Top 25 free agents tracker update by Kurt Helin


Free agency is underway. And the pace of information coming out is crazier than Darko getting a long term deal. Well, almost that crazy.

We're here to help. What follows is a list of the top 25 free agents on the market (by our estimation), each with a little note about where they stand right now. Bookmark this post, because we will be updating it with the latest information you need, distilled and neatly compiled in one place. Why? Because we care about you and your time. Plus we like lists. They're fun.

Last updated 3:58 pm Eastern
1. LeBron James (not signed): The over-the-top spectacle of pitches and meetings -- all seeming publicity driven -- are over. Now he has to make a choice. A choice not expected until Thursday. And a choice that may hinge on Chris Bosh -- both LeBron and Dwyane Wade know their teams are a lot better with him on it, he is the inside presence needed to balance the floor and win a title. Look for the announcement to come from LeBron's new Web site.

To recap: Saturday LeBron met with the hometown Cavaliers first (pitching humor and the power of winning in your home town with Byron Scott) then came the Chicago Bulls, who challenged him to take on the legacy of Michael Jordan. Friday, LeBron had a nearly three-hour meeting with the Heat, followed by a less than one hour meeting with the Clippers. Reports from Thursday's meetings say the Nets pitch caught LeBron's interest, the Knicks not so much.

2. Dwyane Wade (not signed): Don't expect an announcement from Wade on the Fourth of July. He said before he and the other key free agents planned to take the weekend to make their decisions. However, he will be back in Florida on Tuesday for a scheduled promotional appearance, and all eyes will be on him.

The Heat have made their pitch to Wade. The Bulls have made a couple of pitches over a couple days, and the Knicks made their case. All this flirting with Chicago makes it very hard for the Heat to bring in the other star player Wade is demanding the Heat provide him. 

3. Chris Bosh (not signed): He tweeted this is going to be a "tough decision to make." Don't expect a decision on the Fourth of July. Bad idea publicity wise. He has had meetings with the Bulls, Knicks, Heat and Nets. It is rumored that both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade want to know where he lands because they realize pairing with him could be the key to titles. Bosh does not have near the endorsements of Wade or LeBron, so he wants a max deal sign-and-trade (which means a contract one year longer and worth about $27 million more). However, the Raptors seem to have soured on the idea, but do they really have a choice? If Bosh is leaving, get some young players and picks to start rebuilding around. To do nothing is foolish and hurts the team long term. 

4. Amare Stoudemire (not signed): He is in New York. Sunday morning he had a sit down and make up brunch with Mike D'Antoni, the two men did not leave each other in Phoenix on the best of terms. Reports are that it all went well. For the rest of the day he goes and sees the Yankees then heads on to a big Fourth of July event at Knicks owner Jim Dolan's house on the North Shore.

Monday he sits down with the Knicks to finalize everything. He reportedly has the framework of a deal set up with New York -- a five-year, $100 million deal. It looks like this is going to happen. Are the Knicks really that much better with David Lee gone and Amare Stoudemire in? Not alone, but if he can lure Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony, then yes.

5. Joe Johnson (Agreed to terms with Atlanta): Finally. After flirting one more time with the Knicks, he agreed to Atlanta's max-deal offer of six years, $119 million. This is a contract the Hawks will regret come 2015 (and he's not a real max deal player now) but both sides got what they wanted out of this.

6. Carlos Boozer (not signed): He's getting a lot of early attention -- he had meetings with the Jazz, Heat, and Chicago Bulls. The Nets are now reported to be interested as well. With Amare Stoudemire heading to New York, Boozer will be the best power forward on the market after Bosh. Once Bosh decides, other teams that lost out will ring him up fast. No word on if the Jazz made a formal offer, but Boozer knows what he is getting there and you can't rule them out.

7. Rudy Gay (Agreed to terms with Memphis): Gay has accepted a five-year, $81.6 million offer from the Memphis Grizzlies. That may be overpaying him, but we said before free agency that someone was going to overpay for him. Might as well be Memphis. Now we'll see if he wants to live up to the contract, or his focus gets worse because he's comfortable. 

8. Dirk Nowitizki (Agreed to terms with Dallas): It was just a matter of time. Nowitzki agreed to a four year, $80 million deal with the Mavericks. He got a big deal that extends into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Mavericks got a little payroll flexibility because he took less money (a max deal would have been $96 million). Smiles everyone, smiles, smiles.

