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Tag:2010 FA Buzz
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz

The Nuggets bolstered their front court Wednesday by agreeing to terms with Al Harrington and Shelden Williams, while also bringing back one of their own free agents, guard Anthony Carter, people with knowledge of the deals confirmed to CBSSports.com.

In giving the full mid-level exception to Harrington -- five years, $34 million -- the Nuggets are now out of the running to match the Raptors' four-year. $18.8 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Linas Kleiza.

Harrington, 29, is a good teammate and proven scorer whose presence will help the Nuggets survive the absence of injured big men Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen at the start of the 2010-11 season. But Harrington's erratic, often puzzling offensive play could present a problem for a Denver team that already has its share of free spirits.

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Luke Ridnour's four-year, $16 million deal with the Timberwolves only bolsters belief around the league that Minnesota will trade Ramon Sessions, one of the many point guard GM David Kahn has assembled. Charlotte, having lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks, is the most sensible destination. A person with knowledge of the Bobcats' dealings said the club has yet to engage in such talks with the T-Wolves.

Of far more importance regarding the Ridnour signing is what it says about Ricky Rubio's future in Minnesota, when Kahn already has Ridnour, Jonny Flynn and Sessions (for the time being) to play the same position. The Knicks have coveted Rubio since draft night in 2009, but Kahn continues to steadfastly refuse to entertain trade offers for the Spanish sensation, who will play at least one more season in Italy -- at which time Kahn will persuade him to play for the Timberwolves or acquire three more point guards.

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The Hawks want Shaquille O'Neal to eat up some minutes in under the basket and sell some tickets. The Cavs like Marvin Williams, who was drafted under Cleveland GM Chris Grant's watch when Grant was a front-office employee with the Hawks. A sign-and-trade with O'Neal getting the veteran's minimum or close to it -- about the best he's going to do at 38 -- makes perfect sense . But at this point. a person who would be involved in such discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday it has never been discussed. Give it time.












Posted on: July 8, 2010 4:47 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 11:05 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

Teams shut out of the LeBron James chase already are shifting to their Plan Bs.

The Knicks finalized plans Thursday night to send David Lee to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade that sends Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike to the Knicks, a person with knowledge of the deal told CBSSports.com. The deal was arranged prior to LeBron James' announcement and was contingent on James choosing a team other than the Knicks. Of course, he did. Lee gets a six-year, $80 million deal.

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While Miami has a five-year, approximately $28 million offer on the table for free-agent small forward Mike Miller, the Knicks are prepared to swoop in and foil Pat Riley's plan to secure a shooter for James and Dwyane Wade. According to an executive familiar with the Knicks' plan, New York is prepared to outbid Miami for Miller if James says no to them. The Knicks can offer about $12 million more, and that's too much money for Miller, 29, to leave on the table. There also will be competition for Chicago, sources say, as the Knicks, Bulls and Heat are expected to get into a bidding war for complementary players. The Heat will get outbid money-wise because their cap space will be occupied by LeBron, Wade and Bosh, so Riley's sales pitch will be: Come win championships and play for the minimum.

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Mavs coach Rick Carlisle's recruiting efforts with center Brendan Haywood paid off, as Haywood agreed to a six-year, $55 million deal to stay in Dallas. The sixth year is non-guaranteed, according to sources. ... Jermaine O'Neal has accepted a two-year deal from Boston at the mid-level exception of $5.765 million per year to bolster the Celtics' frontcourt with center Kendrick Perkins out six months with a knee injury suffered in the NBA Finals. ... The Cavs made a push Thursday to acquire point guard Jonny Flynn from Minnesota, a move to appease James, whose marketing company, LRMR, also represents Flynn. Timberwolves GM David Kahn, however, rebuffed Cleveland's overtures. ... Speaking of marketing, Yahoo! Sports reported that New Orleans All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who joined James in Akron this week for part of his Nike camp, has left agent Aaron Goodwin and will be represented by LRMR -- which, for now, is based in Cleveland, but after Thursday night, who knows?








Category: NBA
Tags: 2010 FA Buzz
 
Posted on: July 8, 2010 12:17 am
Edited on: July 8, 2010 12:50 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


In anticipation of LeBron James' free-agent decision, stock in Madison Square Garden Inc. jumped 6.4 percent to $21.57 per share on five times the normal trading volume Wednesday. If only James could capture some of that value as part of signing with the Knicks.

