Tag:Nets
Posted on: June 28, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 1:54 pm
 

Cap figures for free-agent chase (UPDATE)

While agents and GMs continue to point out that teams without cap space can participate in free agency, too, it's worth taking a look at exactly where the cap-flush teams stand with two days left before the negotiating period begins.

The Bulls and Heat weren't the only teams whose cap space changed with draft-related trades. As things stand now, five teams have enough room to sign at least one max free agent at the going rate of about $16.6 million in the first year of the deal. Only the Knicks have more than enough room for two max players, while the Bulls and Heat are within easy striking distance through various housecleaning moves.

UPDATE: By trading Yi Jianlian and cash to Washington for Quinton Ross Monday, the Nets cleared another $2.9 million in cap space, closing in on room for two max free agents.

In all, there are nine teams with cap space heading into July 1. That doesn't mean free agency is a nine-team race, as teams that are over the cap (Dallas and Houston, for example) already are internally discussing sign-and-trade deals that could yield marquee free agents in return. Here's a breakdown of how much room each team with cap space has, using league salary figures and consultations with team executives:

1) Knicks, $34.4 million: That doesn't include a $10.5 million cap hold for unrestricted free agent David Lee, whose rights must be renounced to have room for two max signings.

2) Nets, $30.5 million: New Jersey failed in its draft-day attempt to deal Devin Harris and his $8.9 million contract, a move that would’ve put them on par with the Knicks for the most cap space. The Nets will continue to dangle Harris and others if they feel it gives them a real shot at two max players.

3) Bulls, $29.2 million: Chicago cleared $9.8 million by trading Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Wizards, who ironically absorbed the hit with the space provided by Cleveland in the Antawn Jamison trade. So it's possible that the Bulls could wind up recycling that space and turning it into LeBron James. But I digress. The Bulls' figure could rise to $30.9 million after Rob Kurz and Chris Richard (both non-guaranteed deals) are waived, and they’d get the room for two max free agents by dumping James Johnson ($1.8 million) on a team with cap space.

4) Heat, $29.1 million: Like Chicago, Miami is on the cusp of clearing room for two max free agents. There are two fairly straight-forward routes by which they can finish the job: Acquire one of the players in a sign-and-trade (if someone will take Michael Beasley and his $4.9 million contract) or give James Jones ($1.8 million) away to a team that’s under the cap, such as Sacramento. If a team like the Kings were offered Jones plus $3 million cash and a future draft pick, how could they say no?


5) Clippers, $16.8 million: As things stand now, the Clips have room for only one max player, and it’s likely to stay that way. They’ll go all-in for LeBron, but anticipating a no, will quickly switch gears to a second-tier free agent, with Joe Johnson the likely target.

6) Kings, $14.9 million: Sacto doesn’t intend to be a major player in pursuing free agents, but GM Geoff Petrie and assistant GM Jason Levien will still be quite busy. The Kings will field numerous calls from teams trying to unload salaries into Sacramento’s space, an avenue that would provide cash and future draft picks to continue the rebuilding process.

7) Timberwolves, $13 million: If GM David Kahn is able to dump Al Jefferson ($13 million), the T-Wolves’ space could increase significantly. Short of that, Minny will be in the same boat as the Kings as facilitators for other free-agent movers and shakers.

8) Wizards, $10.4 million: All that space, and then some, disappears if Washington picks up Josh Howard’s $11.8 million team option for 2010-11. That’s unlikely. It’s also a long shot that the Wizards will be players in the free-agent derby, preferring instead to wait until the financial framework of a new CBA is set.

9) Thunder, $5.5 million: GM Sam Presti finally delved into his cap space to acquire Daequan Cook and the expiring contract of Morris Peterson, deals that yielded 11th pick Cole Aldrich and future draft picks.

Posted on: June 26, 2010 11:42 pm
 

Colangelo: No contact from Nets


If Mikhail Prokhorov's grand plan in forcing Rod Thorn out of the Nets' presidency involves hiring Jerry Colangelo to replace him, this is news to Jerry Colangelo. The managing director of USA Basketball told CBSSports.com Saturday night he has yet to hear from the Nets.

Colangelo said in a text message that there's been "no call" from the Nets and "no contact" between the franchise and the architect of USA Basketball's resurgence, which not coincidentally was fueled by several members of the elite 2010 free-agent class. In addition to Colangelo's track record as one of the game's shrewdest executives and innovators, his close relationship with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others who have thrived under Colangelo's leadership with USA Basketball enhances his value to teams looking to pursue those and other free agents.

