- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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LAS VEGAS -- Dribbling around the NBA Summer League for the latest free-agent and trade rumblings:
Sorry to disappoint, but there has been very little Kevin Garnett chatter circulating in Vegas. Almost none, really.
If there's a frontrunner to finally pry Garnett away from the Wolves -- or if there's even a clear picture of what the Wolves want now that the highly anticipated 2007 draft is a memory -- this wasn't the place to hear it.
The most definitive declaration we can pass along is the view of one rival executive who says he knows "for a fact" that Minnesota remains intent on making a KG trade before the season starts.
Eighty days and counting ....
Cleveland is the team everyone's watching as the 55-game Vegas circuit dribbles to a close Sunday.
For a couple reasons:
The Cavs, according to NBA front-office sources, are getting even more serious than they were in February to assemble a deal that lands them Mike Bibby.
The Cavs, sources say, would have to send Drew Gooden to Sacramento in any deal for Bibby, which would make re-signing restricted free agent Anderson Varejao even more of a priority for Cleveland than it was a week ago.
Yet Varejao is said to be strongly weighing the prospect of calling off negotiations this summer and invoking Cleveland's $1.3 million qualifying offer for next season, because the sides are so far apart in negotiations. If he chooses that option, Varejao would become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2008.
A trade involving Gooden would restore a good bit of the leverage Varejao appeared to lose when Memphis decided to use its salary-cap space on Darko Milicic as opposed to the Big Brazilian.
Steve Francis remains the Clippers' No. 1 free-agent target and the Clippers are still considered the team most likely to sign Francis.
But don't discount Dallas.
The scoring guard formerly known as Stevie Franchise in Houston has a close relationship with Mavericks coach and offseason Houston resident Avery Johnson, who is heading Dallas' recruitment of both Francis and Chris Webber.
It's believed that the Mavs favor Webber if they have to choose between the two. Yet they're also contemplating whether to divvy up their $5.3 million exception in an attempt to sign both former All-Stars, as Dallas searches for an additional offensive threat or two that can prevent opposing defenses from focusing so heavily on Dirk Nowitzki.
It's safe to say that all of Francis' suitors -- Houston is another top contender, as is Miami if the Heat can't convince Mo Williams to leave the Bucks -- are hoping that the 30-year-old makes situation and fit his greater priorities than money, after Francis received an estimated $30 million buyout from Portland.
When you combine payroll savings, Vassilis Spanoulis' virtually certain return to Europe and Houston's cash contributions, San Antonio saved an estimated $7 million by trading the draft rights to Argentine power forward Luis Scola and little-used Jackie Butler to Houston on Thursday.
The Spurs were hoping to send Scola out of their conference -- as part of a three-way trade with the Kings and Cavs that would have landed Scola and Bibby in Cleveland before collapsing Thursday -- but decided that the financial benefits were too significant to keep Scola away from the neighboring Rockets.
Formerly an assistant coach with the Mavericks and Grizzlies before joining the Bucks' organization, Roth has been named head coach of the Dominican Republic's national team.
Villanueva and Horford have expressed interest in teaming up for Roth next summer to lead the DR's bid to qualify for the 2010 World Championship.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
Marc Stein's got the latest trade buzz on Kevin Garnett, Mike Bibby and others.