail Blazers and re-enter free agency in July. Crawford signed a one-year deal with a second-year option in December. The team fell apart due to injury and a poorly masked decision to tank at the trade deadline. Nate McMillan, the coach who helped recruit Crawford, was also canned at the deadline. Crawford's close friend and fellow Seattle native Brandon Roy was waived due to injury before the season even began.

Crawford had suitors in the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves before choosing Portland in December. Chances are that he could end up in Minnesota, which still lacks for a productive two-guard or much in the way of bench scoring. Other teams looking to augment their offense could also turn to Crawford in July.

For more on the Blazers, visit Blazer's Edge and SB Nation Seattle.

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Jameer Nelson Delays Magic Opt-Out Decision

Longtime Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson has received clearance to delay his decision on whether to opt out of his contract for the 2012-13 season, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Nelson must now file paperwork by June 29 to exercise his player option for next year. The option is for $7.9 million.

If he declines it, he'd become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Magic actually consented to the deadline move, reports Robbins. Orlando is currently weighing the hire of a new general manager to replace Otis Smith, who was dismissed after the Magic were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Indiana Pacers.

If Nelson does opt out, he'll be mixed up with an interesting point guard class led by Deron Williams and Steve Nash. But new cap rules and the looming luxury tax changes could constrict the market a good bit.

For more on the Magic, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.

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NBA Free Agency 2012: Gerald Wallace To Opt Out Of Contract

The New Jersey Nets took a pretty big gamble at the NBA trade deadline this year, acquiring Gerald Wallace in exchange for their 1st round pick. The risk probably didn't play out exactly how the Nets wanted to, as Wallace has elected to opt out of the last season of his contract.

Wallace had a sixth year left on his contract that would have paid him $9.5 million for the 2012-13 season, but he decided that he'd rather return to the open market. That does not mean that Wallace is necessarily signing elsewhere, though -- just that it will likely cost the Nets more than it would have prior to his opting out.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this, because had the Nets not made the trade (they were essentially out of the postseason running when the acquisition occurred), Brooklyn would own the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

For more on the Nets, be sure to check Nets Daily. For more on professional basketball in general, visit SB Nation's NBA page.

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NBA Free Agency Rumors: Ray Allen Interested In Signing With Heat, Clippers

Ray Allen is reportedly interested in signing with either the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Clippers if he does not re-sign with the Boston Celtics. The New York Knicks are also a potential landing spot.

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