Posted on: July 2, 2010 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:30 pm
Amar'e Stoudemire will arrive in New York Saturday with "broad agreement" on the Knicks' five-year, nearly $100 million proposal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, broke off talks with the Suns Friday, almost certainly ending his eight-year tenure there. Stoudemire rejected a five-year offer from Phoenix that wasn't fully guaranteed in the final season with a clause that included playing-time incentives, according to the Arizona Republic .
After the Stoudemire talks broke down, the Suns agreed to terms with power forward Hakim Warrick on a four-year, $18 million deal. To consummate that contract on July 8, the Suns will have to renounce their rights to Stoudemire, meaning he couldn't be signed and traded at that point.
While a deal with the Knicks is preferable to the incentive-laden contract Phoenix was offering, there are concerns on both sides that will have to be addressed this weekend. Stoudemire, like other second-tier free agents, is worried about being the only superstar to come to New York, where fans have been speculating for two years that LeBron James would wind up in a Knicks jersey. Stoudemire was said to have spent Friday trying to recruit a fellow All-Star to join him, with the most likely targets being the Hawks' Joe Johnson and the Spurs' Tony Parker.
As for the Knicks, Stoudemire's knees and eye will be subject to thorough exams by the team's medical staff. Reports have indicated that Stoudemire's contract will not be insurable due to his injury history.
Warrick, who averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 76 games last season with the Bulls and Bucks, was among the surprise deals of free agency thus far. "Mindboggling," one rival executive called it. "He played for $3 million last season and the Bucks couldn't wait to get rid of him."
Point guard Steve Blake agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with the Lakers, insurance in case free agent Derek Fisher leaves, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The Blake signing probably takes the Lakers out of th running for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but not entirely, the source said. When deals become official July 8, the Lakers would have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Blake and still give their mid-level exception to Miller. That scenario, however, appears unlikely. Miller also has attracted significant interest from the Knicks and several other teams.
The Blazers, Knicks, Bulls and Clippers have expressed interest in Spurs free-agent guard Roger Mason, while the Jazz, Nuggets, Bobcats, Knicks and Heat are pursuing Suns free-agent forward Louis Amundson, sources say.
John Salmons' five-year, $40 million agreement to return to the Bucks was finalized Friday, pending the official paperwork after the moratorium on player movement is lifted on July 8, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:06 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 2:22 pm
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 30, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 2:46 pm
Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire has exercised the early termination option in his contract, which called for him to make $17.6 million next season, and will hit the unrestricted free-agent market, his agent, Happy Walters, confirmed to CBSSports.com Wednesday.
Walters, who met with Suns owner Robert Sarver and coach Alvin Gentry Tuesday in Los Angeles, will continue to negotiate with Sarver on an extension. But Sarver has yet to raise his offer to the max level, and Stoudemire clearly wants to see the process through after enduring three years of trade possibilities and speculation about his future in Phoenix.
This is Sarver's show now, after GM Steve Kerr and assistant GM David Griffin left the organization following the draft. The Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets are expected to be involved in some level of discussion with Stoudemire after the negotiating period begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Posted on: June 28, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 1:54 pm
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 25, 2010 7:55 pm
Suddenly chastened by criticism he has received for making the NBA's spring and summer all about him, LeBron James has informed teams that he is not planning to participate in an elaborate free agency tour come July 1, a person familiar with the decision confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday.
So much for a lavish recruiting dinner in a Manhattan penthouse or a tour of the best clubs South Beach has to offer. Not going to happen, said the person with knowledge of James' plans.
Maverick Carter, James' business manager, told ESPN The Magazine that teams were informed of James' plans Wednesday and that the free agent-to-be will meet with suitors at a neutral site.
The decision by James may help cleanse his battered image after speculation over his future singlehandedly hijacked the NBA postseason and draft. It also could be viewed as a blow to teams in big, glitzy markets that have been planning for months to roll out the red carpet for one of the most sought-after -- and attainable -- free agents in NBA history. The Knicks, for example, have been quietly contacting world renowned chefs in Manhattan to secure their services for a possible free-agent visit by James and other free agents. Titans of business, film, theater, and fashion also were at the ready to help the Knicks lure James to New York -- although a person with knowledge of the Knicks' free-agency prep work downplayed a published report this week of a penthouse extravaganza in James' honor in Manhattan on July 1.
But contrary to prevailing opinion, the Knicks were not planning to rely entirely on the allure of New York and its off-the-court cachet to lure James. Though James has stated that he wants to be a world-wide sports icon and billionaire, teams hoping to win him over during the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1 have understood all along that basketball has to come first. Teams with the cap space and market size to attract James -- the Knicks, Bulls, Heat, Nets and possibly Clippers -- have "prepared for every contingency," according to a high-level management source familiar with plans to recruit James.
On the other hand, Knicks president Donnie Walsh has the answer to one of the key questions he has been contemplating about this unprecedented free-agent summer. And while Walsh privately is telling people he doesn't see this as a deal-breaker, he was known to be interested in seeing which free agents would want to give the Knicks a chance to show them what New York -- as a city and market -- could do for them. The message from James with just days to go before the recruiting process begins is perfectly clear. There may well be a LeBron free agency tour, but it'll be on his terms.
Posted on: June 24, 2010 6:35 pm
NEW YORK -- The Bulls have been talking about trading Kirk Hinrich since the February trade deadline, for obvious reasons. Shedding his $9 million salary for next season would seriously enhance Chicago's already strong hand in the free-agent chase that begins July 1.
