Tag:Kings
Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:22 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 2:10 am
 

Jackson finally gets his chance

DALLAS – Joe Lacob proved himself to be an out-of-the-box thinker when he hired high-profile agent Bob Myers to join his front office. Really, he showed himself to be an outside-the-box thinker by buying the Warriors in the first place.

But Lacob truly put his stamp on the franchise Monday with the hiring of Mark Jackson, putting a young, evolving roster in the hands of a first-time head coach.

Jackson, a 17-year veteran as a player but never so much as an assistant coach, agreed Monday to a three-year deal for approximately $6 million, sources familiar with the deal told CBSSports.com. The contract has a team option for a fourth season.

Going from the broadcast table to the first seat on the sideline will be a challenge for Jackson, who finally gets the chance to prove that he is more than a dynamic voice. Jackson, 46, has been in the mix for numerous head coaching jobs over the years, but it took a creative management team of Lacob, Myers and GM Larry Riley to take a chance that there are coaching chops behind Jackson’s commanding presence.

“It was the right time and the right place to give him a shot,” a person close to Jackson said.

Lacob also met personally with former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, and Hornets assistant Michael Malone, but may have been leaning toward Jackson throughout the interview process, sources said. Golden State’s new brain trust kept the decision under wraps until it was announced by the team Monday evening. Even those with close ties to Jackson believed that Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey would be meeting with Lacob after the NBA Finals. Casey, himself, believed that as late as Monday morning, sources said.

UPDATE: The Warriors immediately targeted Malone to be Jackson’s lead assistant, and the former Cavaliers assistant agreed to a three-year deal Monday night, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. Malone, who worked for Mike Brown in Cleveland, had interviewed earlier Monday in Los Angeles for the lead assistant position on Brown's staff with the Lakers. But Golden State's offer will put Malone among the upper echelon for assistants in the NBA as far a pay sources said. Former Pistons coach John Kuester, another Brown assistant from the Cleveland days, also is in the mix to join his staff with the Lakers.

Perhaps moving things forward with Jackson was the fact that the Pistons had expressed interest in interviewing him for their head coaching vacancy.

Several names have emerged as candidates for Jackson as he begins to put together his first coaching staff. Included in the list of possible assistants are former Rockets assistants Jack Sikma and Elston Turner; Kings assistant Mario Elie; and Jerry Sichting, who was on Keith Smart’s staff in Golden State.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Stern envisions replay official, challenge flags

PHILADELPHIA – NBA commissioner David Stern defended the officiating through the first week of the playoffs Thursday night and said he envisions a time when the league will have a dedicated replay official and when coaches will be allowed to throw challenge flags in the final two minutes of games. 

“The officiating has been how officiating is,” Stern said during a stop on his playoff tour at Game 3 between the Heat and 76ers. “We have this issue. We have humans that officiate our games and they don’t catch everything. But they’re the best at what they do.” 

The opening week of the playoffs included several controversial calls, including one in which Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins was incorrectly credited with a basket in the Thunder’s 102-101 victory over the Nuggets in Game 1 of their series due to a missed basket interference call. The league office issued a statement acknowledging the mistake, but a blatant trip by the CelticsKevin Garnett against the KnicksToney Douglas – helping to free Ray Allen for a deciding 3-pointer in Game 1 of that series – did not result in a mea culpa from Stern’s officiating department. 

Stern stressed several times the need to strive for accuracy through replay enhancement without further slowing down the games. 

“Eventually, you may have someone sitting at a desk rather than having a Talmudic discussion of three referees every time there’s a disputed play,” Stern said. “We might have one person whose job it is to keep the headphones on and always watch. And you might let a coach throw the flag in the last two minutes. We’re striving for accuracy. … We have to find a way to speed the game up, and to get it right. That’s the most important thing.” 

With developments Thursday further enhancing Sacramento’s efforts to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim, Stern said Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett – chairman of the relocation committee – and several league officials are in Sacramento “verifying” Mayor Kevin Johnson’s assertions to the Board of Governors last week about Sacramento’s renewed financial commitment to the team. 

“Our preference was to understand that better, and the verification is under way,” Stern said. 

Asked if the recently agreed upon sale of the Pistons to Tom Gores and the expression of interest from Ron Burkle to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento was proof that the NBA’s financial state isn’t as dire as owners say, Stern said, “No. It just means they know we’re going to get a good (labor) deal and they’re already factoring it into their decisions to buy. And they know we’re not only going to get a good deal, but a deal that really makes it sustainable to buy a team.” 