Though he has yet to hear from the Nets, Colangelo remains interested in speaking with New Jersey officials if the team is interested in him. In that regard, nothing has changed since All-Star weekend in Dallas, when Colangelo said he'd listen to what then-prospective owner Prokhorov had to say if he wanted to discuss Colangelo running the team that will be moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., in two years.

Thorn's departure was surprising for its timing, but not stunning in the grand scheme of things. That's partly because Thorn has privately contemplated retirement in recent years and partly due to a new normal among NBA owners who have just endured two of the worst financial years in league history. According to two people familiar with the situation, Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut -- as much as 80 percent, the sources said -- to stay with the team after his contract expired June 30. Thorn, described as "emotional" over the request, declined the insult but agreed to stay on through July 15 to help the Nets navigate the all-important free-agent period that begins July 1.

Thorn was by no means the first GM or team president asked to take a haircut on his salary in recent months and years, but the fact that it happened to one of the most experienced and respected executives in the sport sent a chill through the GM ranks over the past 24 hours. A year ago, according to a source, Sacramento GM Geoff Petrie accepted a similarly extreme pay cut when he agreed to a three-year extension with the Kings. This summer, Steve Kerr left the Suns after owner Robert Sarver insisted on a pay cut. Kevin Pritchard, already one of the lowest-paid executives in the league, was unceremoniously fired an hour before the draft Thursday night.

One of the people familiar with the Nets' situation said Prokhorov's motivation in low-balling Thorn was to force him out and bring in someone with a "younger voice." Of course, if Prokhorov winds up hiring the similarly seasoned Colangelo, the Russian billionaire will be in no position to scrimp. He'll have to pay top ruble for one of the most respected basketball men in the sport, especially given Colangelo's strong ties to marquee free agents who are fiercely loyal to him due to his resurrection of USA Basketball on the world stage.

Which brings us to another reason that Colangelo's candidacy for the Nets' job makes sense: Prokhorov's goal of making the Nets a global franchise, which coincides with LeBron's desire to be a global icon, would only be enhanced by Colangelo's international basketball reputation and experience. But of course, that would come at a price.




Posted on: June 25, 2010 11:06 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 1:17 am
 

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

Following a bizarre trend that apparently dictates that it's better to be devoid of leadership at the most critical time in franchise history, the Nets will be without the executive who led them to two Finals appearances and gave them the best chance of succeeding in free agency. Rod Thorn is stepping down as team president effective July 15, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday night.

You read that right: Thorn will be pulling the Summer of LeBron version of Kevin Pritchard's draft night, conducting the chase for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson -- a chase the franchise endured a payroll-gutting, 12-win season to engage in. When it's over, he's gone, according to the person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to announce the move.

While it was known that Thorn's contract was set to expire June 30, his departure is stunning considering his accomplishments and the importance of the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1. Thorn has agreed to stay on until July 15 to help navigate free agency, but it's not clear what marquee player would choose to join the Nets in Newark, N.J., without knowing who's making the basketball decisions. The team won't move to its new digs in Brooklyn for two more years.

According to an executive with another team who is familiar with the situation, Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut and balked. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be a billionaire, but not when it comes to paying the person running his basketball team. "He wants a younger voice," the person said.

But that description contradicted a Bergen (N.J.) Record report early Saturday in which Jerry Colangelo was touted as the leading candidate to replace Thorn. The report, which hinted that Colangelo could have some role in the Nets' free-agent visit with James next week in Ohio, rekindled speculation that arose during All-Star weekend in Dallas. At that time, when Prokhorov's bid for the Nets was still being considered by the NBA's Board of Governors, Colangelo said he wasn't pursuing any jobs but would listen if the Nets called. The managing director of USA Basketball, Colangelo would be a key asset in the Nets' pursuit of James or other free agents from the 2008 Olympic team that won gold in Beijing. 

Unlike the Cavaliers and Clippers, the Nets at least do have a coach in place -- and perhaps Avery Johnson is angling for personnel authority, given that he stressed his desire for such control in other job interviews this summer. But without Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, whom Prokhorov fired through the news media several weeks ago, the Nets will be without a credible basketball management figure at by far the most crucial point in the history of this meandering, mostly second-rate franchise.

