Free-agent buzz: Melo on the move
Carmelo Anthony locked in meetings with the Bulls, Mavs, Rockets and Lakers as the NBA's free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday.
UPDATED 10:13 a.m. ET
A rundown of the most interesting developments as the NBA free-agent floodgates opened at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday:
* The Mavericks are prioritizing a meeting Wednesday with Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony in Dallas, trying to persuade the seven-time All-Star to reunite with former teammate Tyson Chandler and Dallas' own free agent, Dirk Nowitzki. Anthony also locked in meetings with the Bulls on Tuesday, Rockets on Wednesday and Lakers on Thursday. The Knicks will get last licks.
* Interestingly, the Mavs will meet with Anthony before trying to schedule a pitch to LeBron James. That's a function of a strong belief around the league that James intends to re-sign with Miami as long as Heat president Pat Riley is able to upgrade the roster through free agency -- with help from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh taking less than the max to create some room. (See this column from Monday on what "taking less" actually means.) Riley reached out to the reps for Luol Deng early Tuesday, along with the Hawks, Clippers and Mavs. Kyle Lowry, meeting with a Rockets delegation early Tuesday, also is high on Miami's wish list. The Raptors, however, are intent on keeping their starting point guard.
* There's no urgency from Nowitzki or the Mavs to get a new deal done with their 12-time All-Star. Nowitzki is content to let Mark Cuban pursue free-agent upgrades first. In addition to reaching out to Anthony and Deng, the Mavs expect to meet soon with Trevor Ariza and restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, a league source said.
* Speaking of Miami's Big Three, there doesn't appear to be much urgency on their part to orchestrate a breakup. James, in fact, has a Nike trip to Brazil scheduled around the World Cup final July 13, a person familiar with his plans said. He will be there for two days, and one would presume his NBA future will have long since been decided by then. James is not yet scheduling any free-agent meetings with teams. This isn't 2010, when James met with six teams in Cleveland before July 4.
* The Heat also have Spencer Hawes on their radar, but league sources confirmed that the Portland Trail Blazers secured the first meeting with the free-agent center in Los Angeles early Tuesday. Blazers coach Terry Stotts, a creative offensive tactician, holds strong pull with Hawes. The Cavs also registered interest in bringing Hawes back and sent a delegation including coach David Blatt to New Jersey to offer a max extension to point guard Kyrie Irving. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted that he and Irving shook hands on the the five-year, $90 million extension.
* Having emerged from their breakup with former coach Jason Kidd, the Nets contacted their own key free agents as soon as the negotiating period opened: Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson. An immediate offer to Pierce was not expected, according to a league source. The market will dictate the Nets' commitment to Pierce, who will turn 37 before the start of next season. ESPN.com reported that Clippers strongly believe they have a chance to lure Pierce away from Brooklyn in the wake of Kidd's departure for Milwaukee. Why getting a better coach than Kidd, such as Lionel Hollins, would be a deterrent for Pierce is unclear. But his strong relationship with Clippers coach Doc Rivers has enormous pull.
* Some bigger-name free agents, such as the Lakers' Pau Gasol, are expecting a slow start to the negotiating period while things take time to get sorted out for Miami's Big Three and Anthony. Knicks president Phil Jackson is expected to make a push to reunite with Gasol in New York, but will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level starting at $3.3 million. The Lakers, of course, registered official interest in retaining Gasol after midnight ET. LA has about $22 million in cap room -- more if the team waives point guard Steve Nash and stretches his $9.7 million obligation over three seasons.
* While all eyes are on James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony, the biggest early splashes in free agency are expected to be offer sheets for restricted free agents Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons. Hayward earned the respect of stars around the league with his performance at Team USA camp last summer in Las Vegas. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets' pitch to Anthony will include their plans to keep Parsons in restricted free agency.
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