Vegas news and notes: Changing of the guards
LAS VEGAS -- Dribbling around the NBA Summer League for the latest free-agent and trade chatter:
Rumblings circulating here at UNLV that point guard Mo Williams has chosen to take less money to sign with the Miami Heat later this week were described as premature by multiple sources close to the situation.
Williams' decision is expected by Wednesday, which is the first day free agents can officially sign new contracts after the league announces the salary-cap figure and luxury-tax threshold for the 2007-08 season.
The Los Angeles Lakers emerged as an instant favorite to sign Derek Fisher last week after Fisher asked the Utah Jazz to release him from the final three years and $21 million left on his contract so he could move to one of the half-dozen NBA cities with a treatment center equipped to handle his young daughter's rare form of eye cancer.
Call them virtual sure-thing favorites now.
Fisher, according to NBA front-office sources, is no longer even considering other teams and is on track to re-sign soon with the Lakers -- who drafted him in 1996 -- barring an unexpected snag in negotiations.
I was actually expecting a lot more Corey Maggette trade speculation than we've heard since the Los Angeles Clippers drafted Al Thornton late last month, given the constant trade speculation that has enveloped Maggette since he was nearly dealt to Indiana for then-Pacer Ron Artest in January 2006.
But maybe there's a reason for the relative quiet.
The latest signals emanating from Clipperland are the same signals heard around the February trading deadline, when Maggette stayed put. The message remains that Maggette, as a personal favorite of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, still has a better chance of being a starter next season than he has of being traded.
If Williams indeed winds up in Miami and if Fisher returns to the Lakers, that will only enhance the Clippers' chances of signing Steve Francis when Francis' all-but-done Portland buyout is complete.
Francis is close with Shaq and is said to have had strong interest in the Heat and Lakers. The Clips, though, were in the lead from the start, with age (Sam Cassell at 38) and injury (Shaun Livingston) concerns at the point and Francis' close pal Cuttino Mobley as their lead recruiter.
Chris Webber has hinted at retirement more than once since last season ended, but I'm hearing now that he's much more interested in playing next season than not playing.
On two conditions.
Webber, 34, is apparently only willing to re-sign with his hometown Detroit Pistons -- who lost to Cleveland one step short of Webber's first-ever trip to the NBA Finals -- or join the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs are giving Webber a good look, too, since he'd instantly become the best passer they have if they signed him.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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