Free agency begins at midnight. (Updated 10:07 PM)

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) Jeremy Lin #17, Steve Novak #16 and Landry Fields #2 of the New York Knicks celebrate after Lin made a 3-point basket in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Teams, players, and agents are permitted to flirt starting at midnight on July 1, which means we are but hours away from the opening of free agent negotiations. It's Erev Yom free agency right now, I guess. (What if free agency actually began at sundown? All the GMs would move to the east coast, if not overseas. Daryl Morey would build a giant magnet or something to accelerate the Earth's rotation. James Dolan would just buy the sun and destroy it). Anyway, the phones will start ringing right at 12:00, but keep in mind that deals cannot actually be consummated until July 11.

In the meantime, the Knicks are going to do a lot of talking to a lot of free agents and the Knicks' free agents are going to do a lot of talking to a lot of other teams. We mustn't get jealous or paranoid when Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak (and Landry Fields and J.R. Smith and Jared Jeffries, probably) receive inquiries and offers from other teams. Even if they wish to return to New York, it is in their best interest to field some offers and establish market value so the Knicks pay them fairly. Lin and Fields are restricted bros, so Glen Grunwald can sit and watch them receive offers, then match anything that comes their way. At least with Lin, Grunwald's damn near guaranteed to do exactly that.

Novak, too, will get some calls and meet with some teams for the same reason. Steve's unrestricted, but really sounds like he's leaning toward a return. His recently recovered early Bird rights only make that more likely. As folks with a vested interest in the rumors, we ought to be patient and not overreact to attention from other organizations. They'll pick our toys up and play with them a bit, but Daddy Grun won't let the mean men take them from us.

That goes the other way, too. The Knicks will dangle their exception dollars in front of plenty of players, but most will end up elsewhere. As we get closer to the 11th and beyond, the real potential matches will become clearer. Until then, everyone's just talking.

It all begins in just a few hours!

Update (10:07 PM): David Aldridge reports that the Knicks will be one of many teams to meet with Steve Nash on Sunday. That's to be expected and probably to be disregarded, unless Daddy Grun's up to something complex.

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