Among the other topics addressed by Stern Thursday night: 

• Asked if the league needs provisions in a new collective bargaining agreement to prevent “player-made teams” like Miami’s, Stern said, “No, because I have grown up in this league with teams that had great players.” Referencing the Celtics and Lakers of the 1980s, Stern said, “To me, you may call me a players’ person, but the players made a deal that says they’re allowed to become free agents and decide where they want to go. And you’re making it into a federal offense to discuss where they might want to play with another player. It doesn’t warm my blood. In fact, if the team that can get those players is under the cap, that’s the way the system was designed to work. I don’t get too boiled for that.” 

• However, when asked about a Yahoo! Sports report from December that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert – a key member of the NBA’s labor relations committee – had retained counsel to investigate tampering allegations against the Heat for signing LeBron James, Stern said, “I’m aware of the issue, but there’s been no formal complaint of tampering or anything like that filed. … If there was tampering that someone could prove, that would make my blood boil.” 

• Reiterating comments he made earlier Thursday in New York to the Associated Press Sports Editors, Stern said he and players’ association chief Billy Hunter are in agreement that a court battle such as the one consuming the NFL in its labor dispute “should be avoided. … We’re going to do our best (to get a deal). And we’ve got more than two months.” 

• After maximum contract lengths were reduced by one year in each of the past two CBAs, Stern said he favored ratcheting them down again. “Shorter and less guaranteed,” he said. “I have no idea what they’ll agree to and I’m not going to negotiate with them here.” 

• On whether the Heat have met expectations, Stern said, “They met my expectations, but they didn’t meet everybody else’s. Before the season, everyone thought they were going to win 75 games and we should just mail the trophy. In fact, it takes a while for a team. This is a team game, and they’ve done pretty well. They’re pretty darn good and they’re playing awfully well, but it hasn’t been the walk in the park that they expected.”
Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Anaheim Royals? Not so fast

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday dismissed the last-ditch candidacy of Ron Burkle to purchase the Kings and keep them in Sacramento, and the league’s board of governors voted to extend the Maloof family’s deadline to apply for relocation to Anaheim until May 2. 

In calling the Burkle plan "not a high priority," Stern at the same time praised Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s presentation, in which he promised millions of dollars in new sponsorships and funding for a new downtown arena. But after a decade of failed efforts to get the Kings a new building in northern California, Stern expressed skepticism about last-ditch efforts to keep the team there. 

"In light of the history in Sacramento, that's usually an eye-roller," Stern said in a news conference after the end-of-season Board of Governors meeting. "We don't know if that's real or a pie in the sky. We don't know whether we can find that out in a couple of weeks, but we are going to knock ourselves out to do it."

Later, on a pre-playoff conference call with national media, Stern described Johnson’s presentation as "persuasive," and said the relocation deadline was extended so owners would have more time to evaluate both the Anaheim relocation plan and Sacramento’s save-the-Kings proposal. Stern said a presentation by the Maloofs and Anaheim city officials was made "in good faith," but left owners with an incomplete understanding of issues such as funding, TV rights, desired arena improvements and "what would be an appropriate relocation fee."

"It just seemed to be a good idea to put it off for a couple of weeks," Stern said. 

If the Maloofs follow through with their application to relocate to Anaheim, Stern said the board would then evaluate whether the market can support a third team. Two board members told CBSSports.com that owners have yet to take a tally of whether the Maloofs have the required 16 votes to approve the relocation. One owner noted that if the vote is close, it will call into question the fact that the league will be casting the vote for New Orleans, which is now owned and operated by the other 29 owners. 

Sources also told CBSSports.com there’s a feeling among representatives of at least one team that more consideration be given to moving the Kings to Kansas City, given the franchise’s roots are there and the city’s arena is more NBA-ready than Anaheim’s Honda Center. "Interesting position," said one team representative. The issue of Kansas City, however, was not formally raised during the two-day meeting. 

"I think they’re planning on looking more closely at the Sacramento situation before a final decision is made," the team rep said. 

One of the owners told CBSSports.com that he detected a "bias" against relocation among members of the executive committee, which consists of representatives from all 30 teams. "I don’t think anybody likes to see teams moving," the owner said. 