Reached via text message Friday night, Thorn replied, "Right now, I have no comment."

The Nets are by no means the only team to gut itself of basketball intellect on the cusp of irreversibly important decisions. Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to cut ties with GM Steve Kerr at a time when Kerr and his assistant, David Griffin -- who also is departing -- were trying to negotiate an extension with star forward Amar'e Stoudemire. The Cavs decided to stumble into the most important month in Cleveland sports history -- and one that could change the NBA landscape forever -- without a coach or GM. Chris Grant, the replacement for former GM Danny Ferry, is indisputably talented but also has never been faced with circumstances as pressurized as possibly losing his city's biggest sports star since Jim Brown.

The Clippers, also entertaining false hope of luring major free agents, have yet to hire a coach. And the Trail Blazers -- though not free-agent players -- made a mockery of the GM profession Thursday when owner Paul Allen fired Pritchard an hour before the draft while instructing him to make his picks and trades before going home for good.

The only thing any of this proves, besides incompetence, is that there's no better job than being an unemployed or soon-to-be unemployed GM in the NBA. Either you're still getting paid by the team that fired you, which is good, or you're salivating over numerous job openings. Or both. But something you're not doing if you're a team without leadership is signing James or Wade as a free agent.





Posted on: June 25, 2010 7:55 pm
 

No free-agency tour for LeBron

Suddenly chastened by criticism he has received for making the NBA's spring and summer all about him, LeBron James has informed teams that he is not planning to participate in an elaborate free agency tour come July 1, a person familiar with the decision confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday.

So much for a lavish recruiting dinner in a Manhattan penthouse or a tour of the best clubs South Beach has to offer. Not going to happen, said the person with knowledge of James' plans.

Maverick Carter, James' business manager, told ESPN The Magazine that teams were informed of James' plans Wednesday and that the free agent-to-be will meet with suitors at a neutral site.

The decision by James may help cleanse his battered image after speculation over his future singlehandedly hijacked the NBA postseason and draft. It also could be viewed as a blow to teams in big, glitzy markets that have been planning for months to roll out the red carpet for one of the most sought-after -- and attainable -- free agents in NBA history. The Knicks, for example, have been quietly contacting world renowned chefs in Manhattan to secure their services for a possible free-agent visit by James and other free agents. Titans of business, film, theater, and fashion also were at the ready to help the Knicks lure James to New York -- although a person with knowledge of the Knicks' free-agency prep work downplayed a published report this week of a penthouse extravaganza in James' honor in Manhattan on July 1.

But contrary to prevailing opinion, the Knicks were not planning to rely entirely on the allure of New York and its off-the-court cachet to lure James. Though James has stated that he wants to be a world-wide sports icon and billionaire, teams hoping to win him over during the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1 have understood all along that basketball has to come first. Teams with the cap space and market size to attract James -- the Knicks, Bulls, Heat, Nets and possibly Clippers -- have "prepared for every contingency," according to a high-level management source familiar with plans to recruit James.

On the other hand, Knicks president Donnie Walsh has the answer to one of the key questions he has been contemplating about this unprecedented free-agent summer. And while Walsh privately is telling people he doesn't see this as a deal-breaker, he was known to be interested in seeing which free agents would want to give the Knicks a chance to show them what New York -- as a city and market -- could do for them. The message from James with just days to go before the recruiting process begins is perfectly clear. There may well be a LeBron free agency tour, but it'll be on his terms.


 

Posted on: June 24, 2010 6:35 pm
 

Bulls in mix for free-agent duo

NEW YORK -- The Bulls have been talking about trading Kirk Hinrich since the February trade deadline, for obvious reasons. Shedding his $9 million salary for next season would seriously enhance Chicago's already strong hand in the free-agent chase that begins July 1.

That plan came to fruition Thursday when Chicago agreed to send Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft to the Wizards, which means they're now riding shotgun with the Knicks as the two teams with the most cap space for the Summer of LeBron.

By ridding the '10-'11 payroll of Hinrich's salary and the $1.3 million they would've had to pay the draft pick, the Bulls are now hovering around the $30 million mark in cap space -- second only to the Knicks' approximately $34 million. The Nets ($27 million) and Heat ($26 million) are in the back seat in terms of sheer cap room.

