Blog Entry

Free-Agent Tipoff

Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:32 am
The free-agent frenzy doesn’t officially begin for another two days, but the speculation already is rampant. Here’s the first edition of the Free-Agent Tipoff, a morning look at the news of the day from front-office executives and agents:

• We won’t know for a few days, or maybe longer, whether LeBron James sees his free-agent opportunity through the same prism I do. But as the week begins, the consensus among rival executives and influential agents is that the Knicks are in for a tough time when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Word circulating over the weekend was that Knicks president Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni faced a “very tough sell” to the top free agents, according to one rival executive monitoring the free-agent buzz. The reason, according to an agent involved in the process: “They’re going to have a lot of convincing to do for guys. There’s not a lot of pieces there to make it attractive.” According to other sources, it’s even worse than that for the Knicks. A representative for one prominent free agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiating period hasn’t begun, said the Knicks may have as hard a time – or even harder – persuading second-tier free agents to go to New York. “If you come in there, expectations are so high you almost can’t – unless it’s LeBron, anybody else will have a really hard time living up to it,” the agent said. “What if the team makes playoffs and loses in first round? Is that a success? Probably not. You’re starting off negative. That’s the way you want to start off? Everybody should be happy about getting two All-Stars, but they’re not the ones you thought you were getting or were sold on getting.”

• Having said that, Hawks free agent Joe Johnson is expecting a hard sell from the Knicks in the event LeBron opts to go elsewhere. Johnson has set up shop in Los Angeles with his agent, Arn Tellem, who has an excellent relationship with Walsh. As of early Monday, Johnson had yet to schedule any free-agent visits – in L.A. or elsewhere. One person with ties to Johnson suggested a possible reason why he is 1) in L.A., and 2) in no hurry to entertain visitors. Don’t be surprised if his strong connection to Clippers GM Neil Olshey explains why Johnson is conveniently ensconced in L.A. for the purposes of signing a max deal with the Clips. As a trainer for Tellem when Johnson was entering the draft, Olshey worked with Johnson and has maintained a strong relationship with him. The Clippers situation is ideal because Johnson wouldn’t have to shoulder the burden as the franchise cornerstone, a title and responsibility that will fall on Blake Griffin. The Clippers, with enough cap space for one max player, will make their run at LeBron, but the answer is expected to be a swift and polite, “No, thanks.” At which point you can expected them to move on to Johnson as their Plan B.

• Henry Thomas, the agent for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, shot down reports Sunday that Bosh had already decided to join James in Chicago. “Completely untrue,” Thomas told “He hasn’t decided anything.” Be that as it may, rival executives already are bracing for a LeBron-Bosh tandem in Chicago. “They’d immediately be the favorites to win the East, I think,” one of them said. The same exec said he believes that if LeBron and Bosh do team up with the Bulls, that would quickly set the next domino into motion – Amar’e Stoudemire signing with the Heat to play with Dwyane Wade.

• Stoudemire will be receiving visitors in Los Angeles, a person close to him said. As of Sunday night, no visits had been set up. Stoudemire made a few waves over the weekend when he tweeted about having dinner in Chicago with his agent, Happy Walters, and discussing free agency. He went on to mention how good it was to see his friend, Dwyane Wade, at the Nike Skills Academy in the Windy City. (It turns out, there were numerous people at the dinner, not just Amar’e and Wade. So slow your roll, conspiratorial internet rumor mill.) But the person close to Stoudemire provided some insight into what the man they call STAT is looking for in free agency: “He wants to be in a situation where he can win, and where there’s a team around him,” the person said. “He doesn’t want to be the only guy, obviously, and he wants to be in a city he wants to be in. I think everyone forgets that a lot of these guys are going to get pursued by teams that aren’t under the cap and people are going to want to do sign-and-trades.” That’s right, the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and Clippers aren’t the only teams capable of landing a marquee free agent in the next couple of weeks.

• To that point, the Magic are said to be actively considering trade scenarios that could provide Dwight Howard with a post-up power forward to play with, a play-maker to replace what Hedo Turkoglu brought to the 2009 Eastern Conference championship team, or a dynamic point guard. It would be easy enough to move Rashard Lewis to small forward and satisfy Howard’s first wish – something he feels strongly enough about to begin “heavily recruiting” free agents that fit the description, according to a source. As for the second item, if I were GM Otis Smith, I’d be exploring a Vince Carter-for-Joe Johnson sign-and-trade; what an upgrade that would be for a team that sorely missed Turkoglu in the conference finals against Boston this year. The third option is the most interesting: A person with knowledge of the Magic’s plans said a trade for Gilbert Arenas, the one-time superstar whose reputation took a massive hit with his gun suspension last season, remains a “definite possibility.” Smith has a good relationship with Arenas, but a stumbling block could be the fact that Howard has questions about whether Arenas would fit in. If Howard gets the answers he’s looking for, there could be legs to the Arenas-to-Orlando scenario.

