It’s getting crazy, people. July 1 is a few short days away and teams are jockeying for poll position in the upcoming free agent bonanza. Here’s a roundup of news and rumors about the free agents that may or may not be a part of the Bulls’ near future.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard: “[The Knicks’ GM Donnie ] Walsh and [coach Mike] D’Antoni also hope to meet with Amare Stoudemire while in Los Angeles. [Joe] Johnson and Stoudemire emerged as star players while playing for D’Antoni in Phoenix, which is a large part of the reason both players are considering New York so strongly. Johnson averaged double figures (16.7 ppg) for the first time in his career while playing for D’Antoni in the 2003-04 season. That same year, Stoudemire went from being a 13-point scorer to a 20-point scorer in D’Antoni’s wide-open system. While the Knicks’ main target is James, the duo of Johnson and Stoudemire would be a nice consolation prize if James goes elsewhere.”
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “The Boston Celtics have targeted center Brad Miller to sign in free agency, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Miller and guard Ray Allen are expected to be the Celtics’ two top priorities in free agency following the retirement of Rasheed Wallace and a knee injury to Kendrick Perkins. … Several contenders are expected to pursue Miller, but sources say the chance to play for the defending Eastern Conference champions has significant appeal to him.”
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Bosh had some positive things to say about joining the Miami Heat.
Said Bosh: “Miami is in top contention. With the money they have, the cap space they have, the rights on Dwyane [Wade], him possibly staying. And just having a good organization; they are known as a first-class organization. Dwyane is going to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game when it’s said and done.”
But…he won’t be playing center if the Heat keep Michael Beasley and/or re-sign Udonis Haslem
Added Bosh: “The thing I said when I came into free agency is I’m going to be a forward. I’m going to play my natural position.”
Bosh also dismissed the rumor that he would sign with the Bulls if LeBron does. And he’s not the only one to dismiss that rumor.
According to Art Garcia of NBA.com: “Completely untrue,” Bosh’s agent Henry Thomas told NBA.com via email. “He hasn’t decided anything.”
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: “Amid indications Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh will seek to join another top free agent on a team with cap space, a person with knowledge of the Rockets’ thinking said Houston is confident it will be in the running and is considering seeking another enticement. The individual familiar with the Rockets’ thinking said Houston could attempt to give Bosh a chance to sign with an All-Star guard by making a run at Atlanta Hawks free agent Joe Johnson.”
According to Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald: “Before jetting away Sunday night for a vacation to set his professional agenda, Heat guard Dwyane Wade cleared the air on his free agency itinerary. Wade denied reports that he has agreed to visit the New York Knicks on a recruiting tour, but would not rule out meeting with other teams to gauge their interest in his services.”
Said Wade: “I haven’t set anything in stone. It’s funny when you hear these things come out, especially when they come out about you. You only heard this stuff after LeBron said he wasn’t going to some places. But none of us know what’s going to happen. Not LeBron. Not me. Not Chris. Not any of us, right now. … I love Miami and everyone knows that. We worked hard to put ourselves in this position. But as a free agent, you explore everything and see what happens.”
According to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “A person familiar with the Hawks’ plans said they still hope to re-sign Johnson and are prepared to spend the money necessary to do so. The person said the Hawks fear Johnson might decide to leave for reasons other than money, including the criticism he received from fans and media after a poor showing in the playoffs last month. The person asked not be identified because the team has stipulated it would not publicly discuss the Johnson negotiations.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard: “When the clock strikes midnight ET in New York on July 1, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni will be in Los Angeles meeting with Johnson, who will hold all of his meetings with clubs on the West Coast. The Knicks’ brass will fly to northeast Ohio to woo James at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday. While the Hawks hope to keep Johnson in Atlanta, several sources said the Knicks have emerged as his first choice. If they must lose him, the Hawks’ preference is to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Knicks.”
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports: “Don’t be surprised if his strong connection to Clippers GM Neil Olshey explains why Johnson is conveniently ensconced in L.A. for the purposes of signing a max deal with the Clips. As a trainer for Tellem when Johnson was entering the draft, Olshey worked with Johnson and has maintained a strong relationship with him. The Clippers situation is ideal because Johnson wouldn’t have to shoulder the burden as the franchise cornerstone, a title and responsibility that will fall on Blake Griffin. The Clippers, with enough cap space for one max player, will make their run at LeBron, but the answer is expected to be a swift and polite, ‘No, thanks.’ At which point you can expected them to move on to Johnson as their Plan B.”
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will pursue a sign-and-trade to lure Atlanta Hawks free agent Joe Johnson, league sources told Yahoo! Sports … Johnson, is more likely to embrace a sign-and-trade to the contending Mavs than sign a free-agent contract with New York or Chicago, sources said.”
According to Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times: “The LeBron James sweepstakes will kick off in Ohio on his home turf Thursday as five teams — the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat, the Knicks, the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers — travel there in an attempt to woo James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, an executive of one of the teams in the hunt said Saturday. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow NBA executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.”
According to John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “A source with knowledge of the situation said James is expected to be joined in the Ohio meetings by his agent, Leon Rose; his business manager, Maverick Carter; and confidant William Wesley, who works with Rose at super agency CAA Sports. The meetings are expected to be all about basketball because James doesn’t want to get caught up in different cities trying to outdo each other with glitzy presentations. That certainly works in the Bulls’ favor. Of all the teams, they have the most talent in place, plus significant salary-cap room.”