Tag:Knicks
Posted on: July 8, 2010 3:28 pm
 

LeBron's South Beach celebration in place?

Chatter about LeBron James choosing the Heat and teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh grew considerably in NBA front-office circles Thursday, and they're buying it from Las Vegas to Wall Street to the South Beach party scene.

US Weekly reported that James has secured six cabanas at the W Hotel in Miami, evidently to celebrate his decision to join the Heat. The party will have to wait until after James attends buddy Carmelo Anthony's wedding to LaLa Vasquez Saturday in New York.

Anthony, by the way, texted Thursday that he doesn't know what James is going to do. But bookmakers and investors do. According to the World Sports Exchange , Miami is a more than 70 percent favorite to land James, while Cleveland is second with a 25 percent percent chance. Shares of Madison Square Garden Inc., parent company of the Knicks, were down more than 5 percent on the NASDAQ on more than six times the normal trading volume.

At MSG itself, there was a palpable feeling of resignation about the outcome of LeSweepstakes as the Knicks introduced their first (and perhaps only) marquee free-agent signing: Amar'e Stoudemire. Coach Mike D'Antoni and president Donnie Walsh said they didn't even plan to watch James' televised announcement.

Much respect to them for that.

Similarly, other teams believed to be out of the running for James are refusing to have a "pity party" Thursday night, according to one executive who believes his team is out of it. Trades and signings across the league have been on hold until James unveils his decision, so those executives will immediately begin consummating those deals after James graces us with his decision.


Posted on: July 8, 2010 2:38 am
 

Reports: LeBron 'leaning toward' Miami

About 12 hours after Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in committing to the Heat, two reports emerged Thursday morning saying LeBron James was leaning toward joining them.

Newsday first reported via Knicks beat writer Alan Hahn's Twitter account that James "has decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami." The Long Island newspaper followed up with a published report saying that James "is expected to choose the Heat," citing multiple NBA sources.

ESPN's Chris Broussard, who first definitively reported Bosh's decision to team up with Wade on Wednesday, followed up about an hour later on Twitter, saying that James "will join Wade and Bosh in Miami, barring a late change of heart."

James' agent, Leon Rose, did not return a call from CBSSports.com early Thursday. A high-ranking member of the Cavaliers organization was unaware of James having made a decision.

On ESPN News, a sister station of the NBA rights-holding network that will air the announcement of James' decision at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, Broussard said James "still has time to change his mind" and called it "a fluid situation."

Even with the higher than expected $58.044 million salary cap announced Wednesday by the NBA for the 2010-11 season, the Heat don't have the space to fit two max contracts starting at $16.57 million next season under their $31.4 million in cap space after accounting for Wade's deal starting at the same amount. With only Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers under contract heading into the signing period that began at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, that leaves only three options for Miami to form its Dream Team: 1) Send Beasley to Toronto in a sign-and-trade arrangement for Bosh, which sources have indicated is highly unlikely; 2) trade Beasley to another team with cap space, such as Sacramento, Minnesota or Washington; or 3) persuade its new Big Three to accept less than maximum salaries -- a shade less than $16 million in the first year of the deals would work -- for the right to play together.

The $1.944 million increase in the league salary cap above the most recent estimate of $56.1 million given by the league in April meant that the superstar triumvirate wouldn't have to leave as much money on the table as previously thought to fit into the Heat's space. Plus, Florida's lack of a state income tax would mitigate any losses the three superstars would incur.

It's a fluid situation, indeed. The buzz among NBA front office executives Wednesday pointed toward the Knicks making a late push to persuade James to join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York. Another executive within the league -- who has ties to all three of the top free agents -- said the most likely scenario was for James to announce Thursday that he's returning to the Cavaliers. Front office sources with teams in pursuit of James still were in the dark Wednesday about what team James would choose.

"Everyone is on the LeBron yo-yo a little bit," one front office executive said.

Ya think?




