Tag:Trevor Ariza
Posted on: July 7, 2009 11:15 am
Edited on: July 7, 2009 1:25 pm
 

LeBron: 'Never mind 2010, I'm staying' (UPDATE)

UPDATES THROUGHOUT with LeBron damage control.

The LeBron 2010 story keeps changing, as does the version that James himself reportedly gave to free agent Trevor Ariza.

After it was reported that James personally recruited Ariza by stating that he'd be in Cleveland beyond 2010, people close to LeBron have circled the wagons to refute it. ESPN.com, which ran the initial LeBron-Ariza story, is now running one with the LeBron camp's denials.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was first to refute the notion that LeBron told Ariza of his intentions for Cleveland in 2010, "I'll be there. Of course I'll be there." The comments seemed to contradict James' public stance on whether he would decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent after next season. James has consistently stated that he's happy in Cleveland but hasn't decided what he will do.

Either way, James' recruiting pitch didn't work with Ariza, who opted to verbally commit to the Rockets. It was an odd story to begin with, since James would never recruit free agents by telling them he's planning to leave.

Nonetheless, this is an example of how LeBron's clever non-answers and fence-sitting when it comes to what he'll do next summer have come back to bite him. On one hand, he has every right to leverage his player option as a tool for getting the best deal and keeping the pressure on the Cavs to surround him with the best possible talent to win a championship. On the other, could his wavering have hurt GM Danny Ferry's efforts to recruit another free agent to bolster the pre-draft trade for Shaquille O'Neal?

That's where the LeBron conspiracy theory loses me. What is hampering Ferry is not LeBron's uncertain future, but the simple fact that he has only the mid-level exception to offer. Granted, that's what Ariza ultimately got from the Rockets. It's the same deal Ariza turned down from the Lakers. Ron Artest was hell bent on signing with the Lakers, so it didn't matter what anybody else offered. The point is, players are going to sign where they get the most money -- and if money is a wash, they consider a wide array of factors. None of them should be willing to decide the next five years of his career based on what LeBron may or may not do next July. Especially now, since the story changes every five minutes.

Dwyane Wade felt compelled to go public with his position that if the Miami Heat fail to surround him with championship talent, he'll decline his player option after next season and bolt. That's his prerogative. Is Wade going to privately tell free agents and/or players the Heat might target in sign-and-trades that he was just kidding? Either way, the glamour free agents of 2010 reap what they sow in terms of how they choose to leverage their positions. Where LeBron is concerned, his decision has always been and will continue to be about how close the Cavs are to a championship next June.









Posted on: July 2, 2009 5:27 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2009 11:04 pm
 

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

UPDATES THROUGHOUT with Ariza committing to Rockets

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is proving himself to be not only among the most innovative executives in the NBA, but one of the best traveled, too. Morey opened the free-agent negotiating period by meeting with Orlando restricted free agent Marcin Gortat, and on Thursday Morey traveled to Las Vegas, where he got a verbal commitment from Lakers free agent Trevor Ariza.

Ariza is said to have been less than pleased with the Lakers' efforts to re-sign him to a deal that does not exceed the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million annually. It's not clear what parameters the Rockets are working with, but Morey is not the type to overpay -- even in his semi-desperate state given the awful injury news this week about franchise center Yao Ming.

Ron Artest's decision Thursday to sign with the Lakers, first reported by CBSSports.com, had a two-way domino effect in Ariza's favor. Artest slides into Ariza's small forward spot with the Lakers, and Ariza takes Artest's starting spot in Houston.

Although several teams were interested in Ariza -- the Cavaliers, Raptors, and Blazers among them -- multiple team executives questioned whether Ariza would get much more than the mid-level from anyone.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Ariza received only the full mid-level exception -- five years starting at about $5.6 million -- according to a person familiar with the agreement. 

Though Ariza, 24, had a breakout season from a health and 3-point shooting standpoint and preserved two wins against Denver in the Western Conference finals with his defense, it's a buyer's market in free agency this year. One of the golden rules in any environment is not to overpay based on one year of production. That's especially the case this year, although it only takes one team to set the market.

Ariza was so effective with the Lakers because he had a role, he embraced it, and he produced. That role was serving as the third or fourth scoring option on an All-Star-laden championship team. Going to a less fortified roster at a $40 million price tag would push Ariza into the role of a primary scorer with bigger expectations, which might not suit him. But his ability to defend, shoot the three, and fit in on a contending team bodes well for giving the Rockets a legit replacement for Artest. 

