Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:13 pm
 

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

The revelation of the world championships, quite obviously, was Kevin Durant. He did everything for Team USA -- did exactly what was required of a blossoming superstar who was asked to put his imprint on the world basketball stage.

So without a doubt, Durant will be suiting up for the 2012 Olympics in London, when some of the divas who passed on Turkey will be back to defend the gold medal attained by the Redeem Team in Beijing two years ago. But what became plainly apparent Sunday, as the United States ended a 16-year drought in the FIBA worlds by beating Turkey 81-64 for the gold medal, is that not all of those '08 Olympians will be assured of getting their spots back.

Far from it.

It's widely assumed that three spots will be available: those belonging to Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd. So as I plan out Mike Krzyzewski's Olympic roster before Team USA even gets to the airport, I say those spots should go to Durant, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups.

When the Americans left U.S. soil as underdogs to Spain in the eyes of many, I felt that however this tournament played out, Odom and Billups deserved spots on the team for London. As good as Durant was, it's impossible to dismiss the championship pedigree Odom and Billups brought to this otherwise woefully inexperienced team. If nothing else, Odom and Billups deserve a spot as a reward for taking one for the country this summer. They stepped up and gave Jerry Colangelo and Coach K their commitments at a time when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too busy working on their Twitter accounts, and while Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were occupied with trying to get traded.

As far as tangible contributions, Billups didn't shine during the tournament. But no one should have a problem with him getting the Jason Kidd memorial roster spot in London for his experience and for his trouble this summer. As for Odom, who was brilliant in the gold-medal game with 15 points and 11 rebounds -- including a flurry of putbacks, 3-pointers and work-ethic baskets in the fourth quarter -- he earned a spot regardless. My pal Gregg Doyel still thinks Odom is a lackadaisical yo-yo ; I've always thought he was wrong about that, and that much was proven beyond any doubt in this tournament. Odom was huge for the U.S. It was no coincidence that the Naismith Trophy was handed first to Odom and Billups Sunday in Istanbul. They earned it. American basketball is all about pecking order, and they were right at the top of it, where they belonged.

But this so-called "B-Team" so far exceeded expectations from spots 1-12 that there will be precious little room for sentimentality when Colangelo and Krzyzewski assemble the Olympic roster in two years. Let's say I'm right and you start with Durant, Odom and Billups joining '08 Olympians James, Wade, Anthony, Paul, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. How do you make room for Derrick Rose (which Colangelo must)? How do you ignore the versatility and defensive intangibles offered by Russell Westbrook (which Colangelo shouldn't)? How do you snub Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans (you probably can't)? What if John Wall is as good as we think he is (which he is)? What if Rajon Rondo wants to play (which he should)?

As the adage goes, these are some good problems for the Americans to have. A few short years after the embarrassment of bronze medals at the 2006 world championships and 2004 Olympics, USA Basketball is back. It was back in Beijing two summers ago with the Redeem Team. But really, this B-Team should be -- and will be -- remembered for driving home the point.

At a time when reputations and gold medals were on the line, the biggest American stars in the sport took a pass. Those who showed up and got the job done should be rewarded. More than a few, I predict, will be.

 
 

 

Posted on: August 12, 2010 9:00 pm
 

What new ground was broken in CBA talks?


NEW YORK -- With star-studded attendance and a conciliatory tone, collective bargaining talks Thursday between the NBA's owners and players changed the attitude, if not the substance, of the debate. Even with union vice president Mo Evans calling the players "partners" with the owners -- what's next, LeBron James and Dan Gilbert double-dating? -- the two sides are still far from a deal to avoid a lockout after the 2010-11 season.

But quietly, modest breakthroughs were made Thursday on several big-picture points relevant to the new financial structure owners and players are trying to create. According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, here are the key points that owners and players actually agreed on -- or at least, agreed to disagree:

* First, there seems to be agreement on both sides that something needs to be done to improve the competitive balance of the league. How to do it, however, remains hotly contested. The players believe many of the owners’ woes can be solved through broader revenue sharing, for which they included a plan in their proposal. The owners continue to believe that how the owners divvy up hundreds of millions in annual losses doesn’t solve the problem that expenses are too high. According to sources, the owners seem to be hunkered down in their pursuit of shorter contracts with less guaranteed money – and they appear to be focusing on those issues even more than reducing the 57 percent share of basketball-related income (BRI) that the players receive. In the owners’ view, shorter contracts and the ability to restructure them midway through – a provision that exists in the NFL’s CBA – would help teams become more competitive faster. The players acknowledge the problem with the current system when teams burdened with bad contracts get “stuck in the mud,” according to a source, and need 3-4 years to clean up the mess. But the players disagree with the owners’ desire to shorten contracts and limit guarantees, even with the long history under the current CBA of players with declining ability becoming contractual albatrosses for their teams. Tracy McGrady and his $24 million salary getting dumped on the Knicks as an expiring asset last season is an extreme, but not rare example.

