Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:38 pm
With speculation growing over where LeBron James and other marquee free agents will wind up July 1, the player who could represent the best consolation prize is about to move one step closer to coming off the market.
Representatives for three-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets have scheduled a face-to-face negotiating session with the hopes of agreeing on a three-year extension that would keep the coveted scorer from hitting the free-agent market in 2011, sources familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com. Since Anthony, who turns 26 later this month, isn’t a free agent this summer, he is free to discuss an extension with his team prior to the opening of the negotiating period July 1.
The Nuggets, fully aware that Anthony would be in high demand in 2011 among teams that strike out in their pursuit of James, Dwyane Wade and other marquee free agents this summer, are hopeful that this will be the first step toward “making Melo a Nugget for a long time,” one of the people familiar with the team’s strategy said.
Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, declined comment recently when approached after a playoff game and asked about Anthony’s future. Rose, of course, has a full plate now that James’ season has ended and his long anticipated foray into unrestricted free agency is in full froth. With six weeks to go before James can terminate his contract and hit the market, speculation about where he will go has reached a fever pitch. But hardly anyone is paying attention to Anthony, who would be the ideal consolation prize for teams like the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat, Clippers and Wizards if they fail to lure the free agents of their choice this summer.
Anthony signed his current agreement in 2006, the same summer when James, Wade and Chris Bosh all chose three-year extensions with an early termination option in the fourth year that would maximize their ability to hit the free-agent market in the prime of their careers. Anthony opted for a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, thus choosing the additional money and security over flexibility. The Nuggets are hopeful that Anthony will follow the same strategy again, especially with the very real threat of a lockout in 2011 and ultimately a salary structure that is expected to be far less favorable to the players, sources say. Some circumstances have changed. Anthony’s current deal was negotiated by agent Bill Duffy, whereas his current agent, Rose, negotiated the shorter extensions for James, Wade and Bosh. Ultimately, though, it comes down to what the player wants.
Anthony will have to weigh those financial realities against the possibility that the Nuggets’ roster built around him and an aging Chauncey Billups has gone as far as it will go with the current core group. Also, sources say Anthony perpetually feels slighted among the league’s top talent and may want to seek a bigger stage to pursue his rightful place in the league’s pecking order.
For example, if James turns down the Knicks’ overtures this summer and stays in Cleveland or signs with the Bulls, imagine what a star Anthony would be in New York if he returned to his birthplace next summer with a chip on his shoulder. Not only would he have an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong about his own talent, but he also would be the perfect candidate to tap into Knicks fans’ anger over being jilted by James. During the Knicks’ most recent run of success in the 1990s, they were immensely popular in New York not only because they were successful, but because they never had the league’s best player. The underdog/villain role would suit Anthony’s personality perhaps better than any of the league’s current superstars.
While Anthony was born in New York, he grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, and the Wizards’ just became a far more attractive destination for free agents with the draft lottery triumph that will land them No. 1 pick John Wall. The point is, Anthony will have options galore if he decides to forgo an extension this summer and hit the market in 2011. And that’s something both sides in his imminent contract negotiation understand quite well.
Posted on: May 20, 2010 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 8:49 pm
Former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey has the inside track for the Atlanta Hawks' job, three sources familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.
Casey, an assistant for Rick Carlisle on the Dallas bench who's attracted interest from several teams in the market for a coach, has a strong relationship with Hawks GM Rick Sund from their days in Seattle together. Plus, considering the likelihood that Casey would fit under the Hawks' $2 million annual budget for a head coach, it looks like "his job to lose," one of the sources said. Casey and the Hawks' brass were planning to discuss the opening in Chicago during the pre-draft camp this week.
A second source familiar with the situation, however, noted that Sund is in the process of formulating a list of 4-5 candidates to interview for the position vacated when Mike Woodson's contract was not renewed after an embarrassing second-round sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Mark Jackson, the broadcaster and former player, is one of those expected to be interviewed, the source said. Sund also is interested in speaking with Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos, among others. Casey, one of the sources said, will have to earn the job.
