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Tag:free agency
Posted on: July 1, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Phil Jackson returning

The news is spreading like wild fire. Via the defending champion Lakers , Phil Jackson is returning. Jackson had spent the last three weeks considering whether to return, but has decided after consulting with his physician to return for another season.

Jackson will have to sort out some things. First off, he doesn't want to travel with the team anymore, which means he'll have to figure out how to coordinate that with his staff. That likely means that Brian Shaw will handle the team on the road, after Shaw withdrew from the Cavs' coaching race earlier this week. Jackson will also have to sort out the matter of his contract, with Jerry Buss expecting a paycut for Jackson, especially considering his limited time on the road.

But in the end, Jackson will be back for what he says is his last hurrah, with a loaded roster still in its prime. He has a chance to win his 14th ring, his 12th as a coach, which will cement his legacy as the greatest professional basketball coach of the modern era. When you look at it that way, with everything he's accomplished and how easy it may be for him to reach the finish line once more, how could he say no?

Besides, somebody's got to buy Ron Artest some books.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:54 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 9:46 pm
 

Free-agency layup line: Knicks, Nets feuding

All of the little free agency stories that flow through. We'll have several of these throughout the day, updated regularly.

Okay, a lot is going on with LeBron today. Try and keep up.

First off, the gigantic 225-by-95 foot mural of Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov that the Nets installed outside of Madison Square Garden has irritated MSG chairman James Dolan so much that he called minority owner Jay-Z to complain that it was "intimidating his employees." This is a pretty baffling statement until you consider the Knicks defense, in which case you understand why anything big and tall would overpower them. (Yahoo! Sports)

The games began in earnest today when LeBron James' contingent started meeting with teams at a "secret" location . Of course, Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer knew where it was because he knows anything and everything about LeBron. The meeting was held at the LRMR (James' marketing company) headquarters at the IMG building in Cleveland. The neighbors across the street must have known. They had a message for the King . The Nets gave their presentation and were on their way. Except for Jay-Z, who stuck around for a few minutes for whatever reason (speculation: private meeting between mentor and mentee). I also found it funny that the Nets seemed to one-up the Knicks in everything, including the size of the private jet . The Knicks were next up . (Brian Windhorst' Twitter)

The schedule is for LeBron to meet Knicks and Nets today, Heat and Clippers tomorrow, and Bulls and Cavs on Saturday, according to Chad Ford of ESPN . The Bulls and Cavs being last is probably significant as Ford writes, but the Knicks and Nets have spared no expense in trying to make a good first impression. I'd give nearly anything to be in the room for the Clippers presentation, which I'm pretty sure is just going to be a Los Angeles Tourism Center brochure and a cake with Blake Griffin's face on it (and not his knee).  (ESPN)

For complete details of today's visit, check out this report which outlines the whole shebang. (CBS)

In lesser known free-agency news:

Heat center Joel Anthony has gotten a slew of offers according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy . Anthony is a young big with good efficiency numbers and solid upside that could be gotten at good value. Then again, if ten teams are vying for him, he may wind up with more than he's worth. Mostly because this is the NBA and that's how it works (everyone wave at Darko). (Alex Kennedy's Twitter)

Kennedy also spoke with Matt Barnes who said that if Dwight Howard wants something, "it probably will happen" which will only fuel speculation earlier in the week about Chris Paul and Carlos Boozer. (Hoopsworld.com)

Seven teams have contacted free agent Raymond Felton, and the Bobcats are not one of them. Which is a little insane considering the Bobcats essentially have no point guards beyond D.J. Augustin and Felton is the best agent in class at his position. The Bobcats didn't have a draft pick last week, and their only option may be Jordan Farmar. Who's being courted by Indiana pretty hard right now. (CBS, PBT)

-Matt Moore




Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:07 pm
 

Bucks still working to re-sign Salmons

As free agents start agreeing to deals (before the July 7th date they can sign), many teams are trying to take care of their own business before looking elsewhere. The Bucks in particular have been focused on re-signing John Salmons, who is the B-grade version of Joe Johnson in this year's free agency.