Well, despite a Forbes Magazine report last month that James could pull off such a coup, he can't. Please return to your regularly scheduled free-agent absurdity.

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The Warriors and Knicks are in advanced talks about a sign-and-trade arrangement that would send free-agent power forward David Lee to the Bay Area for Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf, two people involved in the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com. The trade is being set up as a contingency plan for the Knicks if James chooses to sign with another team Thursday. If James chooses to sign with the Knicks, they will have to renounced his rights -- and thus the rights to sign and trade him under the Larry Bird exception -- in order to clear the necessary salary cap space. Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, also is believed to have maintained contact with the Nets, who are in danger of getting shut out in the free-agent chase. But the Golden State scenario for Lee has legs, to an extent.

"It's got legs," one of the people involved in the talks said. "But it needs arms, a torso and a head."

The Knicks, who like other teams in the hunt for James have no clue what he's going to announce Thursday, are exploring other scenarios in which they re-sign Lee -- although Lee is believed to be ready to move on. If James says no to the Knicks, and team president Donnie Walsh orchestrates the Lee trade, then Randolph and Turiaf will go down in ignominy as the players the Knicks got instead of LeBron. If nothing else, that would take some pressure off Amar'e Stoudemire, who will be introduced Thursday in a news conference at MSG.

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After Ray Allen agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal to return to the Celtics Wednesday, with a player's option on the second year, Boston continued to explore acquiring a big man to fortify the frontcourt while center Kendrick Perkins is out with a knee injury suffered in the NBA Finals. A person familiar with the Celtics' plans said they were in discussions with free agent Jermaine O'Neal, who also was talking with the Nuggets and Mavericks.











Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 3:46 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

Chris Bosh wants to pair with LeBron James, but is more likely to sign off on a scenario that lures James out of Cleveland to the Nets, Bulls or even Heat, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com Tuesday.

The problem is that  the Cavs have the most attractive assets to entice the Raptors into such an arrangement, being able to offer Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon and Delonte West, who only has $500,000 of his $4.5 million contract guaranteed for next season. The sign-and-trade route would allow Toronto to come to grips with Bosh's seemingly inevitable departure while bringing back assets -- including possibly future draft picks -- in the deal.

But Bosh, who shares an agent with fellow free agent Dwyane Wade, would have to sign off on such an arrangement and remains decidedly unenthusiastic about joining James in Cleveland, the person familiar with the talks said.

"If LeBron went to New Jersey, he'd consider that," the person said of Bosh. "It's too late for New York. He wants to play with LeBron if LeBron leaves, but not necessarily in Cleveland."

The Bulls, who've targeted all three of the top free agents, have not spoken with Toronto officials about a sign-and-trade for Bosh, a person with knowledge of their strategy said. With $30.9 million in cap space after Rob Kurz and Chris Richard were waived, the Bulls are still one transaction away from fitting two straight max signings into their space. One way around that would be to sign-and-trade for one free agent and sign the other one, but it is difficult to imagine Bosh taking less money that Wade or LeBron -- or vice versa.

The Heat, meanwhile, essentially have to trade Michael Beasley to have room for two max free agents plus Wade -- and sources told CBSSports.com Tuesday Miami officials were continuing to work on pulling off such a coup. Wade's thoughts on the matter remain a mystery after he canceled a scheduled news conference with Alonzo Mourning in South Florida Tuesday morning.

UPDATED 2:18 p.m. ET: The Raptors have informed Bosh and his agent, Henry Thomas, that if Bosh wanted to go to Cleveland, the organization would explore how to help him get there. But while Cleveland's basketball assets are more attractive to the Raptors, the city itself doesn't do it for Bosh. If Bosh viewed Cleveland as an acceptable destination, the sign-and-trade talks would've progressed rapidly. As things stood Tuesday afternoon, according to a source involved in the discussions, they're at a stand-still.

