Bryant entertaining offers in SoCal

Originally Published: July 5, 2004
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Los Angeles Lakers: The prize catch of this summer's free-agent market is not making visits to other cities. At least not yet.

Teams interested in Kobe Bryant, according to league sources, must wait to be summoned to Southern California before making their pitch. Sources told ESPN.com that process began Monday when Bryant -- on the same day the Lakers learned that Mike Krzyzewski would not be replacing Phil Jackson -- was visited at his Newport Beach home by Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and general manager Kiki Vandeweghe.

Bryant is expected to meet similarly with Los Angeles Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor and coach Mike Dunleavy in the next few days, with sources reiterating that the Lakers' co-tenants at Staples Center remain by far the biggest threat to sign Bryant away. The Clippers' chances appear to be enhanced by Krzyzewski's decision to stay at Duke; Bryant informed Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that Krzyzewski was the coach he hoped to play for next season were he to re-sign.

San Antonio is another club that could be summoned by Bryant and his agent, Rob Pelinka, but all indications continue to point to Bryant choosing between a stunning switch to the Clippers or re-signing with the only club he has played for since turning pro in 1996.

Detroit Pistons: While center Mehmet Okur was verbally committing to the Utah Jazz on Monday, taking another quality big man from East to West, Pistons president Joe Dumars was in Philadelphia negotiating with star forward Rasheed Wallace. The Pistons, who knew they'd have to lose Okur to re-sign the co-anchor of their defense, alongside Ben Wallace, hope to have a verbal agreement with 'Sheed cemented by week's end.

Phoenix Suns: Signing Okur was Part II of the Suns' Plan A after Phoenix secured a verbal commitment from Dallas point guard Steve Nash on a six-year, $66 million deal. The Suns, sources said, are readying an offer to Spurs swingman Hedo Turkoglu with some of their leftover cap space.

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have arranged a Wednesday visit to Denver for Nets forward Kenyon Martin. Martin, who will go to Utah on Thursday and Atlanta on Friday, will be the fourth restricted free agent to meet with the Nuggets since wooing season commenced July 1; also visiting are the Clippers' Quentin Richardson, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Portland's Darius Miles.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves, according to league sources, are prepared to offer guard Troy Hudson a five-year deal worth roughly $18 million, with incentives that could take that figure closer to $25 million.

San Antonio Spurs: Seattle guard Brent Barry is said to have the Spurs at the top of his wish list, and San Antonio -- clearly in need of better perimeter shooting after blowing a 2-0 series lead over the Lakers in the second round -- might decide to let Turkoglu go to pursue Barry. Re-signing Ginobili remains the Spurs' top priority this summer ... barring the fantasy of Bryant telling San Antonio he wants to leave Shaquille O'Neal to play alongside Tim Duncan. Adding Barry and retaining Ginobili and defensive specialist Bruce Bowen would qualify as a strong off-season haul for the Spurs, but Houston has strong interest in Barry as well. The Rockets also have the added edge of Tracy McGrady -- who shares agent Arn Tellem with Barry -- to help with recruiting.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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