Tag:Chris Bosh
Posted on: July 7, 2010 1:43 pm

Durant agrees to five-year extension

In stark contrast to the free-agent diva fest that has taken over the NBA, Kevin Durant -- the league's next big superstar -- quietly committed to the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday with an extension totaling five years and $85 million, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Durant, whose humble commitment to the small-market Thunder has him toiling at the Orlando Summer League and encouraging his teammates from the bench, agreed to a deal that does not include a player option or early-termination option, the person familiar with it said. It's the strongest sign yet of Durant's belief that he can win a championship in Oklahoma City.

"His stature has been elevated in the eyes of the NBA and the sports world," said the person with knowledge of the agreement, who has close ties to Durant. "He said, 'This is where I want to be. Let's get this done. I don't want any fanfare.' He's not your average superstar, and it's all real, too. It's all real."

Durant, the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, became eligible for an extension of his rookie contract at 12:01 ET last Thursday. Thunder GM Sam Presti visited Durant in person at the first moment he was permitted by league rules to begin negotiations. Beyond that, Durant's negotiation has been crowded out by all the noise surrounding the free-agent decisions of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade and Bosh announced their intentions to sign with the Heat in a national television interview Wednesday, while James will announce his plans in a one-hour TV special Thursday at p 9.m. ET.

The Thunder, entering the uncertainty of a possible lockout after next season or a new collective bargaining agreement that is expected to slash the top salaries in the NBA, could have waited until next summer and saved millions. But owner Clay Bennett, wanting to reciprocate the loyalty Durant has shown Oklahoma City, decided to make the commitment now and offered Durant the most he could offer under the current collective bargaining agreement.

"If you were playing GM 101, you could really wait and save a lot of money," the person familiar with the extension said. "This was a big statement on [Bennett's] part. He said, 'This is what you want, here it is. You've got it.'"

Posted on: July 7, 2010 10:47 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 1:17 pm

Heat trying for LeBron-Wade-Bosh coup (UPDATE)

With the first part of their free agency plan is in place -- bringing Dwyane Wade back with Chris Bosh in tow -- the Miami Heat are ready to proceed with part two: adding LeBron James to the mix in a coup that would send shockwaves through the NBA.

Bosh announced Wednesday he's headed to Miami to pair with Wade, a scenario reported by CBSSports.com early Wednesday as the most likely one and pushed to definitive by ESPN's Chris Broussard hours later. Meanwhile, Heat executives are proceeding with the full-court press to add James to the mix and form a Dream Team in South Beach, according to an official familiar with the plans.

"The next step is to go get the big fish," the person said.

Wade and Bosh announced their decision to play together in a live interview on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. ET. But a person with knowledge of their plans said Wade, in particular, is aggravated that the news leaked out sooner -- and that the superstar believes it came from someone in LeBron's camp. Wade and Bosh wanted to have their moment before James makes his own announcement -- the nature of which remains unknown -- in a live, one-hour special Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on the network that shares the NBA broadcast rights.

The Raptors finally were informed around mid-day Wednesday of Bosh's intentions by his Chicago-based agent, Henry Thomas, who also represents Wade. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment from CBSSports.com. But the Raptors, aware that Bosh has been a goner for a while, have entered sign-and-trade talks with the Heat in order to facilitate their All-Star power forward's departure without losing him and getting nothing in return.

Communication between Bosh's representative and the Raptors -- and, according to sources, other teams in pursuit of his two marquee clients -- has been spotty at best in recent days, leaving Bosh's own team and others pursuing Bosh and Wade in the dark as to their intentions until moments before they announced it on TV. But early Wednesday, an executive within the NBA with close ties to the top three free agents told CBSSports.com that the most likely scenario was Bosh joining Wade in Miami and James staying in Cleveland. Bosh essentially killed a potential alliance with James by balking at the Cavaliers' attempts to acquire him in a sign-and-trade.

Of LeBron and Wade, the executive said Wednesday, "Both aren't moving." But sources say that hasn't stopped Heat president Pat Riley from pursuing James in a move that would shift the NBA's balance of power for years.

The piece of the puzzle that's missing is whether Bosh goes to Miami via a sign-and-trade arrangement or a straight free-agent signing. The difference for him is only about $30 million. If Bosh is signed by the Raptors and traded to Miami, he would receive a six-year deal worth approximately $125 million -- the same as Wade would receive by signing a free-agent deal with his existing team. But Bosh needs the cooperation of the Raptors to maximize his contract.

