Tag:Free Agency
Posted on: August 18, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Chris Bosh doesn't mind the hate

Heat Triad forward says the team expects negativity, heightened pressure.
Posted by Matt Moore


In the ongoing saga of the Heat v. Public Opinion, there have been salvos aplenty the last few days. LeBron's GQ article , Dwyane Wade's charity stop , and now, Chris Bosh's interview with SI 's Chris Mannix at his "Get Milk" campaign event. Mannix spoke with Bosh about a number of topics, including who's going to take the last shot for the Heat (whoever's hot that night), how much he considered Cleveland (he didn't), and, the big sound byte, how he feels about all the hate being heaped upon him and the other two members of the Miami Triad. From Mannix's HTML to your eyes:

"It's a healthy hate," he said. "When the Lakers came to town, I hated the Lakers. It's what you need as motivation to beat these guys. We know we're going to get a team's best every single night. We know we're going to get the crowds best every single night. We have a big 'X' on our back. People are saying our team is not good for basketball. We're going to hear everything. It's OK. It's going to happen. We just have to win and keep on moving."
A healthy hate, huh? Well, that's certainly making lemon-scented cleaner out of rancid, poisoned lemons. It's also a continuing part of the orchestrated effort by the Heat in anti-hate maneuvering. The same kind of lines are being injected into all three of their statements. Things like "no one is 100% LeBron/DWade/Bosh" and "the hate should be fun." It's nothing but big smiles and happy words about enjoying all the villainy they've been accused of.

The real question? Do any of these guys have a vengeful bone in their body? Bosh has never really come across as a killer, more of the "friendly next door neighbor who can pull down stuff from the top shelf." James has his own long history of doubts regarding his killer instinct (despite his game being best-fit for all-around dynamics and not the dagger in the heart). Wade is really the question mark. He has a history of clutch theatrics, and definitely plays with a chip on his shoulder. But he doesn't own a move like Kobe's jaw-jut or Jordan's sneer. Those are theatrics, of course, but they belie a bigger theme of righteous (or unrighteous) vengeance.

The Triad does seem to be slowly embracing this idea, though, that they will have to fuel themselves from the negative energy thrown at them. They have to learn from their past failures and rally around a single cause: shutting the mouths of the millions of people who have doubted and cast aspersions towards them. Of course, contrary to what Wade said after the free agency coup was completed, the hard part isn't over. Winning the games. That's the hard part, and it hasn't even begun.

Here's more of Mannix with Bosh:

Posted on: August 17, 2010 3:37 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2010 8:14 pm
 

Melo leaving a familiar trail

As Ken Berger reports on the latest developments in Carmelo Anthony's exit strategy, a familiar pattern is forming, one that we saw played out over the past year in Cleveland.
Posted by Matt Moore




CBSSports.com's Ken Berger brought news last week that Carmelo Anthony was angling for a move to New York, that the situation was (according to a close source to him), "perfect for him." Now ESPN's Ric Bucher has echoed that report, stating that Carmelo is "likely" to go , and that it is a question of when, not if, Anthony will depart the Nuggets. Denver fans are holding themselves to the same mantra we heard from Raptors fans last summer and Cleveland fans as recently as June, that no reports can be trusted and that their star player can't find a better situation than the one he's in now.

But the situation is gaining steam , not dying down. The Denver Post reports today that the Nuggets are starting to evaluate options in parting ways with Melo and getting some level of return. And it would appear those avenues are starting to open and become more varied as well.

Today KB reports the following to the F&R Blog via email in the evolving Melo-camp discussions:

Anthony's hesitation to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets goes beyond his desire to enjoy the major-market exposure and pressure that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade turned down this summer. Melo would accept other destinations as well, and the Magic are believed to be at the top of his list along with the Knicks, according to a person familiar with his strategy.

The exit strategy began taking shape last week, while Anthony was in New York for Nike's World Basketball Festival. It was then, according to the source, that Nuggets management was advised to begin exploring trade possibilities for Anthony to avoid losing him as a free agent and getting nothing in return. When Denver fills its vacant GM position, the likely choice, former Suns executive David Griffin, will inherit a crisis similar to the one he endured with Amar'e Stoudemire, who left the Suns for a five-year, $99.9 million deal with the Knicks.


The short-and-long? Melo wants out of Denver, and onto a title contender, and wants it now. Not in free agency. Now. And any questions as to whether that's the case don't need to be answered by off-record sources. The evidence and a little deductive logic speaks for itself.

