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Tag:Knicks
Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Johnson "intrigued" by Chicago and New York

Joe Johnson is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing in Chicago or New York, an explanation for why he still hasn’t accepted the Hawks’ max contract offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Friday night.

While Johnson, the centerpiece of the Hawks’ revived franchise, continues to lean toward returning to Atlanta, the developing situations with the Bulls and Knicks have his attention, the person familiar with the process said. The Bulls are trying to create a championship duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or one of those players with Chris Bosh. But short of that happening, Chicago would be ready to move forward with Johnson as a second option – or perhaps as part of a tandem with James or Wade.

The Knicks will look to finalize an agreement with Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract over the weekend, and Stoudemire spent much of Friday trying to recruit an All-Star to join him. One such All-Star could be Johnson, but he’d have to forfeit more than $25 million in the process because only the Hawks can offer him a sixth year.

The only way around that would be to have Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, organize a sign-and-trade by which Johnson could get home-town money and still go to New York or Chicago. A person with knowledge of the situation said no such talks have been broached; Johnson first has to decide whether he wants to return to the Hawks before such negotiations begin.

Hawks executives, who offered Johnson a fully guaranteed deal for six-years and $120 million immediately upon the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, have waited patiently while Johnson enjoys the free-agent recruiting process. But at some point, the team will need an answer so it can pursue a viable replacement, sources said.
Posted on: July 2, 2010 6:26 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:52 pm
 

Wade, Bulls hold second meeting (UPDATE)

The free-agent chase has taken a detour that could change everything. Dwyane Wade holding a second meeting with Bulls officials Friday night shook up a frenzied recruiting process that promises to reach a dizzying crescendo this weekend.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported the meeting , an unscheduled gathering between the Heat superstar and a team that had been all but discounted for his services. Fellow free agent Chris Bosh and Wade met separately with the Bulls in Chicago, and speculation immediately focused on the Bulls' apparent efforts to offer what previously only the Heat could: the opportunity for the superstar trinity of free agents -- LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- to play together.

In order to facilitate that, the Bulls would have to acquire Bosh in a sign-and-trade from Toronto, likely giving up Luol Deng or Joakim Noah in the process. Short of that, the Bulls are only one minor move -- dumping James Johnson and his $1.8 million contract on a team with cap space to absorb it -- from offering LeBron and Wade (or some other two-man combo) the chance to pair up in Chicago and chase down championships in the shadow of Michael Jordan.

The possibilities of a Wade-Bosh or LeBron-Bosh pairing with the Bulls has far-reaching implications -- not the least of which would be leaving the Heat, which once seemed poised to land all three, empty-handed. As Wade left the meeting Friday night, he told reporters there, "Things are getting very interesting."

And out of control, too.

One powerful agent, speaking to CBSSports.com on condition of anonymity Friday night, ridiculed the LeBron-Wade-Bosh recruiting mania as "a bunch of egomaniacs starved for attention who think the world revolves them. They can't get enough of themselves." The agent, who is involved in numerous free-agent and trade scenarios, said of a LeBron-Wade pairing, "I don't see that happening." The most likely outcome, the agent said, was for Bosh to land in Chicago by himself -- forming an impressive trio with Derrick Rose, Noah and Deng -- while Wade re-signed in Miami and James in Cleveland. Boring, but more realistic, the agent said.

The stunning turn of events came after Wade and Bosh met separately with the Knicks in Chicago. Wade met with Bulls officials at the United Center for the first time Thursday. Although Wade is a Chicago native, he has consistently said he wants to stay in Miami and attract two marquee free agents to play with him there. Heat officials, led by Pat Riley and his gleaming championship rings, met with James in Cleveland Friday.

As if this wasn't enough of a circus already, the Cavaliers have organized a rally for Saturday during which fans will line the streets outside James' marketing company's office building in a show of support for him to stay with the Cavs.





Posted on: July 2, 2010 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:30 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


Amar'e Stoudemire will arrive in New York Saturday with "broad agreement" on the Knicks' five-year, nearly $100 million proposal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, broke off talks with the Suns Friday, almost certainly ending his eight-year tenure there. Stoudemire rejected a five-year offer from Phoenix that wasn't fully guaranteed in the final season with a clause that included playing-time incentives, according to the Arizona Republic .

