Phoenix, apparently still in the thick of the Michael Finley derby, will send a delegation to Chicago today and make its best pitch at luring the ex-Sun back to the Valley.
Finley, a free agent since he became an amnesty waiver by the Dallas Mavericks a week ago, and his agent, Henry Thomas, met with Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy of the Miami Heat in Chicago on Monday — the first of as many as five interested suitors who could meet with Finley this week.
Suns president and general manager Bryan Colangelo confirmed he is headed to Chicago today but wouldn’t say who was coming along for the ride. "We’re looking forward to our chance to speak with Michael,’’ he said.
Following the Suns, the San Antonio Spurs will visit Finley and Thomas on Thursday. The Detroit Pistons also have been hot after Finley but may be ready to use a portion of their $5 million mid-level exception on free agent power forward Dale Davis this week.
A fifth team may also be entering the fray. ESPN.com reported Monday the Minnesota Timberwolves are also wooing Finley and that star center Kevin Garnett has called Finley in an attempt to bring him north.
The Heat, who also have $5 million to offer Finley, pulled out all the stops, including over a dozen huge banners featuring Finley in a No. 4 Miami jersey outside the American Airlines Center. But unless they took a panoramic picture of it, Finley didn’t see it Monday.
Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni did get a leg up on the competition last Thursday. He spent about 15 minutes talking with Finley at the wedding of Dallas trainer and former Suns employee Casey Smith in the Valley.
"Oh yeah, I made my pitch to get him,’’ D’Antoni said. "It might not have been the typical setting, but we had a good talk and I let him know we’d love to have him.’’
While the Heat and the Pistons can offer the most money, the Suns are the only team that can offer Finley a starring role — and a starting shooting guard spot — on a contending team. And Phoenix is hoping the chance for the 32-year-old Finley, who is coming off his worst season as a pro and offseason surgery, to play with close friend Steve Nash and prove he’s still a prime-time player will help the Suns’ cause.
"We’ve been told (by Thomas) that it’s not so much about the dog-and-pony show, it’s about the opportunity a team can offer,’’ Colangelo said. "That’s why he’s having teams come to him.’’
The Suns aren’t putting all their hopes on Finley. They also have interest in Indiana restricted free agent James Jones, who is reportedly willing to wait for the free agent picture to clear. The Suns have a $6 million trade exception to work with.