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Waiting game: Signing day arrives in the NBA, though top free agents move slowly

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Signing day arrived Thursday in the NBA, though the biggest free agents didn't rush to grab their pens.

Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh might be waiting on LeBron James — isn't everybody? — before making their decisions.

There's been no indication when James plans to do so, so Miami and Cleveland waited anxiously — as did fans lining up outside James' Akron, Ohio home, even while he was in Las Vegas.

Knicks President Phil Jackson was hoping Thursday would finally bring a decision from Anthony.

"But I expected one yesterday and the day before yesterday," Jackson said at the Knicks' summer league practice in Las Vegas. "But no, we're waiting."

In the meantime, Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat signed contracts to remain with their teams, while Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward inked offer sheets that could land them on new ones.

Teams and players could negotiate and agree to deals since July 1, but contracts couldn't be signed or trades made until Thursday, after the moratorium period ended and next season's salary cap was set.

Most of the best free agents have usually committed by the time they can sign, though that hasn't been the case this year, largely because of the holdup caused by Miami's Big Three and Anthony.

Bosh may want to wait on the word from James to decide whether he wants to remain in Miami. Anthony was perhaps holding out in case there was some way he, too, could end up partnering somewhere with the four-time MVP.

While they wait, so do players such as Pau Gasol, Lance Stephenson, Luol Deng and Paul Pierce, who are on the next tier of free agents available.

Not everybody is waiting around. Lowry signed his deal to stay in Toronto on Thursday, which Yahoo Sports previously reported was for $48 million over four years. He had heard from Miami and Houston, but liked his situation with the Atlantic Division champions.

"Other teams had some great things and I think they had pieces that were comparable pieces, but I think the situation that I'm in, the age I'm @, me being able to lead a team, to lead a team and grow as a person, that was a very big factor in it," he said.

Gortat is returning to Washington with a contract that will pay him $60 million over five years. The centre from Poland posted a picture of himself signing the papers on his Twitter page, writing that it was the "best day of my life!!!"

A couple of other players might be getting their riches, though it will take a few days. Hayward signed an offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets that would pay him $63 million over four years. The Utah Jazz have three days to match the offer.

Parsons has a three-year, $45 million offer from Dallas, but he is also a restricted free agent that allows the Rockets the same window to match.

The Rockets are one of the teams believed to be considering Bosh if he does opt to leave Miami, which could affect how they deal with Parsons.

They also met with Anthony, whom New York wants to keep. The Knicks offered him the maximum allowable contract, worth nearly $130 million over five years, when they met with him a week ago in Los Angeles, but are still awaiting word if he is staying put.

"We have alternative plans, Plan B, C, D, E and F, but so far we're still in Plan A," Jackson said. "That's the first kind of kingpin that we have to have in this whole situation."

Same with the Heat, who risk losing James and maybe more. He met with team President Pat Riley on Wednesday in Las Vegas, but so far there has been no decision. Once he announces his plans, the other top dominoes may quickly fall.

Then, perhaps the deals will start getting done.

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Associated Press freelance writer Willie Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

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