The most prominent response from skeptics as to if this is really Melo's desire is "Why hasn't he just said so?" And the answer is pretty simple. He already has. Just because he hasn't publicly demanded a trade, costing himself fine money and damaging his image, doesn't mean the evidence isn't right there. There's a three-year, $65 million offer from the Nuggets just waiting for him to sign it. The lack of Carmelo's signature on the dotted line isn't in and of itself a declaration that the Nuggets are off the table. But if they were what he wanted, why not just sign it? The money's there. He's been there, has friends there. It's hard to believe the Nuggets are actually holding out in offering Anthony something he wants. Whatever he's looking for, they'll oblige.

So what's he waiting for?

It's the same question I asked myself last year as Cleveland fans repeatedly told me that James had no interest in leaving. That he loved Cleveland and there was no way he would depart, would abandon them. I always walked away from these exchanges with the same question.

"Okay, then, so why hasn't he? What's he waiting for?"

A simple public statement "I look forward to finishing my career in Cleveland." Or, "We'll sit down with Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry and get to work on the deal . It may take some time, but it'll get done." He could have still entered free agency to maintain leverage to make sure he wasn't short-changed in any regard (who's going to short-change LeBron James?). All he had to do was make those kinds of public commitments and the media wouldn't have embarked on the 100-ring circus we set up. Don't put the goat in the exhibit and expect the T-Rex will stay out of sight.

And just as James never provided those kinds of assurances, always dancing around the subject, saying "We're going to go through the process" and "I love the fans in Cleveland," Anthony's embarked upon the same careful footwork. "There is no timeline" is the new "Cleveland has the edge." And the parallels don't stop there. The Cavaliers panicked when it looked like James was unhappy with Cavs management over their ability to build a roster around him, and fired head coach Mike Brown and came to a separation with Danny Ferry. Sound familiar? Denver dropped both Mark Warkentian and Rex Chapman, both of whom were held in high regard in NBA circles.

Oh, and who is Anthony's agent again?

Oh, that's right. Leon Rose. LeBron's agent and representative for CAA, which also employs William Wesley. If we were in the Matrix, the cat would have walked by twice by now and asked for the Nuggets to fly to New York to pitch Anthony using PowerPoint.

I'm not the first to say there's smoke in regards to this here fire. Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post laid out the remaining circumstantial evidence , including Anthony's sale of a Colorado estate and his East Coast upbringing (though Anthony was raised in Baltimore, he was born in New York; you're going to be hearing that fact about seven hundred zillion more times in the foreseeable future). But there's one more factor that seems to tie this whole mess of speculation and prediction together.

The discussion has been hard and heavy that Anthony's torn between the allure of a new team in free agency and wanting the financial security provided under this (presumably more player-favorable) CBA agreement. The idea was simple. Anthony wants the money, first and foremost, and for that he needs to stay in Denver. But that's only if he enters free agency. If Anthony were to be traded to a new team, that team could then extend him under the current CBA. And that feeds into the last connection between Anthony and the Miami Triad. The allure of getting everything you want, how you want it. With a trade, Anthony can find himself in a new location in title contention, and get the extension he wants. It's the best of all worlds.

The age of players having to simply accept their respective situations may be ending. If Carmelo Anthony can find a way to escape to a major market, joining a top team to contend and get the financial security of the current CBA, we'll have seen the latest manifest of the players' power in the modern NBA.

It's Denver's move. And how the next six months play out could speak volumes as to the fate of their franchise. It will also reaffirm the impact of what went on this summer in free agency, and how the landscape has changed.

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 10:37 am
Edited on: August 10, 2010 11:57 am
 

Does McGrady signing open door for Prince trade?

"" Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the Pistons have signed Tracy McGrady to a one-year deal worth the veteran's minimum of $1.3 million. McGrady signs after a long, arduous process of trying to find someone willing to take a chance on him despite consistent injury issues and a body that no longer hold the athleticism that made him an All-Star. In Detroit, he'll provide bench scoring, and may make a decision to trade Tayshaun Prince easier for Joe Dumars as he attempts to swing a significant deal to improve the Pistons who struggled last year not only due to injury but significant chemistry problems.

McGrady showed flashes with the Knicks last season of being able to produce points like he used to, but would then follow-up those flashes with crashes back to reality, needing to sit out halves and entire games to recuperate. He has played 65 games over the past two seasons, dealing with ailing knees, shoulders, backs, and a bruised ego. He famously told reporters he would be undergoing surgery before alerting his team, and tried to find a spot on the Heat, Bulls, and Clippers before the Pistons elected to take a chance on him.