Posted on: July 7, 2010 8:08 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 9:07 pm
 

NBA cap soars to $58.044 milllion (UPDATE)


The NBA salary cap for the 2010-11 season was set Wednesday at $58.044 million, $2 million more than the league's most recent projection and $8 million more than the worst-case scenario that the league laid out last summer. In fact, the salary cap rose from last season's figure of $57.7 million on what sources told CBSSports.com were the highest revenues in NBA history.

The surprising news means that teams with cap space who are trying to sign free agents when the moratorium on player movement is lifted at 12:01 a.m. Thursday will have $1.944 million more space -- good news for the Heat, Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Clippers in particular. It's especially good news for the Heat, who are trying to fit three max contracts into their cap space after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh agreed to team up with the Heat next season.

The number-crunching couldn't have come out better for teams with cap space trying to make room for multiple max players. Due to a nuance in how maximum salaries are calculated, the most Miami, for example, can pay Wade remains a 5 percent raise over last season's salary -- $16.57 million. Had revenues -- and thus the cap -- increased more, a player like Wade would've been eligible to make 30 percent of the cap. But the cap went up just enough to give Miami $1.944 million more to spend without increasing the max they'd have to pay Wade. Despite all that good news, the Heat still don't have, by my calculations, enough space to fit Wade, Bosh and LeBron James under their revised cap number of $31.4 million without trading another player. But they're almost $2 million closer to making it happen.

The luxury tax line, above which teams have to pay $1 in tax for each dollar in payroll, was set at $70.307 million -- also up from the 2009-10 season, when it was $69.92 million.

The mid-level exception, which is tied directly to average player salaries, will go down from $5.85 million to $5.765 million -- an important distinction for the upcoming collective bargaining negotiation. In revealing during All-Star weekend in Dallas that the NBA was projected to lose $400 million this past season, Commissioner David Stern blamed escalating player salaries for the losses. But as reflected in the decline in the mid-level exception, player compensation and benefits actually declined during the 2009-10 season.

The cap, tax and mid-level figures are derived from revenues generated during the previous season. The cap is calculated at 51 percent of league-wide revenue, or BRI (basketball-related income).

In April, Stern said the latest end-of-season revenue figures projected to a 2010-11 cap of $56.1 million. The previous summer, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams warning that it was projecting a decline in revenues of between 2.5 percent and 5 percent, which would've resulted in the cap calling as low as $50.4 million to $53.6 million.

At that time, Stern said teams were doing "better than we projected" in terms of generating revenue. If that was the case, then teams did wildly better than expected once all the numbers were added up. According to an estimate of league revenue based on the $58.044 cap, the NBA brought in more than $3.4 billion during the 2009-10 season, which was adversely affected by a two-year recession that Stern blamed for the cap decreasing after the 2008-09 season.

Although the NBA had a higher cap in 2008-09 -- $58.6 million -- revenues from the prior season did not surpass the league-record posted in 2009-10 due to complexities in how the figures are calculated.

The figures are important not only for teams trying to sign free agents this week, but also in the context of the looming labor crisis facing the league. Stern, who has stated that player salaries are too high, is going to have a hard time making that case after teams produced record revenues coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression while player salaries declined.
 





Posted on: July 5, 2010 9:02 pm
 

'Melo: No Amar'e pitch yet


Carmelo Anthony has been taking in all the free-agent news from Los Angeles, where he's been spending much of the offseason working out and mulling a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets. In a phone interview with CBSSports.com Monday night, Anthony said he hasn't decided whether to accept the extension -- nor has he heard from Amar'e Stoudemire about possibly joining him in New York as a free agent next summer.

"He was just out here in L.A. with me," Anthony said, "but we never talked about that."

Stoudemire, who agreed to a five-year, $99.8 million contract with the Knicks Monday, told reporters over the weekend that he was trying to bring Anthony and Spurs point guard Tony Parker with him. Both could be free agents next summer.

"I'm happy for him," Anthony said of Stoudemire. "Real happy for him."

Anthony's future is tied to the extension offer that's on the table with Denver. The decision is whether to take the money and security now, or enter the summer of 2011 as the unquestioned face of that free agent class.