UPDATED 3:46 p.m. ET: The Rockets, in Bosh's home state of Texas, also have some enticing assets to offer Toronto -- free-agent Luis Scola, Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza. Bosh has indicated in the past that the two Texas teams would be on his list of preferred destinations, but free-agent fever seems to have him focused on New Jersey, Miami and Chicago for now. As for the Heat, who'd want to dump Beasley, don't underestimate the value of a giant trade exception that they could convey to Toronto in a Bosh deal. Sources indicate that the February trade deadline will create a furious market for teams looking to get out from under contracts with the combination of playoff hopes being dashed and the looming labor crisis and/or new collective bargaining agreement, in which owners will be looking to take a punitive stance on player salaries.

"The market," another person involved in the free-agent chase said, "has come to a screeching halt."

While Bosh and Thomas -- who also represents Wade -- keep everyone waiting, sign-and-trade talks with more acceptable destinations have not gained any momentum, an executive involved in the process said.






Posted on: July 5, 2010 3:28 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 7:04 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

Ray Allen will give the Celtics “every chance of re-signing him,” but has been in contact with the top-tier free agents and wants to wait until they choose a team before making a decision, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Monday.

Allen’s conversations with Celtics brass have been “productive and cordial,” the person said. But Allen, like other free agents, can’t have a complete picture of his value or the best situation for him until the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decide where to sign. It is not clear whether Allen, 34, has spoken with those players, but a person close to one high-profile free agent said Allen has been in contact via text message as the Big Three try to assemble a supporting cast for next season and beyond.

“I don’t think Player X has asked him, ‘If I sign here, will you come with me?’” the person said. “It hasn’t been in any formal way, but they’ve been in contact.”

Allen also has received “general inquiries” from several teams, including those with significant cap space, including the Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets, one of the sources said. The Celtics have been informed that Allen would prefer not to make a decision until the so-called cap-room teams find out which players they’ll be able to attract.

With Doc Rivers back for one more season and Paul Pierce returning on a four-year, $61 million deal, Allen will feel tremendous pull from within the Celtics’ organization to re-up for one more championship run. But Allen is seeking a three-year deal, and could be presented with some intriguing options once James and Wade decide where to play. According to people familiar with their strategies, both players have prioritized recruiting a low-post scorer and 3-point shooter as they decide whether to stay with their existing teams or venture elsewhere.

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Now that the Knicks have agreed to terms with free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, the process of surrounding him with talent capable of winning a championship begins.

"The Knicks are back," Stoudemire told the assembled media at Madison Square Garden Monday after agreeing in principle to a five-year, $99.8 million deal.

Stoudemire also said that he'd be reaching out to LeBron James with a recruiting pitch. If that doesn't work, what are the Knicks' other options? Sources confirmed Monday that the primary target would be Carmelo Anthony, who'd be an unrestricted free agent next summer -- or available at the February trade deadline -- if he doesn't accept the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million extension offer. CBSSports.com first reported Saturday that there's "zero chance" Denver officials will agree to trade Anthony this summer.

In the meantime, the Knicks will continue searching for a pick-and-roll partner for Stoudemire to operate with -- and if it isn't James, free-agent point guard Raymond Felton will be a primary target. The Knicks have had discussions about a sign-and-trade for Felton that would involve their own free-agent power forward, David Lee, a person with knowledge of the talks said Monday. But the Bobcats are lukewarm on such a proposal for the same reason they've had zero conversations with Felton's agent, Tony Dutt, about re-signing him -- the luxury-tax implications. But don't rule out such a scenario yet; a person with close ties to Felton said Monday that the Bobcats point guard is intrigued by the possibility of pairing with Stoudemire in coach Mike D'Antoni's triple-threat, pick-and-roll offense.

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Bobcats coach Larry Brown was not with the organization's summer-league team Monday when play opened in Orlando. But don't draw any conspiratorial conclusions. A person close to Brown told CBSSports.com that the coach is on a previously planned family vacation and that the team is proceeding under the assumption that Brown will return to coach the team next season.

"We're looking at it as status quo," the person said.
Posted on: July 3, 2010 10:32 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 12:42 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz

Now that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have wrapped up two days of meetings aimed at ending world hunger and nuclear proliferation, the waiting game begins. So many options, so little time.

Wade and Bosh Chicago. James and Wade in Chicago. All three in Miami. Two of them in New Jersey or New York – no, no teams have been told they’re eliminated yet, sources said Saturday. Then there’s the safe, but reasonable prospect of James and Wade re-signing with their current teams, with Bosh joining one of them -- most likely Wade, I’m told, due to their strong friendship and co-representation.

