Tag:Pat Riley
Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:53 am
 

The Heat have got security on lock down

Heat credentials application for training camp is like jumping through fifteen rings of fire while solving Rubik's Cube.
Posted by Matt Moore


Here's a little bit of inside media info. Not all NBA team PR departments are the same. Some are laid back, informal, and easy to work with. Others are like dealing with a government office. They don't want to help you, and just when you think you have everything, they inform you that you need another form that's all the way back at your house across town. It's nothing personal, it's just a difference in philosophies that varies depending on a number of factors, including how much media presence there is in a given market.

Then, way on the far end of the spectrum, so far you you can only identify it by the flashing spotlights emanating from their fortress of attitude, is how the Miami Heat are handling training camp.

It was announced yesterday that the Heat will be spending camp at a military base, Hurlburt field in Florida at Eglin Air Force base. A nice way for the Heat to be identified with troops committed to service. But then, of course, there's a nice secondary perk. Getting into the thing as a media member is going to be harder than slipping into a party with LeBron and company in Vegas. Wait...

The Heat sent out their camp credentials announcement, and it's a solid three pages of documentation. Which isn't like a college application or anything, but it's still really extensive. There's legitimate reason for the application, naturally; we're talking about a freaking Air Force base. Security needs to go a little bit beyond "are you going to take naked pictures of Dwyane Wade?" and into "Are you a legitimate security risk?"

The implications are extremely favorable for the Heat in controlling the message. Due to the base's necessary security restrictions on their internet networks, no service will be provided for media. Looking to file? You'd better bring an air card. This ain't the Hilton. The questions on the security clearance may be the best, though. Here's a few examples:

"Have you ever been barred from entry/access to any Federal/military installation or facility?"

Well, that depends. Do you count Karl Malone's house? I got in there, but he said I wasn't armed enough.

"Are you wanted by federal or civil law enforcement authorities, regardless of offense/violation (i.e., an “order to arrest” has been issued by a judge?"


Yes, actually. I know these just look like fashion accessories, but in reality, it's actually a ball and chain. Additionally, the phrase "Born to Kill" tattooed on my forehead is not, in fact, metaphorical.

"Have you ever been convicted of espionage, sabotage, treason, terrorism or murder?"


Convicted is such a strong word. Also, fun fact, this was specifically designed to keep Greg Popovich out.

"Does your name appear on any federal agency’s 'watch list' or “hit list” for criminal behavior or terrorist activity?"


So basically, you're saying the Wolves and Darko Milicic can't come over for a scrimmage, right?

"Have you been convicted of firearms or explosives violation within the past ten years?"

(Insert Gilbert Arenas joke here.)

"Have you ever conspired or attempted to commit any of the criminal acts listed above?"

I confess. I tried to commit espionage once, but Tommy's mom said he had to go home for dinner. Also, get ready for a slew of sabotage jokes about LeBron and Game 5. Just be prepared.

Again, this security is completely understandable given where camp is being held. But that had to be part of the lure for the Heat organization, which has always prided itself on the ability to control the message. With the amount of attention the team will garner this year, starting off in an environment that's already sanitized by its very nature is a shrewd move on the part of Pat Riley.

Ken Berger wanted to weigh in on this post, but he's busy taking the requisite urine sample and tracking down his great-great-great-grandmother's maiden name.
Posted on: September 16, 2010 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 2:13 pm
 

Heat already zeroing in on final roster?

Posted by Royce Young

Currently, the Miami Heat have 18 players on their roster. That's, like too many. And with Ken Berger's report that Miami is the leading destination for Erick Dampier, the roster might be even more crowded.

But Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel reports that based on some interviews, the 15th and final roster appears to be second-round pick Da'Sean Butler's over Kenny Hasbrouck and Patrick Beverley.

For the Heat, training camp won't just be a time to build up chemistry for a completely revamped roster, but it's also a big audition for a number of players. It's clear that a lot of guys are willing to give up quite a bit to be on the new Heat roster, but Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra want them to prove that in camp. Which is probably a smart move. Camp will be intense and competitive as guys battle for spots.

Players like Shavlik Randolph, Dexter Pittman, Butler, Beverley and Hasbrouck and looking for how they might fit in whether that's on the roster or somewhere in the rotation.

Winderman's report doesn't mean everything is over in Heat camp. Even if Miami cut ties with Hasbrouck and Beverley, the roster would be at 16, one over the maximum. I think the suggestion here is that Butler was in competition with the other two for that final spot. But if Dampier signs, someone else will be pushed out the door as well.

It's not a done deal for Dampier to head to Miami though. The Houston Chroncile reported that the Rockets have already extended a two-year deal worth $4 million. And Mike Wallace of the Miami Herald says Utah may be a leading contender for Dampier. But if Dampier heads to Miami, the Heat's front line will get even older, even slower but at the same time, even deeper.