But this sentiment was not evident in the selection of Thunder owner Clay Bennett to chair the relocation committee. Bennett’s appointment was quickly panned for several hours online by those pointing out the apparent conflict on Bennett’s resume -- given that he moved the SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City, creating a public relations nightmare for the NBA. Stern, of course, rejected such a notion while praising Bennett for his "yeoman’s work" on various committees. 

"I don’t think there’s any conflict at all," Stern said. "What would the conflict be? … Maybe Sacramento will think the same thing you do, which I don’t, that he favors movement. In this case, he favors what’s best for the league."

Some other news items from Stern’s pre-playoff media tour with deputy commissioner Adam Silver on Friday: 

• On the issue of Kobe Bryant’s gay slur costing him a $100,000 fine, Stern said there were no plans to come up with a list of words players would be forbidden to utter on the court. "Our rules are what they are, and for the most part, our players conduct themselves in the manner we’d like them to conduct themselves," Stern said. "Kobe apologized for his insensitive remarks. I think he understood it. He was severely penalized, and we’re ready to move on."

• The sale agreement transferring ownership of the Pistons from the Davidson family to Tom Gores’ Platinum Equity group has been signed, and Stern said the deal will close no later than June 30. Gores and Karen Davidson have assured Stern it will be done by the end of May. Owners were impressed with Gores, whom Stern referred to as "really gung-ho to make this thing into a winner and a community asset."

• Owners had what Stern described as "a very energetic discussion" about resuming play promptly after timeouts and possibly reducing the number of timeouts. 

• Despite the threat of a lockout, Stern said season ticket sales for next season are "ahead of last year’s pace." But Stern noted the money will have to be returned to customers, with interest, in the event of a work stoppage. 

• In response to a question about the roughly one-third of NHL teams that lost less money by not playing during hockey’s 2004-05 lockout, Silver said, "We do have teams that are in that situation. I won't say the precise number, but there are several that will do better financially if we’re not playing. Having said that, it’s absolutely our goal to get a deal. And even those teams that would do better by not playing, I’m sure they would prefer to be playing and build their business. There’s no doubt that as a business, we’d do enormous damage to ourselves by not playing."

Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:28 am
 

Post-Ups

After an appropriate cooling-off period surrounding Carmelo Anthony trade talks after the tragic death of his sister, teams are beginning to get a renewed sense of where the Nuggets are strategy-wise. And once again, multiple sources tell CBSSports.com that Denver officials are sending mixed signals and still appear undecided as to whether they're seeking veteran players who can help them now or some combination of cap relief, draft picks and young players. 

As a result of what one rival executive referred to as the Nuggets having "overplayed their hand" in negotiations with the Nets, frustrated New Jersey officials are in the process of "substantively" re-evaluating their pursuit of Anthony, a three-time All-Star who has refused to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets. 

No one is fully aware of Anthony's mindset after he's missed five games grieving the loss of his sister, Michelle, who died tragically at 38 last week. But with trade demands that another executive described as "too high and unrealistic," the Nuggets run the risk of alienating the team that from the beginning had the most assets to offer -- starting with Derrick Favors, multiple first-round picks and the expiring contract of Troy Murphy

The Nuggets' outward appearance of indecision could very well be a negotiating tactic, as a person with direct knowledge of Denver's strategy has told CBSSports.com that the team has decided it wants to get young and accumulate draft picks if and when they decide to trade Anthony -- not attempt to tread water with sub-par veteran replacements whose contracts would hinder the team's future flexibility. The other wild card, of course, is Anthony's reluctance to sign an extension with the Nets, which has been confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of his thinking. 

In view of their frustration, the Nets have not yet gotten to the point where they're ready to pull all their chips off the table. But it's clear that the Nets are "sick of the whole charade," according to one source and have "backed away," according to another. And with that, we move along to the rest of the final 2010 edition of Post-Ups: 

* Exploratory trade talks the Trail Blazers are involved in on multiple fronts hinge on what decision is made with regard to Brandon Roy's short- and long-term health. Team officials already have engaged in internal discussions about trading older players such as Marcus Camby, Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla. Such an avenue would seem to be more likely if it's decided that Roy will miss significantly more than the six games he just sat out due to a bone-on-bone condition in both knees. One scenario involved Miller going to the Bobcats, but those talks took place prior to Charlotte's recent coaching change. The Bobcats now are entering a new evaluation period under coach Paul Silas and have no current interest in straight salary-dump trades. "That's the furthest thing from the truth," one source said. "We want to do basketball deals if we can." 

