Posted on: July 16, 2010 3:02 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2010 3:03 pm
LAS VEGAS -- The Bulls missed out on their top free-agent targets, but have quietly put together an impressive offseason. That offseason became more impressive Friday when they agreed to terms with free-agent guard Ronnie Brewer, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Brewer agreed to a three-year, $12.5 million deal with the final year non-guaranteed, the person familiar with the agreement said. As Royce Young points out , Brewer joins Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver among Bulls GM Gar Forman's summer acquisitions. It isn't exactly a Big Three on the order of Miami's Dwyane Wade-LeBron James-Chris Bosh trio, but the Bulls have surrounded Derrick Rose with a quality supporting cast that should put them among the favorites in the East.
With the addition of Boozer, Korver and now Brewer, the Bulls have now poached three members of the 2009-10 Jazz -- although Brewer was traded to Memphis last season. Brewer averaged 8.8 points in 58 games with the Jazz and Grizzlies and is expected to be the Bulls' starting shooting guard.
The Bulls will have something else in common with the Jazz next season: They'll have a 7-foot center from Turkey. To less fanfare than the other signings, the Bulls also brought Omer Asik to the states with a three-year, approximately $4 million deal. Bulls officials are high on Asik's potential and spent the past few weeks touting his arrival to free agents they were recruiting. The Bulls even signed Scottie Pippen, for crying out loud -- not to play, but to serve as the team's ambassador.
Posted on: July 8, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 10:01 am
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 7, 2010 8:08 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 9:07 pm
The NBA salary cap for the 2010-11 season was set Wednesday at $58.044 million, $2 million more than the league's most recent projection and $8 million more than the worst-case scenario that the league laid out last summer. In fact, the salary cap rose from last season's figure of $57.7 million on what sources told CBSSports.com were the highest revenues in NBA history.
The surprising news means that teams with cap space who are trying to sign free agents when the moratorium on player movement is lifted at 12:01 a.m. Thursday will have $1.944 million more space -- good news for the Heat, Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Clippers in particular. It's especially good news for the Heat, who are trying to fit three max contracts into their cap space after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh agreed to team up with the Heat next season.
The number-crunching couldn't have come out better for teams with cap space trying to make room for multiple max players. Due to a nuance in how maximum salaries are calculated, the most Miami, for example, can pay Wade remains a 5 percent raise over last season's salary -- $16.57 million. Had revenues -- and thus the cap -- increased more, a player like Wade would've been eligible to make 30 percent of the cap. But the cap went up just enough to give Miami $1.944 million more to spend without increasing the max they'd have to pay Wade. Despite all that good news, the Heat still don't have, by my calculations, enough space to fit Wade, Bosh and LeBron James under their revised cap number of $31.4 million without trading another player. But they're almost $2 million closer to making it happen.
The luxury tax line, above which teams have to pay $1 in tax for each dollar in payroll, was set at $70.307 million -- also up from the 2009-10 season, when it was $69.92 million.
The mid-level exception, which is tied directly to average player salaries, will go down from $5.85 million to $5.765 million -- an important distinction for the upcoming collective bargaining negotiation. In revealing during All-Star weekend in Dallas that the NBA was projected to lose $400 million this past season, Commissioner David Stern blamed escalating player salaries for the losses. But as reflected in the decline in the mid-level exception, player compensation and benefits actually declined during the 2009-10 season.
The cap, tax and mid-level figures are derived from revenues generated during the previous season. The cap is calculated at 51 percent of league-wide revenue, or BRI (basketball-related income).
In April, Stern said the latest end-of-season revenue figures projected to a 2010-11 cap of $56.1 million. The previous summer, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams warning that it was projecting a decline in revenues of between 2.5 percent and 5 percent, which would've resulted in the cap calling as low as $50.4 million to $53.6 million.
At that time, Stern said teams were doing "better than we projected" in terms of generating revenue. If that was the case, then teams did wildly better than expected once all the numbers were added up. According to an estimate of league revenue based on the $58.044 cap, the NBA brought in more than $3.4 billion during the 2009-10 season, which was adversely affected by a two-year recession that Stern blamed for the cap decreasing after the 2008-09 season.
Although the NBA had a higher cap in 2008-09 -- $58.6 million -- revenues from the prior season did not surpass the league-record posted in 2009-10 due to complexities in how the figures are calculated.
The figures are important not only for teams trying to sign free agents this week, but also in the context of the looming labor crisis facing the league. Stern, who has stated that player salaries are too high, is going to have a hard time making that case after teams produced record revenues coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression while player salaries declined.
Posted on: July 6, 2010 10:58 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 11:41 pm
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 6, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 3:46 pm
Chris Bosh wants to pair with LeBron James, but is more likely to sign off on a scenario that lures James out of Cleveland to the Nets, Bulls or even Heat, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com Tuesday.
The problem is that the Cavs have the most attractive assets to entice the Raptors into such an arrangement, being able to offer Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon and Delonte West, who only has $500,000 of his $4.5 million contract guaranteed for next season. The sign-and-trade route would allow Toronto to come to grips with Bosh's seemingly inevitable departure while bringing back assets -- including possibly future draft picks -- in the deal.
But Bosh, who shares an agent with fellow free agent Dwyane Wade, would have to sign off on such an arrangement and remains decidedly unenthusiastic about joining James in Cleveland, the person familiar with the talks said.
"If LeBron went to New Jersey, he'd consider that," the person said of Bosh. "It's too late for New York. He wants to play with LeBron if LeBron leaves, but not necessarily in Cleveland."