• An aside on the potential LeBron-Bosh tandem in Chicago: Bulls GM Gar Forman will have a hard sell in this respect: Persuading both players to come on board with straight signings instead of through sign-and-trades. The pitch would be this: Despite losing a sixth year and 2.5 percent more in annual raises, they’d have a better shot at a title if the Bulls didn’t have to give up, say, Joakim Noah or Luol Deng to get them.

• Rod Thorn is telling colleagues that his impending departure from the Nets is “not about the money,” but that horse has left the barn. It’s well known in front-office circles that Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut on a new contract, perhaps as much as 80 percent, according to two sources. It’s possible that after a cooling-off period, Thorn could be retained in some sort of advisory capacity while owner Mikhail Prokhorov pursues the young, dynamic voice he’s said to be seeking. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti would make sense, and already there are rumblings that Presti is on Prokhorov’s list of targets. But in addition to Jerry Colangelo, another name that surfaced Sunday doesn’t fit that description: Spurs GM R.C. Buford, who is not one of the young guns in the NBA’s GM club but has done as good a job as anyone building a perennial contender on a small-market budget. Now that the Spurs’ run is nearly over, it’s scary to imagine an executive as shrewd as Buford turned loose with the limitless financial backing of a Russian billionaire. In any event, rival executives are scratching their heads as to why the Nets would allow themselves to enter free-agent pitch sessions with a lame-duck GM and no replacement on board. Makes you wonder whether Kevin Pritchard, fired by the Trail Blazers on draft night, could switch gears quickly enough to join Thorn on the recruiting trail as his official replacement. Also makes you wonder whether Pritchard would be emotionally prepared to work for another eccentric billionaire so soon after getting canned by one.
Category: NBA

Since: Jan 22, 2010
Posted on: June 28, 2010 4:39 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

If you're going for laughs with these absurd comments I'd say you hit the nail on the head. Gordon may be young, and he's not bad, but he's no JJ. Bosh overrated, you must not watch a lot of basketball, if 20 10 and 1-2 blocks is overrated just tell me where to sign. So LeBron is your top choice and then.. Rudy Gay? Not someone the likes of Dwayne Wade with a ring already to his name and you know he's hungry for another one which is why he's basically playing GM for Miami right now trying to get the pieces in place for #2. Baron can still run the point and Kaman is a great center, gotta hand that to you, but I'm interested to see how Griffin unfolds after having the injury and being one year removed from college having never faced top level talent like he will in the NBA. I'm not saying he can't/won't be good I'm just very curious. When you arrived at this statemet though.. "Serious Back Up Center Diondre Jordon who RUNS Circles around any center in Cleve, NY, NJ, Chic, or Miami" I just couldn't help myself. You can't be serious with DeAndre, not Diondre, Jordan the only time he's running in circles is on the practice court. Lets go down the line of the teams you mentioned: NY David Lee, a natural PF but forced to play the 5, would make DeAndre Jordan look like a kid in grade school if he was starting against him. Plays very sound defense and is an absolute monster on the boards. NJ Brook Lopez, 18.8ppg 8.6rpg 1.7bpg,  enough said. CHI has Noah who would dominate Jordan on both ends of the court and I'd even take Taj Gibson over DeAndre Jordan. Miami, Jermaine O'Neal vs DeAndre Jordan hmmm don't know who to go with there. I'm not trying to hate on the Clippers, but you just sound straight up ridiculous. On the other hand though, where might I get some of what you're smoking?

Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: June 28, 2010 4:32 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

What's really funny about the game of basketball is that you can only use one BALL at a time.  The DWade, Lebron, Chris senario willl never happen because of this basic premise of the game.  THREE alphadogs on one team will never, I repeat never work.  I want the last shot, no I want the last shot, no I deserve the last shot is a conversation no coach, not even ol slick hair, can handle.  Cleveland fan, when Izzo said no, Lebron was a memory for you, period!!!  Can you imagine doing everything in you power for two years to make something happen and it doesn't???  Mike and Donnie, you are SOL, so sign Joe and Amari and be done with it.  Dwade better watch out or he will be playing with the worst team ever assembled, oh I forgot, he is a free agent himself, so the Heat may be a franchise without any players real soon.  IT'S THE BULLS for the new #6 and Bosh if they want to win NOOOOOW.

Since: Jan 22, 2010
Posted on: June 28, 2010 4:15 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

Well said chalklounge, Tengeta's brain must have decayed faster than NYC which according to him "simply doesn't have that anymore". Just another number on the endless list of haters. I agree with your last statement 100% and hope morons like this guy stay away, NYC is the greatest city and thats it, no debate. It's a shame they have the internet wherever this guy may be becuase we'd all be better off if he kept his comments to himself.