Here's more free-agent buzz developed from conversations with executives, agents, and others in the know:

* The Celtics dispatched a star-studded entourage to meet with Rasheed Wallace in Detroit Thursday, and a source close to the discussions said it's too early to predict the outcome. Perhaps the Celts brought their Big Three along for the trip to dampen the news that all they can offer Wallace is the mid-level exception for two or three years. That's what the Boston Globe reported the Celtics offered Wallace after the 3 1-2 hour meeting. A person familiar with the discussions said Wallace will visit several other teams. Boston also is interested in Grant Hill, who has been invited to visit the Knicks next week.

* A person involved in the Hedo Turkoglu sweepstakes said there is no news yet on Toronto's role in the recruitment of the Turkish free agent. Turkoglu met with Trail Blazers officials in Portland Thursday, and he was expected to receive an offer in the five-year, $50 million range. Toronto's front office has been deliberating whether to pre-empt the Blazers with a more lucrative offer, but that would involve renouncing the rights to three players: Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker. If the Turkoglu situation drags on, it could be an indication that a more creative path out of Orlando -- as in, a sign-and-trade -- is being explored. One rival executive expressed curiosity as to why Turkoglu and the Magic wouldn't want to explore such an avenue. Turkoglu would get an extra year, and Orlando would get something back.

* A Western Conference executive said word is that the Knicks aren't willing to offer Jason Kidd more than a 1-year deal at the mid-level exception, despite Mike D'Antoni's glowing comments Wednesday that the future Hall of Famer has two or three years left at a high level. Dallas appears willing to offer Kidd at least a 2-year deal; if the Knicks upped the ante to two years, the Mavs would counter with three, it is believed.

* Gortat apparently is committed to signing an offer sheet with Dallas that will far outstrip what the Rockets are willing to offer in terms of length. The Mavs should've learned their lesson from the DeSagana Diop fiasco. Dallas signed Diop to the full mid-level exception (five years) last summer and wound up giving him away to Charlotte in January for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. It's great to have a billionaire owner.

* Though the idea hasn't reached the highest levels of both organizations, there could be a more creative way to get Ben Gordon from Chicago to Detroit -- one that would send Allen Iverson to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade. Though the scenario is farfetched, it would benefit Gordon (who would get an extra year and more money) and the Bulls (who would get Iverson instead of nothing to replace Gordon). A person familiar with the discussions said the Pistons would flat-out refuse to entertain such a sign-and-trade unless they could recoup significant cap savings.




 
 

Posted on: July 1, 2009 7:18 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2009 2:20 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz: Artest to Cavs? (UPDATE)

You want buzz? How's Ron Artest playing on the same team with LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Cavs -- and LeBron himself -- are recruiting Artest to form a new Big Three in Cleveland that would be entertaining, potentially combustible, and perhaps even really, really good. The possibilities are endless -- great quotes, controversies, Artest advocating for LeBron in the LeBron-Kobe debate. Maybe even a championship.

Artest has been fielding offers from several teams, but so far the most impressive has to be Cleveland's courtship, which included LeBron making an in-person pitch recently when both players were in Los Angeles for events. This could develop quickly; a person close to Artest indicated that the small forward was expecting to start sorting through offers as early as Wednesday night.

By joining the Rockets last season and not making any waves -- not to mention his mostly effective contributions in the playoffs -- Artest earned himself one more free-agent score. And the value won't necessarily be measured in dollars, but in the opportunity to win a championship. For that reason, and in order to repay the Rockets for taking a chance on him, Artest had been leaning toward returning to Houston. But the possibility that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season has changed everything.

Artest made several conspicuous appearances at Lakers home games during the Finals, and L.A. could be a formidable competitor for Artest's services -- especially if the Lakers lose either Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza, both unrestricted free agents.

The most the Cavs can offer is the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million, and Artest figures to do better elsewhere -- in terms of dollars but not opportunity. At various times during the past two years as he approached free agency, Artest repeatedly said he wasn't looking for one more pay day, but rather for the chance to win a championship. The opportunity has arrived.

Here's more free-agent buzz from conversations with executives, agents, and others in the know:

* After CBSSports.com reported early Wednesday that the Trail Blazers were aggressively pursuing Hedo Turkoglu, the free-agent forward will receive a visit from Portland coach Nate McMillan Wednesday night in Orlando. Turkoglu is expected to accept the team's invitation to tour Portland and the Blazers' facilities on Thursday. An offer -- believed to be a five-year deal in the $50 million range -- is expected to be extended at that time. As many as five teams have inquired about Turkoglu -- some with cap room, some without, according to agent Lon Babby. One of them is not the Detroit Pistons, who have focused their attention on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

UPDATE: The Raptors are debating whether to make a pre-emptive offer to Turkoglu that would top Portland's, but that would require renouncing the rights to Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker. Another option is to keep those players and sign a mid-level free agent. If the Raptors decide to go for a bigger name, Turkoglu isn't the only one they're considering. They also have interest in Knicks restricted free agent David Lee.

