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Free agent frenzy starts

The day several years in the making arrived.

Five teams — Bulls, Heat, Clippers, Knicks and Nets — cleared out salary cap space in order to sign members of the most heralded free agent class in NBA history. Thursday marked the first time they and other teams could talk to them.

The big three

LeBron James: TV camera crews, photographers, reporters and curious onlookers crowded the sidewalks of IMG's international headquarters in Cleveland. James arrived at 10:58 a.m. in a white Cadillac SUV wearing a gray T-shirt, sweatpants and sunglasses.

Moments later, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov strolled in alongside co-owner Jay-Z and others. About 90 minutes later, they packed up and left.

"Told our story, and we'll see what happens," team president Rod Thorn said.

Soon after, the Knicks' four-vehicle motorcade arrive. It included owner James Dolan, president Donnie Walsh, coach Mike D'Antoni and former Knicks guard Allan Houston.

"I think it went well," D'Antoni said after the two-hour-plus session. "But obviously, everyone that gets the chance to talk to him will probably say the same thing."

James, who declined comment, is scheduled to talk with the Heat and Clippers today. Soon after, it will be his current team, the Cavaliers.

Dwyane Wade: The guard met with the Bulls for about two hours in his native Chicago.

"So far, so good; very informative," agent Henry Thomas said.

Pat Riley, Wade's boss in Miami for the past seven seasons, got the first word in, calling him at 12:01 a.m. Wade has said repeatedly he would like to stay with the Heat.

Wade also spoke to the Nets and is expected to speak with other teams, including the Knicks, in the next few days.

Chris Bosh: With even the Raptors expecting him to leave, the forward met with the Rockets in Dallas soon after midnight. Then he flew to Chicago to meet with the Heat. Bosh tweeted, "Off to a great start. First one went well. Pat Riley is very passionate about winning." Earlier this week, Bosh said Miami was one of his top choices.

ESPN.com reported he will talk to the Bulls today.

The next echelon

Rudy Gay: The forward landed the first max deal. He agreed to stay with the Grizzlies for five years and $80 million. Last season, he turned down Memphis' offer of five years and $50 million. The restricted free agent, whom Memphis could have kept by matching any outside offer, was scheduled to visit the Timberwolves on Thursday and was lining up meetings with the Nets, Knicks and Heat.

Carlos Boozer: The forward met with the Jazz, his current team, and Heat, ESPN.com reported. It also reported he will meet with the Bulls today and the Nets over the weekend.

Joe Johnson: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the Hawks are prepared to offer a max contract to keep the All-Star guard. That would be worth $119 million over six seasons. Johnson also met with the Knicks and Heat.

Paul Pierce: The forward began talks to re-sign with the Celtics, ESPN.com reported. It also said he had been contacted by "a few" unidentified teams.

Amare Stoudemire: The forward, who opted out of his deal with the Suns, talked to the Heat and is scheduled to talk with the Knicks this weekend.

Other notables

Raymond Felton: Agent Tony Dutt said the point guard was contacted by seven teams. He declined to name them but said the Bobcats, his current team, were not among them.

David Lee: The former Gator and the Knicks' first All-Star since 2001 talked to the Bulls and Heat and is scheduled to meet with the Timberwolves on Saturday and Nets on Sunday.

Around the league

Cavs get coach: Byron Scott's agent said his client has agreed to become the Cavaliers coach and the sides are working through the final details of a contract. Scott previously coached in New Jersey, whom he led to the Finals in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and New Orleans. He replaces the fired Mike Brown.

Nuggets: Forward Carmelo Anthony doesn't become a free agent until after 2010-11. But the Nuggets offered him a three-year, $65 million extension. He was unavailable for comment.

Fast facts

Thursday's deals

Contracts cannot become official until July 8:

Bucks: F Drew Gooden —

Five years, $32 million

Grizzlies: F Rudy Gay —

Five years, $80 million

Jazz: F Gordon Hayward (ninth overall pick) *

Magic: C Daniel Orton (29th overall pick) *

Raptors: F Amir Johnson — Five years, $34 million

Timberwolves: F/C Darko Milicic — Four years, $16 million

* Terms undisclosed

Free agent frenzy starts 07/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 11:58pm]
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