Tag:William Wesley
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Time for one-on-one negotiating, Wes vs. Jerry

By Matt Moore

Billy Hunter has had his turn at the wheel, and drove the players off a cliff. David Stern put the owners into the high gear they wanted and now they're wedged on a fire hydrant. When they say "the collective bargaining process has broken down," what the mean is "we broke collective bargaining." 

It's time for someone else to take over.

Clearly Stern has lost the ability to keep his extremist elements in check. Michael Jordan, who helped draft Sean May and who decided a worthy investment was professional basketball in Charlotte after it had been burned? Dan Gilbert, the comic sans wiz who signed off on bringing superstar talent next to LeBron like Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, and Mo Williams?  Robert Sarver, who if you go out for dinner with you have to make sure he doesn't sell your entree for cash an a meal to be chosen later? These are the guys running the show? Stern's legacy will be dicatated by how this ends; it's already been impacted by how far it's come.

Hunter barely had a consensus. After months of players asking about decertification and why they weren't pursuing it sooner, he elects to disclaim interest at a meeting with three player reps missing entirely, most of the reps woefully unaware of what the deal meant, without the support of most of the agents, and without even allowing for the possibility of a vote. In short, union leadership lost sight of how to connect with and communicate issues to the players. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported this week that the union denied player reps a hard copy of the owners' proposal two weeks ago. They need someone who the players can trust. 

So forget Paul Allen sitting in with stone-faced breathing, forget Peter Holt trying to play the hardliner he's not really, and forget Dan Gilbert and the gut he wants them to trust. Forget Derek Fisher who really has only been saddled with an impossible game to win, forget "Money Mase" Roger Mason and his accidental tweets, forget Kevin Garnett and his spittle. Let's get some guys in that represent both factions to get a deal in place.

On a podcast with Bill Simmons, Ric Bucher and Stein were wondering about who could take over that would truly represent either side. Bucher briefly suggested Jerry Colangelo. And in short, that's genius.

Colangelo has owned the Suns, the Diamondbacks, the Mercury, and the Rattlers of the AFL. His tenures weren't always great and were sometimes disastrous, but he also has built teams with success, worked with superstars, and has been in the league forever. He's current head of USA Basketball. He's able to put the power of the game first while also representing ownership. He has the players' respect and can communicate with them, while also working with the lunatics running the NBA asylum currently. 

You want an endorsement? How about the President of the United States, told Colangelo (via the Arizona Republic):
"He looked over to me, held out his hand and said, 'Jerry, you've got to help solve this lockout. We've got to get hoops going again.'

"I told him, 'I'm as close as a telephone.' "
via President Barack Obama wants his basketball

But who's he going to negotiate with? Who can possibly represent the players, given that no one player has the background or political strength to do it? Shane Battier certainly has the mind, but not the support. Kevin Garnett has the support but if they have the idea to send him into a bargaining room as lead negotiatior someone needs to tranq him or we're not having basketball this decade. So who on earth could do it?

We need to go Worldwide. 

William Wesley, power broker to the stars. Firmly in LeBron's camp? Sure. But he's also in with Rip Hamilton, Ron Artest, well, ok, really nearly every player in the league. He's about brand expansion and the power of the athlete. He brings with him clout from connections with the shoe companies, a history with Michael Jordan, and a savvy about himself that few possess. Wesley doesn't have to be an economist or an expert in labor relations, he's got Kessler the pit bull and the now-defunct union's economist to help. All he needs to do is weild power and leverage. He has the clout that Hunter does not. 

The agents will, of course, go berserk on this idea. But it's the players that matter, and the majority of those players have a positive regard for Wes. They will be represented, they will be informed, they will have a voice they believe in. 

Maybe those two can find a way around the road blocks that are holding up the season. Hunter and Stern can keep lobbing back ultimatums, insults, and law suits while Colangelo and Wesley try and find a way out of this mess. One thing's for sure. 

They can't do any worse. 

Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:11 pm

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

By Matt Moore

Let's get right to the point. In the list of people who influence the NBA, John Calipari isn't at the top. But the empire he's built and transferred to Kentucky to expand may be the center of the NBA universe outside of New York and Miami. And if you want proof, you only need to look at what's going on in Lexington this summer.

We start with the expected, another stellar team from Calipari. But this one, it's a little bit more than even the normal outstanding classes of prospects Calipari produces each year. In addition to Terrence Jones, who would have been a first-rounder this year had he elected to jump, the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats feature three players CBSSports.com placed in the top ten of a 2012 mock draft, and four in the first round. Anthony Davis is considered by many to be the number one overall pick next year, Michael Gilchrist is talked about as being potentially just as good. Marquis Teague is plotted as a mid-first rounder (which means he could very easily wind up in the lottery). Only Doron Lamb, who Calipari has called the best player on this year's Kentucky team, isn't expected to go in the first round.