While Wade, Bosh and James weigh their options, it’s clear that one piece of the puzzle that has been floated as a possibility this summer can absolutely be ruled out. That would be one of the teams in the LeBron-Wade hunt acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets in a trade, either as a complementary piece to one of those superstars or as a substitute.

“In absolute terms, there aren’t any possibilities of a summer trade [involving Anthony],” a person with direct knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Saturday. “That is laughable, laughable, laughable.”

Say again?

“I mean, it’s laughable,” the person said. “Blasphemy. I don’t know what stronger term to come up with.”

How about a percentage chance?

“Zero chance,” the person said.

Anthony’s reaction to the Nuggets’ three-year, $65 million extension offer has been lukewarm, with the All-Star apparently wanting to see how the free-agent movement shakes out in the coming days. Anthony faces a decision similar to the one before him four years ago, when he opted for another year of guaranteed money at a time when James, Wade and Bosh chose a three-year deal that gave them – and us – the free-agent recruiting frenzy that we’re now witnessing.

During the NBA Finals, I asked Melo what he thought of the free-agent summer of 2010 and whether he’d want to be a part of such a circus next summer.

“I know it’s overwhelming for those guys,” Anthony said. “I’ve talked to Bron and I’ve talked to D-Wade more than I do with Bosh. I can hear it, that it’s overwhelming a little bit. I know I would be overwhelmed. But you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family and hopefully win championships.”

The Nuggets have until June 30, 2011 to get Melo to agree to the extension or he will become an unrestricted free agent at midnight that night. But two factors will exist 12 months from now that did not exist for free agents this time around. At best, there will be a new collective bargaining agreement in place that sources on both sides of the debate believe will be much less lucrative for the players. At worst, there will be a lockout. In view of both, Anthony might be best served by getting his money now.

But there’s another side of the same coin that Anthony should – and I believe, will – consider. What happens to the teams with enormous amounts of cap space that are not successful in luring James or Wade? Unless they overspend on lesser free agents, they will be able to roll the money over to next summer and offer Anthony all the things James and Wade turned down. Whether it’s New York, Miami or Chicago, Anthony would be positioned to arrive next summer as a conquering hero and formidable rival to James and Wade, wherever they wind up.

Anthony has always felt shunned in the discussion of the great players in the league, and this would be his chance to battle them for championships on turf that they decided wasn’t good enough for them. It’s a delicious possibility, if you ask me, and one that would solidify Anthony’s position as an elite talent. He’d get to where the black hat, play the villain, and play with the same kind of chip on his shoulder that fans in any of those cities would have after getting jilted by LeBron and D-Wade.

But evidently, this is a possibility we’ll have to wait 12 months to realize. It might be worth the wait, especially for teams that strike out on LeBron and Wade in the next few days.
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Before looking ahead to next summer, teams in the LeBron-Wade hunt are lining up contingency plans as we speak.

The Bulls, who’ve met with Utah free agent Carlos Boozer, also squeezed in a productive meeting Friday with free-agent power forward David Lee, who met with the Timberwolves Saturday. Although the T-Wolves ate up a sizeable chunk of their $13 million cap space by signing Darko Milicic and 2008 second-round pick Nikola Pekovic, GM David Kahn continues to pursue avenues for enough space to accommodate Lee. The most obvious solution would be trading Al Jefferson, whom Kahn has been pushing for weeks.

Though Lee wanted to stay with the Knicks, New York’s pursuit of Bosh and its invitation to Amar’e Stoudemire to meet Monday have potentially soured the relationship, sources said. Depending on the order in which they do their transactions – and how many max free agents they sign – the Knicks still have the option of working out a sign-and-trade arrangement for Lee. (If they have to renounce his rights, that won’t work.) But that possibility can’t be broached until their pursuit of other free agents – and Lee’s decision on another team – are resolved.

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Stoudemire arrived in New York Saturday, attended a Broadway show and planned to attend the Yankees-Blue Jays game Sunday at Yankee Stadium. He’s also had time to reach out to fellow All-Stars to gage their interest in coming to the Knicks – if Stoudemire and New York consummate the framework they’ve agreed to on a five-year, nearly $100 million deal. Sources confirmed that one such player the Knicks have inquired about is Spurs point guard Tony Parker. But as of the most recent inquiry, Spurs officials were still conveying that they weren’t interested in trading him.

