Tag:Pat Riley
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:20 pm

GMs served with papers in players' suit

A procedural but interesting wrinkle in the players' antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota emergered Thursday. In addition to filing the complaint in district court, the plaintiffs' attorneys served papers via first-class mail on all 30 NBA general managers, according to court documents in the case.

The certificate of service was amended in the court records Thursday to add the Miami Heat. When the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, the Heat were left off the list of team general managers served with the complaint. For unknown reasons, the attorneys served the papers on Heat executive and salary cap expert Andy Ellisburg, rather than team president and Hall of Famer Pat Riley.

Also, the Knicks' copy of the lawsuit may get lost in the mail. It was sent to Donnie Walsh, who is no longer the Knicks' team president.

Sending the complaint to team general managers does not mean they're liable in the lawsuit. It's simply a procedural step, and also one of many ways that attorneys can and do annoy defendants in civil lawsuits. It is not known if the same procedure was followed in the separate antitrust lawsuit filed in California Tuesday because the government's online database had not finished loading for that case.

In other developments Thursday, commissioner David Stern updated the full Board of Governors via conference call on the state of the collapsed collective bargaining talks and the litigation. In addition to the antitrust lawsuits filed against the NBA in California and Minnesota, the league has a pending case in the Southern District of New York in which it is asking a federal judge to rule that the lockout cannot come under antitrust attack by virtue of the players dissolving the National Basketball Players Association.

Stern explained the meaning of the two antitrust lawsuits, but it is likely that a strategy session discussing how to proceed won't happen until owners on the labor relations committee meet or have a call themselves, according to two people familiar with the league's procedures.

Posted on: December 1, 2010 9:04 pm

Cavs' tampering case may be too little, too late

The coup that sent the free-agent dominoes tumbling toward Miami this past July could be under scrutiny by the NBA office if Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert gets what he’s seeking – evidence that Pat Riley’s greatest accomplishment was a violation of league tampering rules.

Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that Gilbert has hired a law firm to investigate whether the Heat’s signing of free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh this past summer was tampering. While Cavaliers officials have privately stewed for months that James’ departure for Miami didn’t pass the tampering test, they have publicly maintained that they’ve moved on. This is the first evidence that Gilbert, who lashed out at James in an infamous screed after “The Decision” was announced on July 8, has not let it go.

“They’re not going to let this die,” a source told Yahoo! Sports, which reported that Gilbert already has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the probe in his quest to provide “a thick binder of findings” to commissioner David Stern.

The NBA does not investigate tampering allegations without an official charge filed by a team, and such cases are exceedingly difficult to prove. On several occasions, Stern has publicly defended players’ right to speak amongst themselves about on- and off-court issues, but after the Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas in July, the commissioner said he would look into tampering charges if any were brought.

Gilbert’s plan now appears to be to bring them, with the issue coming to a head on the eve of James' first game in Cleveland as a member of the Heat.

It is widely known that James, Wade and Bosh began plotting their futures as early as 2006, when all three signed short extensions that gave them the ability to opt out and become free agents in 2010. Their bond was solidified when they teamed up to win the gold medal at the Beijng Olympics in 2008, and any negotiating barriers for their services were eliminated once Creative Artists Agency bought the agencies that represented the three players.

None of that would be against NBA rules, which prohibit team officials from recruiting players under contract with other teams but put no such restrictions on players. But published reports previously have detailed a November 2009 meeting involving Riley, James and Michael Jordan during a Cavs trip to play the Heat. The Cavs did not make an issue of the meeting, sources say, because they did not want to come across as overly sensitive about James’ potential departure – and also because key organizational figures never believed he would leave.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer , Wade and Bosh flew to Akron to meet with James at his home in late June. That meeting, and another one that same month in Chicago allegedly involving Wade and members of James’ inner circle, also will come under scrutiny in the Cavs’ probe. All three players were still under contract with their teams until midnight on July 1.

The nature of those meetings, however, only underscores how difficult it will be to prove wrongdoing. The alleged Akron meeting among players would seem to fall under Stern’s edict not to investigate players for speaking with one another about their future plans. The meeting in Chicago, where the agent for Wade and Bosh, Henry Thomas, is based, would be difficult to characterize as anything more than a business meeting among clients and their shared representative. Even if James’ associates – or James himself – were involved, James is represented by the same agency (though by a different agent, Leon Rose.)