It won't happen, but we should note that it's possible that the entire starting five of UK this fall could go in the first round, and that four of the five could go in the lottery. That's absurd. For a coach known to pull in talent, the addition of Jones for his sophomore year has made this year's squad of prospects out of this world. Essentially, every Kentucky game needs to be a must-watch for NBA draftniks.

But that's not all. As the lockout drags on, some familiar faces are showing up in and around Lexington. Calipari offered early on to let locked out former members of the Wildcats use the facilities. In addition, several former Wildcats have decided to finish their degrees at UK should the lockout cost the whole year. Now, no one thinks this is about the family approach or goodwill and interest in supporting former members that Cal and the Blue Nation would say it is. And that's right in line with Calipari's approach. He's brazenly manipulative of NBA ties while all the while putting the most friendly of faces forward. It's made him the scourge of many college basketball pundits, while NBA guys? We tend to nod appreciatively. Calipari filters good talent into national television appearances, raises their draft profile, and then sends them on their merry way to where they belong: the NBA, making money to play the game they're at the elite level of already. The transparent slime may put some off, but the fact remains: Calipari has become a first-round gold mine.

Tyreke Evans, ROY. John Wall would have been ROY if Blake Griffin hadn't entered the fray as an actual sophomore. DeMarcus Cousins could have been a candidate if he'd kept his head on his shoulders. And all of that is before you factor the MVP Derrick Rose and his time with Calipari in Memphis. And with all those players hanging around campus, word will continue to get around to future prospects. It's not just cool to go to Kentucky. It's part of the NBA factory.

LeBron James is a "close personal friend" of Calipari. And while the rest of the universe may hate James, kids are still flocking to him as an idol, evidenced by both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson's realtionship with him. Jay-Z? Visiting the locker room. The link here in all of this is, of course, Worldwide Wes, William Wesley, who is also, surprise! Calipari's agent representative with CAA. It's a whole little machine that makes collegiate moralists squirm, even as Calipari has done more to produce revenue for young players than any coach in the country. If it's all about him, so what? The effect is the same.

UCLA hosts the most famous and well known private pickup games. But with Cousins, Bledsoe, and Wall on campus along with Rondo and whoever else conceivably shows up, Lexington is going to be a virtual nexus of NBA workouts. It'll make the machine stronger, even as a class that some consider to have a higher total ranking than the Fab Five makes its way to play in the SEC.

Calipari is coaching the Dominican national team against a collection of former Wildcats. Cal has used every edge in keeping the factory rolling. William Wesley's close associate, LeBron James, and his brand will be sponsoring gear for UK this year. All-Stars are hanging out on campus and could be hired as special assistant coaches.

The reality is that with New York a tar pit where both the players and owners are stuck drowning in their own stubbornness, and Miami evacuated as the Triad go about their globe trotting ways, there's a new center of the NBA universe. Maybe Calipari isn't emperor of this kingdom, and he's just the friendly father figure he makes himself out to be. It doesn't change the fact that the future of the NBA flows through Lexington, and it's Calipari tending the waters.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 9:43 am

Why CAA is missing a giant opportunity in China

By Matt Moore

In the last year,  CAA flexed its muscles as the most powerful sports representation entity in professional basketball. LeBron James staged "The Decision," which was a PR disaster and a global branding success. Chris Bosh, James, and Dwyane Wade got what they wanted, to team up where they wanted for basically as much as they wanted. Carmelo Anthony staged a year-long siege on Denver's future, eventually working his way not just out of the team he wanted out of, but to the team he wanted to play for. Chris Paul flexed enough muscle to get help in getting the Hornets back to the playoffs. Tony Parker signed a hefty new extension.

The lockout is here, now, and everyone's evaluating their options. Yet for some reason, CAA hasn't taken the active step in pushing things to the next level in a crucial opportunity to expand their brand in Europe or China. We're starting to see signs that some of their clientele may head over, though. From the AP:
Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony say they will consider offers to play professional basketball in China if there is no resolution to the NBA lockout.

Both players are on a promotional tour of China while monitoring news from home about the NBA's labor impasse.

With Kobe Bryant reportedly negotiating a deal to play in Turkey, New Orleans Hornets' Paul and New York Knicks forward Anthony said they were also considering overseas moves.