Stoudemire is scheduled to sit down with the Knicks Monday, and by then there is expected to be more clarity over where the Big Three free agents are going. While the Knicks and Stoudemire have a broad agreement on contract terms, two people involved in the process cautioned that significant details remain to be discussed. Also, other free-agent developments could alter opinions of both sides as to whether New York is the best fit for Stoudemire.

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Free-agent small forward Mike Miller, who shares the same agent as Joe Johnson, won’t be going to the Lakers unless it’s a sign-and-trade arrangement. L.A. used most of its mid-level exception to sign point guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million contract. Miller, too, is waiting to see where James and Wade wind up, as both players have expressed interest in him coming with them. The Knicks have aggressively pursued Miller as a complementary lure for top free agents.



Category: NBA
Tags: 2010 FA Buzz
 
Posted on: July 2, 2010 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:30 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


Amar'e Stoudemire will arrive in New York Saturday with "broad agreement" on the Knicks' five-year, nearly $100 million proposal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, broke off talks with the Suns Friday, almost certainly ending his eight-year tenure there. Stoudemire rejected a five-year offer from Phoenix that wasn't fully guaranteed in the final season with a clause that included playing-time incentives, according to the Arizona Republic .

After the Stoudemire talks broke down, the Suns agreed to terms with power forward Hakim Warrick on a four-year, $18 million deal. To consummate that contract on July 8, the Suns will have to renounce their rights to Stoudemire, meaning he couldn't be signed and traded at that point.

While a deal with the Knicks is preferable to the incentive-laden contract Phoenix was offering, there are concerns on both sides that will have to be addressed this weekend. Stoudemire, like other second-tier free agents, is worried about being the only superstar to come to New York, where fans have been speculating for two years that LeBron James would wind up in a Knicks jersey. Stoudemire was said to have spent Friday trying to recruit a fellow All-Star to join him, with the most likely targets being the Hawks' Joe Johnson and the Spurs' Tony Parker.

As for the Knicks, Stoudemire's knees and eye will be subject to thorough exams by the team's medical staff. Reports have indicated that Stoudemire's contract will not be insurable due to his injury history.

Warrick, who averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 76 games last season with the Bulls and Bucks, was among the surprise deals of free agency thus far. "Mindboggling," one rival executive called it. "He played for $3 million last season and the Bucks couldn't wait to get rid of him."

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Point guard Steve Blake agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with the Lakers, insurance in case free agent Derek Fisher leaves, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The Blake signing probably takes the Lakers out of th running for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but not entirely, the source said.  When deals become official July 8, the Lakers would have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Blake and still give their mid-level exception to Miller. That scenario, however, appears unlikely. Miller also has attracted significant interest from the Knicks and several other teams.
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The Blazers, Knicks, Bulls and Clippers have expressed interest in Spurs free-agent guard Roger Mason, while the Jazz, Nuggets, Bobcats, Knicks and Heat are pursuing Suns free-agent forward Louis Amundson, sources say.
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John Salmons' five-year, $40 million agreement to return to the Bucks was finalized Friday, pending the official paperwork after the moratorium on player movement is lifted on July 8, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.











Posted on: July 1, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 1:25 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


After meeting for more than two hours with LeBron James in Cleveland Thursday, with a van-full of presentation gear to show for it, the Knicks' contingent headed to Chicago for meetings with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But not before trying to make a last-minute pitch to keep Joe Johnson from signing with the Hawks, a person familiar with the strategy said.

At the precise moment when coach Mike D'Antoni, president Donnie Walsh, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and others emerged from a Cleveland office tower Thursday, Johnson was hunkered down in a meeting with his agent, Arn Tellem, and Hawks officials in Los Angeles. It was the second sit-down for Johnson and the team he's played with for five seasons, and it wasn't clear what more needed to be discussed regarding Atlanta's six-year, $120 million offer -- which neither the Knicks nor any other suitor can match under NBA salary rules.

But the Knicks, trying to use Johnson as an enticement to lure James to New York, jumped back into the fray with a call to Tellem after meeting with LeBron. The Knicks are "swinging away," the source said, and "need some luck."