Prince has an $11 million expiring contract and is still a productive player when healthy, the kind of asset that can yield big results in a trade to a team looking to dump salary or a major player. If the Pistons decide to go for a cap-clearing move, McGrady provides a reasonable part-time option on the wing, and if the Pistons elect to move Prince for a significant upgrade at another position, it's possible they could take on a similar low-cost, low-minute wing to provide balance to McGrady's inconsistency. Either way, McGrady should help to some small degree with putting butts in seats this season for a team whose attendance has plummetted as they have left title contention.

The significant question is not what McGrady brings to the Pistons, but if his arrival signals the departure of Prince.

Posted on: August 9, 2010 2:13 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 2:16 pm
 

LeBron's family will stay in Ohio

Posted by Matt Moore

In an interview with Bazaar magazine for a feature on her and her style, LeBron James' longtime girlfriend and the mother of his children Savannah Brinson says she's not big on Miami, saying it's "not (her) favorite place." She also says that the couple's two sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce will remain in Akron, Ohio and she will split time between Akron and Miami.

It's kind of a stunning revelation, considering the amount of vitriol the city of Cleveland has spit at the family, especially with the oldest son about to start school. Private school or no, Brinson is running the risk of exposing herself and her children to backlash from James' decision to bolt Ohio. When you consider the possibility of James and Brinson tying the knot at some point in the future (not that there's been any indication of an impending marriage, or that it's anyone's business), you have to wonder if eventually the family will have to move to Miami, and not just for the nicer weather.

But let's talk about what's really important from the feature. There's a stunning revelation in the article where Brinson discusses how she and James came to start dating.


The couple started dating when Brinson was just 16. At first, "I had no idea who he was," says Brinson, who is from the same neighborhood as James but was a year behind him at a rival high school, where she was a softball player and cheerleader. He spotted her at a football game and asked her to come to a basketball game. "I went, and I was like, Wow, this guy is pretty popular in here," she remembers.

 A few phone calls later, they had their first date at the local Outback Steakhouse. Dinner conversation was "basic," she recalls. "But I knew he loved me when I left my leftovers from dinner in his car," she says, giggling. "I'd totally forgotten about them, and he brought them to me. I think he just wanted another excuse to come and see me."


Woah, woah, woah. I know James was young. And wasn't a millionaire. But Outback? Outback. You took the cheerleader you had your eye on to Outback? What, you were concerned she might get the wrong idea if you took her to Applebee's? Seriously. You're young, but you're also surrounded by knowledgeable media and hangers on, and no one clued you in that maybe the Bloomin' Onion joint wasn't the best place to take a girl for dinner? I'm not asking for a French bistro. But maybe not the place most often credited with the worst food health-wise in America.

Hey, I like Outback! They make a fine steak. But I'm not going on a first date there, 17 or younger or 35 or older or anything in-between. I mean, come on. Even Luigi's Pizza sounds like a good option. Or hey, get a head start on where you'll be spending most of your meals, find a Cheesecake Factory to take her to .  James may need to work on making sure Savannah knows not to tell such sordid details about their early life together. Outback. Geez.

...

I miss basketball. Season starts in 84 days. 84 long days.

Posted on: August 6, 2010 11:37 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 11:46 am
 

Of leadership, LeBron, and KG

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Garnett is one of the most respected players in the NBA, with good reason. No one has shown  more focus at both ends of the floor over the past decade than Kevin Garnett. Much of his trademarked intensity is show; the screaming, spitting, growling is revealed as little more than theatrics when you employ them as often as he has. But that doesn't change how he's constantly barking out defensive assignments, dressing down teammates, and blocking the ever-loving crap out of anyone that dares to challenge his authority (or dying trying). He's a 13-time All-Star, and has an MVP trophy, a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and an NBA champion.

And with all that respect that he has earned comes a level of expectation, often unfair, mostly ridiculous, that he live up to what we believe is the model of a true NBA legend. Or at least, that's been the pattern for everyone except KG. And if you want proof of that, compare KG and LeBron James.

In 2010, LeBron James abandoned his team, the Cavaliers, and did it in a publicly humiliating and disgracefully opulent way on national television. Maybe you heard about it, here and there. Before we continue, let's be very clear on this point:

The primary reason for the backlash against James is the way in which he announced his decision ("The Decision"), the way he seemingly laughed and skipped out of town while the dreams he had given Cleveland fans burned to the ground. There is simply no way to defend or even deflect that criticism. You're not going to find anyone outside of South Beach who thinks this was in any way acceptable. KG has never behaved in such a way, nor did he embarrass Minnesota on the way out of town. The way the two left is simply not comparable. See, I put it in bold, just so we're all clear on this.