Speculation and sour grapes, however, could be transformed into tampering evidence if Gilbert’s lawyers are able to unearth any evidence that members of the Heat organization were involved in any capacity in these or other meetings and conversations. In non-sports businesses, where tampering is known as “tortious interference,” such proof is obtained through phone records (including email and text messages) and by subpoenaing witnesses to testify under oath. But a person familiar with the NBA’s past pursuit of tampering charges – such as those between the Knicks and Heat over Riley himself in the 1990s – said it’s unlikely that league officials would have the same authority as the civil courts to carry out such practices.

The NBA declined to comment through a league spokesman because no tampering charges have been furnished to the league office.

Just as the Cavs passed on the opportunity to file a complaint with the league office over the alleged meeting with Riley in November 2009, the team also did not take legal action after James announced his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. At the time, sports law experts told CBSSports.com that the Cavs could have asked a federal judge for an injunction to stop James from negotiating with the Heat. They probably wouldn’t have been able to stop him from going, but by bringing the case to a court of law, they would’ve had subpoenas at their disposal as a tool to prove their case.

This effort may be too little, too late.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 6:42 pm

Four options for Riley

So there's trouble in paradise, but what happens next? Here's a look at Pat Riley's options as he tries to turn his Super Team into a team that can actually function:

* Fire Erik Spoelstra and take his job: As Phil Jackson said, it's SVG 2.0. The problem is, sources say Riley would only come downstairs as a last resort because A) he really doesn't want to coach anymore, and B) he knows that the same roster flaws that are sabotaging Spoelstra would do the same to him. Also, this isn't exactly Dwyane Wade's idea of a solution; Wade and Riley butted heads in the past. Personally, I think it would be eye-opening for LeBron James to be coached by someone with experience and championship rings -- someone who could put him in his place.

* Fire Spoelstra and hire someone else: This would be the ultimate sign of how wing-heavy and flawed this supposed dynasty really is: Riley fires Spoelstra, his handpicked protégé, and hands the job to ... Ron Rothstein? Well, that's not going to happen. But really, who's out there? Mike Brown? LeBron's been down that road in Cleveland, and the road ends in a spectacular, five-car pileup in the playoffs. Mike Woodson? For what, to run an even less creative offense? CBSSports.com's Matt Moore mentions two intriguing coaches who are currently unemployed: one credible (Jeff Van Gundy) and one straight out of Frankenstein (Don Nelson). I believe JVG is done coaching; he has a much easier and better job making fun of Mike Breen on TV. Plus, I can't imagine him doing that to his brother, Stan, in Orlando. Nellie? If someone could get him out of his hammock in Maui, they should make this happen tomorrow. Why? Not because it makes sense or the Heat would finally figure out how to play together and win a championship. Who cares about that? It should happen because the Earth would shift, the island would move, blinding lights and screeching noises would overwhelm us ... yes, it would be the basketball version of "Lost." Nellie, the connoisseur of ill-fitting basketball parts, chowing down on this disjointed beast of a team in Miami? It would be delicious on so many levels. If the Heat hired Nellie, I might move to Miami just so I wouldn't miss a minute of the hilarity.

* Stick with Spoelstra for the season and then score a coaching free-agent coup: Sadly, this is the most realistic of the options so far. If Riley really wants no part of this, then he could make it right with another offseason of roster tweaks and a chance to make a run at two very good coaches whose contracts will be up: Nate McMillan and Doc Rivers. McMillan is a fine coach, but I don't think he's the right fit for LeBron and Wade for the same reasons Spoelstra isn't the right fit: too upright and too averse to up-tempo offensive basketball. Speaking of which, Mike D'Antoni always seems to be a three-game losing streak away from being on the hot seat, even though he's spent the majority of his Knicks tenure coaching a D-League team. So if James Dolan ever has the urge to fire D'Antoni, I'd hire him in Miami in about three seconds. For one thing, D'Antoni would get to coach the two players he thought he'd be coaching in New York, only in a warmer climate. For another, I bet he'd enjoy paying no state income tax and saying good-bye to $7,000-a-month real estate tax bills in Westchester County. And finally, D'Antoni was the right coach for LeBron and Wade all along. He'd loosen the reins, let LeBron run the point and be Magic Johnson, and outscore everybody 130-117. But the most intriguing coach in this scenario, by far, is Rivers, who has the patience, presence, and pedigree to give LeBron and Wade just enough leeway while also commanding their respect. Plus, Florida is home for him, and any time you can trade an old Big Three for a younger version and cement your legacy as one of the most decorated coaches of all time, I'd say that would be a pretty good career move.

