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NBA PM: Anthony’s Free Agency Tour Winding Down

Carmelo Anthony’s free agency meetings are almost complete… Darren Collison is taking over the point guard position for the Kings…

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Carmelo Takes Free Agency Tour to Los Angeles

After spending the last few days meeting with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, free agent Carmelo Anthony arrived in Los Angeles earlier today to meet with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

It was believed that Kobe Bryant would attend the meeting to help pitch the Lakers to ‘Melo, but he did not make it back from a family vacation in Greece in time for the meeting. However, Bryant has been in touch with ‘Melo over the last few weeks and will reportedly meet with him after his meeting with the Knicks is over.

The meeting with the Lakers lasted over two hours and a half hours and included Laker legend James Worthy, as well as top executives from Time Warner Cable. Also at the meeting were Jim, Jeanie Buss and Mitch Kupchak. Jeanie was not present at the Lakers meeting last offseason with Dwight Howard, who ultimately chose to leave Los Angeles and join the Houston Rockets. Much was made of Jeanie’s absence, and after a lot of public criticism, the Lakers are trying to show a more unified front office.

Marc Stein of ESPN reported earlier today that the Dallas Mavericks (one of the teams ‘Melo is considering) are finalizing the terms of a new deal for star forward Dirk Nowitzki. The deal is rumored to be for somewhere in the range of three years, $30 million. This is something to keep in mind as Bryant was heavily criticized for accepting a two year deal with the Lakers, worth $48,500,000. Nowitzki said he would take less to help the Mavericks acquire more talent, similar to Tim Duncan with the Spurs. While the Lakers can still offer ‘Melo a max deal, it would have been possible to make a significant free agent offer to someone like Isaiah Thomas even afterwards if Bryant took less. Mark Medina of the Orange Country Register pointed out that the extension could help the Lakers land Anthony, though, because it shows that they take care of their players.

‘Melo has reportedly talked with Lakers free agent Pau Gasol about teaming up in New York. However, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports that if ‘Melo does join the Lakers, Gasol will likely re-sign with the Lakers as well. The New York Knicks are reportedly hoping to get a verbal commitment from ‘Melo by tonight, but Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo Sports reported that ‘Melo will likely spend the weekend in Los Angeles to come to a final decision.

The Lakers currently only have Kobe, Steve Nash, rookie Julius Randle, and center Robert Sacre under contract. Considering the high prices for free agents over the last few days, the Lakers may struggle to put more pieces around a core of Kobe, ‘Melo and Gasol. Also an issue is Bryant’s health. Though it has been reported that Bryant is now 100 percent healthy, it is unclear whether he will be as productive as he was before tearing his Achilles tendon.

The Knicks will try to convince ‘Melo that team president Phil Jackson and newly hired head coach Derek Fisher can turn around a team that won over 50 games two seasons ago. The Knicks reportedly hired Kurt Rambis to be an assistant coach, who is familiar with the triangle offense, which Jackson is looking to implement. Point guard Jose Calderon was also recently acquired in a trade, and is a major upgrade at point guard and a potentially good fit in the triangle. He is also a close friend of Gasol’s, stemming from their time on the Spanish National Team together. Jackson has already made his mark on the Knicks roster and carries the weight and cache of being arguably the best coach in NBA history. While ‘Melo has a lot of great choices to pick from, it may come down to a fight between Jeanie Buss and Phil Jacskson for ‘Melo.

MUST READ: Basketball Insiders’ complete salary cap database. Find out how much your team has to spend!

Darren Collison Agrees to Three Year Deal with Sacramento Kings

Earlier today free agent point guard Darren Collison agreed to a three year deal worth $16 million with the Sacramento Kings, first reported by the Los Angeles Times. Reports suggest that Collison wanted to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers, but Sacramento told him that they intend for him to be a starter with the Kings. Collison told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register “I liked they’re [the Kings] vision for me,” he said. “Sacramento is giving me the keys to help this team and try to turn it around.”

All three years of Collion’s deal are guaranteed, and as much as the Clippers wanted to retain their backup point guard, the price is simply too steep with Chris Paul already playing over 30 minutes a game at the position. The Clippers are focused on adding a big man (Ed Davis and Spencer Hawes are rumored targets) and a small forward, with lofty hopes of trying to land Luol Deng.

Last season, Collison contributed 11.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and shot 46.7 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from beyond-the-arc. Collison played in 80 games (averaging 25.9 minutes per game), and started in 35 games as Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Redick all missed significant time last season due to various injuries.

Collison took a risk signing a small deal with the Clippers last offseason in an effort to reestablish his image and prove he is good enough to be a starting point guard. After a promising rookie season, Collison spent two seasons with the Indiana Pacers and one season with the Dallas Mavericks. The results were mixed, and Collison eventually signed with the Clippers to backup Chris Paul, just as he had in his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets. The risk paid off as the Kings offered their entire midlevel exception and guaranteed each season.

The acquisition of Collison seems to indicate that current Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas may be available. Thomas is a restricted free agent, and is looking for a big payday after having a breakout season in his third year in the league. Thomas averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game.

Drafted 60th overall in the 2011 draft, Thomas stands at just 5-foot-9, but plays with passion and unwavering confidence. Thomas has faced skepticism throughout his career, but kept his job as a starter last season despite Greivis Vasquez and Jimmer Fredette being brought in. While a three-year commitment to Collison makes it seem as though Thomas’ days in Sacramento are over, David Aldidge of Turner Sports reports that the team may match whatever offer sheet Thomas may receive.

The Detroit Pistons are reportedly interested in Thomas. The Pistons recently agreed to terms with free agent shooting guard Jodie Meeks (three-years, $19 million) and are looking to shake up the roster with newly hired president and head coach Stan Van Gundy in charge.

Thomas may have to wait for his free agency situation to be resolved as the rest of the league is waiting for Carmelo Anthony and the Miami Heat’s big three to resolve their own situations. Whoever acquires Thomas will get a scrappy player who has limitations, but competes each night and puts up statistics that rival Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who recently agreed to a max extension worth $90 million.

If you are looking for the very latest news, notes and deals surrounding 2014 NBA Free Agency – check out the Free Agency Diary – it is updated throughout the day with all the news in one easy to find place.

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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