Monday's Portland Trail Blazers NBA Free Agency Buzz

LOS ANGELES, CA - FILE: Shaquille O'Neal of the Boston Celtics talks on the phone as he attends NBA All-Star Saturday night presented by State Farm at Staples Center on February 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. It was announced in a Twitter video that NBA star Shaquille O'Neal will retire June 1, 2011. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Marc Stein of ESPN.com was first to report that direct contact between NBA teams and free agents is now officially allowed, as of Monday morning. Expect a wave of reports across the league that go something like "Free Agent X is visiting Teams Y and Z" in advance of Friday, when teams will be able to announce signings and training camps will officially open. Handshake deals will probably begin leaking out this week too.

The Blazers are opening their practice gym again on Monday morning but it's still not clear who will be there.

(Update: So far it's Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Blake and Blazers reserve big men Chris Johnson and Earl Barron, according to the team. Late add: forward LaMarcus Aldridge.)

Rounding up of some Portland Trail Blazers news and free agency bits. Outside of the expected Greg Oden talk, things are eerily quiet so far.

David Aldridge of NBA.com expects the Blazers to use the Amnesty Clause on guard Brandon Roy.

Don't have much doubt that the Blazers will cut Brandon Roy using the amnesty provision. And there really aren't any villains in the matter. His contract no longer makes any sense, given his chronic knee problems. And Portland's management isn't wrong if it goes that way. It isn't a calamity or tragedy. Roy will get $82 million and have the opportunity for a fresh start somewhere else, where there won't be as much pressure on him to be a franchise savior.

NBA.com has a video season preview for the Blazers here.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop.com responds to the "Oden-to-Miami" rumor.
Makes all kinds of sense. It's a team that has to make high-risk/high-reward decisions in a search for a center, and the ultimate high-risk/high-reward center. Also, it's a player who could really benefit from a special kind of motivation, and a team, coach and front office that can provide it. As a Blazer fan, I want Oden to figure it out in Portland. As a human who has met him several times, I can't shake the notion a change of scene might be a good idea -- if nothing else as a way to maybe cheer him up.
TheAge.com.au reports that uncertainty with his spot in Portland contributed to Blazers RFA guard Patty Mills' decision to sign in China.

Agent Bruce Kaider says Mills "absolutely" retains the long-term goal of playing in the NBA. "There were no guarantees in Portland. He would've had to go back there and fight for a spot and he may not have even been in Portland," Kaider said yesterday.

"He probably wouldn't have played the minutes he will in China. Certainly leading into London 2012 I think it's important for Patty and the Australian men's program that Patty is actually playing minutes and working on his game and developing his game."

Jamal Crawford

Sam Amick of SI.com reports that the New Orleans Hornets, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, New Jersey Nets and Indiana Pacers are "leading the pack."

Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com reports that Crawford is eyeing deals in the $8-$9 million per year range, which would push him well out of Portland's MLE budget.

Chuck Hayes

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Sacramento Kings are "a frontrunner" for Houston Rockets unrestricted free agent forward/center Chuck Hayes.

Sacramento had wanted to sign Hayes to a lucrative one-year deal to keep cap space for the summer of 2012, but could come back with the kind of multiyear offer now needed to acquire him. For Hayes, a native of nearby Modesto in Northern California, it would be a unique chance to return home.

Amick confirms that "mutual interest."

Last week, a report out of Houston said the Rockets were interested in retaining Hayes too.

Joel Przybilla

In a weekend notebook, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian quoted agent Bill Duffy saying that the Blazers expressed interested in Hayes but that they are more interested in free agent center Joel Przybilla.

Dave's thoughts on Przybilla here.

Carl Landry

Jimmy Smith of NOLA.com reports that the Blazers are in the mix for New Orleans Hornets unrestricted free agent forward Carl Landry according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Landry's name has been linked most recently to the Portland Trail Blazers. Bartelstein said he has been in contact with about a half-dozen teams regarding Landry.

Freeman quoted Bartelstein saying that the Blazers are one of six teams showing "strong interest" in Landry.

Update: Landry tells Smith he has spoken with six teams on Monday and Portland is one of them.

"Today, I've spoken with New Jersey, Denver, New Orleans, Indiana, Portland and Boston. Mentally, that's why I like to work out, to get away from everything."

The Nets, Nuggets, Hornets and Pacers can all potentially make larger offers to Landry than Portland by virtue of their cap position.

Greg Smith

Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reports that the Blazers have invited undrafted big man Greg Smith out of Fresno State to work out in Portland this week.

This post will update throughout Monday with any additional reports.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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