Tag:Clippers
Posted on: July 8, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 10:01 am
 

LeBron chooses Heat (UPDATE)

In the end, the King took the easy way out.

LeBron James, in the most overhyped free-agent decision in sports history, announced Thursday night that he’s joining the All-Star duo of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. It’s the new Big Three. The Dream Team. The Trio of Tyranny.

Or the Axis of Evil, depending on your perspective.

James joining Wade and Bosh creates a vortex of power in Miami that could reshape the NBA landscape for the better part of a decade.

"This morning I woke up and had a great conversation with my mom," James said. "And once I had that conversation, I think I was set. The last time I changed my mind was probably in my dreams. And when I woke up this morning, I knew I had made the right decision."

LeBron’s announcement, the culmination of an unprecedented tsunami of hype and ego, came nearly a half-hour into the choreographed TV show fit for a King. He chose the Heat, and an alliance with the two other top players from the most anticipated free-agent history, over his hometown Cavaliers – who drafted him out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School down the road in Akron in 2003 -- as well as the Knicks, Bulls, Nets and Clippers.

"I don’t have any doubts on it at all," James said.

It was a rare chance for a player in the prime of his NBA career to team up with high-profile contemporaries and chase down championships – and for James, that cupboard is bare after seven years with the Cavs. It was also a chance for James to prove his stated loyalty to his hometown, the heartbreak capital of sports, and remain committed to bringing Cleveland its first pro sports championship since 1964.

But James, 25, passed on that chance, dealing a crushing blow to Cleveland and embracing instead the get-mine culture that will once again be associated with the NBA.

"It’s about joinig forces with the other two guys that I feel like I respect their games the most," James said.

He also passed up on the international stage – and another All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire – offered by New York; the chance to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan in Chicago; and the allure of his friend Jay-Z’s Nets team, which in two years will move to Brooklyn. The Nets fell out of favor in the LeBron chase, and most league executives never believed the Clippers had a chance.

While James may have given himself the optimal chance to chase championships, there are a couple of issues to consider. First, there will be little flexibility for Heat president Pat Riley to surround his trio of superstars with a championship-caliber supporting cast. Second, and more important, James’ legacy could be damaged by failing to win a championship with the team that drafted him. No matter how many titles he wins, he may be remembered for this unabashed ring-grab.

"It's not a super team yet," James said. "We don't even have enough players to fill the roster. ... A team, or a championship team is not built on just three guys."

James did not divulge any contract terms, saying his agent, Leon Rose, was working on the details. He did predict that all three superstars will be willing to accept less money than they could've gotten in other situations.

As expected since James’ plans for an elaborate TV announcement earlier in the week, it was over the top. James even starred in some of the commercials, with his voice featured in the first one of the night. James announced the decision in an interview with announcer Jim Gray at the Boys & Girls Club of Greeenwich, Conn.



Posted on: July 6, 2010 10:58 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 11:41 pm
 

Source: Clippers choose Del Negro (UPDATE)

The Clippers have offered their head coaching job to Vinny Del Negro, choosing the former Bulls coach over Dwane Casey to replace Mike Dunleavy, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Barring a snag in contract negotiations, it is believed that Del Negro will accept the job and get another chance to coach barely three months after the Bulls fired him amid tension between he and Bulls executive vice president John Paxson.

The Clippers issued a news release stating they've reached an agreement in principle with Del Negro and that more information would be provided Wednesday.

Despite legal haggling over money owed to Dunleavy and other former Clippers coaches by notorious owner Donald Sterling, the opening was among the most attractive in the league this summer because of the talent on the roster -- Blake Grifffin, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Baron Davis -- plus $16.8 million in salary-cap space, enough to land one max free agent. The Clippers made a run at LeBron James last week in Cleveland, but were the only team to court the King without a head coach in place.

Unlike teams that bring in numerous candidates for interviews, the Clippers narrowed the field to Del Negro and Casey from the outset and interviewed them twice over the past week. There were indications late last week that some of the team's decision makers preferred Casey, who was passed over by the Bulls when they hired Del Negro two years ago. Casey also was a finalist for the Hawks, who hired in-house assistant Larry Drew.
 



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

Knicks land second sitdown with LeBron reps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on: July 4, 2010 12:26 am
 

LeBron, Wade, Bosh not ready for decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





 






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 2:06 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 2:22 pm
 

Johnson, Hawks to have second meeting (UPDATE)

Joe Johnson will sit down for a second meeting with Hawks officials in Los Angeles Thursday and expects to make a decision on the team's six-year, $120 million offer "in the near future," his agent, Arn Tellem, told CBSSports.com.

"We met with the Hawks and Knicks [Wednesday] night and have heard a number of other teams with significant interest in Joe," Tellem said in an email. "At this point, Joe has many great options to choose from. We plan to meet with the Hawks again [Thursday] to discuss the details of their offer and we hope to make a decision in the near future."

Miami, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and the Clippers also expressed interest in Johnson. But the fact that he's circling back to the Hawks so early in the process is validation of his desire to stay in Atlanta -- and also his recognition that $120 million is a lot more than the $90 million or so the other teams can offer. That's what the Knicks offered -- a five-year deal at the max, the most that they could -- according to a source familiar with the process.

In fact, one executive within the league said that perhaps the only reason Johnson has waited this long to commit to the Hawks is that he's enjoying the recruiting process that so many of the top free agents have coveted.

"I don't know what else he wants to hear," the executive said. "If that's not enough, then obviously he wants to go somewhere else. Do you want to go New York with $90 million or stay in Atlanta with $120 million and win?"

If and when Johnson commits to the Hawks, he would throw a significant portion of the Knicks' recruiting plan for LeBron James out of whack. New York was hoping, in part, to sell LeBron on pairing up with Johnson because their games and styles would complement each other better than any other two top free agents. But if Johnson doesn't wait for James to hear all the pitches from the six teams currently scheduled to meet with him in Cleveland, it's a sure sign that Johnson wasn't sold on the idea.
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 26, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 4:25 pm
 

Clippers focus on Del Negro, Casey

The Clippers, who have moved as deliberately as any team in their offseason coaching search, are leaning strongly toward hiring either Vinny Del Negro or Dwane Casey, three sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Unless something goes awry in the interview or negotiating process, the Clippers will be choosing between two former head coaches fired by their previous teams -- and the two finalists for the Bulls' head coaching job when Chicago hired Del Negro two years ago. Del Negro and Casey are expected to interview with team president Andy Roeser and GM Neil Olshey early next week.

Rather than bring in a half dozen candidates for interviews, the Clippers have conducted a thorough background search on candidates before sitting down face-to-face with them. It is anticipated, but not a foregone conclusion, that the Clippers will have a coach in place in time for the start of the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1. With an attractive young roster including Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and No. 8 pick Al-Farouq Aminu, plus about $27 million in cap space to attract free agents, the Clippers' job actually was one of the better opportunities available on the NBA's coaching merry-go-round this summer.

Besides the deliberative nature of the search, one of the sources with knowledge of the situation said persistent overtures from Bobcats coach Larry Brown have slowed the process. But it appears that Brown will remain in Charlotte -- and, in any event, Bobcats GM Rod Higgins presumably will require a firm commitment from his coach at some point. But Brown's inability to become a significant factor in the Clippers' search was "not for his lack of trying," the person familiar with the matter said. Another person directly involved in the process handicapped Brown's chances of landing with the Clippers as "one in a billion."




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