* With top players such as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Richard Jefferson taking significant pay cuts on new deals this summer, there also seems to be common belief that payrolls will decline during the 2010-11 season for the second consecutive year – even after the biggest free-agent spectacle in league history. Since some rosters aren’t complete and the NBA’s fiscal year hasn’t closed yet, the amount of the decrease isn’t known, and the two sides differ on what the amount will be. The owners seem ready to acknowledge a 1 or 2 percent decline, while the players believe 5 percent is more realistic.

* Regardless of the amount of the payroll decline, one team executive said owners were rattled by the bold free-agent coup pulled off by star players this summer – with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teaming up in Miami – and have become focused on limiting player movement as a result. Any efforts to curb players’ free-agent rights would be staunchly opposed by the union. But there is a real sense from the owners, according to this executive, that they’re determined to write provisions into the new CBA that would provide stronger disincentives for free agents to leave their teams.

“If there’s anything I’d love to see happen in collective bargaining, it’s for the term ‘free agent’ to go away and I’d love to see the term ‘mid-level’ go away,” the executive said. “There’s nothing free about it, when you’re making the mid-level, you’re making more than two-thirds of the league. Mid-level sounds like mid-major, Holiday Inn, Applebee’s. It’s inappropriately termed.”

* Sources also revealed new details of the players’ proposal, which National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter has declined to specifically discuss publicly. In perhaps the first concession of the year-long negotiations, sources say the players have proposed issuing owners a credit on their books for capital improvements to their arenas. The Knicks, who are investing as much as $850 million to renovate Madison Square Garden, would benefit handsomely from such a provision. The players presented this as a way to encourage owners to modernize old arenas and thus create additional revenue streams.

Posted on: August 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 4:49 pm
 

Stars come out for NBA labor talks (UPDATE)

NEW YORK – NBA owners and players met for 3 1-2 hours Thursday in a bargaining session that didn’t result in any progress toward a deal but did help change the tenor of the debate: The star players did show up, and they’re engaged.

In a surprise development, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson and Chauncey Billups joined the players’ executive committee in the bargaining session – a reprisal of their appearance at the most recent meeting at All-Star weekend in Dallas.

“I think it’s important for all of us, as the faces of the NBA, to be involved in the negotiations and what’s going on,” Anthony said as he exited the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel on 52nd Street, to waves and cheers from passersby. “Our future’s in jeopardy if we can’t come to a mutual agreement.”

According to sources familiar with the players’ strategy, the stars decided to take a break from their appearance schedule associated with the World Basketball Festival, a four-day event in conjunction with Team USA training camp, to avoid the perception that they aren’t going to be involved in the bargaining process for the long haul. Some observers believed that the players’ appearance at the All-Star bargaining table in February would be a one-time deal, something that the stars of the league wanted to dispel, sources said. Wade and Billups were the first to commit, followed by James, Anthony and Johnson.

“It’s important to have representation of all the guys in the NBA and not just ourselves,” said Hawks guard Mo Evans, a member of the executive committee. “It was great to have those guys interested in what’s going on in the league. We’re all involved. We’re going to leave this game to someone else – whether it’s two years from now, five years from now, or 10 years from now. We want to leave this game in a better place than when we got it.”

According to people in the bargaining session, there was far less rancor and rhetoric than in the session at All-Star weekend, when the players rejected the owners’ initial proposal. The word “lockout” was thrown around less frequently, too.

UPDATE: But both sides acknowledge that there's much ground to be covered. According to one person present, commissioner David Stern proclaimed at one point during the meeting, “There’s a gulf, not a gap.”

However, in an encouraging sign, the league and union issued a joint statement after the bargaining session, as opposed to individual missives: "The NBA and NBPA held a four-hour bargaining meeting today that included constructive dialogue and a productive exchange of information. While we still have much work to do, it was encouraging how many players and owners participated in the process and all pledged to continue to work together. We all agreed to meet again before training camp.”