"It’s on the table, but I haven’t made a decision yet," Anthony said. "I just want to take my time on this one, really just want to take my time."

Part of the equation is a new collective bargaining agreement -- and potentially, a lockout -- that would seriously cloud the benefits of being an unrestricted free agent next summer. Barring a trade this summer -- which CBSSports.com reported Saturday has a "zero chance" of happening -- Anthony would have until June 30, 2011 to accept the Nuggets' extension offer.

"As far as free agency goes next summer, of course the collective bargaining agreement comes into play," Anthony said. "That's definitely something to think about. But right now, as far as the extension goes, I'm just taking my time."

Anthony sounded intrigued by the Knicks' agreement with Stoudemire, the first significant shoe to drop in a mammoth free-agent summer. As for whether Stoudemire could attract LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to New York, Anthony said he didn't think either one would be easily swayed by such a pitch.

"I don’t know," Anthony said. "I think those guys are going to make their own decisions. I don’t think anybody else is going to tell them what they should do. I think this is something that an individual is going to have to make a decision on."


Posted on: July 5, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 6:27 pm
 

Knicks agree with Amar'e (UPDATE)

As the basketball world waits for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to decide their futures, the Knicks are moving forward with a five-year, $99.8 million deal with Amar'e Stoudemire -- a pre-emptive strike that could send the rest of the free-agent dominoes tumbling, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

Stoudemire and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan began meeting at about 4:15 p.m. ET Monday and finalized a verbal agreement on the contract shortly before 6 p.m., a second person with knowledge of the agreement said. All that's left is to clarify the complicated landscape of support pieces that the Knicks would surround Stoudemire with this year or next. Stoudemire will wear No. 1 for the Knicks, according to the marquee at Madison Square Garden, which essentially announced an agreement that should accelerate the rest of the free-agent activity in this momentous summer for the NBA.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the meeting Monday between Stoudemire, his agent, Happy Walters, and Dolan -- a gathering that produced the first, and perhaps only instance of a top-flight free agent leaving his team during the most anticipated offseason in league history.

After Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Joe Johnson agreed to return to their own teams, Stoudemire is the first marquee free agent to do what in past free-agency periods has been almost unheard of -- change teams as an All Star-caliber unrestricted free agent. While the move sets up the Knicks to move forward with or without one of their top two targets -- LeBron and Wade -- getting a commitment from Stoudemire serves the dual purpose of allowing them to use it to entice one of them or move on to add other pieces this summer or next.

An executive familiar with the Knicks' strategy said the team has received word through "back channels" that signing Stoudemire wouldn't hamper their chances of landing another top-shelf free agent this summer.

According to multiple team executives pursuing James and Wade, neither player has informed any of the teams chasing them that they are out of the running. James isn't expected to make a decision until his three-day Nike camp concludes Wednesday in his hometown of Akron. Wade returned to Miami Monday and was seen at American Airlines Arena with Heat owner Mickey Arison. With Stoudemire committed to the Knicks, those players will have witnessed something that the rest of the NBA has been waiting to see from them -- a decision and a direction.

"We have verbally agreed with the best Knick since Patrick Ewing," said a team official speaking on condition of anonymity because free-agent signings aren't official until July 8. "If he becomes the second-best Knick, then great. If not, we move on. If two players change teams and we've gotten one of them, we think that's pretty good."

Given James' comments during All-Star weekend that he would've been amenable to pairing with Stoudemire at the trade deadline -- and Amar'e's statement since the end of the season that such a pairing would've resulted in a "championship" -- the Knicks are comfortable making the first big move of this complicated chess match. According to a person familiar with the organization's strategy, a commitment from Stoudemire won't necessarily ensure a commitment from James -- but it won't hurt the team's pursuit of him, either. Regardless, faced with paralyzing indecision on the part of James, Wade and Bosh, the Knicks felt compelled to move forward with a pre-emptive strike.