While the Hawks are expected to target Casey and the Sixers have agreed to terms with Doug Collins, several other teams are in holding patterns in their coaching searches. The Bulls, Clippers and Nets are in no rush to hire a coach, particularly with all that is riding on their pursuit of LeBron James and other free agents when the negotiating period opens July 1. No team in the running for those elite players wants to give up the negotiating power of allowing the player to have input on the coaching hire. The Clippers, sources say, also are holding out hope that Larry Brown could be persuaded to take over a young, talented roster with cap space for a max free agent. And with Phil Jackson's future with the Lakers in limbo, there's a pie-in-the-sky theory that perhaps Jackson could be persuaded to move across the hall at Staples Center and take on a reclamation project -- especially if he can't come to terms with Dr. Jerry Buss on how much of a pay cut he's expected to take.
The other shoe to drop -- and it's a big one-- is Mike Brown in Cleveland. Brown and most of his staff are expected to be fired "sooner than later," according to a person familiar with the Cavs' organizational dynamics. According to that person, letting Brown go will come with a softer-than-expected financial blow because of an unusual circumstance in which Brown's salary for next season is only half guaranteed.
If and when Brown is let go, he immediately would become a candidate for any team with an opening that isn't a realistic destination for James. No team hoping to lure James would hire a coach who was just fired at his behest.
Posted on: May 18, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2010 9:38 am
Gilbert Arenas tore the Wizards apart. On Tuesday night, the basketball gods took a major step toward putting them back together.
The Wizards "went through a lot last year," Wall said. "I'll have an opportunity to help turn the organization around. They have cap space to add some good players."
Wall said he'd received a text from his college coach, John Calipari, who is at the center of speculation about several NBA coaching jobs. Wall said he hasn't discussed Coach Cal's future with him -- nor has he spoken with his pal, LeBron James, since his season ended prematurely with a loss to Boston in the conference semifinals.
As for the possibility that ping pong balls and free agency could bring them together somewhere, Wall said, "That would be exciting, but I haven't talked to him about that. I'm just excited to get a chance to play in the NBA."
Posted on: May 3, 2010 1:56 am
The coaching carousel has been spinning at an unusually slow pace for teams whose offseasons already have begun. That is expected to change in the coming days, with the Hornets and Sixers closing in on plans to begin interviewing candidates.
The Hornets plan to interview a mixture of current assistants and former head coaches, with sources telling CBSSports.com that at least eight names are on New Orleans’ list so far. Assistants Tom Thibodeau (Celtics), Dwane Casey (Mavericks), Monty Williams (Trail Blazers), Tyrone Corbin (Jazz), and Steve Clifford (Magic) are expected to interview for the Hornets job, along with former head coaches Avery Johnson and Lawrence Frank and broadcaster Mark Jackson. Johnson, Jackson and Thibodeau also are expected to interview with the Sixers.
The Nets’ search is in limbo until the transfer of ownership to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is completed. All signs point to team president Rod Thorn remaining with the team, with Kiki Vandeweghe back to his GM position. Though the Nets have scheduled no formal interviews, they are believed to be interested in Thibodeau, Boston’s associate head coach in charge of the defense, and Jackson, whose name recognition and New York roots would be appealing for a team on its way to Brooklyn.
Vinny Del Negro’s status in Chicago is expected to be resolved this week as organizational meetings conclude with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Several front office situations also are in flux, including Portland, where GM Kevin Pritchard is waiting to learn if he will meet the same fate as close friend and former top assistant Tom Penn, who was fired in March. In Denver, GM Mark Warkentien’s contract is set to expire after he did not receive an extension to accompany coach George Karl’s. Sources familiar with the Denver situation said Warkentien’s status is expected to be resolved within a week after the Nuggets’ playoff elimination. Team executive Rex Chapman is expected to be let go, sources said.