Asked by SNTV where they would go, Anthony replied "China." Paul said "Same, no question."
via Paul, Anthony say they will consider playing in China - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

Now, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that the players should cool it with their globetrotting and go beat down the league's door to get the lockout resolved, which is a nice pipe dream. But considering that A. there's a concern in the union, expressed by Paul, that the talks should represent the whole of the union and not just the superstars and B. let's face it, this is professional sports, it's every man for himself except where launching lawsuits like the NFL did helps your cause, it's not just unlikely, but likely untenable. 

Setting aside the morality questions regarding these players' behavior in a lockout, let's examine the business side of it. CAA is in a unique situation, with its ties to Nike through various sources including but not limited to William Wesley, along with other sponsors, to put together a traveling exhibition tour through China that would fit perfectly with their roster. It would expand their brand in that market, both as a sports entity and the players individually, generate a metric ton of revenue, and would be able to be done according to the wishes of the players. Don't want a coach? Don't need one! Want to be able to cancel a tour date within three hours of the event? Done! They would be able to set all parameters and as a result, have the control they want, using CAA's leveraging power to act as a shield for the players. 

LeBron James is already said to have decided to pass on playing overseas. This decision is pretty baffling, given James is the one star with the biggest goals for global domination. China is part of the gateway to obtaining the brand power of Kobe Bryant, yet James hasn't fully invested himself there, like, say, Carmelo Anthony has. Anthony filmed a movie last year in China and has followed Bryant's suit in establishing himself there, along with Dwight Howard. James would do well not to think himself having already conquered the market with his Beijing stint in 2008. But collectively, CAA could simply overwhelm with the amount of revenue they would generate from spearheading such an effort. In addition, that would leave more opportunities for other players overseas, which strengthens the union's position. 

So why isn't this happening?

Because apparently getting NBA players to commit to anything on that kind of level is like herding cats. CAA can get three superstars to commit the next five years of their careers (at least) to each other in the same city, but can't get this kind of thing organized. Such are the complexities of global domination. Hannibal never had this problem. Maybe they need more elephants.  
Posted on: June 12, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 4:59 pm

Deron Williams to follow LeBron James to CAA?

New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams is reportedly considering joining CAA, the agency that represents LeBron James. Posted by Ben Golliver. dwill-lebron

Any time a star player hits the market these days, you have to figure that Miami Heat forward LeBron James has something to do with it. 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams fired his long-time agent. Within less than a week, reports have surfaced linking Williams to the agency that represents James and his Miami Heat brethren: CAA.

Yahoo! Sports reports that Williams is "strongly considering" changing his representation to CAA.
James has been a part of recruiting everyone else over to his side – Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul. And now, the New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams is strongly considering joining up with CAA after firing his longtime agent. Within the NBA, this surprised people because Williams had always been so fiercely independent. He never star-gazed James like most of his young teammates, and never seemed inclined to follow.

“LeBron has almost become a movement within the league,” says a league executive who’ll recruit these players in 2012. “With Worldwide Wes [CAA agent William Wesley] and him, you’re making a decision as a player to be packaged the way they packaged him. They follow him.” 
Earlier this week, the Salt Lake Tribune also reported that Williams is "expected to sign with agent Leon Rose, a source said Tuesday." Rose's agency was recently purchased by CAA.

If Williams joins CAA, it will be huge free agency news. Williams is under contract with the Nets for next season, but has a player option after that. In other words, he could start trying to force his way to a better club as soon as this year's trade deadline (if not immediately) by letting the Nets know he doesn't plan to pick up his option. 

The Nets went all-in trading for Williams and they don't have much surrounding him. Surely, they'll feel the pressure this summer to do whatever it takes to get him talented teammates immediately. But should Williams have a different destination in mind, there's not much stopping him - save an overhauled Collective Bargaining Agreement - from becoming next year's Carmelo Anthony. 

James and company paved the way for star players to realize how to maximize their leverage. If you're Williams, watching the Heat compete for a title in Year One, what is there to convince you that following in those footsteps isn't a good idea? 

