Free-agent buzz: Johnson staying put

After two days of tinkering with language, Joe Johnson(notes) has agreed to a six-year, $119 million contract to stay with the Atlanta Hawks, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Once the Hawks made a maximum offer on Thursday, Johnson never gave serious consideration to anything but a return to the Hawks. The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks tried to engage him in talks, but Johnson did little more than politely listen.

This is likely his last major contract at 28 years old, and Johnson had no interest in costing himself as much as $27 million by leaving Atlanta. What's more, Johnson has felt invested in the rise of the franchise into an Eastern Conference contender and believes the Hawks can still advance into the elite.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:55 p.m. ET, July 4

Bosh thinking things over

Toronto Raptors free-agent forward Chris Bosh(notes) went to his hometown of Dallas to rest and contemplate his free-agency options on Saturday after meetings with prospective teams, according to a source.

The Raptors are still open-minded about the possibility of a sign-and-trade with their All-Star and have done extensive research on possible scenarios with each potential trade partner. The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams in the luxury tax who have interest in a possible sign-and-trade for Bosh. The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets are other possible sign-and-trade partners.

On Bosh's and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's(notes) free-agency situations, their agent, Henry Thomas, said via text: "The guys are simply processing all of the info they have received over the past couple of days. Taking some time to take it all in."

– Marc J. Spears, 10:15 p.m. ET, July 3

Casey, Del Negro finalists for Clippers job

Before rendering a final decision on their coaching search, the Los Angeles Clippers may invite finalists Dwane Casey and Vinny Del Negro to meet again with owner Donald Sterling and top team executives early this week, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Casey, a Dallas Mavericks assistant, and Del Negro have been advised to be ready to travel to Los Angeles for the second time in two weeks to talk further about the job. Casey was the clear favorite a week ago, but sources say that Del Negro closed the gap in meetings with Neal Olshey and Sterling and has closed the competition into a stalemate.

Del Negro is still owed $2.3 million from the final year of his contract with the Chicago Bulls.

The Clippers have an internal timetable to hire a coach before the start of the Las Vegas Summer League next weekend.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 1:56 a.m. ET, July 4

Team USA affected by free agency?

USA Basketball is expected to make calls to members of its senior team roster around July 10 to gauge their interest in playing in the world championships, a source told Yahoo! Sports. NBA free agents on the roster include LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), Carlos Boozer(notes), Rudy Gay(notes) and David Lee(notes).

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo has previously told Yahoo! Sports that his world championships team could be widely compromised of players that weren't on the 2008 gold-medal winning Beijing Olympic team, in large part due to free agency.

– Marc J. Spears, 10:15 p.m. ET, July 3

Nets may target Boozer, Lee next

If the New Jersey Nets strike out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they will likely turn their attention to acquiring a marquee big man like Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or David Lee, a league source said. With Stoudemire expected to sign with the New York Knicks, Boozer and Lee could be more likely targets. On top of that, the Nets also want to acquire a talented guard as well.

One key reason why the Nets would turn their focus to a big man without James, Wade or Bosh is to keep from putting too much pressure on 19-year-old rookie power forward Derrick Favors(notes), league sources said. Favors will debut for the Nets in the Orlando Summer League on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers and their heralded rookie, Evan Turner(notes). Moreover, the Nets are still confident that they have a legitimate shot at James.

– Marc J. Spears, 10:15 p.m. ET, July 3

Lee visiting Timberwolves

Free-agent forward David Lee(notes) is visiting with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, and the Wolves won’t have much time to try to impress him.

Lee has already visited with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, and once Chris Bosh(notes), Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carlos Boozer(notes) commit, Lee figures to be the top available power forward on the market.

– Marc J. Spears, 9:22 a.m. ET, July 3

Mason, Amundson drawing interest

San Antonio Spurs free-agent guard Roger Mason(notes) Jr. is receiving interest from Chicago, Miami, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers. Teams see him as an affordable shooter to add alongside a top free agent.

Phoenix Suns free-agent forward Louis Amundson(notes) is receiving interest from the Suns, his hometown Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz, Heat and Charlotte Bobcats, a league source said.

– Marc J. Spears, 9:22 a.m. ET, July 3

Blake, Lakers reach agreement

Free-agent point guard Steve Blake(notes) has reached agreement on a four-year, $16 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Before the Lakers secured a commitment from Blake, general manager Mitch Kupchak had Bucks point guard Luke Ridnour(notes) willing to take a four-year, $12 million offer, a league source says. The Lakers then gave Blake a deadline of Friday afternoon to accept their four-year, $16 million offer.

Once Blake did, the Lakers obtained the kind of savvy point guard to eventually transition from Derek Fisher(notes).

Blake broke the news of his agreement on the radio show of Oregonian columnist John Canzano.

Blake was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers by the Portland Trail Blazers in February and averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 points in 29 games for them.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 7:12 p.m. ET, July 2

Mavs meet with Nowitzki's representative

Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson met for about 90 minutes with Dirk Nowitzki’s(notes) advisor, Holger Geschwindner, at Nelson’s south Dallas apartment on Friday. While Nelson declined to give details of the contract he offered, the most Nowitzki can re-sign for is $96 million over four years.

Nelson and Geschwindner are expected to meet again Saturday afternoon and the two have gone back and forth on details of the contract since the meeting. It’s uncertain whether Nowitzki or Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will attend Saturday’s meeting.

“We’re not messing around," Nelson said. "Mark is clearly putting his best foot forward."

Nowitzki is expected to re-sign with the Mavericks. Nelson said he isn't aware of any possible meetings Nowitzki has planned with other teams.

Nelson also said the Mavericks are making progress in their hopes of re-signing center Brendan Haywood(notes). Haywood is attracting interest from several teams and is expected to meet with the Miami Heat in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday.