The Clippers have not made any official inroads in their coaching search, leading rival executives to wonder if further changes are afoot in the front office after Mike Dunleavy was removed as coach and then fired as GM. Dunleavy’s replacement, Neil Olshey, has been told his status is not interim in nature, sources said. Dunleavy has filed an arbitration case after the Clippers stopped paying his salary, of which nearly $7 million is owed through the end of next season.
In Philly, all decisions hinge on whether Larry Brown decides to leave the Bobcats for the Sixers’ team presidency. Brown, 69, has said publicly he won’t coach anywhere but Charlotte, but has returned home to Philadelphia to speak to his wife and children about his next career move. The Bobcats are pushing for Brown to resolve his future “sooner than later” so the organization can move forward with preparations for the draft and free agency with a clear understanding of who will be coaching the team.
Posted on: April 16, 2010 2:45 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2010 3:33 pm
NEW YORK -- At the end of a typically mundane summary of the NBA's two-day Board of Governors meeting, commissioner David Stern dropped a bombshell of sorts Friday. And it means that teams chasing 2010 free agents will have considerably more money to spend than they thought.
Based on a more optimistic revenue picture than the league was projecting as recently as All-Star weekend, Stern said the revised projection for the 2010-11 salary cap is $56.1 million. That's significantly higher than last summer's estimate of between $50.4 million and $53.6 million -- figures that were floated last summer in a doomsday memo to teams that warned of a league-wide revenue decline of between 2.5 percent and 5 percent.
Teams that have been clearing cap space to pursue marquee free agents like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this summer -- such as the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and Clippers -- have spent much of the season budgeting on a $52 million cap in '10-'11, which would've been a nearly $6 million drop from this season's payroll limit of $57.7 million. The reason for the healthier figure was what Stern called a "Herculean effort" by teams to prop up ticket and sponsorship sales that were hit by the recession.
Stern said "it's pretty clear" that although revenue will still be down from last season, the drop will "not be as much as we feared at the beginning of the season."
One of the people most affected by the revised financial picture, Knicks president Donnie Walsh, was sitting in the second row of Stern's news conference when the announcement was made. Walsh, who already was figuring on having enough cap space to sign two max free agents for about $32 million, now has more flexibility.
Walsh, who was on hand to learn the result of a draft-pick tiebreaker, merely smiled when I dropped this line on him after Stern's news conference broke up: "Now you have enough money for two max players and Jerome James."
But the news was far more significant than that for an organization like the Knicks, which has hitched its future to the hope of landing at least one major free agent this summer when numerous NBA stars will be on the market. In addition to courting LeBron, Walsh also will be exploring sign-and-trades to revamp the roster and will be simultaneously juggling his desire to retain unrestricted free agent David Lee. For every dollar the cap exceeds Walsh's $52-$53 million projection, it helps his efforts on all fronts.
Similarly, the Heat now don't have to sweat losing Wade nearly as much, as they'll get $2-3 million more space on top of the $18-$19 million they were already projecting -- money that can be used to sign a star and a second-tier player to placate Wade and persuade him to stay. The Bulls now will have enough room to sign a max player and add another piece without doing a salary-dump trade beforehand.
So what changed?
The precipitous decline in the cap that teams were warned about last summer was based on a doomsday projection of an 11 percent collapse in gate (or ticket) revenues, a person with knowledge of league finances told CBSSports.com. As the league closes the books on the regular season, the person said gate revenue actually declined only 7 percent. Based on league-wide gate receipts of $1.1 billion last season, an 11 percent decline would've amounted to a loss of $120 million in ticket revenue. A 7 percent decline at the gate would result in a loss of only $77 million.
Whereas league officials were projecting a decline in overall league revenue of between 2.5 and 5 percent last summer, the revised figure now calls for only a 0.5 percent decline, said the person familiar with league finances, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Basketball-related income, or BRI, determines the salary cap and luxury tax threshold, which is now estimated to be $68 million next season -- down only slightly $69.9 million this season.