Posted on: March 30, 2011 5:54 pm

NBA will investigate Jay-Z's Kentucky appearance

NBA will investigate Jay-Z making an appearance in University of Kentucky locker room after team clinches Final Four appearance. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Jay-Z is a popular guy, I'm sure you've figured out. Being arguably the biggest rap star alive will do that for you. But he's also very popular in the basketball community. He's a close, personal friend of LeBron James.  And it would seem he's in with James' friend John Calipari as well, as he visited the Kentucky Wildcats locker room last weekend. Which, naturally, is not so much in the realm of being okay with league rules concerning interactions with NCAA players. From CBSSports.com's Ken Berger: 

The NBA plans to investigate contact between Nets part-owner Jay-Z and members of the Kentucky basketball team after the Wildcats beat North Carolina Sunday to advance to the Final Four, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. The hip-hop mogul's visit was documented in photos and video showing him congratulating players in the Kentucky locker room, which happened to have been occupied by two potential lottery picks -- Brandon Knight and Terrance Jones. As noted here, this offense would seem to be comparable to Celtics GM Danny Ainge sitting with Kevin Durant's mother during the 2007 Big 12 tournament. Ainge was fined $30,000, a slap on the wrist in exchange for the opportunity to schmooze a top prospect's mom. But given that standard, Jay-Z should be docked $30K for each college player who was in the locker room.
via Post-Ups: NBPA looks to learn from NFLPA's decertification tactics - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

The assumption by many is that the link between Jay-Z and the Wildcats is Jay-Z's friend William Wesley, who has his hands in just about everything NBA, and actually represents Calipari for CAA.  That's a pretty obvious link. 

The question has to be if that's how Jay-Z was granted access, if Calipari was the reason and Wesley the facilitator, what the NBA will do about it. The answer? Nothing. It's easy to look at this as a harmless incident, and for the most part it is, which is why the Nets minority owner will receive a minor fine and things will go on. But it's part of a continuing pattern where elements are being moved in conjunction with one another as part of the same base. It also reinforces how bizarre it was that LeBron James elected to head to Miami instead of New Jersey. 
Posted on: November 29, 2010 1:15 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 1:26 pm

Enablers driving conversation about Heat coach

Posted by Matt Moore

The season started a month and two days ago, but apparently it's never too soon for the new Heat to completely run over their head coach. Despite the fact that the Big 3 signed on to the Heat because of their trust in the organization, and that organization's trust in Spoelstra, a mutiny is afoot. ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that the Heat players are "frustrated" with head coach Erik Spoelstra, wondering if he's the right man for the job. Broussard claims this isn't a "LeBron v. Spoelstra" issue (regardless of timeout bumps ), but one of the Heat players versus the young coach.

Ken Berger will have more on the situation in full detail this afternoon, but there's an element of this story that's worthy of discussion here.

Chris Broussard was of course the reporter to first break that LeBron James' "Decision" would be to head to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. So naturally his having the story of the Heat's winter of discontent is going to raise some eyebrows. Broussard's connections are most visibly through LRMR/CAA and LeBron's crew of "enablers" as they're often called. That Broussard is specifically making it clear that LeBron is not behind this public relations coup d'etat comes across as a very defensive reaction from LeBron's people.

What's more, if we look at the likely squeaky wheels, all roads lead back to James and his crew, be it CAA, Maverick Carter, William Wesley, or the whole bunch. That's partially because there aren't many other likely suspects. The role players on the Heat, like Eddie House, the injured Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, James Jones, Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Those aren't strong enough voices to raise discontent. They're not going to be saying anything that the Big 3 are going to disagree with. It's just not going to happen. Their loyalty first and foremost is to the Big 3 who will protect them if as their performances struggle. Which means it's the Big 3.

Chris Bosh? The notoriously soft player without a loud voice in the locker room? That's the guy calling for change? It's Bosh leaking things to Broussard through his people? Or how about Dwyane Wade, who has constantly (to this very day) defended Spoelstra, backed him, up and been behind him? That's the guy who has all of a sudden turned on him? Even if Wade had issues with Spoelstra, he's not going to his agents or entourage to leak to Chris Broussard about it; he's going straight to Pat Riley, the man that won him a championship. That's been Wade's MO the entire way. Say what you want about Dwyane Wade, he's been the model of professionalism in regards to basketball matters outside of that embarrassing introductory event. He's not likely to go to the media first in this scenario.

And even if we get past both of those things, separating Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade from LeBron James' people is kind of difficult. Why? Because they're all the same people. All three are represented by CAA, all three are close with William Wesley.

It's most likely that Broussard is reporting the truth as he knows it, that from his standpoint, LeBron wasn't the one behind this. But if that's the perception he's being given, it's because LeBron's people are purposefully orchestrating it to look that way. All the signs point to the same kind of power play LeBron has been orchestrating throughout his career with alarming frequency.

