The Knicks are nearing a deal for free-agent center Tyson Chandler, according to league sources.
To make room for Chandler, the Knicks, among other potential moves, are prepared to use their amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups or trade him, as CBSSports.com first reported. The veteran point guard is set to make $14.2 million in the final year of his contract.
New York's apparent willingness to release Billups came as a surprise to the Warriors and other teams in hot pursuit of Chandler, the defensive anchor of the Mavericks' championship team last season. Golden State had made Chandler its top target.
It is believed that the Knicks are offering a similar contract as the Warriors, who were willing to spend about $60 million over four years for Chandler.
Meanwhile, sources indicated that the Warriors will now make a strong push for Clippers restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan. The 23-year-old center is represented by Arn Tellem, the former boss of first-year Warriors assistant general manager Bob Myers. The Clippers are committed to keeping Jordan as part of their young core with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon.
Losing out on Chandler would be a big blow to the Warriors' pursuit of Chris Paul, Chandler's friend and former teammate in New Orleans. But Golden State's aggressive attempt to land the Hornets' star point guard and potential 2012 free agent is expected to continue.
Also, league sources said Houston is in the process of putting together a three-team trade with the Lakers and Hornets in which Paul would go to Los Angeles. The Rockets would receive 7-footer Pau Gasol, according to SI.com's Chris Mannix.
Houston has been aggressive in pursuing big men. General manager Daryl Morey met with Nene in Denver and Chandler in Los Angeles on Monday and sat down with another free-agent center, Samuel Dalembert, in Florida on Tuesday night.
• A source confirmed an ESPN.com report that Sacramento offered center Chuck Hayes a four-year deal worth about $20 million. Hayes' agent, Calvin Andrews, told the
• Shane Battier
• Center Greg Oden, a restricted free agent,
• Small forward Tayshaun Prince is expected to return to Detroit with a four-year deal worth about $30 million.
• Former Blazers big man Jeff Pendergraph is expected to sign a two-year, guaranteed deal in Indiana, according to a source.
• A source said swingman Marquis Daniels is expected to return to Boston on a one-year minimum deal.
• The system that is intended to help teams retain restricted free agents looks to be working. While there is sufficient interest in players such as Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo, Wizards guard Nick Young and Kings guard Marcus Thornton, their respective "home" teams, with the ability to match outside offers, still seem primed to bring them back.
Indiana has pushed Memphis in the Gasol sweepstakes, but the Grizzlies appear willing to sign him to a contract at or around the maximum (a starting salary of $14.8 million) so they can continue the momentum of their 2011 playoff run.
Afflalo will cost Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri a pretty penny to keep, but Denver happens to have about $26 million in cap room. New Jersey and Minnesota are reportedly interested while Chicago and the Lakers
The Kings are determined to re-sign Thornton and will likely do so, even as his agent, Tony Dutt, told SI.com this week that Thornton's former team, New Orleans, is among "four or five" interested clubs.
One of these restricted free agents is sure to leave his old team, though, and it will be worth watching what happens with Heat point guard Mario Chalmers and 76ers forward Thaddeus Young. The question with Chalmers is how high Heat president Pat Riley is willing to go to keep him. Cap-friendly Denver is reportedly among the teams showing serious interest in Young.
• Speaking of restricted free agents, Celtics forward Jeff Green is in a category all his own.
He still might become part of a Paul deal via sign-and-trade, and I was told by a source close to the situation late Wednesday night to not discount Boston no matter how much Paul doesn't want to be there. With Celtics president Danny Ainge believed to be willing to do the deal without any assurances that Paul would stay beyond this season, there are indications that the Hornets are still very intrigued by the possibilities with the Celtics.
A deal including point guard Rajon Rondo, Green and two 2012 first-round draft picks (one from the Clippers that is protected in the top 10 for the next four years, the other the Celtics' pick) would give the Hornets two starters and the potential for more young pieces to come. It wouldn't be ideal, but it could provide the sort of youthful foundation that Hornets general manager Dell Demps is searching for in a post-Paul era.
But there would be concerns. Beyond the relevant fact that Rondo and Green are not players the Hornets have coveted, the value of the picks might be minimal if the Clippers become a top-10 team and the Celtics finish near the top once again (thereby resulting in a late-20s draft position on the second first-round selection).
Meanwhile, Ainge appears convinced that he could persuade Paul to stick around once the Celtics got him to Boston. With the contracts for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen expiring after this season, the Celtics -- as
• While the
• Guard Jamal Crawford
• One final note on the Kings: Don't hold your breath for that spending spree
What's more, the fact that each team's payroll isn't determined until the end of the season means the Kings could operate under the payroll floor during much the season as long as they add enough salary at some point to make up the difference. If not, the amount in which they come up short must be evenly distributed to the team's current players.