Free-agent buzz: Rockets look at trade options

In their quest to land either of the top two free-agent power forwards – Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire – the Houston Rockets have been offering Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier and free agent Luis Scola in potential sign-and-trade packages, league sources said.

Scola obviously would have to agree to a sign-and-trade because he's a free agent. If the Rockets can't get either Bosh or Stoudemire, they will push forward in negotiations to re-sign Scola.

– Marc J. Spears, 12:27 a.m. ET, July 2

Boozer talking to suitors

Utah Jazz free-agent forward Carlos Boozer met with the Jazz, Heat and Bulls on Thursday. One league source said Boozer was pleased with how all the meetings went.

The Jazz haven't abandoned trying to bring back Boozer, even though some of Boozer's suitors with salary-cap space would appear to be more likely destinations.

– Marc J. Spears, 12:27 a.m. ET, July 2

Lee lines up visits

New York Knicks free-agent forward David Lee is expected to meet with the Bulls, Heat and Nets on Friday in Chicago.

– Marc J. Spears, 12:27 a.m. ET, July 2

Suns re-signing Frye

The Phoenix Suns have reached agreement with free-agent forward Channing Frye(notes) on a five-year, $30 million contract, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

After opting out of the two-year contract he signed last summer with the Suns, Frye became a coveted commodity on the market. After two leans seasons in Portland, Frye had a terrific years for the Suns, averaging 11.8 points and shooting 44 percent from 3-point range.

Frye, 27, earned interest from multiple teams – including the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. Frye was always hopeful of returning to the Suns after the resurgence he had with point guard Steve Nash(notes) and coach Alvin Gentry.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 10:44 p.m. ET, July 1

Raptors to re-sign Johnson

Amir Johnson(notes) has reached agreement on a five-year, $34 million contract to return to the Toronto Raptors, his agent Kevin Bradbury told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.

Johnson, 23, averaged 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while playing all 82 games for the Raptors last season. Bradbury said Johnson considered about four teams before agreeing quickly to return to Toronto on the first day of free agency.

“Amir didn’t want to play the free agency game,” Bradbury said. “He wanted to go back to Toronto. He’s young and he has security and a lot of basketball left in him.”

Johnson can't sign the contract until July 8 when the signing moratorium ends.

– Marc J. Spears, 8:45 p.m. ET, July 1

Childress' stock climbing

It won’t be long until Josh Childress has turned into one of the hottest free agents on the market.

After leaving the Atlanta Hawks to play two seasons in Greece, Childress is a restricted free agent who no longer has to worry about his team matching an offer sheet. The Hawks are close to investing $119 million over six seasons with Johnson, and the value of small forwards on the market is rising with re-signings like Rudy Gay in Memphis.

As Atlanta closes its check book and elite small forwards don’t change in free agency, there’s a perfect storm starting to develop for Childress. A versatile 6-foot-8 forward, Childress could find himself courted by the Knicks, Nets and Clippers and multiple more teams. He could command as much as $7 million-$8 million annually in a contract.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 5:29 p.m. ET, July 1

Jefferson eyes Knicks, Nets

Richard Jefferson doesn't have a deal with the San Antonio Spurs and would prefer to return to the New York area to play for the Knicks or Nets, league sources told Y! Sports.

Jefferson is seeking a multiyear contract that averages in the range of $8 million-$10 million, sources said. He opted out of the $15 million final season of his contract with the Spurs on Tuesday.

Jefferson has built a good relationship with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, but doesn't think the team's system best fits his skills.

The Spurs could still try to sign Jefferson to a contract that lowers their luxury-tax hit, depending on what other options they find in free agency.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 4:20 p.m. ET, July 1

Gay agrees to $82 million deal with Grizzlies

Rudy Gay has agreed to a five-year, $81.6 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, his representatives at Octagon confirmed to Y! Sports.

The fifth and final year of the contract will be at Gay’s option.

“We have a verbal agreement on a deal,” said Gay’s agent, Jeff Austin.

The Grizzlies had the right to match any offer made to Gay because he’s a restricted free agent. But by reaching agreement quickly, they prevented another suitor – like the New Jersey Nets – from front-loading a contract offer with a signing bonus that could have necessitated a first-year payment of $20 million.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal first reported the agreement.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 2:57 p.m. ET, July 1

Nets intimidating Knicks

As the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets battled to sign LeBron James(notes) in formal sit-downs with the free-agent star, a nasty feud unfolded over a bold Nets marketing campaign that targeted the shadows of Madison Square Garden.

Knicks owner Jim Dolan was so angry over a bigger-than-life 227-foot billboard of Nets owners Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden that sources say Dolan called Jay-Z and declared the mural was “intimidating to his employees.”

The billboard shows Prokhorov and Jay-Z standing next to each other with the words “The Blueprint for Greatness” across the image.

The Nets are moving to Newark, N.J., for the 2010-11 season and have targeted 2013 to move into a new Brooklyn arena. Prokhorov has declared one of his missions as owner will be to turn Knicks fans into Nets fans. The Russian billionaire has infused a swagger in the Nets organization and it’s clear the franchise is willing to take on the neighboring Knicks on every front possible.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:40 a.m. ET, July 1

Morrow draws several suitors

Golden State Warriors restricted free agent Anthony Morrow(notes) has attracted a slew of interest in the first hours of free agency, including from the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:40 a.m. ET, July 1

Splitter’s price climbs

There were undoubtedly some eyes rolling into the backs of heads in the Spurs’ front office with the Minnesota Timberwolves close to an agreement with European center Nikola Pekovic(notes) on a three-year, $13 million contract. The Spurs are negotiating to bring over 2008 first-round pick Tiago Splitter(notes) this summer, and Pekovic’s deal promises to elevate Splitter’s leverage.

A 7-foot center from Brazil, Splitter is considered a far superior prospect to Pekovic. The Spurs’ ability to pay Splitter from its midlevel exception and still have some of that money to use on another free agent has been somewhat compromised.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:40 a.m. ET, July 1

Wolves could trade Brewer or Webster

If the Timberwolves are fortunate enough to sign swingman Rudy Gay(notes), they’re expected to trade either Martell Webster(notes) or Corey Brewer(notes), league sources said.

The T’wolves just used the No. 4 pick in the draft on small forward Wesley Johnson(notes) and acquired Webster in a draft-night trade with the Trail Blazers.

Likewise, if David Lee(notes) were to decide to sign with the T’wolves, Minnesota would be even more inclined to move power forward Al Jefferson(notes), who has already been on the block for some time.

– Marc J. Spears, 10:20 a.m. ET, July 1

Duhon on move?

New York Knicks free agent point guard Chris Duhon(notes) has drawn some interest from the Chicago Bulls, his former team. The Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder have also made preliminary inquiries into Duhon.

– Marc J. Spears, 10:20 a.m. ET, July 1

Johnson expected to stay with Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks offered Joe Johnson(notes) 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

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(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) and forward Josh Howard(notes)) at the start of free agency and also spoke with the representatives of forwards Travis Outlaw(notes), Rasual Butler(notes), Ryan Gomes(notes) and Josh Childress(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes) shortly after midnight ET Thursday in Los Angeles, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Stoudemire is competing with Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer(notes) to join Dwyane Wade(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes).

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(notes), 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(notes).

– Adrian Wojnarowski, June 30, 11:45 ET

Salmons could stay with Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks and John Salmons(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes), 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