As the only team assured of using all its cap space this summer and still having room to add a major piece next summer when Eddy Curry's $11.3 million deal comes off the books, the opportunity to surround Stoudemire with championship-level talent evolves from a one-step process to a two-step process. Team president Donnie Walsh has been preparing for such a contingency since he arrived in New York two years ago and boldly outlined his strategy to rebuild the Knicks with an aggressive campaign to create cap space.

While there remain significant questions regarding the viability of Stoudemire's knees and concerns about an eye injury that required multiple operations, Walsh has tilted the playing field in the chase for top free agents. Rather than waiting for James and Wade to make their decisions, Walsh has put the ball in their court: Do you want to pair with Stoudemire, or not? If they don't, the Knicks already are exploring sign-and-trade options involving David Lee that would import a point guard to run the pick-and-roll with Stoudemire; sources say New York has had such discussions with Utah, Toronto, Houston, Golden State and Charlotte. The Warriors have been amenable to a swap that would send Monta Ellis to the Knicks, and the Bobcats could offer Raymond Felton -- although a Charlotte official denied Monday that such talks have taken place.

The biggest wild card in the Knicks' rapidly evolving plan is Carmelo Anthony, who has yet to commit to the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million extension offer. Sources close to Anthony believe that he ultimately will re-up with Denver, but acknowledge that he's intrigued by the free-agent movement this summer and the opportunities it could create for him to join a championship-ready team as an unrestricted free agent in 2011. The Knicks also have explored trade possibilities for Spurs point guard Tony Parker, but to this point have been rebuffed.






Posted on: July 5, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:34 pm
 

LeBron-a-Palooza: Day 5 (UPDATE)

This is LeBron James’ world, and we are all just living in it. Ditto for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“We are all witnesses right now to this charade,” one frustrated team executive said Monday as Day Five of LeBron-a-Palooza (term coined, I believe, by Newsday’s Alan Hahn) rolled on.

James, Wade and Bosh were “still evaluating information” Monday, according to a person with knowledge of their plans. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that James was unlikely to announce any decision until his three-day Nike camp concluded Wednesday night in his hometown, Akron, Ohio.  In fact, James made a surprise appearance at his camp Monday -- he wasn't scheduled to arrive until Tuesday -- and was wearing (what else?) a Yankees cap.

Wade returned Monday morning to Miami, where about 50 Heat fans – wow, what a turnout – and some team employees were waiting to greet him. At the wrong terminal. Wade was later seen at American Airlines Arena with Heat owner Mickey Arison. Such is life in the grips of the black smoke monster known as the Summer of 2010.

Tika-tika-tika-tika-tika-tika-tika ….

All NBA business essentially is tied to the Big Three free agents and what they decide to do. The only deadline pushing them is Thursday, when contracts and trades can become official once the 2010-11 salary cap is set and the moratorium on player movement is lifted. But not everybody is waiting for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Two free-agent power forwards are getting close to making decisions on their futures – Amar’e Stoudemire and David Lee.

Stoudemire is in New York City Monday to meet with Knicks officials – either to agree on a five-year, $99.8 million contract or agree to hunker down and await for word from LeBron or Wade on whether they’re coming to New York or not. But one player who may not be willing to wait for the Knicks to handle their other business is Lee, who is getting inundated with calls from teams interested in taking him off the free-agent board regardless of what the Big Three do.

Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds last season, already has met face-to-face with the Bulls, Nets, Heat and Timberwolves. A league source with knowledge of the market for Lee told CBSSports.com Monday that the Knicks are engaged in discussions with Utah, Toronto, Houston, Golden State and Charlotte about sign-and-trade arrangements involving Lee. This could be a key piece of the puzzle in the decision process for LeBron or Wade. Some of the Utah scenarios involve Carlos Boozer coming to New York, and some of the Toronto scenarios involve Bosh. Both players are high on the lists of power forwards both LeBron and Wade want to encourage to team up with them.

