July 2, 2009 Morning NBA News and Rumors

New Orleans Hornets looking to sign help, make trades

Celtics have target

Former New Orleans Hornets center Chris Andersen and Denver negotiating new deal

Agent: Artest mulling options in free agencyNew Orleans Hornets looking to sign help, make trades

John Reid, The Times-Picayune

Although Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower initially said addressing the team’s frontcourt depth was a priority in free agency, one of the first calls he made after midnight Wednesday morning was to guard Jannero Pargo’s agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Teams could begin negotiating with free agents at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but players cannot sign contracts until July 8.

"I talked with Jeff, and they remain interested in Jannero," Bartelstein said. "But he said they still have things to work out with their roster."

Bower could be working on a trade before any contract offer is extended to a free agent. Multiple league sources said last week the Hornets have been shopping starting center Tyson Chandler. In addition, New Orleans could be interested in moving one of their veteran guards — Morris Peterson, Antonio Daniels or Devin Brown — in a trade. Bower declined to discuss any trade discussions.

In last week’s draft, the Hornets selected UCLA point guard Darren Collison with the 21st overall pick in the first round, and they acquired shooting guard Marcus Thornton of LSU in a trade with the Miami Heat after he was selected in the second round.

Bower and Bartelstein were involved in preliminary talks regarding Pargo before the draft, permissible under league rules because Pargo played in Russia last season after he was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Hornets.


Celtics have target

Frank Dell’Apa – Globe Staff

Wallace’s agent: Mutual interest

Danny Ainge was on the telephone at his HealthPoint office when the NBA free agent market opened at midnight yesterday. Among Ainge’s first calls was to Bill Strickland, agent for center-forward Rasheed Wallace.

“I made some calls,’’ said Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “Rasheed is a guy we have interest in. We made calls with quite a few free agents’ representatives late last night from my office to let them know we have interest. We contacted 10 free agents and tried to get some feedback in what they are looking for and their interest long term. But that’s about it. Mostly for something down the road.’’

The Celtics’ interest in Wallace is not for the long term, though. Wallace, 34, might be the most intriguing of free agent candidates, his relationship with Celtics forward Kevin Garnett a possible advantage.

Strickland confirmed the Celtics’ contact with Wallace with a text message: “The interest is mutual.’’

Asked if Wallace, who earned $13 million with the Pistons last season, could join the Celtics as a mid-level exception, Strickland said: “We will see how things work out.’’

Charlotte, Cleveland, Orlando, and San Antonio have also shown interest in Wallace.

Ainge said he did not contact any players directly, nor has he made contract offers. Ainge said he has been on the receiving end of many more inquiries from agents in recent days than he has proferred.


Former New Orleans Hornets center Chris Andersen and Denver negotiating new deal

Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post

The negotiations between Chris Andersen and the Denver Nuggets have begun.

Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien is currently in Los Angeles, meeting with Andersen’s representatives, notably Denver-based attorney Mark Bryant and agent Steve Huemann of the Los Angeles-based Creative Arts Agency.

Bryant said the goal is to try to get Andersen, a former New Orleans Hornets player, a five-year deal around the mid-level exception (in the $5 million range annually).

"I think that’s possible. But we’re a team player," Bryant said this morning. "We’ll make the necessary adjustments if we can and find the right fit."

There are numerous teams inquiring about the NBA’s No. 2 shot-blocker from last season, notably Houston, which has all-star center Yao Ming shelved indefinitely, as well as Dallas, Portland and Memphis. But Andersen, who lived in Denver during his two-year banishment for drug abuse, adores the city of Denver and has publicly said he wants to return home.

And the Nuggets’ top priority this summer is locking down the reserve center, who bolstered the bench during the playoff run to the Western Conference Finals.


Agent: Artest mulling options in free agency

Chris Duncan – Associated Press

If LeBron James or Kobe Bryant are looking for a little help, Ron Artest is taking calls.

The Rockets star forward, an unrestricted free agent, will consider a team’s chances of winning an NBA championship when deciding where he’ll bring his skills next season, his agent says.

David Bauman said Wednesday that his client would like to return to Houston, but Artest would also think about signing with a contending team — and that might rule out the Rockets if Yao Ming’s broken left foot keeps him out for the season.

Bauman wouldn’t say which teams have contacted him about Artest. But he said he would expect Artest to talk to James and Bryant if the Cavaliers or Los Angeles Lakers were interested in him.

“All the superstars are very savvy and great recruiters,” Bauman said. “The superstars are sometimes even better recruiters than the general managers or their staffs. Between Kobe and Ron or LeBron and Ron, there are always conversations that occur. I think I’ll just leave it at that at this point.”

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, citing anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that James and Artest met Tuesday in Los Angeles. James, the league MVP, was in Los Angeles on Sunday for the BET awards. Bauman declined to comment on the report.

Artest earned more than $7 million last season. Houston general manager Daryl Morey said he has contacted Bauman, but Artest’s agent would not comment on the progress.

Houston television station KRIV, citing unidentified sources, reported the Rockets would only be willing to offer Artest a one-year deal.


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