* Tell LeBron and Wade to quit whining, look in the mirror and figure it out: Of all the intriguing options, I like this one the best. To be fair, it isn't just the players who have to adjust; Spoelstra will have to change, too, by putting the ball in LeBron's hands and getting him in transition and in the open floor to create -- for Wade, for Eddie House and Mike Miller (once healthy). LeBron holds the key to this approach. He's the one player on the roster -- perhaps the only one in the league -- with the breadth of talents to adjust his game and make it fit with an elite scorer like Wade. I don't think Wade is built that way. He scores; that's what he does. LeBron can do it all, and he can do so much more than what he's doing now if he'd check his ego and if Spoelstra would be willing to give up some control. It's a slippery slope, but more promising than the one the Heat are currently sliding down.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 2:28 pm

Preseason Primers: Miami Heat

You may have heard that the Miami Heat are a bit of a big deal. They ran the table during free agency in July, executing the ingenious plan hatched by mastermind Pat Riley without flaw. Riley even assembled a quality, veteran supporting cast in the blink of an eye, surrounding Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh with shooters, defensive toughness and quality support players. Free-agent center Erick Dampier could be next. Was it enough? Will the Super Team execute as well in June as Riley executed in July? It's time for the Miami Heat preseason primer -- which has all the questions, some of the answers, and none of the fanfare that went along with LeBron's "Decision."

Training camp site: Dark Side of the Moon. (Just kidding. It’s actually on less accessible property: Hurlburt Field at Eglin Air Force Base near Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Smush Parker (fantasy signing), Jason Williams (none of your business), and three of Michael Beasley’s better-adjusted cousins. This is a joke, of course. You know who the key additions are. Besides them, the most important ones are Mike Miller (free agent), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Eddie House (free agent) and, um, Juwan Howard (free agent).

Key subtractions: Quentin Richardson (free agent), Jermaine O’Neal (free agent), Beasley (trade), Daequan Cook (trade).

Likely starting lineup: Wade, G; Mike Miller, G; James, SF; Bosh, PF; Joel Anthony, C. (Or maybe Dampier.)

Player to watch: Aside from the circus atmosphere starting Sept. 27 with media day on the University of Miami campus, the most interesting X’s and O’s to examine will be Erik Spoelstra’s use of Wade and LeBron as interchangeable point guards. I expect a token go at it with Carlos Arroyo and/or Mario Chalmers at point, but ultimately Spoelstra’s best lineup will be using Wade and LeBron as interchangeable wings with either one able to initiate the offense.

Chemistry check: There won’t be many clues in the cloistered environment of training camp as to how Wade and LeBron are going to work out their all-important pecking order. But the seeds will be planted for how they divvy up the pressure, credit and blame months from now.

Circus act: The fact that the Heat have chosen a secluded Air Force base for training camp, making it temporarily inconvenient for media to besiege them, is no surprise. Even when the Heat were a .500 team and no lock to get out of the first round, they were one of the most challenging teams in the league to cover. Under Riley, they like their space and they love to control the message. The creation of this super team – as star-studded a locker room as has existed in the modern NBA – will be a daily challenge. Everywhere they go, they’ll receive the rock-star treatment. It’s legitimate to wonder if the attention, and the pressure of converting the coup of July into a championship in June, will have a cumulative effect.

On the spot: The sharing of the ball, the big shots, and the blame if things go wrong will be fascinating to watch as Wade and LeBron navigate their co-superstardom together. But at some point, someone outside the realm of the dynamic duo will have to make a big shot, a defensive stop, or a smart play at the end of a close playoff game with elimination on the line. At that moment, the spotlight will perhaps shift to Bosh, who clearly wasn’t up to that task in Toronto, or Miller, who may have to deliver a corner 3-pointer with a hand in his face at the buzzer of a Game 7.