* The Knicks rolled out the red carpet for Jason Kidd at Madison Square Garden Wednesday, but the Mavericks still have the advantage in their efforts to retain the future Hall of Fame point guard. A person familiar with the talks said there are strong indications that Mavs owner Mark Cuban is willing to offer Kidd a three-year deal, which is well beyond what the Knicks are prepared to offer.

* Suns free agent Grant Hill received an in-person pitch from Steve Kerr in Orlando after free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and has been invited to visit the Knicks next week. The Celtics, who are heavily recruiting Rasheed Wallace, also have expressed interest in Hill.

* If Trevor Ariza feels slighted that all the Lakers can offer him is the mid-level exception, it's not clear where he's going to do better than that on the open market. One rival executive believes the Lakers have prioritized Ariza over their other unrestricted free agent, Lamar Odom, and several sources believe they still have a chance to retain both. The Spurs have expressed interest in Odom, as well as Marcin Gortat (courted by the Rockets), and Antonio McDyess.



 

Posted on: July 1, 2009 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2009 6:46 pm
 

Filling the Boozer void (UPDATE)

With Carlos Boozer off the free-agent market, other free agent forwards are getting ready to cash in.

While Charlie Villanueva was being courted by the Pistons, CBSSports.com has learned that restricted free agents David Lee and Paul Millsap were preparing to field offers as early as Wednesday night. Millsap, the Jazz forward who could benefit the most from Boozer deciding not to opt out of his contract, has heard from three of the four teams with significant cap space -- Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Detroit -- plus a fourth team inquiring about a sign-and-trade. Lee has heard from numerous teams, including Oklahoma City and Memphis, and was expecting inquiries to escalate into offers in the next 24 hours. Despite their focus on Wednesday's meeting at Madison Square Garden with point guard Jason Kidd, the Knicks were among the first teams to reach out to Lee's camp and expressed an interest in keeping him.

While Villanueva was seen as a strong possibility for Cleveland, which may need to replace free agent Anderson Varejao, people in contact with the Cavs' front office say Cleveland is in wait-and-see mode and appears to be strategizing for the second wave of free-agent activity.

UPDATE: OK, the wait's over. Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer reports that the Cavs -- and LeBron James himself -- are actively recruiting Ron Artest. There will be more developing on this front throughout the evening.

Rasheed Wallace got a visit from Celtics president Danny Ainge at his home shortly after midnight Wednesday and was getting interest from other contenders.

Like Artest (whose situation isn't directly affected by Boozer's), Lamar Odom (whose situation is) also was preparing to field offers Wednesday. The Suns and Spurs reportedly were among the teams courting Odom, while the Lakers were actively working to keep both of their unrestricted free agents, Odom and small forward Trevor Ariza.

 
Posted on: June 29, 2009 11:52 pm
 

Boozer's decision

A few months ago, Jazz forward Carlos Boozer was so convinced he would opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent that he proclaimed, "I'm opting out, no matter what. I'm going to get a raise regardless."

Things change.

Less than 18 hours before Tuesday's deadline for players with early termination clauses or player options to notify teams of their intentions, there has been no word from Boozer's camp on whether he will choose to hit the unrestricted free-agent market at midnight Wednesday. One sticking point could be the part about Boozer believing he would "get a raise regardless." Due to make $12.7 million next season in the final year of his deal, Boozer may be stuck in the wrong free-agent class.

He's a 2010 free agent trapped in a 2009 free agent's body.

Only a handful of teams have enough cap space to sign a max player, the Pistons being chief among them. According to sources, the Pistons are expected to reach out to Boozer, Hedo Turkoglu, and Ben Gordon when the negotiating period begins. Oklahoma City and Memphis also are flush with cap room, but neither team is expected to make a big splash this summer. So does Boozer want to walk away from $12.7 million based on one team making it worth his while?

An Eastern Conference executive said Monday night it's feasible that Boozer backtracks on his opt-out guarantee, picks up his player option for next season, and makes another run at free agency in 2010, when numerous teams will have money to spend.

"That wouldn't be the least bit surprising," the executive said.

Boozer's agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return a call seeking comment Monday. Pelinka has another, more famous client in the same position as Boozer: the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who is widely expected to terminate his contract with the intention of re-upping with L.A. But Bryant's situation is more complicated -- isn't it always? -- because he can make the Lakers sweat while they try to re-sign free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom and while Phil Jackson decides whether to return for the final year of his contract.
 

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