Wade said in the TV announcement that he's "not opposed" to taking less money to give the Heat the space to put the right pieces around him. But assuming a max deal for Wade, which would start at $16.57 million in 2010-11, the Heat would have $29.4 million in cap space left -- not enough to sign two more max free agents at the same price. They'd have to trade former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley -- either in a sign-and-trade for Bosh or a separate trade to a team with the cap space to absorb his $4.9 million contract without being required to send salary back to the Heat.

A logical sign-and-trade scenario for Bosh would include some combination of Beasley, point guard Mario Chalmers, and a 2011 first-round pick that was previously acquired by Miami from Toronto. The Raptors would have the option of taking back as little salary as possible and instead receiving a trade exception that could be used to acquire a top-tier replacement for Bosh at a later date -- likely at the February trade deadline, when numerous teams are expected to be eager to dump contracts ahead of the new collective bargaining agreement and potential work stoppage after next season. A person familiar with the Raptors' strategy told CBSSports.com Wednesday that Beasley is not a likely target in those trade talks.

Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 3:46 pm

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

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 5, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 6:27 pm

Knicks agree with Amar'e (UPDATE)

As the basketball world waits for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to decide their futures, the Knicks are moving forward with a five-year, $99.8 million deal with Amar'e Stoudemire -- a pre-emptive strike that could send the rest of the free-agent dominoes tumbling, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

Stoudemire and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan began meeting at about 4:15 p.m. ET Monday and finalized a verbal agreement on the contract shortly before 6 p.m., a second person with knowledge of the agreement said. All that's left is to clarify the complicated landscape of support pieces that the Knicks would surround Stoudemire with this year or next. Stoudemire will wear No. 1 for the Knicks, according to the marquee at Madison Square Garden, which essentially announced an agreement that should accelerate the rest of the free-agent activity in this momentous summer for the NBA.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the meeting Monday between Stoudemire, his agent, Happy Walters, and Dolan -- a gathering that produced the first, and perhaps only instance of a top-flight free agent leaving his team during the most anticipated offseason in league history.

After Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Joe Johnson agreed to return to their own teams, Stoudemire is the first marquee free agent to do what in past free-agency periods has been almost unheard of -- change teams as an All Star-caliber unrestricted free agent. While the move sets up the Knicks to move forward with or without one of their top two targets -- LeBron and Wade -- getting a commitment from Stoudemire serves the dual purpose of allowing them to use it to entice one of them or move on to add other pieces this summer or next.

An executive familiar with the Knicks' strategy said the team has received word through "back channels" that signing Stoudemire wouldn't hamper their chances of landing another top-shelf free agent this summer.

According to multiple team executives pursuing James and Wade, neither player has informed any of the teams chasing them that they are out of the running. James isn't expected to make a decision until his three-day Nike camp concludes Wednesday in his hometown of Akron. Wade returned to Miami Monday and was seen at American Airlines Arena with Heat owner Mickey Arison. With Stoudemire committed to the Knicks, those players will have witnessed something that the rest of the NBA has been waiting to see from them -- a decision and a direction.

"We have verbally agreed with the best Knick since Patrick Ewing," said a team official speaking on condition of anonymity because free-agent signings aren't official until July 8. "If he becomes the second-best Knick, then great. If not, we move on. If two players change teams and we've gotten one of them, we think that's pretty good."

Given James' comments during All-Star weekend that he would've been amenable to pairing with Stoudemire at the trade deadline -- and Amar'e's statement since the end of the season that such a pairing would've resulted in a "championship" -- the Knicks are comfortable making the first big move of this complicated chess match. According to a person familiar with the organization's strategy, a commitment from Stoudemire won't necessarily ensure a commitment from James -- but it won't hurt the team's pursuit of him, either. Regardless, faced with paralyzing indecision on the part of James, Wade and Bosh, the Knicks felt compelled to move forward with a pre-emptive strike.

As the only team assured of using all its cap space this summer and still having room to add a major piece next summer when Eddy Curry's $11.3 million deal comes off the books, the opportunity to surround Stoudemire with championship-level talent evolves from a one-step process to a two-step process. Team president Donnie Walsh has been preparing for such a contingency since he arrived in New York two years ago and boldly outlined his strategy to rebuild the Knicks with an aggressive campaign to create cap space.

While there remain significant questions regarding the viability of Stoudemire's knees and concerns about an eye injury that required multiple operations, Walsh has tilted the playing field in the chase for top free agents. Rather than waiting for James and Wade to make their decisions, Walsh has put the ball in their court: Do you want to pair with Stoudemire, or not? If they don't, the Knicks already are exploring sign-and-trade options involving David Lee that would import a point guard to run the pick-and-roll with Stoudemire; sources say New York has had such discussions with Utah, Toronto, Houston, Golden State and Charlotte. The Warriors have been amenable to a swap that would send Monta Ellis to the Knicks, and the Bobcats could offer Raymond Felton -- although a Charlotte official denied Monday that such talks have taken place.