Still, while the tenor of the dialogue improved, there was virtually no progress on the issues that keep both sides far apart on a new deal to replace the current CBA, which expires on June 30, 2011. The owners and players continue to disagree on the extent of the NBA’s stated losses – the latest figure the league used Thursday, according to a source, was $380 million during the 2009-10 season – and how the pie should be divided. Under the current agreement, players get 57 percent of overall revenues, known as basketball-related income (BRI).

It was the first bargaining session since All-Star weekend, and the first time owners and players discussed face-to-face the players’ proposal that was submitted to the owners last month. There was little concrete discussion of specific issues, such as the owners’ desire to institute a hard salary cap with shorter contracts and less guaranteed money. Both sides agreed to meet again before the start of training camp, and then break into smaller groups to tackle specific bargaining issues.

“They generally objected to the entire proposal,” Hunter said. “They said they didn’t agree with it. We kind of anticipated that. But at the same time, it lends itself to more discussion so they all felt as though we did make progress in terms of our willingness to talk to one another as opposed to at one another. And so to that extent, things felt a lot better in the room – the atmosphere, the environment, the nature of the discussions – more so than in February. Things have thawed a lot.”

In addition to the stars, the players were represented by the members of their executive committee: president Derek Fisher, treasurer James Jones, and vice presidents Adonal Foyle, Keyon Dooling, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Chris Paul and Evans. The owners were represented by Peter Holt (Spurs), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves), Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), Jeanie Buss (Lakers), James Dolan (Knicks), George Shinn (Hornets), Stan Kroenke (Nuggets) and Larry Miller (Trail Blazers). Suns owner Robert Sarver, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide canceled at the last minute to address personal business.

“It was great conversation, great dialogue going back and forth, great communication,” Anthony said. “So hopefully we can come to an agreement soon.”







Posted on: August 11, 2010 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 7:48 pm
 

Isiah not taking Knicks job (UPDATE)


NEW YORK -- Not surprisingly, Isiah Thomas and the Knicks aren't reuniting after all. The deposed team president will not take a consulting job with the Knicks, citing the NBA rules that forbid the arrangement.

After nearly three days of reviewing league policies that apply to the consulting arrangement Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan tried to arrange with Thomas, the Knicks and NBA officials reached the only conclusion possible: Thomas' job as basketball coach at Florida International clearly disqualifies him from working in any capacity for an NBA team. League rules strictly prohibit any coach, scout, executive, consultant or anyone else remotely employed in basketball operations with an NBA team from having any contact with draft-ineligible players. Such contact, obviously, is a key part of a college basketball coach's job.

"After speaking with Commissioner Stern and Knicks executives, it has become apparent that my new agreement violates certain NBA by-laws," Thomas said in a statement. "Because of this, I have decided to rescind my contract with the team.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jim Dolan, Donnie Walsh, Mike D'Antoni and the entire Knicks organization, and I want to thank them for affording me this opportunity. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that the Knicks didn't perform up to the standards the fans had every right to expect while I was in charge. I take full responsibility for that. I was very much looking forward to this unique opportunity to help the organization do what I do best: find basketball talent. I wish the team nothing but success in the future."

The Knicks announced Friday that they were hiring Thomas -- whose scorched-Earth tenure as Knicks president and coach ended with the hiring of Walsh as team president in April 2008 -- as a consultant to advise the organization in a variety of ways. Among Thomas'
duties was to "provide valuable insight and analysis of young prospects from around the world."

As CBSSports.com reported Monday , such an arrangement was a clear violation of the NBA Constitution and By-Laws, which do not even allow basketball operations employees with NBA teams to publicly speak about high school, college or international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft -- much less have direct contact with them.

In announcing that Thomas was voiding his contract, officials with the NBA and the Knicks made efforts to minimize the public-relations embarrassment the team would endure as a result. This was obvious in the timing of the public announcements on the Thomas fiasco Tuesday: First, Isiah's statement. Then, a thumb-in-the-eye to Knicks fans from Dolan, who praised Walsh and D'Antoni in a release issued by the team but said he was "disappointed" he couldn't hire Thomas and that he will "continue to solicit his views."

"I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent," Dolan said of Isiah in a rare public pronouncement. "He's a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU. I also believe Donnie Walsh has done a terrific job since joining the Knicks and my tremendous respect for him has only grown since he's joined the organization. I'm confident that the work that Donnie, Coach Mike D'Antoni and their staffs have done this summer has the team poised for long-term success."

