Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: July 7, 2010 10:05 pm
 

Progress on Bosh sign-and-trade

The Raptors and Heat are "progressing" toward a sign-and-trade arrangement to facilitate Chris Bosh's desire to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, a person with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com Wednesday night.

The most likely scenario, according to the source, would send draft picks and massive trade exception to Toronto -- but not Michael Beasley. The former No. 2 pick, whom the Heat want to trade to create more cap space for a third max signing as they try to lure LeBron James, has been included in some of the potential deals discussed. But Toronto has been decidedly cold on the notion of taking Beasley in a trade for Bosh.

"It's not likely," the person with knowledge of the discussions said.

The Raptors would get back the 2011 first-round pick they previously traded to Miami, plus additional future picks and a trade exception they would then use to acquire a player without sending back comparable salary. The Heat only have one other player on their roster to trade, point guard Mario Chalmers.

Sending Bosh to the Heat in a sign-and-trade would allow the Raptors to get back some assets rather than lose him and get nothing in return. For Bosh, such an arrangement is worth an additional $30 million if he signs for the max -- although both Bosh and Wade said Wednesday they're not opposed to taking less money if it meant fitting James into the Heat's cap space, which now stands at $31.4 million after the NBA announced a higher-than-expected 2010-11 cap of $58.044 million on Wednesday.

If the Heat and Raptors can't agree on a sign-and-trade, Bosh would be faced with accepting a contract from the Heat of only five years in length (as opposed to six) with 2.5 percent smaller annual raises.
Posted on: July 7, 2010 8:08 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 9:07 pm
 

NBA cap soars to $58.044 milllion (UPDATE)


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 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 9:02 pm
 

'Melo: No Amar'e pitch yet


Carmelo Anthony has been taking in all the free-agent news from Los Angeles, where he's been spending much of the offseason working out and mulling a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets. In a phone interview with CBSSports.com Monday night, Anthony said he hasn't decided whether to accept the extension -- nor has he heard from Amar'e Stoudemire about possibly joining him in New York as a free agent next summer.

"He was just out here in L.A. with me," Anthony said, "but we never talked about that."

Stoudemire, who agreed to a five-year, $99.8 million contract with the Knicks Monday, told reporters over the weekend that he was trying to bring Anthony and Spurs point guard Tony Parker with him. Both could be free agents next summer.

"I'm happy for him," Anthony said of Stoudemire. "Real happy for him."

Anthony's future is tied to the extension offer that's on the table with Denver. The decision is whether to take the money and security now, or enter the summer of 2011 as the unquestioned face of that free agent class.

"It’s on the table, but I haven’t made a decision yet," Anthony said. "I just want to take my time on this one, really just want to take my time."

Part of the equation is a new collective bargaining agreement -- and potentially, a lockout -- that would seriously cloud the benefits of being an unrestricted free agent next summer. Barring a trade this summer -- which CBSSports.com reported Saturday has a "zero chance" of happening -- Anthony would have until June 30, 2011 to accept the Nuggets' extension offer.

"As far as free agency goes next summer, of course the collective bargaining agreement comes into play," Anthony said. "That's definitely something to think about. But right now, as far as the extension goes, I'm just taking my time."

Anthony sounded intrigued by the Knicks' agreement with Stoudemire, the first significant shoe to drop in a mammoth free-agent summer. As for whether Stoudemire could attract LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to New York, Anthony said he didn't think either one would be easily swayed by such a pitch.

"I don’t know," Anthony said. "I think those guys are going to make their own decisions. I don’t think anybody else is going to tell them what they should do. I think this is something that an individual is going to have to make a decision on."


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.
 
 
 
 
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