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Chandler, the starting center for NBA champion Dallas, and Denver’s Nene headed a solid core of free agent big men. Jamal Crawford, the former top sixth man from Atlanta, was available for teams seeking backcourt scoring punch, and teams seeking a reliable veteran swingman could sort through Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince.

But the class isn’t spectacular, which is why the focus was already on next summer, when Howard, Paul and Deron Williams can become free agents.

There were reports that Paul planned to leave New Orleans, and that the teams were angling to trade for him. Nets general manager Billy King denied an report that he was preparing to offer Brook Lopez and two first-round picks to Orlando in hopes of getting Howard to play with Williams.

“I’ll go on the record that I haven’t talked to Orlando about a trade since February, right before the trade deadline,” King said. “I have not had any conversations at all with my good friend Otis (Smith, the Magic general manager).

“So, I don’t know where that is coming from.”

The league could announce the opening-day schedule this week. The full regular-season schedule may not be unveiled until next week.


AP Sports Writers Dan Gelston in Philadelphia and Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City, and AP freelance writer Jim Hague in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.


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