The biggest wild card in the Knicks' rapidly evolving plan is Carmelo Anthony, who has yet to commit to the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million extension offer. Sources close to Anthony believe that he ultimately will re-up with Denver, but acknowledge that he's intrigued by the free-agent movement this summer and the opportunities it could create for him to join a championship-ready team as an unrestricted free agent in 2011. The Knicks also have explored trade possibilities for Spurs point guard Tony Parker, but to this point have been rebuffed.

Posted on: July 5, 2010 3:28 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 7:04 pm

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)

Ray Allen will give the Celtics “every chance of re-signing him,” but has been in contact with the top-tier free agents and wants to wait until they choose a team before making a decision, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Monday.

Allen’s conversations with Celtics brass have been “productive and cordial,” the person said. But Allen, like other free agents, can’t have a complete picture of his value or the best situation for him until the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decide where to sign. It is not clear whether Allen, 34, has spoken with those players, but a person close to one high-profile free agent said Allen has been in contact via text message as the Big Three try to assemble a supporting cast for next season and beyond.

“I don’t think Player X has asked him, ‘If I sign here, will you come with me?’” the person said. “It hasn’t been in any formal way, but they’ve been in contact.”

Allen also has received “general inquiries” from several teams, including those with significant cap space, including the Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets, one of the sources said. The Celtics have been informed that Allen would prefer not to make a decision until the so-called cap-room teams find out which players they’ll be able to attract.

With Doc Rivers back for one more season and Paul Pierce returning on a four-year, $61 million deal, Allen will feel tremendous pull from within the Celtics’ organization to re-up for one more championship run. But Allen is seeking a three-year deal, and could be presented with some intriguing options once James and Wade decide where to play. According to people familiar with their strategies, both players have prioritized recruiting a low-post scorer and 3-point shooter as they decide whether to stay with their existing teams or venture elsewhere.


Now that the Knicks have agreed to terms with free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, the process of surrounding him with talent capable of winning a championship begins.

"The Knicks are back," Stoudemire told the assembled media at Madison Square Garden Monday after agreeing in principle to a five-year, $99.8 million deal.

Stoudemire also said that he'd be reaching out to LeBron James with a recruiting pitch. If that doesn't work, what are the Knicks' other options? Sources confirmed Monday that the primary target would be Carmelo Anthony, who'd be an unrestricted free agent next summer -- or available at the February trade deadline -- if he doesn't accept the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million extension offer. CBSSports.com first reported Saturday that there's "zero chance" Denver officials will agree to trade Anthony this summer.

In the meantime, the Knicks will continue searching for a pick-and-roll partner for Stoudemire to operate with -- and if it isn't James, free-agent point guard Raymond Felton will be a primary target. The Knicks have had discussions about a sign-and-trade for Felton that would involve their own free-agent power forward, David Lee, a person with knowledge of the talks said Monday. But the Bobcats are lukewarm on such a proposal for the same reason they've had zero conversations with Felton's agent, Tony Dutt, about re-signing him -- the luxury-tax implications. But don't rule out such a scenario yet; a person with close ties to Felton said Monday that the Bobcats point guard is intrigued by the possibility of pairing with Stoudemire in coach Mike D'Antoni's triple-threat, pick-and-roll offense.


Bobcats coach Larry Brown was not with the organization's summer-league team Monday when play opened in Orlando. But don't draw any conspiratorial conclusions. A person close to Brown told CBSSports.com that the coach is on a previously planned family vacation and that the team is proceeding under the assumption that Brown will return to coach the team next season.

"We're looking at it as status quo," the person said.
Posted on: July 5, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:34 pm

LeBron-a-Palooza: Day 5 (UPDATE)

This is LeBron James’ world, and we are all just living in it. Ditto for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“We are all witnesses right now to this charade,” one frustrated team executive said Monday as Day Five of LeBron-a-Palooza (term coined, I believe, by Newsday’s Alan Hahn) rolled on.

James, Wade and Bosh were “still evaluating information” Monday, according to a person with knowledge of their plans. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that James was unlikely to announce any decision until his three-day Nike camp concluded Wednesday night in his hometown, Akron, Ohio.  In fact, James made a surprise appearance at his camp Monday -- he wasn't scheduled to arrive until Tuesday -- and was wearing (what else?) a Yankees cap.

Wade returned Monday morning to Miami, where about 50 Heat fans – wow, what a turnout – and some team employees were waiting to greet him. At the wrong terminal. Wade was later seen at American Airlines Arena with Heat owner Mickey Arison. Such is life in the grips of the black smoke monster known as the Summer of 2010.

