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With the start of free agency approaching, the Suns positioned themselves to accelerate their rebuilding time frame, scheduling a Saturday meeting with Clippers star Blake Griffin in Los Angeles.

As it turns out, it won’t happen.

According to multiple reports, Griffin on Friday reached an agreement with the Clippers on a max five-year deal worth $173 million. USA Today reported that Griffin’s camp already had canceled the power forward’s meeting with the Suns.

All along, this was the predicted outcome. Despite concerns about his health, the Clippers reportedly made Griffin a priority in the wake of the Chris Paul trade to Houston. Just as important: They also were in position to give the five-time All-Star the most money.

The most the Suns – or anyone else– could offer was four years, $130 million. In most cases, the team that can pay the most wins. That made Phoenix a long shot from the start.

As of Friday night, the Suns still expected to meet with Atlanta forward Paul Millsap on Sunday. A four-time All-Star, Millsap is one of the higher-profile players in this free-agent class. Last season, the 32-year-old averaged a career-high 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks would like to keep Millsap but maybe not at the highest cost. With the salary cap set at $99 million, Millsap is eligible for a max contract of five years for $201 million with the Hawks and four years, $149 million with another team.

The New York Daily News reported that Denver and Minnesota were early frontrunners for Millsap, but Phoenix and Sacramento also were in the mix. Millsap reportedly will meet with Denver on Saturday. Although teams can reach agreements with free agents, deals cannot be finalized until July 7.

In addition to frontcourt experience, the Suns seek leaders. 

Coach Earl Watson played that role late in his career – mentoring players like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in Portland – and it’s something he values greatly as a coach. The Suns last season had solid leaders in center Tyson Chandler and Ronnie Price, but they lost a respected voice at the trade deadline when P.J. Tucker left for Toronto.

The Free-agency period started Friday night. 

The Suns first planned to contact their own free agents – center Alex Len, forward Alan Williams and Price. The Suns recently extended qualifying offers to both Len and Williams, which gave them matching rights should the big men receive other offers.

According to ESPN.com, the Knicks on Friday reached out to Williams, who is coming off a breakout season of sorts. After spending most of the first half on the bench, the 6-8 forward moved into the Suns’ rotation and averaged 11.4 points and 9.1 rebounds after the All-Star break.

In other NBA news:

  • Golden State star Stephen Curry reportedly agreed to stay with the Warriors for the richest contract in NBA history, a super max deal of five years for $201 million. 
  • Golden State’s Andre Iguodala was scheduled to meet with the Spurs as soon as the free-agency period started, ESPN.com reported. The key reserve also was expected to meet with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets.
  • Clippers guard J.J. Redick is interested in joining the Rockets, The Los Angeles Times reported. Philadelphia and Brooklyn also are options to sign Redick in the $16-18 million range. Minnesota also could be in the mix.
  • Minnesota traded point guard Ricky Rubio to Utah for a 2018 first-round draft pick. The Timberwolves later reportedly agreed to terms with Indiana point guard Jeff Teague, three years for $57 million.
  • In a blockbuster, the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.

YOUR TAKE: Blake Griffin to the Phoenix Suns?

NOTES: Bender, Chriss to play for Suns in Vegas summer league

Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at [email protected] Follw him at Twitter.com/DougHaller