After the Stoudemire talks broke down, the Suns agreed to terms with power forward Hakim Warrick on a four-year, $18 million deal. To consummate that contract on July 8, the Suns will have to renounce their rights to Stoudemire, meaning he couldn't be signed and traded at that point.

While a deal with the Knicks is preferable to the incentive-laden contract Phoenix was offering, there are concerns on both sides that will have to be addressed this weekend. Stoudemire, like other second-tier free agents, is worried about being the only superstar to come to New York, where fans have been speculating for two years that LeBron James would wind up in a Knicks jersey. Stoudemire was said to have spent Friday trying to recruit a fellow All-Star to join him, with the most likely targets being the Hawks' Joe Johnson and the Spurs' Tony Parker.

As for the Knicks, Stoudemire's knees and eye will be subject to thorough exams by the team's medical staff. Reports have indicated that Stoudemire's contract will not be insurable due to his injury history.

Warrick, who averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 76 games last season with the Bulls and Bucks, was among the surprise deals of free agency thus far. "Mindboggling," one rival executive called it. "He played for $3 million last season and the Bucks couldn't wait to get rid of him."

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Point guard Steve Blake agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with the Lakers, insurance in case free agent Derek Fisher leaves, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The Blake signing probably takes the Lakers out of th running for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but not entirely, the source said.  When deals become official July 8, the Lakers would have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Blake and still give their mid-level exception to Miller. That scenario, however, appears unlikely. Miller also has attracted significant interest from the Knicks and several other teams.
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The Blazers, Knicks, Bulls and Clippers have expressed interest in Spurs free-agent guard Roger Mason, while the Jazz, Nuggets, Bobcats, Knicks and Heat are pursuing Suns free-agent forward Louis Amundson, sources say.
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John Salmons' five-year, $40 million agreement to return to the Bucks was finalized Friday, pending the official paperwork after the moratorium on player movement is lifted on July 8, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.











Posted on: July 1, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 1:25 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


After meeting for more than two hours with LeBron James in Cleveland Thursday, with a van-full of presentation gear to show for it, the Knicks' contingent headed to Chicago for meetings with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But not before trying to make a last-minute pitch to keep Joe Johnson from signing with the Hawks, a person familiar with the strategy said.

At the precise moment when coach Mike D'Antoni, president Donnie Walsh, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and others emerged from a Cleveland office tower Thursday, Johnson was hunkered down in a meeting with his agent, Arn Tellem, and Hawks officials in Los Angeles. It was the second sit-down for Johnson and the team he's played with for five seasons, and it wasn't clear what more needed to be discussed regarding Atlanta's six-year, $120 million offer -- which neither the Knicks nor any other suitor can match under NBA salary rules.

But the Knicks, trying to use Johnson as an enticement to lure James to New York, jumped back into the fray with a call to Tellem after meeting with LeBron. The Knicks are "swinging away," the source said, and "need some luck."

While it seems unlikely that Johnson would turn down the Hawks' offer, Johnson was still in play as of late Thursday afternoon, when Tellem told CBSSports.com there was not yet an agreement with Atlanta. A person familiar with the discussions said there would be "no decision" Thursday from Johnson on the Hawks' offer, which is 100 percent guaranteed, according to a source.

The Knicks will meet in Chicago Friday with the other two top free agents, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

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Another Tellem client in demand is small forward Mike Miller, a 10-year veteran who shot 50 percent from the field for Washington last season. The Knicks met with him in Los Angeles Wednesday night along with Johnson, and the Lakers opened discussions with him Thursday. Discussions with the Lakers did not advance to the offer stage.

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Discussions between the Suns and Amar'e Stoudemire remain unresolved, with the issue being Suns chairman Robert Sarver's unwillingness to increase his offer from four years to five years. Stoudemire doesn't yet have an offer from the Knicks, but plans to meet with New York officials Saturday or Monday. Meanwhile, Channing Frye will be staying in Phoenix, where he intended to stay all along. The unrestricted free agent agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal, according to Yahoo! Sports.
 