However, the secondary argument against James is that he has in some way compromised his legacy, lessened his greatness, by not being the sole elite player on his team. He is no longer considered able to reach the sport's summit because he has joined Dwyane Wade's team instead of building championship gold from the rubble he was drafted into. That by joining other elite players, he can no longer be considered elite.

Let's head on back to 2007.

Kevin Garnett has failed to reach the summit with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted him. Though there were a handful of very good teams, none of them even approached what you would call a "great" team. The Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell team rose and fell apart as fast as it came together, and Garnett has been losing consistently. It becomes known that he wants out, wants to be traded to a contender, does not want to waste his career any longer. He doesn't outright say he wants to be traded, after all, you're fined for such activity. But it's made pretty clear that his time with Minnesota is over. It's done. He winds up heading to Boston, joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the captain, to form the first modern Big 3 and first relative superteam since the Lakers' 2004 crime against nature.

(It should be noted that the Spurs' combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili definitely constituted enough talent as to be considered a superteam, but more perhaps more impressively, they did it organically. They came to have three superstars by developing the talent they drafted. Not by acquiring the gold when the market was high on it.)

But KG was and is the leader, right? Well, I don't know. Paul Pierce is the captain, right? And the guy taking the game winning shots, most often? The face of the team? It's heart and soul? Isn't Pierce the one most often relied upon to rally the team? While Garnett is undeniably a leader on the Celtics, is he really considered the leader?

Oddly, what led me down this line of thought was a quote from, of all people, Rasho Nesterovic.

In an interview with rtvslo.com , and translated and brought forth by Project Spurs , Nesterovic talks about the difference between Garnett and Duncan. He discusses how Duncan won with the team that drafted him, and how Garnett made the smart move, but it was one to turn to the Celtics, who already had a leader in Pierce. This all leads to Nesterovic saying Duncan was the greater power forward of his time.

Huh.

Now, this is Rasho Nesterovic. We're not talking Bill Russell here. But the idea is one that deserves consideration. Did KG join the Celtics as a leader, or did he simply do the exact same thing that LeBron James did, only under better PR cover? The argument can certainly be made that James joined in free agency (which is apparently worse than bailing on your team while under contract with them), while Garnett was traded, so it wasn't really his decision. But if Garnett had told Minnesota management, "I don't want to be traded. I either win here, or I don't win at all," do you really think the Wolves would have said "No, no, Mr. Hall-of-Fame-Most-Beloved-Player-In
-Franchise-History, we want no part of you here"? Is that what you think would have occurred? Because I'm pretty sure Kevin McHale would have just gone back to figuring out ways to build the Wolves around KG (and failing miserably).

The argument could also be made that KG was on a "loser" while James was on a contending team. But there are two responses to that. 1. While this Cavs team was certainly better than any KG had, James has also been superior in terms of production (and playoff success if we're being honest) than anything KG had been. I'm simply pointing out that if you're going to say the Cavs were better, you also have to point out that James was better, and was a reason for the Cavs being better. And 2, is there really a difference between contender-but-not-champion and loser in our society? I don't subscribe to this. I think there are tons of brilliant players that simply were never fortunate enough to run into the blessed set of circumstances you need to win a championship (or play for LA). But if you're a results oriented person, KG and James had accomplished the same thing, and so to say that one needed to do what he needed in order to win a ring and the other needed to continue to struggle is a bit ridiculous.

We come to the crux of this, which is actually not that KG deserves more criticism or scorn for leaving Minnesota to fall into the void. Far from it. Garnett recognized that he needed to win a ring before his time was up, that it wasn't going to happen in Minny, and that Boston represented the best chance for him. He took it. He doesn't deserve to be slagged for that. Garnett has told other players not to let what happened to him in Minnesota happen to them. Now, that particular action is a little less likable. After all, there have been players that stayed "home" and eventually reached the promised land, and those championships are much more special to their small markets than the umpteenth championship for a storied franchise. This is nothing to do with the quality of the fans and just the simple fact that a lone championship means more than one of many.

But Garnett is simply passionate about being the best he can be. And for him, that meant joining a team with an established star, a veteran leader, along with another veteran leader, and winning a championship. That was his path. And it is not all that dissimilar from LeBron James' path (in terms of the end result; remember, the bold clause! The bold clause!). So if we're going to criticize James for not being "the man," we need to similarly disparage Garnett, Pau Gasol, and other players that did what they needed to in order to win a ring.

