AP Sports Writer
MIAMI — At this time four years ago NBA free agency was a circus. LeBron James was joining Twitter and Chris Bosh was offering regular updates on his free-agent wooing.
It’s a touch different this time around.
Teams are holding their cards very close in most cases, Miami’s “Big 3” of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade are basically silent on their plans and the overwhelming majority of free agents don’t seem to be anywhere close to finding a team for next season.
Then again, no one signs until July 10. Here’s a primer on where things stand:
TOUR DE MELO: He’s in Chicago, he’s in Houston, he’s in Dallas and on Thursday, Carmelo Anthony visited Los Angeles. He was also going to meet with the Knicks while in LA, and there’s still the possibility that Anthony will end up right back where he started with New York. Whatever happens, the Melo Watch is the story of free agency so far. There have been some slipups along the way, most notably what the Rockets were thinking by plastering images of Anthony wearing Jeremy Lin’s number (Lin, who remains a Rocket for now, wasn’t impressed). Anthony-to-the-Lakers might be a long shot, but it would seem his wife, La La, has a name made for L.A.
LOWRY STAYING: The top free-agent point guard isn’t free anymore. Kyle Lowry agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal late Wednesday night, meaning he will be staying in Toronto and continuing to lead a young Raptors team that was a break or two away from getting to the second round of the playoffs this past season.
WHO’S LEFT? Besides the Miami trio of James, Bosh and Wade, there are still tons of quality players out there. Pau Gasol is getting interest from a number of teams, including Oklahoma City. Lance Stephenson is negotiating with Indiana, which probably still remains the frontrunner to retain the guard. Greg Monroe and Chandler Parsons are expected to get nice pay raises next season, regardless of where they are, and Luol Deng seems like he’d fit with a number of teams who actually have some money to spend.
‘BIG 3’ UPDATE: The first two days of free agency came and went without really a peep from the Heat or any of their players from the last four runs to the NBA Finals. The ‘Big 3’ are all tweeting, sure — but it’s almost entirely limited to the World Cup or their kids. No hints on basketball moves, yet. And Pat Riley has remained quiet, like always. Clearly, teams aren’t waiting around for the Heat to make moves, but there’s still a sense that when the Miami dominoes start moving, things leaguewide will start happening in a hurry. As for James, he posted a vacation photo of himself smiling and standing among family Thursday afternoon at an undisclosed location. If he’s anxious, it’s not showing.
NAMES TO WATCH: Jason Kidd left Brooklyn in infamous fashion but many eyes are on player movement, and with good reason. It might seem odd in some circles that names like Paul Pierce, Josh McRoberts, Spencer Hawes, Shawn Marion, Jordan Hill and NBA Finals hero Boris Diaw aren’t getting more attention. Look for that to change, quickly.
NOWITZKI DEAL: Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have agreed on what could be the final contract for the big German.
A person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press that Nowitzki would get a three-year contract worth roughly $30 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
New contracts can’t be signed until next Thursday.
The 36-year-old Nowitzki is taking a big pay cut with a contract similar in value and structure to the one Tim Duncan signed with San Antonio two years ago.
Duncan, who also took a much lower salary, is exercising a player option to return for the final season of his deal after helping the Spurs win their fifth title since 1999.
Nowitzki just completed a four-year deal worth $80 million, and he left money on the table in that deal hoping the Mavericks could get some pieces around him.
The pursuit of other stars is even more urgent with Nowitzki getting close to the end of what figures to be a Hall-of-Fame career. The 2011 NBA Finals MVP put off finalizing the deal until after the Mavericks met with free agent Carmelo Anthony, which happened Wednesday night.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently acknowledged that he couldn’t offer Anthony a max contract, so Dallas figures to be stressing the 2011 title led by coach Rick Carlisle, Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler, who recently rejoined the team in a trade with the New York Knicks.
If the Mavericks miss out on Anthony, there are a number of other small forwards on their wish list, topped by Houston’s Chandler Parsons. He is a restricted free agent, and the Rockets can match any offer.
Dallas also wants to re-sign point guard Devin Harris, and will target several others at that position if Harris goes elsewhere.