Finally, a classically subdued missive from Stern, who said in a statement from the league office that there was no need for him to take action since Thomas' contract had been voided. (Gee, I wonder why?)

"However, we have reminded the Knicks of NBA rules that prohibit team personnel, including consultants, from having contact with players not eligible for the draft," Stern said.

Anyway, the fallout from attempting to circumvent NBA rules -- or simply being unaware of them -- will be nothing compared to the public scorn heaped on the Knicks for even contemplating a reunion with Thomas in the first place. His tenure as team president and then coach featured ill-conceived trades (Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry), a sexual harassment lawsuit that cost Madison Square Garden and Dolan $11.5 million, and a salary-cap mess that took Walsh more than two years to clean up.

The announcement of Thomas' ill-fated reunion with the team also overshadowed a rare run of positive developments for the Knicks, who made credible pitches to sign free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, landed power forward Amar'e Stoudemire instead, and have the flexibility to add a second max player through trades or as a free agent next summer. The biggest damage may have been inflicted on Walsh and D'Antoni, whose reputations were cast in a poor light by Dolan's belief that the team couldn't attract future free agents without Thomas' credibility as a Hall of Fame former player.

Sources say some elements of the Knicks' power structure -- i.e. Dolan -- believed after the failed bid for James and Wade that Thomas and his credibility with star players was needed to close the deal on future signings. Thomas, in fact, played un undefined role in the team's recruitment of Stoudemire, and also landed a meeting with James' associates during a failed 11th-hour bid to persuade the former Cav to join the Knicks. Walsh went out of his way to thank Thomas for his help in landing Stoudemire, a move that was met with head-scratching gazes in the media audience during Stoudemire's introductory news conference last month.

What has to scare Knicks fans even more than Dolan's continued belief in Thomas is the fact that Thomas could regain eligibility to work for the Knicks simply by quitting his job as Florida International coach. So it is possible that Knicks fans haven't heard the last from Isiah.

But then, who ever does?












Posted on: August 10, 2010 7:02 pm
 

Candidates selling Melo in pursuit of Knicks job

NEW YORK -- We're barely a month removed from the biggest free-agent feeding frenzy in NBA history, and already the next wave has begun.

The Knicks' controversial attempt to hire Isiah Thomas as a consultant hasn't dissuaded candidates from pitching themselves as the right man for a job that team president Donnie Walsh has left vacant since he was hired two years ago -- a day-to-day GM who eventually would succeed him. The latest twist, according to sources familiar with the situation, has potential candidates angling to present themselves to Walsh and Garden chairman James Dolan as the man who is capable of delivering Carmelo Anthony as a free agent next summer.

The overtures have fallen on deaf ears with Walsh for two reasons, sources say: 1) Walsh has yet to receive clearance to hire a general manager to handle the day-to-day basketball operations, and 2) The respected, 69-year-old executive has grown tired of the free-agent recruitment game and the dishonest pitches that invariably come with it.

Walsh's desire to decompress from the untoward free-agent hysteria, however, didn't stop Dolan from hiring Thomas -- who was ousted and replaced by Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni in 2008 -- as a consultant whose primary duty will be to recruit free agents. Sources say the hiring may very well be struck down by the NBA, which has strict rules against team employees having contact with high school, college and international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft.

Thomas positioned himself to return to the Knicks by convincing Dolan that he played an important role in the team landing free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire this summer. The Knicks struck out on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and decided they needed someone with Thomas' clout to ensure it wouldn't happen again.

But Thomas isn't the only current or former NBA executive trying to tout himself as the man who can persuade Anthony, a free agent next summer, to join Stoudemire with the Knicks. Part of that strategy, sources say, includes efforts on the part of at least one candidate to pitch himself to Creative Artists Agency -- the firm that represents Anthony -- as an addition to the Knicks' front office who could bring Anthony with him.

Walsh has had it on the back burner for some time to hire a lead assistant with a big enough profile -- and substantial enough resume -- to replace him when he retires. Such a move would create a rare spasm of continuity for an organization that had known nothing but change and turmoil prior to Walsh's hiring two years ago. Strong indications within the organization this summer have pointed to former player Allan Houston being groomed as Walsh's successor. Houston impressed Dolan and other team officials with his performance in an expanded role during the free-agency period this summer.

Walsh is two years into a four-year contract, and the Knicks must decide by March 31, 2011 whether to guarantee the final year of the deal.

Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he's eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer's free-agent frenzy -- orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.

Anthony's desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.

"Carmelo already wants to play in New York," one person with knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com. "He doesn't need anybody to bring him there. He's a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him."

Anthony's teammate, Chauncey Billups, said after Team USA practice Tuesday that he still doesn't know whether Anthony will sign the extension or test the free-agent waters next summer.

"If I was a betting man? I don’t know," Billups said. "Of course, I'm biased because I'm playing on the team that he’s playing on. But I'm optimistic that he’s going to come back and play for the Nuggets. I know he loves the city. Shoot, he’s been there since he was 20 years old. So I'm optimistic, but I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t."



Posted on: August 3, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 10:46 am
 

The Big Shamrock (UPDATE)

Shaquille O'Neal is about to take his talents to South Bay -- Boston, that is. The 38-year-old, 15-time All-Star is close to agreeing to a deal with the Celtics, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Shaq, soon to be known as the Big Shamrock -- or, fill in your favorite nickname -- is on the verge of accepting the veteran's minimum starting at about $1.4 million, the person with knowledge of the deal said. The number of years was still being worked out Tuesday, but Comcast SportsNet-New England -- which first reported the Shaq-to-Celtics news -- said O'Neal is seeking a two-year deal. In all likelihood, the second year would be a player's option.

As Royce Young pointed out , the fit is ideal for both O'Neal and the Celtics. Shaq, who struck out in his bid for a fifth championship last season with LeBron James in Cleveland, wants one more shot with a veteran-laden, contending team. The Celtics, who already have added another O'Neal (Jermaine) to bolster their frontcourt, needed another experienced big man to help them navigate the early part of the regular season while Kendrick Perkins recovers from a knee injury sustained in the Finals against the Lakers.

Shaq had significant talks with the Hawks about bolstering their young roster with his experience, but the Celtics are a better fit. The no-nonsense, winning culture that Doc Rivers has created will be the perfect environment for Shaq to thrive with whatever abilities he has left in the tank. Based on his increased production in the playoffs, it appeared to me that Shaq had more to offer last season than former Cavs coach Mike Brown was willing to give him a chance to provide. Rivers, however, will have to wrestle with the glaring deficiency in Shaq's game at this stage of his career -- the same issue that caused Brown to skimp on his minutes last season: Shaq's defensive abilities have declined far more than his offensive talents.

Rivers will have to figure out a way to incorporate Shaq into the Celtics' team defensive concepts, a task that won't be easy with the departure of associate head coach Tom Thibodeau, architect of Boston's defense during the Big Three era. But once Perkins is back, Shaq's presence will give Rivers more flexibility with his front line in the playoffs than he's had in recent years. When he needs a basket on the block, he can go to Shaq. When the situation calls for a defensive presence, he can go with Perkins.

When he needs a free throw from either one, forget it -- but hey, nobody has a perfect plan for next season other than the Miami Heat. At least Shaq didn't wind up there.

In all seriousness, O'Neal's presence in Boston could represent the Big Antidote to Miami's Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The only glaring weakness in the Heat's rotation is at the center position, so Shaq-to-Boston makes even more sense when you consider that. And we won't have long to wait to see it happen, with the Heat and Celtics reportedly opening the 2010-11 regular season on Oct. 26 in Boston.






Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:29 pm
 

Where selective law enforcement happens

The NBA office issued a memo to all 30 teams Tuesday reminding them of the league's tampering policy and warning of steep penalties that would result from illegal contact with Chris Paul or his representatives.

It was a welcome development, no doubt, for the New Orleans Hornets, who are dealing with their disgruntled point guard's desire to be traded. I'd also have to guess it generated a day-late, dollar-short reaction in Cleveland, where the Cavs will be reeling for a decade or longer from the suspicious departure of LeBron James to Miami.

The memo issued Tuesday, first reported by ESPN.com, was similar to one sent in December 2008 warning teams about commenting publicly on prospective free agents under contract with other teams and outlining the penalties for making contact with such players. League policy calls for penalties up to and including loss of draft picks, the voiding of player contracts and a maximum fine of $5 million for discussing transactions with players under contract without consent of their teams. The 2008 memo was in response to growing public commentary by team executives regarding the free-agent class of 2010, which of course included James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Paul, through his new agent, Leon Rose, informed the Hornets recently that he wants to be traded and gave the team a list of preferred destinations. Paul and Rose met Monday in New Orleans with Hornets president Hugh Weber, GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams to hash out their differences. Not surprisingly, everyone emerged from the meeting saying they've all agreed to get along. But we know better, and so does the league office. Sources told CBSSports.com that Monday's meeting did not quell Paul's desire to push for a trade and this his representatives planned to continue applying pressure to get him out of New Orleans.   The league memo Tuesday only underscored the reality facing the Hornets.