David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that Salmons is close to signing a 5-year, $39 million deal with Milwaukee. A person involved in the process told CBSSports.com today that Salmons' deal "might get done with Milwaukee, might get done with somebody else."

"Nothing's done right now" the source added.

With Salmons along with recently acquired Corey Maggette to go along with Brandon Jennings' development and a healthy Andrew Bougt, the Bucks would likely feature a balanced, versatile offensive attack. Wing was really their weakest position last year, until a mid-season trade for Salmons with the Bulls helped boost their attack, only to see Bogut go down with a broken wrist.

The Bucks may not be looking to add any of the max free agents, but Hammond has been very active in the offeason thus far. And we're less than a day into free agency.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:25 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 12:26 pm
 

Bucks sign Gooden to MLE.. wait, what?!


Let's take a minute and look back at what the Milwaukee Bucks have done in the past ten days.

Traded for Cory Maggette.

Traded for Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Kept Carlos Delfino.

Drafted Larry Sanders.

And now, they've signed Drew Gooden for the Mid-Level Exception, at a clip of 5 years for $32 million (via Yahoo! Sports). This despite having Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on roster, both whom are considered high-upside, versatile, talented players, and Gooden having spent time in more cities than a mid-70's hobo.

So what in the name of Bogut is Bucks GM John Hammond up to?

The Gooden signing makes sense if you listen to Bucks blog BrewHoop, which says the team needed veteran depth at power forward. And Gooden certainly provides that at 29. You do have to wonder about the contract, the length of the contract, and how Gooden fits. The Bucks' offense was definitely their weak point last season. They do need someone who's able to produce offense. And Gooden averaged 15.7 points and 11 rebounds per 36 minutes last season .

The problem is usage (estimated percentage of possessions used). Gooden had the 12th highest usage of any power forward in the league playing at least 30 minutes last season. That's a lot for a guy who is considered a journeyman role player. His efficiency numbers are good, and Gooden comes with a wide range of verstaile skills. It's just curious that the Bucks seem to have loaded up so much at the forward positions, especially with John Salmons still drifting in unrestricted-free-agent land. Probably most curious was the fact that Hammond committed five years to a 29 year-old role player when he has such a young nucleus.

It makes you wonder if Hammond is done with moves beyond re-signing John Salmons and other free agent Luke Ridnour.

-Matt Moore


Posted on: July 1, 2010 9:51 am
 

Clippers 'honored' to visit LeBron

The Clippers can't even suck up right.

As Free Agency began, the Clippers sent out a press release to their fans to inform them that they have reached out to various free agents. Fair enough. A little unnecessary, and kind of a goof move if your pitch doesn't land anyone, but hey. But then there's the language. Via Clippers press release (bold mine for emphasis):

“We are perfectly positioned to engage this summer’s free agent marketplace and we have every intention of playing an active role.  A little after midnight eastern time on July 1, we contacted the representatives of several free agent players in whom we have interest.”
 
We are honored to be one of the select organizations to have been invited to meet with LeBron James and his team. At that time, we intend to present the many reasons why his joining our organization is the best possible choice he could make .”

“Key among those reasons is our extraordinary nucleus of players. We have a core group in place which is made up of talented players at every position, a component which would prove attractive to any free agent. “

As events unfold and in accordance with NBA rules, the Clippers will provide updates as necessary.

Now, I get that this is what you're supposed to do, kneel at the feet of the King. But really, Clippers? You felt the need to send out a press release telling everyone that you're "honored" to meet with LeBron? You should have actually referred to him as "the King". Or "our liege." "My lord" may be going too far, but you're already halfway there.