* A person with knowledge of Camby's thinking confirmed a report that the 14-year veteran would indeed contemplate retirement if traded to a rebuilding team. Camby's overwhelming preference is to stay in Portland, and there is "no close second," the person said. But if a trade to a contending team in a city his family would be willing to relocate to were presented, Camby would be open to the idea. The Knicks, who from time to time have expressed interest in bringing Camby back to New York, are one team that would meet the 36-year-old's approval. 

* The Rockets have been engaged in trade discussions regarding Yao Ming and his expiring $17.7 million contract, but have been met with underwhelming offers thus far. One rival GM said that's because any team contemplating acquiring Yao would have to do so only for cap relief. "You have to do that with the assumption that he'll never play again," the executive said. The balance of Yao's contract for this season is insured due to his latest foot injury, and thus would provide current savings as well as future cap relief. 

* According to Kings GM Geoff Petrie, Tyreke Evans' injury prognosis may not be as bad as it seems. Petrie told CBSSports.com Wednesday that specialists have informed the team that if Evans elects to undergo a laser procedure to resolve plantar fasciitis in his left foot, he could be back as fast as 3-4 weeks -- not the 3-4 months that Evans told reporters after a one-point loss to the Clippers Monday night. In that game, Evans scored 32 points in 40 minutes. On Wednesday night, he hit a 50-foot game-winner to give the Kings a 100-98 victory over Memphis. "He seems to be managing it fairly well right at the moment," Petrie said. 

* The December holidays brought an intermission to labor talks, with no substantive negotiation expected until after the New Year. But in recent weeks, at least 10 teams have signed petitions approving decertification -- a tactic that would put the owners' right to lock out the players in legal question. National Basketball Players Association officials plan to continue meeting with teams in January and get further decertification petitions signed. If and when the owners notify players of a lockout at or near the expiration date of the current CBA on July 1, union officials will have the paperwork they need to dissolve the union and challenge the lockout as a violation of antitrust laws. But there are divergent views in the labor-law world on whether decertification is a legitimate tactic. In his most recent public appearance in Memphis earlier this month, commissioner David Stern described it as "a nuclear option. But I'm not sure whether it isn't the nuclear option that falls on the party that launches it."
Posted on: December 24, 2010 2:46 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 6:54 am
 

Joe Maloof denies Petrie, Westphal in trouble

Kings owner Joe Maloof denied a report by CBSSports.com Friday that the team was considering firing GM Geoff Petrie and coach Paul Westphal after 21 losses in 23 games. 

“There’s nothing going on,” Maloof told CBSSports.com by phone. “Paul Westphal is the coach and Geoff is our general manager. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.” 

When pressed, Maloof said definitively that Petrie and Westphal will be in their positions for the remainder of the 2010-11 season regardless of how many games the team loses. 

“Yes,” Maloof said. “We’re not making any moves. The answer is yes.” 

A person with direct knowledge of recent statements by a high-ranking member of the organization painted a different picture, telling CBSSports.com that frustration with the Kings’ 5-22 record had reached a breaking point. At one point after the Kings’ 84-79 home loss to the Bucks Thursday night, owner Gavin Maloof was overheard in the tunnel saying that the culture of the organization had to change. “It’s time to hit the reset button,” Gavin Maloof said, according to the source. 

Gavin Maloof did not return a phone call seeking comment early Friday. 

His brother, Joe, expressed confidence in Petrie and Westphal, citing the team’s past two first-round picks, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, who has been fined, kicked out of practice, and most recently, fined and benched by Westphal for making a choking sign during a loss to Golden State Tuesday night. 

“DeMarcus Cousins, he’s going to be a tremendous player,” Joe Maloof said. “He’s going to have his ups and downs just like any rookie does. I’m telling you the way I feel. He’s got extraordinary talent, and with he and Tyreke, we have a tremendous future. … I think going forward, we’re in a great, great position. We’re in a wonderful situation.” 

One of the people who earlier spoke to CBSSports.com, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss company business, said there were concerns within the organization about whether Westphal was the right coach to calm Cousins’ combustible personality and groom him into a dependable star. 

Joe Maloof said, “We’re very, very happy with all of our young players and I see a bright future with DeMarcus.” 

