Free-agent buzz: Johnson gets max offer

The Atlanta Hawks offered Joe Johnson a six-year, $119 million contract Thursday morning, and sources close to the All-Star guard expect him to accept the max deal soon.

The Hawks moved quickly at midnight ET to try to secure their franchise star and offered the contract that Johnson’s agent Arn Tellem sought from the organization. Sources say ownership OK’d the max offer and general manager Rick Sund delivered it in Los Angeles.

After receiving the Hawks’ offer, Johnson met with a contingent from the New York Knicks that included coach Mike D’Antoni, Johnson’s former coach with the Phoenix Suns. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh didn’t attend.

The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks were pushing for meetings with Johnson on Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles where they could discuss possible sign-and-trade scenarios. The Chicago Bulls also have interest in Johnson.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:15 a.m. ET, July 1

Pacers show interest in Farmar

The Indiana Pacers are targeting former Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar for a one-year contract. The Portland Trail Blazers and Knicks have shown interest, too.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:15 a.m. ET, July 1

Lee sets up visits

New York Knicks free agent forward David Lee is scheduled to meet with the Bulls, Heat and Timberwolves over the next three days, a league source said. If the Nets don’t sign Chris Bosh, they could target Lee.

– Marc J. Spears, 2:45 a.m. ET, July 1

Mavs to meet Nowitzki on Thursday

Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson will offer Dirk Nowitzki a new contract on Thursday during a meeting at Nowitzki’s home in Dallas.

“I’m going to show up on his doorstep, get on one knee and hope he says, ‘I do,’ “ Nelson said. “He gets in [from Germany] tomorrow afternoon and once he settles in we’ll talk. We’re hopeful and optimistic he will re-sign.”

The Mavericks expect to re-sign Nowitzki, who opted out of his contract this week.

“They’re going through all the hoops, but I’d be shocked if he went anywhere else,” a source close to the situation told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s going to get [a new contract] done before they change the rules and structure of the collective bargaining agreement.

“I’d say the chances of him leaving are slim to none. Dirk is a loyal guy. He and Mark Cuban are as close as they come. It would be shocking if he talked to other teams.”

Meanwhile, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle plans to meet with free agent center Brendan Haywood on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Nelson called Haywood’s agent Andy Miller once the free agency period began, but has yet to extend an offer.

Haywood also received calls from Miami, Cleveland, Toronto, New York and Detroit. The Heat and Cavs are expected to meet with Haywood on Thursday.

“We are starting the process to re-signing Haywood,” Nelson said.

– Marc J. Spears, 2:45 a.m. ET, July 1

Several teams show interest in Felton

Charlotte Bobcats free-agent point guard Raymond Felton received calls from New York, Miami, Indiana, New Jersey, Dallas and Memphis at the beginning of free agency, a source said. Felton is viewed as the best point guard available in free agency. While the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for a point guard, Felton is expected to command more than the midlevel exception and is likely out the Lakers’ range.

– Marc J. Spears, 2:45 a.m. ET, July 1

Wizards call Outlaw, Butler

The Washington Wizards contacted their own free agents (swingman Mike Miller and forward Josh Howard) at the start of free agency and also spoke with the representatives of forwards Travis Outlaw, Rasual Butler, Ryan Gomes and Josh Childress, a restricted free agent with the Atlanta Hawks who is currently playing in Greece.

– Marc J. Spears, 2:45 a.m. ET, July 1

Miller draws interest

Bulls free-agent center Brad Miller is expected to meet with Boston, Houston, Cleveland and Chicago over the next couple of days, a league source said.

– Marc J. Spears, 2:45 a.m. ET, July 1

Stoudemire meets with Heat

Miami Heat president Pat Riley and team officials are planning to meet Amar’e Stoudemire shortly after midnight ET Thursday in Los Angeles, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Stoudemire is competing with Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer to join Dwyane Wade with the Heat.

After opting out of his contract on Wednesday, Stoudemire is set to meet with several teams, sources said. The Suns have offered him a five-year maximum contract with injury protections in the fifth year. Nevertheless, Stoudemire has been slow to commit to Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose financial commitment to compete with the Western Conference elite has been unclear.

Several teams without salary-cap space, including Cleveland, Orlando and Houston are interested in making presentations to Stoudemire. They hope to acquire him through sign-and-trades.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Celtics looking to trade Wallace's contract

Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge is trying to use Rasheed Wallace’s contract in trade talks, a move that would allow the Celtics to keep their midlevel exception, league sources said.