Camp battles: Chalmers vs. Arroyo for backup point guard. Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and perhaps Dampier for starting center. Pat Riley and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy for best preseason insult.

Biggest strength: In Wade and LeBron, Miami has two players who, individually, are nearly impossible to guard. Putting both of them on the floor at the same time will be enough to make even Tom Thibodeau’s head explode. For 82 nights, and then the playoffs, the challenge for the rest of the league will be: How do you guard them? Which poison do you pick?

Glaring weakness: Size and interior presence. An asterisk goes here based on the likely addition of Dampier, who would give Miami the kind of size and length they are currently lacking with the combination of Anthony, Magloire and Howard at center.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 8:06 pm

Heat (who else?) front-runners for Dampier

The Miami Heat emerged Wednesday as the front-runner to land free-agent center Erick Dampier, who was released a day earlier by Charlotte in a luxury-tax move, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

Dampier can't officially arrange a visit with the Heat until he clears waivers, but it is believed that Heat president Pat Riley views Dampier as a key supporting piece to add to his new Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Dampier, 35, would be an upgrade over Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire and would fill the final missing role for Miami's championship run.

Miami can only offer Dampier the veteran's minimum of about $1.4 million, but it is believed that Dampier is open to accepting less money for the chance to compete for a championship. Among the handful of teams with the full mid-level exception of $5.8 million available, the only potential championship contender is Dallas -- and a reunion with the Mavericks is difficult to fathom. Other teams that have expressed interest are Houston, Toronto and New Jersey, with the Rockets apparently hottest in their pursuit.

The Bobcats released Dampier Wednesday to get out from under his non-guaranteed $13 million salary. Part of the concern, according to a source, was being on the hook for Dampier's salary if he got injured.
Posted on: July 7, 2010 10:47 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 1:17 pm

Heat trying for LeBron-Wade-Bosh coup (UPDATE)

With the first part of their free agency plan is in place -- bringing Dwyane Wade back with Chris Bosh in tow -- the Miami Heat are ready to proceed with part two: adding LeBron James to the mix in a coup that would send shockwaves through the NBA.

Bosh announced Wednesday he's headed to Miami to pair with Wade, a scenario reported by CBSSports.com early Wednesday as the most likely one and pushed to definitive by ESPN's Chris Broussard hours later. Meanwhile, Heat executives are proceeding with the full-court press to add James to the mix and form a Dream Team in South Beach, according to an official familiar with the plans.

"The next step is to go get the big fish," the person said.

Wade and Bosh announced their decision to play together in a live interview on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. ET. But a person with knowledge of their plans said Wade, in particular, is aggravated that the news leaked out sooner -- and that the superstar believes it came from someone in LeBron's camp. Wade and Bosh wanted to have their moment before James makes his own announcement -- the nature of which remains unknown -- in a live, one-hour special Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on the network that shares the NBA broadcast rights.

The Raptors finally were informed around mid-day Wednesday of Bosh's intentions by his Chicago-based agent, Henry Thomas, who also represents Wade. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment from CBSSports.com. But the Raptors, aware that Bosh has been a goner for a while, have entered sign-and-trade talks with the Heat in order to facilitate their All-Star power forward's departure without losing him and getting nothing in return.

Communication between Bosh's representative and the Raptors -- and, according to sources, other teams in pursuit of his two marquee clients -- has been spotty at best in recent days, leaving Bosh's own team and others pursuing Bosh and Wade in the dark as to their intentions until moments before they announced it on TV. But early Wednesday, an executive within the NBA with close ties to the top three free agents told CBSSports.com that the most likely scenario was Bosh joining Wade in Miami and James staying in Cleveland. Bosh essentially killed a potential alliance with James by balking at the Cavaliers' attempts to acquire him in a sign-and-trade.

Of LeBron and Wade, the executive said Wednesday, "Both aren't moving." But sources say that hasn't stopped Heat president Pat Riley from pursuing James in a move that would shift the NBA's balance of power for years.

The piece of the puzzle that's missing is whether Bosh goes to Miami via a sign-and-trade arrangement or a straight free-agent signing. The difference for him is only about $30 million. If Bosh is signed by the Raptors and traded to Miami, he would receive a six-year deal worth approximately $125 million -- the same as Wade would receive by signing a free-agent deal with his existing team. But Bosh needs the cooperation of the Raptors to maximize his contract.

