Latest chatter: Boozer, Lee and more
Here's our freshest dose of free-agent chatter culled from conversations with a variety of knowledgeable sources -- team officials, coaches, players and agents -- plugged into the league's front-office grapevine:
Utah is telling teams that it doesn't want merely to shed payroll in a Carlos Boozer deal. The Jazz want to come away from their eventual Boozer trade -- preferably a three-teamer to increase the likelihood of saving money -- with a rotation player.
Luis Scola has been mentioned as a target Utah covets, but sources with knowledge of the Rockets' thinking say emphatically that Houston is not interested in joining the Boozer hunt.
Miami's interest in Boozer, meanwhile, inevitably would spike if the Heat managed to steal Lamar Odom away from the Lakers. Acquiring Boozer between now and February also would give the Team USA power forward full Larry Bird rights to re-sign with the Heat in the summer of 2010 irrespective of where they are in relation to the salary cap. But that interest is unlikely to fade even if Odom stays in L.A., given that Dwyane Wade apparently is eager to see Boozer join him on South Beach.
Details remain scarce, but David Lee's name is finally starting to come up again more often now that pretty much all the top unrestricted free agents apart from Odom and Andre Miller have been signed. With summer league ball behind us, the free-agent focus starts to shift to restricted free agents like Lee.
The problem? Unless Portland uses its cap space to make him an offer, Lee will be relying on the Knicks to cooperate in a sign-and-trade arrangement. And it's believed that New York is determined to retain Lee and Nate Robinson on one-year deals that preserve full Bird rights for both players without obligating the Knicks to slice into their projected salary-cap space for 2010 free agency.
But one well-placed insider volunteered this tip when it comes to Lee's situation: "Keep your eye on Chicago."
It's starting to look as though Milwaukee restricted free agent Ramon Sessions might have to settle for an offer that does not start at the full midlevel exception price of $5.9 million, with sources insisting that the Knicks are no longer chasing Sessions and that Oklahoma City is reluctant to use any of its salary-cap space to pursue the point guard.
The Clippers remain highly interested in Sessions. There are persistent rumblings that they prefer him to Allen Iverson in every category apart from box-office appeal. The Bucks, meanwhile, remain prepared to match offers on Sessions to a point.
We should learn soon how far the Clips are willing to go with an offer sheet. If Sessions proves unable to land an offer that starts in midlevel territory, Milwaukee will be much more of a threat to match, and that would spare the Bucks from asking too much of Brandon Jennings in his rookie season.
The Clips tried to initiate sign-and-trade talks with Milwaukee to land Sessions, but the Bucks maintain that they're not interested in L.A.'s newly acquired Sebastian Telfair.
The Bucks, meanwhile, continue to explore their trade options with Bruce Bowen, who must be paid $2 million and waived by Aug. 1, or his $4 million salary for next season will become fully guaranteed.
No deal involving Bowen was close as of late Wednesday, but Milwaukee will continue to make Bowen available until it has to release him to save the extra $2 million.
I'm likewise told that there have not been any trade discussions between the Bucks and Boston that would put Bowen back in Celtics green, even though the 38-year-old seemingly would appeal to the Celts to plug into the role -- perimeter defensive specialist who can drain 3s, guard certain power forwards and provide some championship know-how -- that they never filled last season after James Posey left.
You continue to hear that Philadelphia certainly would listen if someone rang the Sixers with an offer for Elton Brand, just as you continue to hear that an actual trade involving Brand is highly unlikely given the four years left on his pricey contract, Brand's recent injury history and the fact that pretty much no one in the league is taking on that kind of financial commitment these days.
The Sixers insist they're not "shopping" Brand. But frankly, Philly would be obliged to move him if it could, given its perilous luxury-tax situation in the face of steep projected declines for the salary cap and tax threshold next season and the presence of the emerging Thaddeus Young to step into that spot.
As a result of those increasing tax concerns, Philly's free-agent targets this summer have received mostly one-year offers. Sources say, furthermore, that the one-year deal initially extended to Andre Miller has been withdrawn, making Miller's departure even more of a lock.
A sign-and-trade involving Miller remains a possibility, but the Sixers have moved on in their search to fill three remaining roster spots, with one of those reserved for a bargain point guard with some experience. Lou Williams and rookie Jrue Holiday are Philly's points at present.
Chris Wilcox and Jamario Moon received very similar contracts this past weekend from Detroit and Cleveland, respectively. The deals pay an even $3 million in each of the next two seasons, with the primary difference being that Moon -- as a restricted free agent -- has to wait until Friday before officially joining the Cavs, when Miami's right to match Cleveland's offer will expire.
Wilcox also received a player option on the second season, meaning that he has the right to return to the open market as a member of the 2010 class of free agents if he wishes.
In other contract news, Houston's David Andersen received a three-year deal worth $7.5 million to try to fill the void created by Yao Ming's likely absence for the entire 2009-10 season, with the third season at $2.7 million only partially guaranteed. Milwaukee signed Ersan Ilyasova to a three-year deal worth just less than $7 million.
After playing in only nine games during the past two seasons because of a hip injury, Troy Hudson is moving closer to a return to the league. The 33-year-old held a private workout in Las Vegas last week in conjunction with the NBA's annual summer league there, and four teams watched him: Oklahoma City, Memphis, Philadelphia and Detroit. The Sixers and Indiana Pacers appear to be the leading suitors for free-agent guard Luther Head. After Orlando's unexpected decision to match Dallas' five-year, $34 million offer to restricted free agent Marcin Gortat, look for the Mavericks to re-sign Ryan Hollins, their own restricted free-agent center. The Mavs also are on the list of teams in the mix to sign Drew Gooden with a slice of the cash they got back when the Gortat offer sheet was matched.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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