The Rumor Mill: August 16th 2005

Gary Payton: The Next Target for the Suns

Othella Harrington: The Bulls planning on overpaying

Pistons have interest in Latrell Sprewell?

DeSagana Diop on the Knick’s Radar?

And More The Suns have engaged in talks regarding free-agent point guard Gary Payton, who has publicly expressed interest in backing up Steve Nash. However, landing Payton could require using the $4.9 million trade exception Phoenix will get in the Joe Johnson trade.

— The Arizona Republic

The Suns snagged a bargain Monday by coming to terms with the veteran Brian Grant for a two-year deal, starting at the $1.67 million biannual exception and adding a player option for a second season. With Grant still collecting $29.8 million in the next two years as the Lakers’ amnesty waiver choice, he will be this season’s richest Suns player.

— The Arizona Republic

With Brian Grant out of the picture, the Bulls figure to focus on free agents Malik Allen and Tom Gugliotta for front-court depth. The Bulls are optimistic that Othella Harrington will sign sometime this week. Look for Harrington to get a one-year deal at an inflated price (perhaps $3 million) so the Bulls can preserve their salary-cap room for next summer.

— The Daily Herald

Meeting with restricted free agent Tyson Chandler is the next pressing matter for Bulls general manager John Paxson. He and club Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf are scheduled to meet with the 7-foot-1-inch center and agent Jeff Schwartz today in California.

— Chicago Tribune

Derek Anderson is thought to be at the top of the Lakers’ list, but team sources insist only at a price: no more than half the $5-million veteran’s exception for two seasons.

— Los Angeles Times

Speculation now has turned to the Pistons looking at players such as Pacers center Dale Davis or Timberwolves guard Latrell Sprewell.

— The Detroit News

Knick president Isiah Thomas is on the verge of signing James Jones, the Pacers’ 6-foot-8 free-agent reserve swingman, whom Thomas drafted in the second round in 2003 or unrestricted free-agent center DeSagana Diop, a 7-foot, 280-pounder who played with the Cavs the last four years.

— New York Post

The Mavericks actively tried to deal Michael Finley in recent weeks to get assets. Nothing materialized and the team waived Finley just before the amnesty deadline. Indianapolis was a possible trading partner. When the Pacers waived retiring Reggie Miller early Monday afternoon, hopes dimmed.

— Dallas Morning News

Michael Finley reportedly has expressed interest in playing for the Heat. But Miami will face heavy competition from San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston, Detroit and Denver, among others.

— Miami Herald

While the Nuggets have interest in Michael Finley, general manager Kiki Vandeweghe confirmed Finley is expected to go elsewhere. Miami and Phoenix are projected to be the front-runners for Finley, who will need seven days to clear waivers before officially becoming a free agent.

— Denver Post

Jamal Crawford’s future in New York is now up in the air. With Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Quentin Richardson and Allen Houston all on the roster and coach Larry Brown looking to bring in a proven point guard, Crawford would appear to be the odd man out. Trading him, however, will be difficult because Crawford will earn $40 million over the next five seasons and he’s yet to prove he can be a contributing player for a winning team.

— New York Daily News

Given a one-time option to avoid luxury taxes on a broken-down player, the Knicks waived forward Jerome Williams and gave Allan Houston one more chance to salvage his career in New York. Williams, 32, is battling a number of ailments and is weighing several options, including retirement.

— New York Times

Allan Houston yesterday confirmed he’ll retire soon after the season opener if he’s not healthy enough to compete. It was those words to James Dolan, and Larry Brown’s support, that swayed the Knicks into giving Houston and his arthritic knees one last crack at training camp.

— New York Post

Allan Houston said he was only joking yesterday when he called himself an “overpaid, injured athlete,” but that’s how a certain percentage, if not a very large percentage, of Knicks fans see him today.

— New York Daily News

The Nets learned yesterday that their prime target to fill the final spot in their rotation shares the attraction. Aaron McKie, who was cut by Philadelphia on Friday under the amnesty provision, has the Nets on his list of possible employers.

— Newark Star-Ledger

The Timberwolves used a provision in the NBA’s new labor agreement Monday to waive guard Fred Hoiberg less than two months after he had surgery to correct an enlarged aortic root. Hoiberg’s NBA career might be in jeopardy. He had heart surgery June 28 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. A few days later, he had a pacemaker inserted to regulate his heartbeat. If he returns, Hoiberg would be the first player in the NBA to play with a pacemaker, league officials said.

— St. Paul Pioneer-Press


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