Wade meets Bulls again, Amare to meet Knicks in NY

Published 12:44 pm Saturday, July 3, 2010

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.

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“Things are getting very interesting,” Wade said after the 2 1/2-hour meeting, which he said he agreed to at the team’s request.

Paul Pierce agreed to stick around in Boston and the Mavericks let Dirk Nowitzki know how much they want him to remain in Dallas, but many of the leading names in this free agency class are still available.

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.”

Walters said there is “a structure of an offer on the table” from the Knicks. He added 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.

James received visits Friday from the Heat and Los Angeles Clippers. The Heat have also spoken to Stoudemire and Bosh as they try to find a player or players to come join Wade — if he sticks around South Florida.

“This is a very fluid process,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “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.”

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.

“It was a good meeting, it was a real good meeting and I will say I’m intrigued,” he said, declining further comment before driving away.

Then he sat down again with the Bulls, his hometown team which has been considered a favorite to land James. The league’s MVP will meet with them Saturday and first talking to Chicago.

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 condition of anonymity because the free agent signing period does not begin until Thursday.

“Both sides made it clear that staying together was best for the team,” the official said.

Terms of the contract were not immediately available. 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.

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 Saturday, when the sides are expected to meet again.

Warrick agreed to a four-year, $18 million deal with Phoenix on Friday, shortly after Frye agreed to a five-year, $30 million offer to re-sign with the Suns.

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 told The Associated Press. That came one day after Milwaukee agreed to a $32 million, five-year deal with forward Drew Gooden.

Deals can’t be signed until July 8, after the salary cap for next season has been determined.