While it seems unlikely that Johnson would turn down the Hawks' offer, Johnson was still in play as of late Thursday afternoon, when Tellem told CBSSports.com there was not yet an agreement with Atlanta. A person familiar with the discussions said there would be "no decision" Thursday from Johnson on the Hawks' offer, which is 100 percent guaranteed, according to a source.

The Knicks will meet in Chicago Friday with the other two top free agents, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

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Another Tellem client in demand is small forward Mike Miller, a 10-year veteran who shot 50 percent from the field for Washington last season. The Knicks met with him in Los Angeles Wednesday night along with Johnson, and the Lakers opened discussions with him Thursday. Discussions with the Lakers did not advance to the offer stage.

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Discussions between the Suns and Amar'e Stoudemire remain unresolved, with the issue being Suns chairman Robert Sarver's unwillingness to increase his offer from four years to five years. Stoudemire doesn't yet have an offer from the Knicks, but plans to meet with New York officials Saturday or Monday. Meanwhile, Channing Frye will be staying in Phoenix, where he intended to stay all along. The unrestricted free agent agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal, according to Yahoo! Sports.
 
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With the signing of 2008 second-round pick Nikola Pekovic to a four-year, $13 million deal and Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million deal, the Timberwolves are proceeding under the assumption that Al Jefferson will be traded, a person with knowledge of the team's strategy said. But with no takers yet, it is possible that the situation could drag into August, when better offers for the injury-prone power forward might be extracted.

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Anticipating the loss of Chris Bosh in free agency, the Raptors agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent Amir Johnson on a five-year, $34 million deal, a person familiar with the situation said. Johnson, a 6-9 forward who was the 56th pick by the Pistons in the 2005 draft, averaged 12.7 points and 9.8 rebounds coming off the bench last season for Toronto.

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Rudy Gay has agreed to a five-year, $82 million deal with Memphis, a move that takes the restricted free agent off the market, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Gay had been contacted by Minnesota and was receiving significant interest from the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and Clippers -- teams flush with cap space who viewed Gay as a consolation prize if they missed out on LeBron James. Those teams could have forced Memphis' hand with a front-loaded offer sheet the Grizzlies would've had trouble matching due to luxury-tax implications. But there's no need for that after Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace's pre-emptive strike to keep him.

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Point guard Raymond Felton has been contacted by seven teams, including the three with the most cap money who also happen to be the three he's interested in: the Knicks, Heat and Nets, CBSSports.com has learned.

Felton expects to have a decision in 2-3 days, with the understanding that the teams pursuing him have to first resolve their pursuit of top-tier free agents like James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Felton, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 assists for the Bobcats last season, probably won't return to Charlotte because re-signing him would push the Bobcats over the luxury tax.

The Knicks' pursuit of Felton is a strong indication of a backup plan the team is ready to carry out if it doesn't land James. Sources say team president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni would then try to get a quick commitment from Felton and use a legit point guard as an enticement to one of the other free agents -- Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. Then, the Knicks could try to add one more piece -- such as small forward Mike Miller -- before going over the cap to retain Lee, assuming they didn't have to renounce his rights to do it. If they did, the Knicks would probably have to forego one of the signings in order to fit Lee into their $34.1 million of salary-cap space.

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Minnesota's surprising four-year, $20 million commitment to Darko Milicic took them out of the Gay sweepstakes, but that didn't matter after the Grizzlies retained him with a five-year, $82 million deal Thursday. The signing of Milicic also likely removed the T-Wolves from the running for Lee, who had scheduled a visit with the Timberwolves over the weekend.

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The Magic are quietly exploring sign-and-trade scenarios that would rid the team of Vince Carter and his $17.3 million contract for next season, sources say. Short of that, team officials have indicated that they're willing to further explore more playing time for power forward Brandon Bass, who languished on the bench much of last season. The move would involve moving Rashard Lewis back to his natural small-forward. In addition to elite point guard Chris Paul, who tops his offseason wish list, Dwight Howard has told management he wants the team to pursue a post-up scorer at the power forward position. If GM Otis Smith is unable to acquire Howard's choice for that role, Carlos Boozer, the Magic could counter by utilizing Bass more than they did last season.

There are "no legs" to reports that Bass could be sent to Utah in a sign-and-trade for Boozer, a person with knowledge of Orlando's strategy said. But given Howard's preference for Boozer, it's too early to completely dismiss the scenario.

 








 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com