Tika-tika-tika-tika-tika-tika-tika ….

All NBA business essentially is tied to the Big Three free agents and what they decide to do. The only deadline pushing them is Thursday, when contracts and trades can become official once the 2010-11 salary cap is set and the moratorium on player movement is lifted. But not everybody is waiting for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Two free-agent power forwards are getting close to making decisions on their futures – Amar’e Stoudemire and David Lee.

Stoudemire is in New York City Monday to meet with Knicks officials – either to agree on a five-year, $99.8 million contract or agree to hunker down and await for word from LeBron or Wade on whether they’re coming to New York or not. But one player who may not be willing to wait for the Knicks to handle their other business is Lee, who is getting inundated with calls from teams interested in taking him off the free-agent board regardless of what the Big Three do.

Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds last season, already has met face-to-face with the Bulls, Nets, Heat and Timberwolves. A league source with knowledge of the market for Lee told CBSSports.com Monday that the Knicks are engaged in discussions with Utah, Toronto, Houston, Golden State and Charlotte about sign-and-trade arrangements involving Lee. This could be a key piece of the puzzle in the decision process for LeBron or Wade. Some of the Utah scenarios involve Carlos Boozer coming to New York, and some of the Toronto scenarios involve Bosh. Both players are high on the lists of power forwards both LeBron and Wade want to encourage to team up with them.

What does that mean for Stoudemire? Potentially nothing. Potentially everything. The Knicks are prepared to give LeBron or Wade a choice of big men to play with, and this feeling-out process could be the first step toward determining which of those options is viable.

Charlotte and Golden State are involved because A) both covet Lee, and B) each has a point guard who’d complement Stoudemire if he wound up being the Knicks’ only top-tier signing. The BobcatsRaymond Felton and WarriorsMonta Ellis have been on the Knicks’ radar for some time.

Posted on: July 4, 2010 1:55 am
Edited on: July 4, 2010 4:11 pm

Johnson, Hawks reach six year, $120 million deal

Update: In his blog on Huffington Post, agent Arm Tellem confirms that Joe Johnson has agreed to six-year, $120 million deal to remain with the Atlanta Hawks.

CBSSports.com reported earlier that Johnson and Atlanta were "close" to finalizing their agreement.

The Hawks came right out of the gates at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and lavished Johnson, the cornerstone of their revival, with the maximum offer they could extend him under the current collective bargaining agreement. Johnson, 28, was determined to explore the options free agency afforded him, and met within an hour with Knicks officials in Los Angeles. The meeting was attended by Johnson's L.A.-based agent, Arn Tellem, and another one of his clients, Mike Miller.

One day passed. Then two. Then three. Hawks officials were not so much growing nervous as flummoxed that Johnson was taking so long to say yes to a contract the likes of which no player of his caliber will see again anytime soon in the NBA. The league's salary structure is one year away from changing dramatically -- and in favor of the owners -- in a new collective bargaining agreement.

On Friday, a person with close ties to Johnson told CBSSports.com that the four-time All-Star was "intrigued" by the opportunity to play in New York or Chicago. In both places, he'd have to be intrigued enough to accept about $25 million less than the Hawks were offering. In both places, he'd either be a complementary piece to one of the top-tier free agents or a substitute -- similar to the situation the Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire was in, except the Suns never offered Stoudemire the max for six years.

As of Saturday afternoon, Johnson was still on the fence as the Knicks, in particular, continued to apply pressure in an all-out effort to persuade Johnson to validate their painful, two-year effort to clear enough salary-cap space to attract marquee free agents. But by later in the evening, word came from Johnson's camp that minor contractual details were on the verge of being resolved in order to keep Johnson with the Hawks -- who would've likely waited until after the new CBA was in place to replace him with a comparable talent. Johnson has averaged at least 17 points per game in all five seasons with the Hawks while playing at least 76 games in four of those seasons.

If Johnson's flirtation with the free-agent recruiting process mirrors that of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his spasm of wanderlust getting trumped by the far more favorable deal his own team could offer him may be a harbinger of decisions to come. Barring sign-and-trades, by which free agents can change teams and still get max money, the Big Three are in the same boat. Being wanted is great, but money ... everybody likes money.

Speaking of which, Johnson will turn 34 entering the sixth year of this contract, when he'll be making approximately $24 million in his 16th NBA season. But the Hawks felt the potential payoff in the first three years of the deal -- and the risk of losing Johnson without being able to find a comparable replacement -- made the commitment worthwhile. Also, the Hawks are banking on the fact that there will always be a high-revenue team willing to take on a big contract, either as the final piece to a championship-ready team or in the form of an expiring asset.

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.


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