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Monday, July 5, 2010
LeBron has free agency at a standstill

By Jeff Caplan

Eventually the top domino will fall and the momentum will set off the inevitable chain reaction. But, until LeBron James decides where he wants to continue his basketball career, the upper tier of free agency is at a virtual standstill.

Once James decides, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will too, and then the trickle down will allow players like Brendan Haywood to chart their course.

Haywood and the Mavs are currently in contract negotiations, but teams like the Heat, Cavaliers and Knicks are interested, so Haywood is likely to wait and see what unfolds before choosing his destination.

James is hosting a three-day Nike hoops camp at the University of Akron starting today and he isn't expected to make a decision until after the camp. Wade is hosting a camp in South Florida on Tuesday through Thursday. It could take until late in the week to get the wheels turning.

Whether the extra time will afford the Mavs a chance to swoop in for a face-to-face interview with either player is uncertain. The agents for both players have not returned repeated messages and the Mavs are remaining mum. Early in the process, the Mavs contacted both players' representatives seeking an interview.

The Mavs can only acquire a top-tier free agent through a sign-and-trade, so they would have to convince James or Wade to demand the Cavaliers or Heat to trade them to Dallas.

Teams can continue to come to terms with their own free agents, such as the Mavs did with Dirk Nowitzki over the weekend and the Hawks did with Joe Johnson.

Some lower-level free agents will also continue to strike deals, but as far as the upper crust, including Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, and then the trickle-down free agents such as Haywood will likely be on hold until the lead domino tumbles.

There are rumblings that Stoudemire could be the first of the big names to agree to a new contract, with the Knicks, but that won't clear the logjam. Only James can do that.