Garnett is no villain. He loved Minnesota. But in the end, he felt his best chance for achieving that ring was in Boston, alongside other stars. Those facts coincide with LeBron James' actions of the past three months. Even if you feel that Garnett was able to be a leader alongside Paul Pierce (the most rational and likely conclusion), you should at least recognize the same dynamic's likelihood in Miami. You don't have to like how James pulled off this career correction. No one does. But to question his legacy opens up a Pandora's Box that is linked throughout some of the greatest players in the history of the league.

Don't throw stones. The halls of NBA greatness are built of glass.

Posted on: July 15, 2010 10:44 am
 

Bell Jazz sting clears way for Brown's LA return

Posted by Matt Moore

Looks like they may "Let Shannon Dunk" in LA again. With Raja Bell now out of the picture after trapising off to the Jazz, a spot has been cleared for Shannon Brown to return to Los Angeles. His agent told Yahoo! Sports that he and Lakers' General Manager are "close" on working something out to allow the 24-year-old combo-guard to retrun to LA for another contract to continue the title run.

Brown was considered expendable as the Lakers tried to upgrade their backcourt, but with all other options having departed, Brown seems like the safe lock. Brown, a fan favorite for his death=defying missed dunk attempts in garbage time, had an up and down year for the Lakers last season. When Kobe Bryant was injured, he stepped in and contributed brilliantly, scoring, driving, and attacking. But as soon as the Mamba stepped back on the floor, his confidence seemed to wane. Additionally, his defense is inconsistent, occasionallly being spot on with great help-defense and aggressive perimeter ball-pressure, and other times getting worked over and lost in various sets and switches.

Still, this will work out great for LA, who get a young, versatile, athletic player that can play either position to back up the ancient Derek Fisher, and just gives them yet another component of something that's already been proven to work. All the pieces are falling into place for another Lakers championship run.


Posted on: July 13, 2010 10:15 pm
 

Raja Bell and Kobe Bryant to meet, not rumble

Posted by Matt Moore

Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria !

Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell are meeting tomorrow in Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of Bell joining the defending champions to shore up their bench. You probably remember the two's most famouse meeting, in which Raja clotheslined Kobe like he was aiming for the WWE championship belt during the first round of the 2006 playoffs.

Kobe summarily dismissed Bell to the media, saying he didn't even know that "kid's" name. But now? It's been a few years, the two have made up somewhere along the way, and now Kobe is actually recruiting Bell. Bryant knows that with Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar gone, there's an opportunity for the Lakers to improve their bench, which was horrific last year and nearly cost them their title.

Bell would fit in perfect with the Lakers off the bench, shooting corner threes as the defense collapses on the Lakers forwards/Kobe and playing top-notch defense. He would be a veteran option versus the inexperienced reserves they've been tossing out lately when the top guys rest.

But it would certainly be weird. A guy who clotheslined another guy going to the other guy's team. Championship dreams make strange bedfellows. So does LA being awesome.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 5:40 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 6:00 pm
 

Derek Fisher will remain a Laker

Posted by Matt Moore

You didn't really think Fisher was leaving the cuddly warmth of home, now, were you?

Derek Fisher has released a statement and has decided to stay with Kobe, turning down what are almost assuredly more lucrative offers, including a likely offer from the Miami Heat, to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers. Fisher has been outraged by the Lakers' intiial offer of two-years at $2.5 million and had met with the Heat over the weekend. But whether it was a slightly better deal (terms of the deal are not known at this time), or the simple realization that Bryant had essentiallly made his career, Fisher has decided to return to Hollywood and see if he can't win one more.

Fisher will likely lose his starting position for the first time this year, after the Lakers signed Steve Blake. There's simply not enough to keep Fisher as the key point guard with as much as his skills have declined with age. He's more reliant than ever on veteran tricks like chest bumping the guard coming across the timeline to draw offensive fouls, a move that got him whipped around on several occassions late in the season when players adjusted. He's also fan of the hesitation dribble one-hand runner which works well in the playoffs because no one expects it. But his athleticism hurt the Lakers against the Thunder before Kobe Bryant checked Russell Westbrook, and Fisher had a hard time throughout the playoffs, though he did of course hit his usual number of wide open clutch corner threes, the biggest reason he's in the Lakers' system.

Fisher knows what to do and does it well.

Miami can add all the pieces they want. But the reigning point guard for the NBA champions is staying where it's safe and comfy. Behind the Mamba's gaze.

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