Remember that James oversaw multiple coaching changes in Cleveland. He constantly pushed for trades to improve his support while bristling at trades that would move players he was close with. (Even trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas was a difficult one for LeBron, even as it was aimed at gaining either Amar'e Stoudemire or the actually acquired Antawn Jamison.) Throughout all of it, James has and a team of people that go far beyond his agent Leon Rose pushing his agenda, running roughshod over the Cavaliers' organization. That tradition seems to be continuing now that the "family" has moved south. The problem here isn't that LRMR/CAA are driving a conversation in the media. The problem is that they're the ones driving the conversation, period.

As Andrew Sharp elucidates this morning , Spoelstra may have to go simply because he isn't capable of containing the beast that's been created. Even if he isn't the problem, he isn't able to help. This team does need a swift kick in the backside and Spoelstra's simply not going to be able to provide that. The question is whether Riley can wrangle the stars from the front office or if he'll be forced to either find a replacement for Spoelstra... or do it himself.

At the core of all this, that's what this situation is about. The Heat need someone to control the Big 3,to get their eyes off parties and enjoying themselves and into committing to the hard work and humility necessary to be truly great. Spoelstra may not be the guy to do that. The 2008 Celtics' Big 3 had more of a solidified voice than Doc Rivers (Rivers was on the hot seat before the Big 3 was assembled; the arrival of the Big 3 allowed the Celtics to mask his biggest problem: managing rotations). The difference is that the Big 3 knew desperation; they were at the end of their careers (comparatively) and knew they'd have to play with outright intensity every night. The Heat lack that and instead are led by two players who lack that passion and intensity, and their third leader (Wade) is trying to make it work with the other two weapons after a career of having to do everything.

This situation is being dictated by LeBron, just as this summer was. While Dwyane Wade is accepting responsibility and saying he has to improve, James continues to deflect. Someone, at some point, is going to have to take responsibility for the Heat. They're going to run out of people to fire, eventually.

In the meantime, we'll keep watching what's being said, and where it's coming from, as the fall of the King continues.

Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:07 pm

MeloDrama Update: Media day looms

As the Carmelo Anthony situation continues to unfold (or not, depending on your view), we'll keep you up to date on the developments with our MeloDrama Updates. Buckle up, kids. The Hello-Melo Train is leaving the station.
Posted by Matt Moore

Here's the latest around the web as what is considered D-Day for the Nuggets approaches.
  • Our own Ken Berger reports that Anthony may not be in attendance today for Media Day. That's a scenario described by a source as one that will set the Nuggets into "disaster mode." Marc Stein folllows with word that even if Melo is in attendance, he may not talk to the media . That would allow him to send a message to the Nuggets without getting fined, which would happen in force if he were to "hold out" from training camp. The league responds quickly and strongly when players go that route. KB says he predicts Melo will arrive for media day as long as he's a Nugget. He's been careful to avoid things that could damage his public image.
  • Talks with Golden State are "going nowhere " according to Marc Stein. Woj reports that the four-team discussed last Friday has gained some momentum . A lot of this may be various pieces waiting to see if anyone breaks and offers more. For example, New Jersey waiting for Charlotte to break and offer Augustin, or Denver hoping someone else comes in with a huge offer. Everyone wants to "win" the trade naturally, which is what makes these things more complicated than sometimes they need to be.
  • NBA FanHouse's Sam Amick reports that former Nets talked to Carmelo over the weekend and said that Newark is a long ways away from New York, essentially warning him off of Jersey . Jason Kidd was among those that conveyed that message, which just seems cruel, if honest. Amick says that New York is just giddy about this development.
  • This whole thing has to be excruciating for teams trying to drag Anthony out of Denver due to Denver's considerable leverage. They've got the new CBA working against Melo, their rights to him, and a lack of albatross contracts that they have to ditch. They clear considerable space this summer with Kenyon Martin coming off the books. In short, their biggest concern is how this could impact ticket sales and set back their progress. But then again, if they trade Melo, they're likely looking at a rebuilding process regardless. That might include Chauncey Billups.
  • The looming man behind the curtain, William Wesley, who Ken Berger reported was behind these talks in the first place, has also visited with Jay-Z in New Jersey according to KB. That's a pretty clear indication of the split going on. Then again, Wesley was eventually removed from the discussion of LeBron James, and you have to wonder if he'll be similarly cut out because Melo wants to wait for New York or Chicago, via free agency or trade. There's also a lot of talk about Chris Paul eventually being involved in forming a new Big 3 wherever Melo goes, with Amar'e Stoudemire being swapped out for Brook Lopez if he winds up in Brooklyn.
We'll keep you updated as the Melo-drama continues. Somebody get the man a pink wig.

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