What's best about this is the approach they're taking and how delusional they must be in this scenario. The Kings and Grizzlies have cap space. They're not pitching LeBron. You know why? They know they won't have a chance and have better ways to spend their resources. But the Clippers instead have elected to say the following:

"Yo, LeBron! You should totally come to the Clippers, man! We've got:

1. An exciting group of players including the top overall rookie in 2009 who hasn't played a single game for us despite being drafted last year.
2. No coach, whatsoever!
3. One of the most inconsistent, injury prone point guards you'll ever see in the league, and we've got his contract for several more years!
4. An undersized shooting guard who's pretty good!
5. Chris Kaman!"

Somehow I imagine that the King didn't feel nearly as "honored" to extend the invitation, but he is listening to all offers. As long as they're in a major market.

I sincerely hope the Clippers extend a similar email for when they meet with Richard Jefferson.

-Matt Moore
Posted on: June 30, 2010 6:07 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 11:40 am
 

2010 free-agency begins: Top 10 questions

It's here. It's finally here. The Free Agency Summer of Doom. At midnight tonight, everything goes down, like a lion or a lamb. Odds are we'll be surprised by what shakes out over the next two months, in some fashion. With that in mind, Ken Berger and Matt Moore answer some of the key questions about the biggest free agency period in NBA history, which starts in less than six hours. We talk about how the media is covering this circus, the impact of coaches, and Ken Berger makes a very surprising prediction...

1. Let's start with an easy one, the one almost everyone is talking about. Ken, you've said before you don't believe James will re-sign with the Cavs, but also that he won't elect for the three-headed monster of Bosh, Wade, and himself. So as teams pack their bags for the first visit, where do you think James is leaning?


KB:
I still think he's leaning toward Cleveland, but that's because he hasn't heard what anyone has to say yet. Despite all the opportunities at his fingertips -- the stage in New York, the talent in Chicago, the possibility of a Dream Team in Miami -- we still can't discount the Cavs. They have the most money to offer, and the comfort of home. Staying in one place has value in sports, too. When the process is over, however, I don't think LeBron will be able to pass up the allure of the Big City, the exposure he'll get there, what Mike D'Antoni's offense will do for him, and the opportunity to put whatever pieces he wants around him -- this year, and next, because the Knicks will have cap space next summer, too. So I'm in the minority on this, but what the heck, somebody has to predict it. I say he's going to the Knicks. If he does, it changes everything. Every other significant (and insignificant) free agent will be maneuvering to join him. If he doesn't, the Knicks will have a very good chance of striking out completely. None of the non-LeBron free agents want to be the guy who has to go to New York and live in the shadow of a player who never even played a minute there in the home jersey. It's all or nothing for the Knicks, I believe. But what a coup if it happens.

MM: The Bulls have to be the most obvious target. They combine a major market with huge endorsement and business opportunities with a playoff roster that's ready to contend and has years in front of it. They have the cap space. They have the idea of his name being next to his idol Michael Jordan (even though his game is more Magic Johnson). They can offer him a little of everything he wants, except the sixth year he can get with the Cavaliers. But in all honesty, this was likely never about the money. James knows his value goes far beyond what his salary from the NBA is. And the Bulls have all the pieces in place to make the best overall pitch.

2. We've had every conceivable rumor thrown out in the last week. The Nets are meeting with James first, the three met in Miami last weekend, the Knicks want Joe Johnson more than they want LeBron, the list goes on. What do you attribute all this conflicting chatter to? Who's gaining and advantage by feeding all this info, whether it's right or wrong?

KB: It's the Wild, Wild West of the Internet. Information is instant and world-wide now, whether it's right or wrong. There are always agendas involved, and different reporters possess differing levels of experience and abilities in sorting through the agendas and getting to the truth. Often, we fail. Often, it's not our fault. But by and large -- and Matt,  I know you'll agree -- the NBA is covered more thoroughly and more aggressively than any other (Note:"Amen!" -Ed. ). The amount of content, analysis, opinion and news that is available to the NBA fan, and the platforms it's available on, must make it an incredibly fun time to follow the sport. And a fun time to write about it and drink lots of coffee. 