Those numbers could change between Thursday night and July 8, when teams can begin consummating trades and officially signing free agents. The Heat, for example, have been very active in recent days in their efforts to unload Michael Beasley in a cap-clearing move. But that scenario is complicated, one rival GM said, because of Beasley's status as a former No. 2 pick. They can't just send him to a team with cap space and take no players back, as the Bulls did with Hinrich. "They have to get something for him," the GM said.

The Nets, owners of the No. 3 pick (for now), also have been involved in various conversations about moving Devin Harris -- with the latest buzz centered around the Pacers in a swap of the third and 10th picks that would send Danny Granger to New Jersey. The Pacers have been actively discussing the 10th pick with numerous teams, but president Larry Bird and GM David Morway have long been opposed to dealing Granger. Asked if the Indiana-New Jersey scenario had legs, one person directly involved in the discussions said, "Nope."







Posted on: June 14, 2010 1:45 am
 

Wade not planning for Riley to coach


BOSTON -- Dwyane Wade sat courtside Sunday night for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a stage that he desperately wants to revisit. His coach in the 2006 Finals, Pat Riley, recently floated the idea that, if asked, he wouldn't rule out a return to the bench. Wade, for one, isn't planning for such a comeback.

"That’s just something that was said," Wade said after the Celtics beat the Lakers 92-86 to take a 3-2 lead in the Finals. "That’s not anything we’re concentrating on right now in Miami."

Wade said Riley hasn't spoken with him recently about his plans for next season, when it is believed that a request from a marquee free agent would prompt Riley to come down from the executive suite and replace the highly regarded but ringless Erik Spoelstra on the sideline.

"Right now, Spo’s the coach and that’s what I plan for going forward," Wade said.

Wade, one of the top free agents of the frenzied summer that will begin in earnest July 1, prefaced his willingness to answer questions in the hallway leading to the locker rooms with the following caveat: "As long as it's not about free agency." But Wade did confirm a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he spoke last week in Los Angeles with fellow prospective free agents Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson.

"We’re just friends," Wade said. "Just like you talk to your friends, we’re all friends and we all communicate."

Though Wade said he hasn't begun the recruiting process to help lure another star to Miami, the notion of Riley returning to coach could be a big draw. Of the teams with the most cap space to chase free agents, the Nets (Avery Johnson) and Bulls (Tom Thibodeau) have committed to new coaches. The Knicks already have Mike D'Antoni, who is close to several top free agents from his time as an assistant for Mike Krzyzewski with Team USA. The Clippers are holding out hope that they could lure Larry Brown or Phil Jackson, and the Cavs have made a five-year, $30 million play for the top name in college coaching, Tom Izzo.

For now, in Wade's mind, Riley should be excluded from that list. Just know that recruiting season hasn't really begun yet.  



Posted on: May 27, 2010 9:18 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 1:07 pm
 

Thibodeau hires agent; series complicates search

LOS ANGELES – While Tom Thibodeau remains the front-runner for the Hornets’ head coaching position, the extension of the Celtics-Magic series has complicated efforts by both parties to close the deal.

Thibodeau, architect of the Boston defense that ousted LeBron James from the playoffs, is entrenched in a suddenly difficult Eastern Conference finals with Orlando as the Celtics’ 3-0 lead has dwindled to 3-2 heading into Game 6 Friday night in Boston. In preparation for a contract negotiation with New Orleans, Thibodeau hired leading sports representation firm Creative Artists Agency on Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. CAA has an expanding coaching business in addition to its dealings with top free agents James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Celtics’ difficulty in closing out the Magic also has affected the progress of other coaching searches, most notably Atlanta’s. The Hawks, who have twice interviewed Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, the leading candidate for the job, have been unable to schedule an interview with Mark Jackson due to his broadcasting and travel obligations in the Eastern Conference finals. That interview is expected to take place in the next couple of days, according to a person familiar with that situation.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have officially embarked on their search for a candidate to replace Mike Brown, who was fired after back-to-back 60-win seasons. At or near the top of the list is Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. But the Cavs have quietly begun conducting background checks on several other candidates and have been privately saying in those conversations that James, a soon-to-be-free agent, will not be making the decision, according to a person familiar with the Cavs’ search. James certainly will have input, but the person said James doesn’t want his fingerprints on the Cavs’ hire – in part because the organization doesn’t yet know if he will be staying or leaving as a free agent.