The same person said Petrie has gone to bat for Westphal, urging the Maloofs to give him time with Cousins before making an assessment. He said the Maloofs were deeply concerned about Westphal – Petrie’s hire – because they view Cousins as “the hope of the franchise,” and they were beginning to fear that, “Paul isn’t the right guy to mature this guy.” 

“He’s not at war with his coach,” Joe Maloof said of Cousins. “That’s not true.” 

When confronted about whether the Maloofs were concerned that Petrie had urged them to exercise a guarantee in Westphal’s contract for 2011-12 -- given the turmoil with Cousins and the losing -- Joe Maloof said, “We’re glad we did it. We did it for a reason. And the reason is that we have a lot of confidence in Paul. He’s a true professional. He’s a class act. 

“We’ve got a very young team, an inexperienced team with no veteran leadership,” Joe Maloof said. “And that’s something that we’re going to look to acquire in the future. We know what our deficiencies are: our shooting and free throws. But we’re in every game to the wire. It’s been very frustrating we’ve lost these games. You have your peaks and your valleys, and right now we’re in a valley. So what? You can climb out of that valley, and we will. We have the assets. We have the resources. When you have the cap space, it’s a tremendous thing in the NBA. And it’s a tremendous thing going forward. Next year, we’ll have a lot of money going forward. We didn’t want to spend our money until we knew what the consequences would be with the collective bargaining agreement.” 

Sources said John Whisenant, a longtime friend of the Maloofs and the GM and coach who led the Sacramento Monarchs to the WNBA championship, was at the top of the Maloofs’ list of candidates to succeed Petrie as GM. Assistant coach Jim Eyen, a longtime assistant for former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, was the probable choice to take over as interim coach. But with Joe Maloof saying definitively early Friday that no in-season change would be made with either position, those plans are on hold. 

Petrie, understanding that his job security had taken a hit when he agreed to a severe pay cut this season, had been urging the Maloofs to let him groom his son, Mike, to replace him, according to sources who said the Maloofs recently rejected the idea. 

After enjoying a honeymoon period in his first season as Kings coach, guiding Evans to a rookie-of-the-year campaign that nonetheless resulted in another trip to the lottery, Westphal has had nothing but turmoil in his second year on the job. According to a person close to Westphal, his authority was hampered by Petrie’s selection of Cousins, a known character risk, with the fifth pick in the draft. True to his reputation, Cousins has caused problems from the beginning and very quickly began to affect Evans' attitude, the person close to Westphal said.

When asked when he wants to see progress with the current roster and executives in place, Joe Maloof said, “We want to see progress, but like I mentioned to you, our future’s very strong. … We look forward to having a lot of cap room in the future and to be able to make some moves then. 

"When we see a player that comes along that has an opportunity to help our franchise, we’ll do that,” he said. “Bt we’re not going to spend money just for the sake of spending money. That cap space is precious. It’s precious.”
Posted on: July 16, 2010 9:56 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2010 10:38 pm
 

Summer League Buzz

LAS VEGAS -- If members of LeBron James' entourage get hired by the Miami Heat, the NBA wouldn't rule out opening an investigation into possible salary-cap circumvention, a high-ranking official familiar with the league's thinking told CBSSports.com Friday.

While league officials are not actively pursuing any tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with the Heat -- and, in fact, have received no complaints that would trigger such a probe -- it wouldn't be surprising to see an investigation related to any jobs given to people in James' circle of advisers. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the league would not need a team to lodge a complaint to launch such an investigation.

In a detailed account of the Heat's nearly two-year effort to recruit James to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, Yahoo! Sports on Friday quoted an NBA front office executive who said he wants the league to examine whether Heat president Pat Riley promised jobs or other benefits to members of James' camp as part of his recruiting pitch.

 “You can’t promise jobs or preferential services outside of a contract or a job for a friend," the team executive told Yahoo! Sports. "If that’s part of the deal, it’s a violation.”

The penalties for such side deals designed to circumvent salary-cap rules are severe. In 2000, the Minnesota Timberwolves were fined $3.5 million and lost three draft picks after disclosure of a written deal with free agent Joe Smith. The arrangement called for Smith to play under three consecutive one-year contracts, after which it was agreed that the team would use his Bird rights to sign him to a multi-year deal to make up for the money he'd left on the table. Owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale agreed to leaves of absence in order to get back two other draft picks that had been taken away as part of the penalty. In addition to forfeiture of draft picks, league rules call for a maximum fine of $5 million, voiding the contract of the player in question, and up to a one-year suspension of any team officials involved.