Stern was less specific about a controversial number related to the ongoing negotiations aimed at achieving a new collective bargaining agreement and avoiding a lockout after the '10-'11 season. Despite the rosier revenue picture he painted, Stern didn't back off much from the $400 million in league-wide losses he projected for this season during his All-Star address in Dallas two months ago. He placed the new figure at between $380 million and $400 million. Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, already has disputed the $400 million figure, telling CBSSports.com last month that it was "overstated."
On the labor front, Stern said the league continues to furnish financial data to the union and that negotiations are taking place on the "staff meeting" level. League owners and executives will meet again during Summer League in Las Vegas, but no high-level CBA talks are expected to occur until after the players submit their counterproposal to the league. Hunter told CBSSports.com last month that the players intend to do that sometime between May 1 and July 1.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 1:15 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 8:11 am
Mark Jackson’s decision to sign with an agent this week has not gone unnoticed in coaching circles, where it is believed that the former All-Star point guard and current broadcaster finally will get his chance to roam the sidelines as an NBA head coach.
Jackson did not employ an agent when he was in the running for head coaching jobs in New York and Minnesota last summer and Phoenix in 2008, preferring to deal one-on-one with team executives. Jackson, 44, got passed over for all three jobs but is expected to be in demand once the NBA’s coaching carousel starts spinning at the end of April.
“Despite the economy and the potential work stoppage, there’s going to be more movement than we’ve seen in the past,” said one person involved in the coaching business.
The two most sensible landing spots for the ABC/ESPN commentator are the Clippers and Nets, according to sources familiar with both situations. Jackson lives in Los Angeles and is a native New Yorker. Despite turmoil in both organizations, the situations will be extremely attractive for top coaching candidates this summer.
One person familiar with how coaching candidates view the Clippers job described the team as being in the “best shape in the league” payroll-wise and talent-wise. There are signs that frugal owner Donald M. Sterling, who demoted and then fired former coach and GM Mike Dunleavy in recent weeks, could be ready to open his notoriously tight checkbook for a high-profile name like Jackson. The Nets, according to sources, would be viewed as more of a longer-term growth opportunity for Jackson, who has no previous coaching experience. But the cap space to sign a max free agent, the possibility of landing presumed No. 1 pick John Wall, and the team’s eventual move to a new arena in Brooklyn – one borough over from Jackson’s native Queens – might overshadow the fact that the Nets (7-61) are on their way to one of the worst seasons in NBA history.
Another situation that bears watching is Indiana, where Jackson enjoyed some of his best years as a player. Former Pacers GM Donnie Walsh, who also is represented by Jackson’s new agent, Steve Kauffman, thinks highly of Jackson and still holds sway over Pacers owner Herb Simon when it comes to transformational decisions such as a coaching hire. If the Pacers decide to dismiss Jim O’Brien after the season for a new voice, and Jackson’s communication skills and popularity within the organization will be among his biggest strengths.
Jackson’s decision to sign with Kauffman Sports Management made official his well-known private desire to leave the broadcast booth for a chance to coach. Sources familiar with Jackson’s thinking say he is cognizant of the role his lack of experience would play and is determined to recruit the most experienced assistants possible to help him make the transition. Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and Golden State are among the other teams that could be contemplating coaching changes this summer.
Posted on: February 13, 2010 12:54 am
DALLAS -- Jerry Colangelo said Friday he's had no contact with the Nets about taking over their basketball operations, a move that could lead to his sidekick from USA Basketball, Mike Krzyzewski, joining him as coach. But if a team wanted to talk to him about getting back into the business of running an NBA team, Colangelo said he'd listen.