Wallace has yet to file retirement papers, so the $6.32 million owed him next season and $6.79 million in 2011-12 would come off a team’s books after Wallace is traded to them. They could do a deal and not take on his money. Ainge is trying to use the Wallace contract to bring back a power forward or center to replace Wallace and the injured Kendrick Perkins.

The Celtics could then use their midlevel exception for a different player. Several sources believe that Ainge’s target is Orlando’s J.J. Redick, who is a restricted free agent.

Boston has strong interest in Brad Miller in free agency and could try to acquire Dallas center Erick Dampier.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 11:45 ET

Salmons could stay with Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks and John Salmons have made good progress on a new contract, league sources said. Salmons elected to opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Jefferson staying in S.A.?

Richard Jefferson’s decision to opt out of the final $15 million season of his contract might not be a sign he’s willing to leave the San Antonio Spurs.

Sources said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been personally working out Jefferson in San Antonio. The free-agent forward could re-sign with the team at a number that lowers the franchise’s luxury-tax hit while guaranteeing him more money on the back end of a multiyear contract.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Nets, T'wolves pursuing Gay

New Jersey and Minnesota are the favorites for Memphis Grizzlies’ restricted free agent Rudy Gay.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Knicks like Miller

Washington sharpshooter Mike Miller is generating significant interest and league executives expect him to command a multiyear contract with a starting salary greater than the midlevel exception. He’s expected to meet with the Knicks coaching staff in Los Angeles shortly after free agency begins.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Blazers after Matthews

Portland has targeted Utah’s restricted free agent Wesley Matthews, who had a surprising rookie season after going undrafted out of Marquette.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 10:30 ET

Haywood to meet with Mavs, Cavs, Heat

Dallas Mavericks free agent center Brendan Haywood has meetings scheduled in Charlotte, N.C., with the Mavericks, Cavaliers and Heat on Thursday, a league source said. The Denver Nuggets, Knicks, Bulls and Raptors also have interest, the source said.

– Marc J. Spears, June 30, 9:30 ET

Watson would like to play for Lakers

Add Earl Watson to the list of the point guards the Lakers are taking a strong look at, a league source said.

Watson lives in the Los Angeles area with his actress wife, and his first preference would be to sign with the Lakers, the source said. The Lakers are high on Steve Blake, but would prefer to not spend their entire midlevel exception, possibly making Watson an affordable option.

– Marc J. Spears, June 30, 9:30 ET

Johnson leaning toward staying with Hawks

The longer the weeks before free agency dragged out, sources say it’s become clearer to guard Joe Johnson(notes) that he truly wants to stay with the Atlanta Hawks.

Will the Hawks give Johnson a $119 million max contract over six years, or come close to it? Sources say the Hawks could now come close to making a max offer, and the sixth guaranteed season is likely to be a difference-maker in keeping Johnson. He’ll meet with the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls on Thursday, but sources insist those major markets don’t hold much of an appeal to him.

As Yahoo! Sports reported on Monday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is determined to explore a possible sign-and-trade to acquire Johnson. The Mavericks would be an appealing destination to Johnson, who is a native of Arkansas. Johnson also would face far less pressure fitting into a talent-laden Mavericks team than he would with New York or Chicago.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 5:45 ET

Raptors look at sign-and-trade options

The Toronto Raptors have talked to six to eight teams willing to do sign-and-trades for Chris Bosh(notes), but front office sources say general manager Bryan Colangelo has ruled out bringing back the expensive contract of Bulls forward Luol Deng(notes).

Deng has four years and nearly $50 million left on his contract, and the Bulls have been dangling him as part of sign-and-trade possibilities involving Bosh, LeBron James(notes) and Joe Johnson.

Colangelo is working on possible deals, but Bosh ultimately has to want to go to the teams. Besides Chicago, Miami, New York and New Jersey, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are determined suitors for Bosh.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 5:45 ET

Lakers eye Blake

The Los Angeles Lakers are smitten with signing free-agent point guard Steve Blake(notes), but sources believe Blake would have to take less money than the Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks could be willing to offer.

Blake finished the season with the Clippers, and sources say he’s intrigued with the idea of joining the defending champion Lakers. Still, Blake is a veteran guard whom several teams value, and he could walk away with a multiyear deal totaling around $20 million-$25 million.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 5:45 ET

Celtics looking for center

Besides Brad Miller(notes), Boston has interest in acquiring Dallas center Erick Damper, especially with Kendrick Perkins(notes) sidelined six to seven months. Dampier’s $13 million salary for next season is not guaranteed, meaning the Mavericks can waive him without cost and allow him to become a free agent.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 5:45 ET