– Marc J. Spears, 6:15 p.m. ET, July 2

Wade has second meeting with Bulls

Dwyane Wade(notes) will meet privately with Chicago Bulls officials Friday afternoon for a second time in two days on Friday and is seriously contemplating leaving the Miami Heat to join his hometown team, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

This could be a significant step in Wade helping to create a blockbuster partnership with LeBron James(notes) on the Bulls.

Wade and James have been discussing the possibility of playing together, but the major hurdle to the starry alliance remains James' reluctance to join Wade in Miami, sources say.

"D-Wade and LeBron want to play together, but neither one wants to commit to each other," a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.

Sources say that Wade is intrigued by the infrastructure of talent the Bulls have to surround him, especially in contrast to how gutted the Heat roster has become in the clearing of salary cap space.

Click here to read full story.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 5:55 p.m. ET, July 2

Bucks to re-sign Salmons

The Milwaukee Bucks have reached agreement with forward John Salmons(notes) on a five-year, $40 million contract, league sources said.

Salmons' contract also will include incentives that could earn him another $5 million. Salmons had opted out of the final year of his previous contract to become a free agent.

Salmons, 30, averaged 19.9 points in 30 games for the Bucks last season after being traded from Chicago in February. The Bucks have also struck an agreement with free-agent forward Drew Gooden(notes) and recently traded for Corey Maggette(notes).

– Marc J. Spears, 3:51 p.m. ET, July 2

Hawks near deal with Johnson

All-Star guard Joe Johnson(notes) is working through some final issues with the Atlanta Hawks over their six-year, $119 million contract offer, but nothing that appears to keep the deal from being completed, league sources told Y! Sports.

"I would be surprised if it wasn't wrapped up soon," said a source close to the process.

Johnson, 28, has been a key part of the Hawks’ revival and figures to remain a cornerstone under new coach Larry Drew. Johnson solicited serious interest from the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls, but had hoped that Hawks would come through with a major offer to keep him.

Sources say Hawks general manager Rick Sund received the OK from the franchise’s owner to present Johnson with a maximum contract. Sund delivered the offer in a meeting in Los Angeles as soon as the free-agency period began.

Johnson averaged 21.3 points last season and has helped lead the Hawks into the playoffs each of the past three seasons.

Al Horford's(notes) contract will be coming next for the Hawks, and sources said he has changed agents to handle the deal. Horford has left Aaron Goodwin and gone to Arn Tellem.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:50 a.m. ET, July 2

Lakers talking to Miller

Sharpshooter Mike Miller(notes) has no formal offer from the Los Angeles Lakers, but has had talks with them on the framework of a five-year deal, sources said. Miami could become the leader for Miller, especially if Heat president Pat Riley needs a third piece to go along with Dwyane Wade(notes) and a free agent forward (Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer).

Riley has long targeted Boston Celtics free-agent guard Ray Allen(notes) for the remaining money beyond the Heat’s two max slots, but he’ll most likely return to the Celtics. Riley loves that Miller can rebound his position, as well as spread the floor and shoot.

Miller could command a five-year deal worth $30 million-$35 million. Miller has also had substantial talks with New York, Chicago and Cleveland.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:30 p.m. ET, July 2

Heat meeting with Haywood

Miami Heat president Pat Riley has scheduled a meeting with Dallas Mavericks free-agent center Brendan Haywood(notes) on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.

Haywood has already had “significant” contract talks with the Mavericks. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks have also shown interest.

The Celtics and Pistons would need a sign-and-trade to make a deal happen while Toronto needs to first resolve its situation with Chris Bosh(notes). Cleveland won’t engage in serious contract talks with Haywood until LeBron James(notes) has decided his own future.

– Marc J. Spears, 11:50 a.m. ET, July 2

Phoenix: Warrick in, Stoudemire out?

The Phoenix Suns have reached agreement with forward Hakim Warrick(notes) on a four-year, $18 million contract, a deal that likely foreshadows the departure of All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire(notes), league sources said.

The Suns moved forward with Warrick after negotiations with Stoudemire stalled. Stoudemire’s agent Happy Walters had a late-night conversation with Suns owner Robert Sarver, who insisted he couldn’t wait any longer on Stoudemire’s decision and would need to consider other options. Stoudemire is not ready to commit, sources said, until he sees how the rest of the free-agent market plays out.

The Suns made a last-ditch proposal to Stoudemire, offering him a maximum contract with the first three years worth about $71 million guaranteed, sources said. The fourth season of the offer contained a 50 percent guarantee that could become fully guaranteed based on the number of minutes Stoudemire played in the first three seasons. The fifth season of the contract also could become guaranteed based on a minutes incentive.

The Suns put in the incentives because of concerns over Stoudemire’s past knee and eye injuries. Insurance won’t cover Stoudemire’s salary if he can’t play because of any additional problems to either of his knees or his right eye.

The Suns believe the New York Knicks are prepared to give Stoudemire a maximum offer with all five seasons guaranteed. The Heat could turn to Stoudemire if Chris Bosh(notes) passes on their offer, but Miami officials have also expressed similar concern about Stoudemire’s previous injuries. The Houston Rockets tried to deal for Stoudemire in February and have also explored possible sign-and-trade scenarios with him in free agency.

Stoudemire has spent his entire career with the Suns since they took him with the ninth pick in the 2002 draft.

– Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:12 a.m. ET, July 2

Rockets consider trade options

In their quest to land either of the top two free-agent power forwards – Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) – the Houston Rockets have been offering Trevor Ariza(notes), Shane Battier(notes) and free agent Luis Scola(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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 and Atlanta Hawks 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes).

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