One impediment to prosecuting such a case against the Heat -- if and when members of James' camp are hired for any jobs -- is that it will be difficult to prove it is any different from what the Cavs did to appease James when he played for them. One member of James' circle of friends, Randy Mims, was employed by the Cavs as a "player liaison." The hiring was never investigated, and the Cavs were never subject to any punishment for the arrangement.

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While the Hawks have ruled out paying luxury tax to sign Shaquille O'Neal -- or any other free agent, for that matter -- the organization hasn't shut the door completely on bringing Shaq to Atlanta, a person familiar with the team's thinking told CBSSports.com. If O'Neal were to lower his asking price from the mid-level exception -- starting at about $5.8 million -- to the bi-annual exception of about $1.9 million, the Hawks would be interested in exploring such a signing. Atlanta would be able to pay O'Neal the bi-annual exception -- or a portion of its mid-level -- and avoid paying luxury tax. But the current ownership group has never paid luxury tax and doesn't plan to begin paying it now. Also, the Hawks haven't discussed -- nor are they interested in -- a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Cavs that would cost them a piece of their young core, sources say.

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The Raptors continue to explore several potential trade scenarios involving point guard Jose Calderon, who was going to be dealt to the Bobcats earlier this week before Charlotte owner Michael Jordan backed out of the deal. Interest from potential trade partners has been lukewarm, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. ... Wizards assistant GM Tommy Sheppard and Kings assistant GM Jason Levien will interview for the Hornets' GM opening, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. Hornets president Hugh Weber already has spoken with Spurs executive Dell Demps and plans to speak with former Trail Blazers execs Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn, as well as former Suns exec David Griffin, sources said. Weber, according to one of the sources, is hoping to have the process wrapped up quickly, perhaps as soon as Sunday. ... Demps has spoken with Suns officials about that team's opening for a personnel man to work under incoming team president Lon Babby, a former player agent.



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: February 18, 2010 1:28 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 4:38 pm
 

T-Mac to Knicks (UPDATE)

Recovering from an initial blow that saw Tracy McGrady heading to Sacramento overnight, the Knicks successfully expanded it into a three-team deal that sends the former All-Star to New York -- and clears Jared Jeffries' cap-clogging contract, a key person involved in the negotiations told CBSSports.com.

The Knicks will send Jeffries, Jordan Hill, and draft-pick considerations to Houston, which gets Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong from Sacramento and sends McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez to the Knicks. The Kings get Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey from Houston and Larry Hughes from New York.

The three-team blockbuster evolved from talks among the Rockets, Knicks and Bulls involving McGrady's $23 million contract. The Bulls, unsuccessful in their attempt to recruit a third team to meet Houston's demands, pulled out of the discussions Wednesday and found other avenues to clear 2010 cap space -- sending John Salmons to the Bucks and Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats. The Knicks and Rockets hammered away over the issue of draft-pick protection for hours, until Sacremento emerged early Thursday as a facilitator by agreeing to send Martin -- long coveted by the Rockets -- to Houston.

The deal involving Houston and Sacramento could have stood alone, but was designed as an avenue to steer McGrady to New York in a three-team deal if all demands could be met. The sticking point was the level of protection New York required on their 2011 and 2012 first-round picks. The Knicks were discussing the right to swap 2011 first-rounders with Houston, which would get the Knicks' 2012 No. 1 pick depending on where it falls in the draft.

In the end, the Knicks paid a dear price. The Rockets will have the right to swap No. 1 picks in 2011 with the Knicks unless New York's pick is first overall. The 2012 firs-round pick going to Houston is top-5 protected.

It cost the Knicks a premium price to clear Jeffries' $6.9 million contract off the 2010-11 books. But doing so all but accomplished the goal team president Donnie Walsh set out to achieve when he came to New York -- become a major player in the 2010 free-agent class, recognized by all involved as potentially the best in NBA history. By shedding Jeffries, Walsh will have only four players under contract for '10-'11 -- Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Toney Douglas. The Knicks are a Curry buyout away from having the space to sign two max players. If those free agents prefer the sign-and-trade route -- which would get them more money and an extra year -- the Knicks are positioned to accommodate that as well.

 
 
 
 
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