The NBA free agency period for the 2013-2014 season begins July 1 and the rumors have begun flying. Leading the free agent class are point guard Chris Paul and big man Dwight Howard, and one of the two seems to already be prepared with his decision. Howard's free agency will generate plenty of buzz, but there are plenty of other free agents who can make an impact across the NBA, and trades that can happen as teams tweak their rosters for a new season of basketball. Here's the latest from across the NBA.
Dwightmare II set to begin
Howard is set to meet with the Houston Rockets Sunday night as soon as he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent at the stroke of midnight on the East Coast. The Rockets are said to be in the lead for Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon is expected to join Houston as they make their presentation.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers will meet with Howard last and Kobe Bryant is expected to be a part of the team's presentation. Phil Jackson sent a tweet to Howard, telling him he "expects" Howard to be on board with L.A. Jackson's presence in the Lakers' recruiting process is an advantage for the Lakers, but Howard wants Jackson to have a long-term position with the Lakers and be more than a "mascot" during his free agency, according to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD.
Los Angeles Clippers already set with Chris Paul?
The Clippers made a huge splash when they finally landed Doc Rivers to replace Vinny Del Negro and their patience in seeing through a deal that was reportedly dead multiple times may have already paid off. Paul's representatives have already informed other teams "not to even bother" with trying to schedule a meeting as the point guard is happy with his future in Los Angeles.
The Clippers were not able to include veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in their pursuit of Rivers, but it appears they've done enough to appease Paul to stay with the franchise through his prime.
New York Knicks make first big trade splash
The Knicks have made the first big splash on the eve of free agency. They will acquire Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, their 2016 first-round draft pick and two future second-round draft picks. The trade seemingly came out of nowhere and now awaits league approval after both sides finalized the deal.
Masai Ujiri's first big move since joining the Raptors is moving the remaining $22.25 million of the first overall draft pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. A clear indication times are changing in Toronto.
Other free agent news from around the league
Andre Iguodala is another high-profile free agent on the market. After he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Denver Nuggets, the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to make a strong push for the versatile swingman. The Pelicans would look to reunite Iguodala with former teammate Jrue Holiday, who they acquired after trading Nerlens Noel to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nuggets are scheduled to meet with Iguodala on Monday in Los Angeles.
Andrew Bynum is another big-name free agent who will be on the move this summer. Reports had indicated that the Portland Trail Blazers were interested in signing the big man, but general manager Neil Olshey has dismissed any interest from the organization. The Cleveland Cavaliers are another suitor that has been linked to Bynum, while the Sixers are unlikely to move forward with the big man after trading for Noel.
O.J. Mayo is one of a handful of shooting guards becoming free agents on July 1. The Utah Jazz are expected to make a strong push to sign Mayo, according to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD. Other teams that have expressed interest include the Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls.
Tony Allen will meet with the Memphis Grizzlies shortly after he becomes a free agent. Allen has been a perimeter defense specialist for the Grizzlies for the past three seasons. The Indiana Pacers, Bucks and New York Knicks are other teams with interest in acquiring his defensive expertise.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to have interest in bringing Kevin Martin back but Milwaukee, New Orleans, Minnesota, Dallas and the Detroit Pistons will also court the free agent shooting guard. Martin shot a career-high 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in his first and only season in Oklahoma City.
The San Antonio Spurs have extended qualifying offers to Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal, making both players restricted free agents. The Spurs have only $41 million in guaranteed salary next season with either player and are in position to offer a maximum contract otherwise.
Carl Landry opted out of the final year of his deal with the Golden State Warriors and may be moving on from the franchise permanently. Landry is "definitely interested" in joining Milwaukee, a team that has tried to acquire the power forward in the past.
The Rockets have been clearing cap space as they prepare to offer Dwight Howard a maximum contract. They have released Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, clearing an extra $5.5 million in cap space. They have been seeking a trade for second-year player Thomas Robinson but have not found a deal yet.
Speaking of Brooks, the Knicks and Brooks reportedly have mutual interest in one another. Brooks is represented by CAA, the same group that represents Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, and New York is in the market for a point guard.
The trade landscape
Rumors pointed to the Boston Celtics trading point guard Rajon Rondo after sending out Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Danny Ainge has since denied the rumor, and the Boston Globe also reports that it is "unlikely" Rondo will be traded. Dallas was reported as the trading partner, but sources indicated the sides have not spoken.