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: June 28, 2010 3:36 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

I have to agree with you. I think Lebron and Bosh will come to Chicago. There stats will deminish, but to have a young core group is unheard of else where. Did New York make the playoffs this year? No! Miami made the playoffs. Clippers, umm no. Nets, umm no. So it comes down to Miami and Chicago. Ok, so Miami might sign Wade, but how many championships. Bulls have a young team that could possibly win 7, if James and Bosh come. Rose is a stud and Noah has fire to be competitiive. Adding James and Bosh to the lineup will make the BULLS a team to break the 6 championships from the 90's. James and Bosh are both 25 and the Bulls already have a young core and solid bench players. Does Miami have the depth? NO! The Bulls have all the right pieces in place and jsut need James and Bosh. Was anyone watching the Draft? Bulls trade Kirk and there draft to free up money. I don't know about you, but the Bulls are showing they will do whatever to bring and championship to Chicago again.

Since: Jun 28, 2010
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:50 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

I think everybody really underestimating the talent in NY. It really dont take much too win in the East. Look at Garnett when he came over with the Celtics. Everybody said they'll be good but questioned they're defense. They won the title the  If Wade or Lebron and Bosh come to this team it will be very good, add Gallinari and Wilson Chandler to those 2 guys they will be one of the top teams in the East next year. I know Bulls has the best option with Rose and Noah. But i looked at the team Heat fielded this year they won with 1 superstar. the rest of the supporting casr was basically nothing. The knicks need a playmaker and a inside presence. Bosh blocks enough shots where he can be a big difference in our interior defense. I'm going to say this and some people might laughed everything that happen the lase couple years was to get to this point. Eddy Curry & Toney Douglas will be a difference this year.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:45 pm

All you Cleveland doubters..............

I have read several of you saying that if LeBron was going to stay with Cleveland, he would have already signed with them.  That is not the case.  LBJ is a self marketing meglo-maniac!  Think about it.  The guy has been the number one basketball story since the Cavs lost to Boston.  All thru the conference finals and the world championship series LeBron was the number one topic discussed in pre-game, half time and post game analysis.  Hundreds of thousands of predicition and analysis articles have been written about where he is going and why.  He is mentioned on Sports Center like every ten minutes.  How could the guy lose by keeping his choice to himself?  By shutting up and keeping a low profile, James has put his name on the lips of nearly every basketball fan in the world.  His image has been splattered across the internet, TV sets, and thousands of print media.  He is getting advertising that money can't buy.  The branding of LeBron James is at an epic proportion right now. 

Will LeBron resign with the Cavs?  Well Akron-Cleveland area is home and that is where mama lives.  LeBron being a Capricorn is astrologically wired to be seriously family oriented.  His legacy was built in Cleveland and that is where it will continue to grow.  Why move to South Beach, NYC, Chicago or LA and just be another over paid entertainment star?  In Cleveland, he is the face of Ohio.  Not just a city, but the entire state!  LeBron owns it!  He will go down as an all time legend.  The best athlete to ever play any professional sport in Ohio.  Now that is a legacy!

Since: Apr 9, 2009
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:41 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

What people don't mention about NY is that they will have another 11+ million in cap room next year. If they can sign two top FA's, those players would get to have input about how the cap room is used next year. Nobody is signing for one year. Long term plans are important. Whether or not writers or fans are aware of this situation, the players, their agents, and the Knicks front office is. Miami and Chicago are going to be locked in after this year and will have a hard time getting better. For Chicago, that might be ok, but for Miami and the other cities, it will be minimum contracts for every free agent for years to come.

Since: May 26, 2010
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:01 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

Man it sounds like the Clippers are going to win multiple championships even without Lebron!  If they get Lebron they will probably go like 74-8 next year.  Quite an improvement from a team that went 29-53.  You want to talk about a place where Lebron doesn't fit, it's the Clippers.  The only way he fits in with the Clippers is if they let them play with 3 balls at the same time to make sure everybody gets their shots.  Baron Davis' list of priorities when playing goes something like this:  shoot, shoot, force up a shot, shoot, drive to the basket and shoot, drive to the basket and throw up a wild shot, shoot, turn the ball over and finally, pass to a teammate if he is wide open under the basket.  The Clippers have some nice talent but Lebron has a better chance of winning with a lineup of Lebron, Bosh, Rose, Noah and Deng than he does with a lineup of Lebron, Gordon, Baron, Kaman, and Griffin.

DeAndre Jordan?!  Really!?  He is a decent young talent but to say he is a better center than Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah or even Jermaine O'Neal is crazy.

Nobody knows where Lebron is going but, on paper, Chicago is the best fit.

A lot of people keep saying New York because of the money he would make off of the court.  Well here is a little story:  There once was a basketball player named Michael Jordan.  He was real good and made more endorsement money than any athlete ever not named Tiger.  Oh yeah, he played for the Chicago Bulls.

Since: May 24, 2007
Posted on: June 28, 2010 2:00 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

I'd avoid the decaying city at any cost possible, even if I were in his posisition and the only other option was half the pay.Like Tucson is the gem of the west. NYC is the only true great city in the USA. Tucson is a hole. What Player wouldn't want to be the King of the biggest city in North America.

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: June 28, 2010 1:13 pm

Free-Agent Tipoff

Lets see.  New York or Cleveland.  I'm not a huge fan of New York, but Cleveland is a wasteland.  Cold, awful weather, nothing to do, and dog-like fans.  Gee.

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