Wade said in the TV announcement that he's "not opposed" to taking less money to give the Heat the space to put the right pieces around him. But assuming a max deal for Wade, which would start at $16.57 million in 2010-11, the Heat would have $29.4 million in cap space left -- not enough to sign two more max free agents at the same price. They'd have to trade former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley -- either in a sign-and-trade for Bosh or a separate trade to a team with the cap space to absorb his $4.9 million contract without being required to send salary back to the Heat.

A logical sign-and-trade scenario for Bosh would include some combination of Beasley, point guard Mario Chalmers, and a 2011 first-round pick that was previously acquired by Miami from Toronto. The Raptors would have the option of taking back as little salary as possible and instead receiving a trade exception that could be used to acquire a top-tier replacement for Bosh at a later date -- likely at the February trade deadline, when numerous teams are expected to be eager to dump contracts ahead of the new collective bargaining agreement and potential work stoppage after next season. A person familiar with the Raptors' strategy told CBSSports.com Wednesday that Beasley is not a likely target in those trade talks.

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."


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.

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.

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: December 25, 2009 4:27 pm

Have patience: Wade on his way back

NEW YORK – If you were expecting to see a memorable performance from Dwyane Wade on Christmas Day, you came to the wrong place. What you got instead was something that Wade, coach Erik Spoelstra, and lord knows Pat Riley prefer.

It was a pick-your-spots effort from Wade on the offensive end and another stellar defensive game for Miami. Was it a tedious, boring way for the NBA to kick off its slate of five nationally televised games on Friday? Yawn. But if Wade and the Heat look back after the season and wonder when they found their rhythm, their identity, the 10-day stretch culminating with Friday’s 93-87 victory over the Knicks will stand out.

It wasn’t exactly Riley’s Heat vs. Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks in this, the Knicks’ first Christmas Day since appearance since 2001 after 38 straight from 1950-87. But it was the type of grind-fest that the Heat are going to have to become adept at winning if they’re going anywhere in what could be Wade’s last season in Miami.

“The alternative just was not working for us,” Spoelstra said.

After enjoying eight of their first 10 games at home with a 7-3 record, the Heat fell into some bad habits with a road trip that began Nov. 18 against last season’s playoff opponent, the Hawks. They went 4-8 over the next 12 games, allowing the opponent to score at least 100 points in nine of them. They’ve allowed 100 points only once in the last five games, and it happened to come in their only loss – 102-95 against Portland.

“Going into training camp, that’s what Coach wanted us to be,” Wade said. “Have the ability to score the ball, but don’t rely on it, because scoring the ball is inconsistent.”

This, Wade knows. He entered Friday’s game shooting a career-low 43 percent, prompting Riley to publicly question his conditioning. This season, he’s averaging 1.26 points per field goal attempt, a significant decline from the 1.37 points per field goal attempt he averaged last season while winning the scoring title.

An NBA front office executive who has watched Wade closely this season said he seems to be trying to raise his production lately by deferring to his teammates for long stretches instead of shouldering the majority of the scoring load from start to finish. That approach was on full display Friday, with only eight of Wade’s 21 field goal attempts coming in the first half.

“I was picking my spots early in the game,” Wade said. “At the end, I just had that ‘take us home’ mentality.”

After the Knicks cut the deficit to single digits midway through the fourth, Wade pushed it back to 10 points three times – with two 21-foot jumpers and then a ferocious dunk that made it 81-71 with 3:29 left.

“What changed?” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s name’s Dwyane Wade.”

Wade was 11-for-21 from the field for 30 points, a far cry from some of his inefficient performances that coincided with Miami’s attempt to win 100-point slugfests. In the past five games, Wade is 54-for-116 from the field (.466).

The burst that he showed on that dunk with 3:29 remaining was something that had been missing. After his legs felt unusually heavy early in the season, Wade said personal trainer Tim Grover joined him in Miami for a crash course in core strength to get him jump-started again. At the same time, he’s tried to slow down his offense and speed up his patience.

“I pride myself on playing an overall game,” Wade said, “not just scoring.”

That formula is working for him now, and for his team, too.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com