What does that mean for Stoudemire? Potentially nothing. Potentially everything. The Knicks are prepared to give LeBron or Wade a choice of big men to play with, and this feeling-out process could be the first step toward determining which of those options is viable.

Charlotte and Golden State are involved because A) both covet Lee, and B) each has a point guard who’d complement Stoudemire if he wound up being the Knicks’ only top-tier signing. The BobcatsRaymond Felton and WarriorsMonta Ellis have been on the Knicks’ radar for some time.


Posted on: July 4, 2010 7:39 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 11:50 pm
 

Knicks land second sitdown with LeBron reps

The Knicks had a second meeting with LeBron James’ representatives Saturday in Cleveland, a get-together called by the team to clarify its cap position and the options available to surround James with other free agents or assets acquired in trades, a person with knowledge of the sitdown confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The meeting was called after it became apparent that the Knicks were closing in on an agreement with free-agent power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, but that was not the reason for the gathering, the person with knowledge of it said. The meeting was first reported Sunday by the New York Daily News .

“It was just to make sure that they understood how much cap room we had,” a team official familiar with the meeting said. “… The options that you could come out of that with is what we wanted to explain. I think they were unclear and we had to show them.”

Those present included Glen Grunwald, the Knicks’ vice president of basketball operations, and Madison Square Garden president Scott O’Neil, who were dispatched to Cleveland Saturday to explain the options at the team’s disposal to James’ agent, Leon Rose. James did not attend.

The team official with knowledge of the meeting stressed that, although Stoudemire met Sunday with coach Mike D’Antoni and will have a formal sitdown with Knicks officials Monday, it is by no means a done deal that Stoudemire will be a Knick. Stoudemire and D'Antoni met Sunday to lay the groundwork for Monday's meeting and clear the air about what once source described as "misperceptions" about their relatiionship at the end of D'Antoni's days in Phoenix. But while Stoudemire and D'Antoni may have cleared the air about possibly entering into another working relationship, James holds all the cards in terms of what complementary players the Knicks would surround him with if the King opted to sign with the Knicks.

All of the potential free-agent maneuverings are intertwined, with one executive involved in the chase saying Sunday, "Nobody has anybody yet."  And the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Sunday that James will likely delay an announcement of his decision until after a three-day Nike camp in his hometown of Akron concludes Wednesday.

Stoudemire, too, is keeping his options open, as AOL Fanhouse reported Sunday that the five-time All-Star plans to meet Tuesday with the Nets and Bulls if he doesn’t agree to terms with the Knicks Monday. In the information vacuum and speculative frenzy that has engulfed the NBA during this unprecedented free-agent summer, Stoudemire caused a stir Saturday night when he said that Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony had agreed to come with him to New York if he signed with the Knicks. New York is interested in both players, and has, in fact, inquired about obtaining Parker from the Spurs in a trade. But short of a trade – and a person close to Anthony told CBSSports.com Saturday that there’s “zero chance” the Nuggets will trade him this summer – there is no way for Stoudemire’s promise to become reality.

“Clearly, you can’t,” a team executive familiar with the Knicks’ situation said of the team landing Parker and Melo.

Meanwhile, the Knicks continue to pursue other options to either pair with a top-tier free agent or with Stoudemire, with small forward Mike Miller apparently the most coveted piece. In addition to the Knicks, the Heat, Clippers and perhaps Cavs are in contention for Miller, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

The Cavs, who came out of Saturday’s presentations to James feeling they are still the overwhelming favorites to retain him, are continuing to pursue Bulls free-agent center Brad Miller, sources said.


Posted on: July 4, 2010 12:26 am
 

LeBron, Wade, Bosh not ready for decision

For those who want a quick resolution after the 72-hour whirlwind recruiting of the Big Three free agents, you'll be disappointed. Evidently exhausted from being courted non-stop since midnight Thursday, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ... well, on the fourth day, they rested.

Henry Thomas, who represents Wade and Bosh, said Saturday night his clients weren't ready to make a decision and were "processing all of the information they've received over the last two days. They're taking a step back and evaluating it. That's it."