MM: Everyone's got an agenda. Try and realize how much money is in play here. You've got the most massive talent agency in the world, CAA heavily involved in this process (they represent James, Dwyane Wade, and Bosh). You've got competing agents. You've got Nike. You've got ADIDAS. You've got Gatorade. You've got the New York Media. And you've got all the people surrounding all these guys. There are going to be people talking who shouldn't be, saying things they shouldn't be. It's a unique boiling point in sports media.

3. Wade's been steadfast in saying his heart's in Miami, but he's also made sure to say he's going to keep his options open. Is this more a case of the Heat having to screw up what they do in the next month in order to lose Wade, rather than really having to succeed to get him to re-sign?

KB: Pat Riley won't lose Wade. Period. He has a great player, a superior, warm weather city, plenty of cap space, and the possibility that he'd come downstairs and coach all these guys if he had to. And my belief is that he probably wants to. I mean, is Riley doing to stand idly by while Erik Spoelstra wins four titles with Wade and LeBron? Hail no. Having said that, I still don't think Wade and LeBron wind up together, and I certainly hope they don't. How boring and unambitious of them it would be. Magic and Bird, who spent their entire careers trying to kill each other, should boycott the NBA forever if this happens.

MM: It certainly seems that way. There's been no indication outside of Wade simply maintaining that out in his public statements that he's going anywhere. Moving Michael Beasley may be part of it, though. They've managed to get rid of everyone but Chalmers, Wade, and Beasley. Wade may want a more reliable third option, even if they land Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. But Wade has been very committed to the community, it allows him to live as he wants, and he has won a ring there. He knows his legacy is greater if he sticks in one zip code. But more so than any of the other free agents, winning a championship is Wade's top priority. He's more singularly focused, and his decision will reflect that. Riley's come a long way in getting this done, and Wade's met him halfway. They've just got to seal the deal.

4. How much impact are Carlos Boozer and Amar'e Stoudemire going to have on this free agency period?


KB: A very large one. Stoudemire will continue to discuss an extension with the Suns, but he's clearly 1(b) to Chris Bosh's 1(a) in the power forward department. Assuming Dirk Nowitzki stays in Dallas (and I do), then Boozer is the next best thing. All of these guys -- LeBron, Wade, Joe Johnson -- want a go-to scorer on the block to make their lives easier. If push came to shove, any of the above is better than anyone they're currently playing with.

MM: Boozer will have more than he should, Amar'e less. Stoudemire is likely to re-sign with the Suns , even after opting out. Boozer on the other hand is going to buddy himself up to whichever team doesn't land two superstars. If that's Miami, great. If it's Chicago, fine. If it's New York, so be it. Boozer is going to present himself as the default max player for whoever doesn't land Bosh (or Amar'e). And it's going to work, even though Boozer is a block magnet that's getting older. Stoudemire, meanwhile, is going to take the money and stay put, even though he has the kind of resume and ability to challenge Bosh for best second-banana to either Wade or LeBron. Stoudemire will go for the cash, and he'll get it. And hey, playing a few more years with Steve Nash can't be bad for a guy.

5. Outside of the top level of elite guys, what's one player you think will end up benefiting from all of these teams with crazy amounts of cap space and only a handful of max players?

KB: I'll give you two: Rudy Gay and David Lee. All these teams that have endured such pain to create cap space are going to feel the need to overpay someone to come and improve their team. Gay, being a restricted free agent, is very well positioned to get more than he's worth because teams know they have to overpay to force Memphis not to match. With the Knicks unable to get two max free agents and keep Lee (unless they trade Eddy Curry), someone (Phoenix?) will swoop in with an offer Lee can't refuse and try to steal him while the Knicks sort through their options. New York hopes Lee will wait them out and come back to them, but that's a lot to ask.

MM: I think Amir Johnson is a great target for some team looking to add youth and defense, two things coaches can't get enough of. J.J. Redick is going to have to get an answering service, considering he's a reliable three point threat in good condition with solid defense. And Anthony Morrow should get some attention, even as a restricted free agent. He's one of the most accurate shooters in the league, and young as well.