The Bulls, who've targeted all three of the top free agents, have not spoken with Toronto officials about a sign-and-trade for Bosh, a person with knowledge of their strategy said. With $30.9 million in cap space after Rob Kurz and Chris Richard were waived, the Bulls are still one transaction away from fitting two straight max signings into their space. One way around that would be to sign-and-trade for one free agent and sign the other one, but it is difficult to imagine Bosh taking less money that Wade or LeBron -- or vice versa.
The Heat, meanwhile, essentially have to trade Michael Beasley to have room for two max free agents plus Wade -- and sources told CBSSports.com Tuesday Miami officials were continuing to work on pulling off such a coup. Wade's thoughts on the matter remain a mystery after he canceled a scheduled news conference with Alonzo Mourning in South Florida Tuesday morning.
UPDATED 2:18 p.m. ET: The Raptors have informed Bosh and his agent, Henry Thomas, that if Bosh wanted to go to Cleveland, the organization would explore how to help him get there. But while Cleveland's basketball assets are more attractive to the Raptors, the city itself doesn't do it for Bosh. If Bosh viewed Cleveland as an acceptable destination, the sign-and-trade talks would've progressed rapidly. As things stood Tuesday afternoon, according to a source involved in the discussions, they're at a stand-still.
UPDATED 3:46 p.m. ET: The Rockets, in Bosh's home state of Texas, also have some enticing assets to offer Toronto -- free-agent Luis Scola, Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza. Bosh has indicated in the past that the two Texas teams would be on his list of preferred destinations, but free-agent fever seems to have him focused on New Jersey, Miami and Chicago for now. As for the Heat, who'd want to dump Beasley, don't underestimate the value of a giant trade exception that they could convey to Toronto in a Bosh deal. Sources indicate that the February trade deadline will create a furious market for teams looking to get out from under contracts with the combination of playoff hopes being dashed and the looming labor crisis and/or new collective bargaining agreement, in which owners will be looking to take a punitive stance on player salaries.
"The market," another person involved in the free-agent chase said, "has come to a screeching halt."
While Bosh and Thomas -- who also represents Wade -- keep everyone waiting, sign-and-trade talks with more acceptable destinations have not gained any momentum, an executive involved in the process said.
Posted on: July 4, 2010 12:26 am
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 11:04 pm
Joe Johnson is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing in Chicago or New York, an explanation for why he still hasn’t accepted the Hawks’ max contract offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Friday night.
While Johnson, the centerpiece of the Hawks’ revived franchise, continues to lean toward returning to Atlanta, the developing situations with the Bulls and Knicks have his attention, the person familiar with the process said. The Bulls are trying to create a championship duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or one of those players with Chris Bosh. But short of that happening, Chicago would be ready to move forward with Johnson as a second option – or perhaps as part of a tandem with James or Wade.
The Knicks will look to finalize an agreement with Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract over the weekend, and Stoudemire spent much of Friday trying to recruit an All-Star to join him. One such All-Star could be Johnson, but he’d have to forfeit more than $25 million in the process because only the Hawks can offer him a sixth year.
The only way around that would be to have Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, organize a sign-and-trade by which Johnson could get home-town money and still go to New York or Chicago. A person with knowledge of the situation said no such talks have been broached; Johnson first has to decide whether he wants to return to the Hawks before such negotiations begin.
Hawks executives, who offered Johnson a fully guaranteed deal for six-years and $120 million immediately upon the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, have waited patiently while Johnson enjoys the free-agent recruiting process. But at some point, the team will need an answer so it can pursue a viable replacement, sources said.
Posted on: July 2, 2010 6:26 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:52 pm
The free-agent chase has taken a detour that could change everything. Dwyane Wade holding a second meeting with Bulls officials Friday night shook up a frenzied recruiting process that promises to reach a dizzying crescendo this weekend.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported the meeting , an unscheduled gathering between the Heat superstar and a team that had been all but discounted for his services. Fellow free agent Chris Bosh and Wade met separately with the Bulls in Chicago, and speculation immediately focused on the Bulls' apparent efforts to offer what previously only the Heat could: the opportunity for the superstar trinity of free agents -- LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- to play together.
In order to facilitate that, the Bulls would have to acquire Bosh in a sign-and-trade from Toronto, likely giving up Luol Deng or Joakim Noah in the process. Short of that, the Bulls are only one minor move -- dumping James Johnson and his $1.8 million contract on a team with cap space to absorb it -- from offering LeBron and Wade (or some other two-man combo) the chance to pair up in Chicago and chase down championships in the shadow of Michael Jordan.
The possibilities of a Wade-Bosh or LeBron-Bosh pairing with the Bulls has far-reaching implications -- not the least of which would be leaving the Heat, which once seemed poised to land all three, empty-handed. As Wade left the meeting Friday night, he told reporters there, "Things are getting very interesting."
And out of control, too.
One powerful agent, speaking to CBSSports.com on condition of anonymity Friday night, ridiculed the LeBron-Wade-Bosh recruiting mania as "a bunch of egomaniacs starved for attention who think the world revolves them. They can't get enough of themselves." The agent, who is involved in numerous free-agent and trade scenarios, said of a LeBron-Wade pairing, "I don't see that happening." The most likely outcome, the agent said, was for Bosh to land in Chicago by himself -- forming an impressive trio with Derrick Rose, Noah and Deng -- while Wade re-signed in Miami and James in Cleveland. Boring, but more realistic, the agent said.
The stunning turn of events came after Wade and Bosh met separately with the Knicks in Chicago. Wade met with Bulls officials at the United Center for the first time Thursday. Although Wade is a Chicago native, he has consistently said he wants to stay in Miami and attract two marquee free agents to play with him there. Heat officials, led by Pat Riley and his gleaming championship rings, met with James in Cleveland Friday.
As if this wasn't enough of a circus already, the Cavaliers have organized a rally for Saturday during which fans will line the streets outside James' marketing company's office building in a show of support for him to stay with the Cavs.