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With the signing of 2008 second-round pick Nikola Pekovic to a four-year, $13 million deal and Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million deal, the Timberwolves are proceeding under the assumption that Al Jefferson will be traded, a person with knowledge of the team's strategy said. But with no takers yet, it is possible that the situation could drag into August, when better offers for the injury-prone power forward might be extracted.

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Anticipating the loss of Chris Bosh in free agency, the Raptors agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent Amir Johnson on a five-year, $34 million deal, a person familiar with the situation said. Johnson, a 6-9 forward who was the 56th pick by the Pistons in the 2005 draft, averaged 12.7 points and 9.8 rebounds coming off the bench last season for Toronto.

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Rudy Gay has agreed to a five-year, $82 million deal with Memphis, a move that takes the restricted free agent off the market, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Gay had been contacted by Minnesota and was receiving significant interest from the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and Clippers -- teams flush with cap space who viewed Gay as a consolation prize if they missed out on LeBron James. Those teams could have forced Memphis' hand with a front-loaded offer sheet the Grizzlies would've had trouble matching due to luxury-tax implications. But there's no need for that after Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace's pre-emptive strike to keep him.

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Point guard Raymond Felton has been contacted by seven teams, including the three with the most cap money who also happen to be the three he's interested in: the Knicks, Heat and Nets, CBSSports.com has learned.

Felton expects to have a decision in 2-3 days, with the understanding that the teams pursuing him have to first resolve their pursuit of top-tier free agents like James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Felton, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 assists for the Bobcats last season, probably won't return to Charlotte because re-signing him would push the Bobcats over the luxury tax.

The Knicks' pursuit of Felton is a strong indication of a backup plan the team is ready to carry out if it doesn't land James. Sources say team president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni would then try to get a quick commitment from Felton and use a legit point guard as an enticement to one of the other free agents -- Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. Then, the Knicks could try to add one more piece -- such as small forward Mike Miller -- before going over the cap to retain Lee, assuming they didn't have to renounce his rights to do it. If they did, the Knicks would probably have to forego one of the signings in order to fit Lee into their $34.1 million of salary-cap space.

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Minnesota's surprising four-year, $20 million commitment to Darko Milicic took them out of the Gay sweepstakes, but that didn't matter after the Grizzlies retained him with a five-year, $82 million deal Thursday. The signing of Milicic also likely removed the T-Wolves from the running for Lee, who had scheduled a visit with the Timberwolves over the weekend.

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The Magic are quietly exploring sign-and-trade scenarios that would rid the team of Vince Carter and his $17.3 million contract for next season, sources say. Short of that, team officials have indicated that they're willing to further explore more playing time for power forward Brandon Bass, who languished on the bench much of last season. The move would involve moving Rashard Lewis back to his natural small-forward. In addition to elite point guard Chris Paul, who tops his offseason wish list, Dwight Howard has told management he wants the team to pursue a post-up scorer at the power forward position. If GM Otis Smith is unable to acquire Howard's choice for that role, Carlos Boozer, the Magic could counter by utilizing Bass more than they did last season.

There are "no legs" to reports that Bass could be sent to Utah in a sign-and-trade for Boozer, a person with knowledge of Orlando's strategy said. But given Howard's preference for Boozer, it's too early to completely dismiss the scenario.

 








Posted on: June 30, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 2:46 pm
 

Amar'e opts out (UPDATE)


Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire has exercised the early termination option in his contract, which called for him to make $17.6 million next season, and will hit the unrestricted free-agent market, his agent, Happy Walters, confirmed to CBSSports.com Wednesday.

Walters, who met with Suns owner Robert Sarver and coach Alvin Gentry Tuesday in Los Angeles, will continue to negotiate with Sarver on an extension. But Sarver has yet to raise his offer to the max level, and Stoudemire clearly wants to see the process through after enduring three years of trade possibilities and speculation about his future in Phoenix.

This is Sarver's show now, after GM Steve Kerr and assistant GM David Griffin left the organization following the draft. The Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets are expected to be involved in some level of discussion with Stoudemire after the negotiating period begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

 


Category: NBA
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 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."







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