6. Should we expect a lot more cap-related trade movement in the next 72 hours as teams continue to try and pull things off? And if so, do you think Dallas will be one working the phones?

KB: Mark Cuban is never shy about making a big splash, but sign-and-trades are really his only option. He's high on Joe Johnson, and other than the Knicks, Dallas is probably the only team that wouldn't be afraid to pay Johnson max money for six years, entering a new CBA, when he's going to be 34 in Year 6. Beyond the Mavs, the Nets, Bulls and Heat still have more massaging to do if they're going to get the space needed to add the max players they want. Plus, there are a couple of teams that are over the cap to watch closely: Toronto, which has been trying to divest itself of Hedo Turkoglu and Jose Calderon to create cap space to replace Bosh in the event they can't arrange a sign-and-trade, and Utah, which probably isn't going to be a major player but could nonetheless open a world of opportunities by finding someone to take Andrei Kirilenko.

MM: Mark Cuban almost never stays still when there's an opportunity. And even if he misses out, it's unlikely he'll stay out of the game completely. There hasn't been a summer where he hasn't made a significant move to try and improve. Meanwhile, you have to think that some of the teams with assets will start talking to teams that whif on the max guys in an attempt to fleece them in exchange for saving face by landing a marquee player over the summer. That's what's so dangerous about the free agents "teaming up." Not only does it shift power dramatically, but it means a few teams are going to get left in the cold.

7. What's surprised you the most about how this free agency period has developed as we come up on the opening bell tonight?


KB: I'd like to say nothing surprises me anymore, but the sheer volume and pace of information has been impressive. You still can't call this the biggest free-agent class in NBA history, because Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutumbo, etc., still hold that honor in 1996. But that free-agent summer was covered on paper, and occasionally even on TV. This is wall-to-wall, minute-by-minute, multi-platform madness. It'd be fun, if only I had time to eat.

MM: I'm surprised Shaquille O'Neal hasn't cashed in on all this media coverage by talking about himself more.

8. Henry Thomas has been really straightforward about knocking down speculation on things involving Wade and Bosh, while Leon Rose has been really quiet. Is that more of a strategic decision, or one based on the rift you wrote about inside LeBron's camp?

KB: The rift between Maverick Carter and William Wesley in LeBron's camp is specific to LeBron and doesn't affect Wade or Bosh. I think CAA as a whole has been very shrewd in terms of letting the three clients talk quietly amongst themselves and plot this out as friends, potential teammates, or potential rivals -- depending on how it shakes out. But when it comes to LeBron, the internal pressures and relationships specific to his camp really take on a life of their own.

9. Let's say the Cavs do manage to pull off convincing LeBron to come back. Should we expect them to be active throughout the summer to try and make good on promises to LeBron?

KB: That's the biggest challenge the Cavs face. They've capped and taxed themselves to death trying to make LeBron happy, and so now what do they do to keep him happy? For example, although it appears that Brian Shaw will get the job, they don't even have a coach yet.

MM: I don't know if they can be. No one's taking on Antawn Jamison, with the amount of money and years left on his contract. No one's going to be excited to get Mo Williams. Delonte West's not a top... ahem, target. J.J. Hickson is the only young asset they have and they don't really have any big expirings. Grant's going to have a hard time finding ways to improve on a team that won 61 games last season.

10. The Clippers and Cavs both enter this free agency period without a coach. Do you believe that will impact the decisions of these players at all?

KB: The Clippers will hire either Vinny Del Negro or Dwane Casey, and I'm not sure which top-tier free agent will be rushing to play for either one. Shaw has a chance to be an excellent coach, but it'll be his first rodeo. LeBron waited patiently as Mike Brown matured as a coach and grew into the job, and in the end it was never good enough. So is LeBron willing to do it again? How does playing for Shaw compare to playing for D'Antoni, Riley, Tom Thibodeau, or Avery Johnson? Only he knows the answer to that.