Similarly, two team executives involved in the recruiting of LeBron were under the same impression -- with one saying the King's decision could come "early next week," while another was under the impression there was "no timeline." Two more executives had not been given a timetable by any of the Big Three, nor had they heard back on the possibility of a follow-up meeting to close the deal.

Welcome to the Summer of 2010, where hurry up and wait is the motto.

Wade and Bosh finished their pitch sessions Friday night, when both met with the Bulls. Saturday was the main event, with the Bulls and hometown Cavs having an audience with LeBron amid a surreal scene in downtown Cleveland. One of the executives involved in the recruiting process over the past few days described it this way: Now is when the emotion of the process and the glitz of the presentations fade and reality sets in. Reality, and the known vs. the unknown. And the executive came away with the distinct impression that Wade is staying in Miami, LeBron is staying in Cleveland, and Bosh -- left out to dry in such a scenario -- would then be far more interested in the extra $25-$30 million the Raptors can offer him than he's been for the past 72 hours.

"All these guys know where they're going to go," a person with close ties to one of the players involved in the process said. "This whole thing has just been a spectacle."

Nonetheless, the process marches on. All five teams regarded as having realistic shots at landing/keeping at least one of the top free agents when the negotiating period began -- the Cavs, Bulls, Heat, Knicks and Nets -- continue to put on the full-court press in trying to secure commitments from complementary players. The Bulls and Heat have talked with Carlos Boozer and David Lee, among others; the Knicks have reached a "broad agreement" with Amar'e Stoudemire on either complementing or replacing one of the top-tier free agents and continue to pursue Joe Johnson and Mike Miller; the Nets continue to tell people they have a real shot at landing one of their top targets. The Cavs are pursuing Bulls free-agent center Brad Miller as an added inducement for LeBron.

And on we go. With so many moving parts, one executive involved in the process was dubious that the July 4 holiday Sunday would bring any more clarity.

What the beginning of the holiday weekend did bring, however, was closure to the over-the-top pitch process. According to details of the six presentations LeBron witnessed in Cleveland from Thursday to Saturday, each team had its moments. How much of it resonates with James as he huddles with his advisers over the next couple of days remains to be seen.

The Cavs, who know James better than any of the teams courting him, floored him Saturday with an emotional highlight video starting with his state championship days at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School, progressing through his selection by the Cavs as the No. 1 pick in the draft, and sprinkled with interviews with fans begging him to stay. Several images of James' mother, Gloria, were strategically  included, as the Cavs know James would be hard-pressed to leave his mother behind in Ohio as a consequence of signing with another team.

But the important moments in James' sitdown with the team he's played with for seven seasons came when new coach Byron Scott had the floor, explaining to James his defensive-minded style, desire to push the tempo offensively, and emphasis on tireless work and practice time. In fact, people familiar with James' priorities believe the one-on-one time he spent with coaches over the past few days -- Mike D'Antoni of the Knicks, Tom Thibodeau of the Bulls, Avery Johnson of the Nets, Erik Spoelstra (and by extension, Pat Riley) of the Heat, and Scott -- will resonate with him as much as any other basketball factor. The Clippers, who haven't hired a coach yet, were the only team to court James without one.

The Knicks, still viewed by some insiders as having a puncher's chance if James is able to come to grips with leaving his hometown, included a flashy video, too. And they did their homework, producing a film playing off James' adoration of The Sopranos, as detailed by columnist Ian O'Connor of ESPN-New York. But as with the Cavs' presentation, a person familiar with the Knicks' approach said the most important segment came when Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, GM Donnie Walsh and other executives left the room and turned the floor over to D'Antoni. It was only James and D'Antoni in the room as the Knicks' coach passionately detailed how effective James would be in his up-tempo, pick-and-roll system as a Magic Johnson-like floor leader whose breadth of talents would be emphasized with the Knicks more than with any other team courting him.

How much will it all matter? Which way is LeBron really leaning? The next 72 hours will be far more important than the past 72 when it comes to answer those questions.





 






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