But under league rules, such conversations can only be initiated or approved by the Hornets. So on Tuesday, the league made a strong statement in defense of an organization that faces an uphill battle in keeping its franchise player happy. The last thing Demps and Williams need is to have Rose and William Wesley recruiting trade partners through back channels -- which is how much of the business of the league is done.

"This kind of thing happens all the time," said a person within the NBA. "But the league wants to have more control over the players. They don't want players working behind the scenes to get themselves traded."

That train, it could be argued, whizzed past the station long ago.

So why such a strong stance against tampering with Paul when nothing has been done to investigate whether James was tampered with prior to his "decision" to join Wade and Bosh with the Heat? One possible explanation is that once a case of alleged tampering has occurred, standard procedure is to investigate only after the offended team files a tampering charge. The Cavs never complained publicly or to the league about a reported meeting last November attended by James, Michael Jordan and Heat president Pat Riley. Another reported meeting last month involving James, Wade and Bosh would be more difficult to probe because league tampering rules essentially are aimed at teams and team executives. Meetings and conversations among players are more difficult to police. Nonetheless, the Cavs have no plans to file tampering charges, preferring instead to focus on moving forward with their post-LeBron plans.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are just trying to get through each day without Rose pitching possible trade scenarios for Paul to competing franchises.

Conversations this summer between James and Paul -- which presumably led Paul to drop his association with Octagon and hire Rose as his agent -- would be difficult, if not impossible, to tie to any kind of tampering. The league obviously can't control agents like Rose and operatives like Wesley as closely as it can monitor its teams' executives. So a memo like this warning teams to leave Paul alone is the best that can be done, I suppose. Is it mostly for show? Yes, mostly. The NBA grapevine is a free-for-all, with illegal conversations that can't be adequately policed happening all the time. But at least for now, the league's stance theoretically will provide a chilling effect to what has become the Summer of CP3.

It may or may not help the Hornets keep their star point guard. It won't, however, do anything to help the Cavs get over the loss of LeBron. That's life, I guess, in the NBA.


 








Posted on: July 19, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 4:56 pm
 

Wade apologizes for World Trade quote (UPDATE)

Saying his reference to the World Trade Center was taken "completely out of context," Heat star Dwyane Wade issued an apology of sorts Monday.

"In an interview [Sunday], I attempted to explain how some people may view the Miami Heat losing a few basketball games in a row during the upcoming season," Wade said in the statement released by his public relations team. "It appears that my reference to the World Trade Center has been either inaccurately reported or taken completely out of context. I was simply trying to say that losing a few basketball games should not be compared to a real catastrophe. While it was certainly not my intention, I sincerely apologize to anyone who found my reference to the World Trade Center to be insensitive or offensive."

Wade conducted the interview before his Summer Groove charity game at American Airlines Center. Asked about the high expectations surrounding the Heat with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Wade was quoted in a story published by AOL Fanhouse as saying the following: "If we lose a couple in a row this season, it will be like the World Trade [Center] is coming down again."

Amid immediate backlash, Fanhouse quickly republished the story with an editor's note explaining that the quote had not been transcribed accurately. The revised quote read, "There's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games."

Still an unfortunate reference, and one deserving of the clarification Wade issued Monday.

If nothing else, this incident proved to Wade that he can no longer live the care-free existence of being the lone star on an insignificant .500 team that loses in the playoffs every year. With the arrival of James and Bosh, the Heat have launched themselves into the kind of media stratosphere only experienced by the Lakers in recent years. Ever move, every word will be chronicled and scrutinized by both local and national reporters who will be descending on South Beach. Every misstep will be magnified.

Miami's Big Three are still undefeated, and already they've experienced the embarrassment of James' widely panned TV announcement -- which even drew criticism from commissioner David Stern -- and their first "I apologize if I offended anyone" controversy. No wonder Heat coach Erik Spoelstra declined interview requests Saturday during an appearance at Las Vegas Summer League, with a team PR official telling reporters that Spoelstra was not going to be addressing questions about next season for a while.

There'll be plenty of time for that.


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