A person with close ties to James told CBSSports.com that he remains undecided, citing the complicated series of decisions league-wide on coaching hires and the movement of other top free agents. Wade told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Thursday that he plans to sit down with fellow CAA clients James and Bosh to jointly discuss their options.

The Bulls and Nets also are interested in Thibodeau, though in Chicago’s case, his hiring of an agent could complicate matters since the Bulls are one of the only teams in the NBA that do not negotiate with coaching agents. Portland assistant Monty Williams also remains on the radar for the Nets, Hornets and Clippers, who also are interested in Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin. A person familiar with the situation said Williams is believed to be the No. 2 choice in New Orleans if Thibodeau says no. Williams performed extremely well in the interview process and impressed incoming Hornets owner Gary Chouest and team president Hugh Weber.

The Clippers, according to sources, remain hopeful of persuading Larry Brown to leave Charlotte for L.A., but pressure is expected to mount on Brown to tell the Bobcats’ brass definitively if he’s saying or leaving so the team doesn’t get shut out in the search for qualified replacements.
Posted on: May 25, 2010 9:14 pm
 

Source: Phil won't return with big pay cut

PHOENIX – Phil Jackson said Tuesday he “just can’t imagine” coaching any other team next season. But the Lakers' coach refused to close the door on leaving for other opportunities, while a person with ties to him told CBSSports.com that he would not return to L.A. next season with a significant pay cut.

On reports in the past 24 hours that the Bulls and Nets have reached out to Jackson or his representatives through “backchannels,” Jackson said, “Those channels have not reached me. I have no awareness of that at all.”

But given the chance to shut down the rumors and commit to the Lakers or retirement next season, Jackson said, “I’ve always had problems committing. … I’ll leave it open and just say that, as of now, I have not made up my mind about coaching or not coaching next year. That’s all I can say, really, truthfully.”

On reports indicating the Bulls’ interest in orchestrating a reunion with Jackson in Chicago, Jackson said, “I have no, at all, desire to go back to Chicago to coach the Bulls.” As for the Nets, whose bid for Jackson would be fueled by deep-pocketed Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Jackson said, “I’d like to have a vodka with him. He seems like a very interesting young man.”

“I have not entertained any conversations about [coaching elsewhere] right now, so I just can’t imagine it,” Jackson said. “That’s not to say it’s beyond the wildest dreams or never would happen, but it’s not part of my conscious thought.”

Jackson does not have a contract for next season, and has acknowledged that he has been asked to take a pay cut from his $12 million salary. Asked if he knew what “backchannels” may have been operating on his behalf – or on behalf of the teams – Jackson said, “No I really don’t. I’m not aware of how you would go about doing that, unless you’re talking about Mark Twain stuff or Huckleberry Finn – those kind of channels rather than the river.”

Jackson, 64, got a lot of laughs for that line, but this is no laughing matter for the Lakers. While Jackson reiterated his hunch Tuesday that there’s a 90 percent chance he’ll either be coaching the Lakers next season or retiring, a person with close ties to Jackson told CBSSports.com that it’s too early to set odds. If Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss insists on a massive pay cut, the person said, Jackson would not return. Published reports have indicated that Buss is seeking to pay Jackson $5 million next season, a pay cut of $7 million.

The source close to Jackson indicated that the question of how much Jackson’s pay would be reduced is, to some degree, semantics. Given that he is close to retirement age, a significant portion of Jackson’s salary could be deferred in the form of retirement benefits that he would see without penalty in two years.

Another person with knowledge of Jackson’s situation said it would be difficult to imagine him leaving the Lakers with Kobe Bryant in the prime of his career and having just signed a three-year extension. The person equated it to overtures that frequently came Jackson’s way when he coached Michael Jordan in Chicago, saying Jackson never would’ve left Jordan in his prime, either.

But one of those sources said circumstances could change with the possibility of Jackson becoming bait to lure LeBron James to the Bulls, who have maximum salary-cap space to sign him and a quality roster that Jackson views favorably. The person said the Jackson/LeBron situation was plausible, considering Jackson would have the chance to complete a potentially irresistible trifecta – coaching Jordan and Bryant, and then capping his career with James.

All of this continued to unfold about an hour before the Lakers took the floor to play the Suns in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

“They’re no distraction,” Jackson said of the reports. “Not to me, and not to the players, either. It’s a distraction, I think, to other teams and I think a disservice to coaches that are really seeking jobs and have opportunities to go to those towns.”

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com