That plan came to fruition Thursday when Chicago agreed to send Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft to the Wizards, which means they're now riding shotgun with the Knicks as the two teams with the most cap space for the Summer of LeBron.
By ridding the '10-'11 payroll of Hinrich's salary and the $1.3 million they would've had to pay the draft pick, the Bulls are now hovering around the $30 million mark in cap space -- second only to the Knicks' approximately $34 million. The Nets ($27 million) and Heat ($26 million) are in the back seat in terms of sheer cap room.
Those numbers could change between Thursday night and July 8, when teams can begin consummating trades and officially signing free agents. The Heat, for example, have been very active in recent days in their efforts to unload Michael Beasley in a cap-clearing move. But that scenario is complicated, one rival GM said, because of Beasley's status as a former No. 2 pick. They can't just send him to a team with cap space and take no players back, as the Bulls did with Hinrich. "They have to get something for him," the GM said.
The Nets, owners of the No. 3 pick (for now), also have been involved in various conversations about moving Devin Harris -- with the latest buzz centered around the Pacers in a swap of the third and 10th picks that would send Danny Granger to New Jersey. The Pacers have been actively discussing the 10th pick with numerous teams, but president Larry Bird and GM David Morway have long been opposed to dealing Granger. Asked if the Indiana-New Jersey scenario had legs, one person directly involved in the discussions said, "Nope."
Posted on: June 14, 2010 1:45 am
BOSTON -- Dwyane Wade sat courtside Sunday night for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a stage that he desperately wants to revisit. His coach in the 2006 Finals, Pat Riley, recently floated the idea that, if asked, he wouldn't rule out a return to the bench. Wade, for one, isn't planning for such a comeback.
"That’s just something that was said," Wade said after the Celtics beat the Lakers 92-86 to take a 3-2 lead in the Finals. "That’s not anything we’re concentrating on right now in Miami."
Wade said Riley hasn't spoken with him recently about his plans for next season, when it is believed that a request from a marquee free agent would prompt Riley to come down from the executive suite and replace the highly regarded but ringless Erik Spoelstra on the sideline.
"Right now, Spo’s the coach and that’s what I plan for going forward," Wade said.
Wade, one of the top free agents of the frenzied summer that will begin in earnest July 1, prefaced his willingness to answer questions in the hallway leading to the locker rooms with the following caveat: "As long as it's not about free agency." But Wade did confirm a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he spoke last week in Los Angeles with fellow prospective free agents Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson.
"We’re just friends," Wade said. "Just like you talk to your friends, we’re all friends and we all communicate."
Though Wade said he hasn't begun the recruiting process to help lure another star to Miami, the notion of Riley returning to coach could be a big draw. Of the teams with the most cap space to chase free agents, the Nets (Avery Johnson) and Bulls (Tom Thibodeau) have committed to new coaches. The Knicks already have Mike D'Antoni, who is close to several top free agents from his time as an assistant for Mike Krzyzewski with Team USA. The Clippers are holding out hope that they could lure Larry Brown or Phil Jackson, and the Cavs have made a five-year, $30 million play for the top name in college coaching, Tom Izzo.
For now, in Wade's mind, Riley should be excluded from that list. Just know that recruiting season hasn't really begun yet.
Posted on: June 6, 2010 7:43 pm
LOS ANGELES – In a touching moment before Game 2 of the NBA Finals, offensive guru Tex Winter got the recognition he deserves when he received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association.
Winter, 88, still recovering from a stroke in 2009, insisted on making the trip from his home in Manhattan, Kan., to receive the award with Dr. Jack Ramsay. But there is still a gaping hole in Winter’s resume, something that he deserves and has been denied again and again: admission to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I never cared about promoting dad for the Hall of Fame,” his son, Chris, said after the award ceremony. “I have relatives that do. One of the things that I found after he had his stroke was, I went to his apartment and he had literally rooms and rooms of letters. I don’t know if this is going to help his cause or not, but they all asked the same question: ‘Why aren’t you in the Hall of Fame?’ So maybe I don’t care, but there are a lot of people out there who do.
“It’s a little embarrassing to have to go through that, to get the call from the Hall that you didn’t get the votes again,” said Chris Winter, an engineer in Boston. “But next time, maybe he’ll get in. … I think the people have spoken. Whether the Hall of Fame listens, I don’t know.”
His father, innovator of the triangle offense that has fueled 10 NBA titles for Phil Jackson – six with the Bulls and four with the Lakers – wanted to receive the award in person despite his ongoing speech struggles after the stroke. He made brief remarks during the news conference, and afterward, his son had tears in his eyes as he spoke about how his father’s struggle to regain his health.
“He sees everything, but he can’t say anything,” Chris Winter said. “… If you talk with him a lot, you can decipher what he’s trying to say. He’s aware of what’s going on and understands what’s going on, but he can’t communicate it well.”
Jackson, who had met Winter only once in an airport before joining forces with him in Chicago under then-GM Jerry Krause, said Winter’s resume should speak for itself.
“His coaching record is impeccable,” Jackson said. “… I used to kid him that all the people who would have voted him in the Hall of Fame had passed away, so he had nobody to vouch for him. And the new breed that came in were saying he was an assistant coach. But Tex wasn’t just any assistant coach, that’s for sure.”
The proof is inscribed right there, on all those championship rings.
“I think he’s left his legacy regardless of any awards he gets,” Chris Winter said. “People use his offense all over the world, and he’s proud of that. To receive an award from your own people, I don’t know, it’s not a Nobel Prize, but it means something, you know? It’s kind of therapeutic to him.”
And well deserved.