MM: The biggest thing about this free agency period is that you have six teams that are legitimately vying for these guys, so the competition is so high, it's not just about a good offer, or the best available offer. They can demand what they want, and get it. And these guys are going to want stability and someone they can trust and get along with. This uncertainty is a blemish on their face during the biggest beauty pageant they'll ever be in. This should have been handled a month ago.

-MM


Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 5:25 pm
 

Free Agency Layup: Chandler stays

Free Agency Layups are meant to fill you in on what's happening that isn't actually earth shattering. You know, like ninety percent of the transactions.

Bobcats center Tyson Chandler has elected not to opt-out of the final year of his deal , in a confirmation of what FanHouse's Chris Tomasson wrote several months back .
It's not stunning that Chandler decided to take the $12.6 he's owed next season. Chandler has a down year thanks to multiple foot injuries (which have been a red flag on him for two seasons) and he was unlikely to get the best deal he could even with all the suitors out there. Of course, being an unrestricted free agent next year means he's also going to have to deal with the new CBA. It was largely a lose-lose for Chandler. He has to come back and hopes that whoever is running point for the Cats next year can get him some alley oops.

-Matt Moore

Posted on: June 29, 2010 3:58 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 8:41 pm
 

Michael Beasley is considered damaged goods

All things considered, it was probably going to wind up like this. It's not fair, and it's not right, and really it's unfortunate when everything shakes out. But Michael Beasley is damaged goods in the NBA. That's the cold, hard truth.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Heat have bought out James Jones from his contract. That's not really the big news, clearing $300,000 from their space. No, the meat of the story is in the last few lines, where Berger describes the Heat's situation with trying to trade Beasley. That situation can be summed up with the phrase "no one will touch it with a ten-foot pole."

Beasley's history is well documented. He came in as a goofball, obviously immature. Then there was the entire ordeal at the NBA rookie transition program . That was followed by the photos . Then the rehab stint , which was reported to be part of the fallout from the rookie program debacle.

This past year? Beasley kept out of trouble. He just showed up and went to work. But the work, the most important part, the element that would forgive all the rest of the shenanigans, that part suffered as well. He was constantly berated on the court by Dwyane Wade, who pretty clearly had had enough of the youngster. He was bigger, a little big to play the small forward spot, not big enough to play the power forward. Beasley's got one go-to offensive move, the pull-up 15 footer. And it is a thing of beauty. As silky as it was when he was knocking them down in Manhattan, Kansas, where he wishes he would have stayed .

But his game isn't there. He hasn't become a leader. He's still acting a clown.

All-Star Sophomore practice is a pretty ridiculous event. It's a bunch of media guys vying for time with a bunch of second year guys, mostly to ask them questions about their more famous teammates or how it "feels" to be part of All-Star Weekend. It deserves ridicule and a little bit of fun. And Beasley had his fun, dancing around the floor interviewing other players (including interrupting a riveting conversation I was having with O.J. Mayo) (it was not a riveting conversation), and playing around with Craig Sager. It was fun. Who cares? He's a big kid!

The issue is that in the context of his career, it belies a pattern of unprofessionalism. While the other players dutifully went through the process, Beasley had to stand out. It shows how he thinks of himself, where he considers himself in life. And the truth is, he's just not ready.

The Heat aren't struggling to move Beasley because of his game. It's not especially helpful being a low-rebound percentage, mid-range-jumpshot shooting tweener with questionable defense. But the kid has crazy athleticism and can shoot. That description is one of an NBA player. But the Heat can't get him out the door because of his head, and because of his reputation. If Beasley doesn't want to fade to the margins before falling through the cracks, if he wants to capitalize on the enormous amount of potential he has, he's going to have to go through substantial personal growth in a very short amount of time.

This league doesn't take care of its young, nurture them, or hold their hand. It lets the system work out its own kinks.

If Beasley can't get the kinks in his head worked out and contribute to whatever altered roster he's on, in Miami or elsewhere, he's going to be worked out, too.

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