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Stoudemire, Suns part

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.

So the circus that is NBA free agency continued Friday. No deals that have been agreed to are official because the signing period does not begin until Thursday.

Though the focus has been on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Stoudemire might be able to land the big bucks first.

When the Suns gave long-term deals to Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick on Friday, it became clear that Stoudemire was on his way out. His agent, Happy Walters, confirmed that the Suns were no longer in the picture and said Stoudemire would meet with the Knicks this weekend, "but we're talking to other teams as well."

Walters said no matter where Stoudemire signs, it will be for the maximum of five years and about $100 million.

The Knicks might be willing to spend that if they feel they'll fall short in pitches they made to James on Thursday and Wade and Bosh on Friday.

The big three

LeBRON JAMES: The top prize, James met for nearly three hours with Heat president Pat Riley then held court in Cleveland with the Clippers for an hour.

James, who has also heard from the Nets and Knicks, gave his take on how things are going: "Good."

"This is a very fluid process," said Riley, whose team is trying to keep Wade and lure Bosh as well. "We've had five meetings across the country in the span of 40 hours. We will continue with the process. It's still early in free agency, but we feel very good with how our presentations have gone thus far."

For James, things ramp up today with the Bulls and Cavaliers set to make their pitches.

The Cavs go first at 11 a.m., when they will remind the Ohio-born, Akron-bred superstar that there's no place like home.

"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," new coach Byron Scott said. "His legacy of winning championships in his hometown will be like nothing he's seen in his life."

The Bulls follow at 2:30 p.m. The Bulls will tout their roster with young star guard Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. And Chicago could be working on a trump card if it gets a commitment from a free agent such as Wade or Bosh.

DWYANE WADE: The guard met with the Knicks for a little more than two hours, then added a second meeting with the Bulls.

Wade has long said his preference was to stay in Miami, but he has options. "It was a real good meeting, and I will say I'm intrigued," he said of his time with the Knicks.

Then Wade sat down again with the Bulls, his hometown team, which has been considered a favorite to land James.

Wade was asked whether James will have any influence on what he does.

"We're both going to make our own decisions," Wade replied. "… It's going to take the weekend for everyone to think about what they want to do."

CHRIS BOSH: The forward had already met with the Rockets, Heat and Nets. On Friday, he first met with the Bulls, then talked to the Knicks for more than two hours. Bosh tweeted that the Knicks' presentation was "another impressive one," and also tweeted that he and Wade dined together Thursday. Late Friday, Bosh went to the office of his agent, Henry Thomas, who said no deals had been reached but that he was encouraged by the presentations. If Bosh has a plan after two days, he's not saying. "You've got to enjoy this."

Notables

Paul Pierce: The Celtics forward will return to Boston with a four-year contract, the Associated Press reported. Money terms were not immediately available, but the Boston Herald reported that Pierce would get $61 million over four years.

Dirk Nowitzki: Mavericks president Donnie Nelson said he made a "significant" offer to the forward's adviser. Nowitzki could respond as soon as today, when the sides are expected to meet.

John Salmons: The Bucks agreed in principle to a $40 million, five-year deal with the guard who played for them last season. It came one day after Milwaukee agreed to a five-year, $32 million deal with forward Drew Gooden.

Lakers: Veteran guard Steve Blake, 30, says he has agreed to a four-year deal with the team. Blake could be seen as a replacement for Derek Fisher, 35, who is a free agent.

Fast facts

Friday's deals

Contracts cannot become official until Thursday:

Bucks: G John Salmons, five years, $40 million

Celtics: F Paul Pierce, four years; G Avery Bradley (19th overall draft pick) *

Suns: F Hakim Warrick, four years, $18 million; C Channing Frye, five years, $30 million

* Terms undisclosed

Stoudemire, Suns part 07/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 3, 2010 1:19am]

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