"I don’t feel compelled to do anything because I'm very happy with where I am in life," Colangelo said after a news conference announcing the 19 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "That’s how I really feel. I've had a great run. I've been blessed with a lot of success. But I'm not compelled to do a thing other than what I really enjoy doing. And so I'm never out there soliciting or looking for anything. Whenever opportunity knocks at the door, I think it’s incumbent upon anyone to talk. But I couldn’t be happier where I am."
Yahoo! Sports and the Record of Hackensack (N.J.) reported Friday that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the incoming Nets owner, seeks to install the dream team of Colangelo and Krzyzewski to a franchise that is on pace to equal the worst record in NBA history this season -- the 9-73 mark established by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. The connection is easy to decipher.
After restoring USA Basketball to its former glory with a gold-medal performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Colangelo has the unwavering respect of Olympians from that team -- several of whom have the chance to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Nets are close to clearing enough salary cap space to sign two free agents to the maximum contracts allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. At various times, the best of those potential free agents -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- have openly speculated about what it would be like to play on the same team.
As the architect of the Redeem Team last summer, Colangelo would be in a unique position to sell players on joining him in his next rebuilding job. Even as he assembles his roster for the World Championships in Turkey this summer, Colangelo won't have to solicit job offers from any number of cap-clearing teams. They'll come to him, for obvious reasons.
Speaking Friday at All-Star media day, Wade reiterated that he wants to stay in Miami and attract a second star player to join him. The Heat currently are positioned better than any other team for the 2010 free-agent bonanza, having Wade and enough cap space to sign another superstar. The Chicago Bulls are feverishly working on several trades that would put them on even footing with Miami and the Nets in that pursuit.
Prokhorov's possible interest in Colangelo has thrown team president Rod Thorn's future into doubt. The Record reported that Thorn's scheduled meeting with Prokhorov in Dallas this weekend was up in the air. By denying contact -- but not interest -- in the Nets' job, Colangelo left the door open to fielding Prokhorov's overture.
"In my career, I always had a little bit of an edge in my opinion because of my relationships with players," Colangelo said. "Why? I played. I coached. I was one of them. I remember a collective bargaining session and it was heated. The president (Patrick Ewing), he goes off on the owners. And I'm in the room there, in this conference room. He looks up and he sees me and he says, 'That goes for everybody except Jerry. He’s one of us.' Now that was a little embarrassing with the other guys there, but I always had relationships. I think my ability maybe with this run with USA Basketball was built on that. You can't demand respect. You’ve earned respect over a period of time, and usually it goes both ways."
Posted on: February 11, 2010 11:15 am
Rod Thorn was packing his bags Thursday morning in an attempt to make it to Dallas for All-Star weekend. First, he had a situation to deal with -- shooting down the notion that Louisville coach Rick Pitino had contacted the Nets to express interest in being their next coach.
"I'm good friends with Rick and have been for long time," Thorn said. "He's never reached out to me and I've never reached out to him about this. He's never indicated to me that he’s unhappy where he is or has intentions of coming back to the NBA. I've certainly never heard about it and never had any conversation with him about it. If he had approached one of our owners or somebody on his behalf had approached one of our owners, I'm sure they say something to me about it."
This is the second time in a few months that Pitino's name has surfaced regarding an NBA job, which most people around the league see for what it is -- a desperate attempt on Pitino's part to keep an escape route open from Louisville, where he's been dogged by scandal and overshadowed by rival Kentucky and coach John Calipari. Pitino's operatives floated his name for the Sacramento job last summer, but there was never any interest from the Kings, who hired Paul Westphal.
Pitino himself denied the New York Daily News' report Thursday of his interest in the Nets' job. But the goal was accomplished; the more Pitino's name is associated with an NBA comeback, the more likely it is that some desperate, clueless owner will hire him.
The Nets, who are 4-48 and on pace to equal the worst record in NBA history, have bigger fish to fry. The purchase of the team by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is expected to come up for a vote at the next Board of Governor's meeting, and the team is trying to make progress on its move to Brooklyn.