Meet­ings, but few deals for free agents

Stoudemire looks east; Wade un­com­mit­ted; Pierce stays put

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Brian Mahoney

Amare Stoudemire is out of Phoenix and headed to New York — for a meet­ing.

If the Knicks are will­ing to give him a max­i­mum salary con­tract, a deal might not be far be­hind.

Speak­ing of meet­ings, Dwyane Wade had a sec­ond one with the Chicago Bulls on Fri­day, per­haps a sign that his re­turn to Mi­ami isn’t as guar­an­teed as once thought.

Paul Pierce agreed to stick around in Bos­ton and the Mav­er­icks let Dirk Now­itzki know how much they want him to re­main in Dal­las.

Mav­er­icks pres­i­dent Don­nie Nel­son said he made a “sig­nif­i­cant” con­tract of­fer to Now­itzki’s ad­viser dur­ing a meet­ing Fri­day. Now­itzki could re­spond as soon as to­day, when the sides are ex­pected to meet again.

“We’re not cel­e­brat­ing yet, not do­ing back flips,” Nel­son said.

Though the fo­cus has been on LeBron James,

Wade and Chris Bosh, Stoudemire might be able to land big bucks be­fore them.

When the Suns gave long-term deals to Chan­ning Frye and Hakim War­rick, it be­came clear that Stoudemire was on his way out of Phoenix.

His agent, Happy Wal­ters, con­firmed that the Suns were no longer in the pic­ture and said Stoudemire was go­ing to New York this week­end to meet with the Knicks, “but we’re talk­ing to other teams as well.”

The Knicks made pitches to James on Thurs­day, and Wade and Bosh on Fri­day.

With New Jersey, New York, Mi­ami and the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers hav­ing made their pitches to land James, the Bulls and Cava­liers — con­sid­ered co-fa­vorites — will have op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­vince the reign­ing MVP that they are the team for him. The Cavs will go first to­day, and the Bulls will fol­low.

Ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with James’ op­tions, he has no timetable to an­nounce where he’ll play next. The per­son, who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity, de­nied re­ports James had set July 5 as a dead­line.

On Fri­day, the Cavs in­tro­duced By­ron Scott as their coach, and he didn’t waste any time mak­ing a pre­dic­tion on where he thinks James is headed.

“I think at the end of the day, he’s go­ing to make the right de­ci­sion, and he’ll be here in Cleve­land for the rest of his ca­reer,” said Scott, who in­sisted he did not con­sult with James be­fore agree­ing to a con­tract.

The Cavs are ask­ing Cleve­land fans to line East Ninth Street and form a tun­nel to wel­come James to his meet­ing to­day. Fans will carry signs say­ing “Home.”

Wade has long said his pref­er­ence was to stay in Mi­ami, but he’s given him­self op­tions. He met with the Bulls and New Jersey Nets on Thurs­day, then got a pitch from the Knicks on Fri­day.

Wade shrugged when asked if the Bulls had made him an of­fer.

“Things are get­ting very in­ter­est­ing,” he said. He was asked whether James will have any in­flu­ence on what he does.

“I can’t say. We’re both go­ing to make our own de­ci­sions,” Wade said, then added: “We’re real good friends.”

The Celtics’ four-year con­tract with Pierce was not an­nounced, but it was con­firmed to The As­so­ci­ated Press by a Bos­ton of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the deal, who spoke on the con- di­tion of anonymity.

The Bos­ton Her­ald, which first re­ported on the deal, said Pierce would get $61 mil­lion over four years, with a mu­tual op­tion for the fourth year.

The Bucks made an­other move, agree­ing in prin­ci­ple to a $40 mil­lion, five-year deal with free agent guard John Sal­mons, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions said. That came one day af­ter Mil­wau­kee agreed to a $32 mil­lion, five-year deal with for­ward Drew Gooden.

Steve Blake says he has agreed to a four-year con­tract with the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, who might lose start­ing point guard Derek Fisher in free agency.

Blake, a seven-year vet­eran, played for Port­land and the Clip­pers last sea­son.

Amare Stoudemire

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