9. Paul Pierce (Agreed to terms with Boston): After tweaking the deal for several days, both sides finally agreed on Saturday night to a four-year, $61 million deal, with the fourth year only partially guaranteed (so they can buy him out). This deal would save the Celtics about $12 million next season when you factor in the luxury tax. This deal also means we will see the same old Celtics for one more year.

10. David Lee (not signed): He had a long meeting with the Heat and came away impressed, according to reports. Boston was the first team to reach out to him, and meetings are set up with Chicago and Minnesota also. The Nets also are expected to reach out to him and set up a meeting. Lee is another guy that will get some calls when Bosh and Stoudemire come off the board.

11. John Salmons (Agreed to terms with Bucks): He has verbally agreed to a five-year, $39 million deal to stay in Milwaukee. He can't sign it to July 8, like all free agents, and with Joe Johnson about to be a Hawk a couple teams may call and try to offer him more. He said he is not taking those calls.

12. Ray Allen (not signed): The Boston Celtics have opened talks with Allen to get him back with Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers for one more run at a title (probably a great playoff run following an unimpressive regular season again, just warning you Celtics fans). If Cleveland keeps LeBron they are likely to go after Allen, as is Utah which is about to lose Kyle Korver to free agency.

13. Udonis Haslem (not signed): His agent (same as Wade's agent) said there were several calls from teams interested in Haslem, but they are giving the Heat a little time to figure out what they are doing with the big names on the roster, and to see if they have room for Haslem in those plans. He wants to stay in Miami. But he will not wait forever.

14. JJ Redick (not signed): The Boston Celtics are looking at making a run at him, although that could be tied to any decisions by Ray Allen. Redick is on his honeymoon right now and is in no hurry to get a deal done.

15. Brendan Haywood (not signed): The Dallas Mavericks have made it a priority to bring him back and have started talks with him. There is also interest from the Miami Heat. The Cavaliers have talked to him and said they are interested. The Boston Celtics, and Detroit Pistons have also reached out. Basically, Haywood has a lot of options.

16. Luis Scola (restricted, not signed): The Rockets can match any offer, but they also are very willing to use him as part of any sign-and-trade (and they are pitching sign and trades hard to guys like Bosh and Stoudemire). He could be on the move.

17. Tyrus Thomas (restricted, not signed): A lot of teams are lured in by his potential -- Denver, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. The Bobcats have the right to match and offer and say they will, but with what other players are getting offered based on potential in this market, it may be too rich for Charlotte's blood.

18. Shaquille O'Neal (not signed): Speculation about Boston and Dallas, but no real action. He is going to be late to go in this process.

19. Brad Miller (not signed): Boston has shown some aggressive interest in him and have started negotiations for him to take over the Sheed role. Things we can't wait to see: KG's reaction to Miller's defensive rotations. He also has drawn interest from the Nuggets, Cavaliers and Rockets.

20. Matt Barnes (not signed): Detroit has reached out to him, likely as a replacement if they trade Tayshaun Prince. Barnes says he wants to stay in Orlando, and they say they want to keep him. But they want to get him for the bi-annual exception of $1.92 million, and others may offer more and force Orlando's hand.

21. Luke Ridnour (not signed): The New York Knicks have reached out to him, they need a point to fun Mike D'Antoni's offense. Rumored interest from the Pacers, but things are in very early stages. The Lakers had some interest, but they went with Steve Blake.

22. Mike Miller (not signed): With Joe Johnson going to Atlanta, the Knicks will make a hard run at Miller, and they have already spoken once. The Clippers had a three-hour meeting with him. Miami and Cleveland have made contact, but right now they are focused on bigger fish.

23. Steve Blake (agrees to terms with Lakers): Blake -- a near perfect fit for the triangle offense -- has agreed to a four year, $16 million deal with the Lakers. The two-time defending NBA champions just got better. And they got their coach back. Maybe it doesn't matter where LeBron goes. 

24. Ronnie Brewer (not signed): Now it is clear why the Grizzlies did not make a qualifying offer to Brewer, they were clearing the decks for the Rudy Gay deal. Now they say they want to bring him back, but the door is open for other teams to walk in.

25. Anthony Morrow (not signed, restricted): There is a lot of interest: Spurs, Celtics, Blazers, Clips and Jazz all have reached out. Notice how many well run, smart organizations are in that list (plus the Clippers). The Lakers had interest but with the Blake signing they are out. The Warriors extended a qualifying offer and would be idiots not to mach any offer for him. So, it could happen.


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