It's probably a good thing the Heat moved training camp off site to an air force base. LeBron and friends are already a pretty big distraction not to mention all the roster and position battles to go with it.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 5:03 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Pat Riley wants you off the Heat's back

Heat president fires back at critics.
Posted by Matt Moore


Pat Riley's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. Well, okay, he's probably going to take it but he's going to be really snarky about it in the press. Riley today spoke with reporters for the first time since pulling off the coup d'etat he managed back in July. In an interview with Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel , Riley fired back at all the people who have been taking pot shots in public towards the Miami Triad and Riley's new superpower.

A few tasty cuts from Riley's fatty cow of incredulity:
  • "Charles Barkley, to me, went way over the top," Riley said. "I think Charles is probably the only guy in the league that can get away with what he gets away with.
  • "Stan (Van Gundy)'s out there making comments about Chris Bosh being a lap dog to Dwyane Wade," Riley said. "I don't know what happened to some of these guys along the way."
  • "I take a little bit of umbrage from some of the things that came from people in our game," he said.
There's a lot more in Winderman's piece, but that gives you a sense for how Riley's feeling. There's going to be a lot more of this stuff over the next nine months, so prepare yourself. Until the world becomes accustomed to the new reality the Heat have made for themselves, and process whatever catharsis they need to if the Heat win or if they lose, this is what we'll be dealing with. The anger of the decisions. The reaction to the anger. The reaction to the anger over the reactions to the anger. Ad nauseum. This is the universe that has been made, with everyone taking a side on whether this is being overly criticized or if it really is indicative of a downfall in character.

The character issue is perhaps the most stunning. Sacrifice is most commonly referred to in hushed tones, and with reverence. But for some reason, the Triad doesn't come off as sacrifice at all. Instead it reflects in many people's eyes as weakness, excuse-making, celebrity-chasing. The answer is likely somewhere in between.

Riley had to expect this, though. Especially from Van Gundy. Asking "what happened" to Van Gundy? Pat Riley did. And Barkley taking strong sides is nothing new. But this is just the beginning. Every loss to a major team will be played as a revelation that this team isn't ready to really sacrifice and play together. Every win will be dismissed unless it's in the Finals, and then it will simply be discussed as "They should win! They have the talent!"

This is the cost of pulling off something like Riley did. There will be fame, popularity, wins, and money. Lots of money. But there will also continue to be people dead set against the Heat. Riley needs to accept it and let these pot shots keep coming. That motivation is what the Heat need more than anything, the drive to go out and destroy everyone who's dismissed, insulted, or marginalized what they've done and who they are.

"The Decision" is over. The fallout will continue for months, maybe years.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 11:05 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 11:22 pm
 

So... what exactly is tampering?

Posted by Royce Young

With information beginning to surface on how things went down in Miami, the first thing most likely thought was, "Wow, that's crazy stuff." And after that, some probably thought, "Hey, isn't all that like tampering or something?" David Stern said it was not, even though Ken Berger thinks differently .

You know the word. You've heard it. But what really is "tampering"?

Basically, teams can't talk about players on other teams until July 1, the day free agency negotiations begin. Some even dubbed this the "LeBron James Rule" because that's really where most the fines stemmed from, especially recently. However, some form of tampering goes back as far as 1984 , where the NBA investigated illegal contact between teams and college stars Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon. So while the current definition really involves the media, tampering is essentially teams talking when they shouldn't be.

For instance, a couple cases from this offseason: Mark Cuban was famously fined $100,000 for what some might have perceived as innocent comments about LeBron; former Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations Steve Kerr was fined $10,000 for comments he made in a radio interview with Dan Patrick about LeBron; and Atlanta Hawks owner Michael Gearon, Jr. was fined $25,000 for comments he made to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about James.

To spare you a Google search, here's what the three said:

Cuban : "Come July 1, yeah, of course. Anybody would be interested in LeBron James and if he leaves via free agency, then it’s going to be tough. If he does like I’m guessing … which is say ‘I’m not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,’ then he’ll try to force a sign-and-trade and that gives us a chance."

Kerr : "Well, if he'll take mid-level, we'll give it to him." "What's mid-level?" Patrick said, referring to the mid-level exception for teams exceeding the salary cap. "About five and a half million," Kerr said. "I think he'll take it, don't you think?"

Gearon : "If somebody came to us tomorrow and said you can have LeBron for max money and it puts you in the luxury tax, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But am I going to do that for Ilgauskas? Am I going to do it for Jermaine O'Neal? I don't think so."

All three didn't seem like much. Kerr's were very clearly a joke. But that's exactly what the NBA anti-tampering rules try and prevent: whimsical, supposedly innocent comments to the media about potential free agents still under contract with another team. The rule appears simple. But as seen with Cuban's recent frustrations over the policy , it's not so black and white.

In 2008, the league sent a memo to the 30 NBA teams detailing specific guidelines when discussing potential free agents with the media.

The memo read: "If a member of your organization is asked by the media about a potential free agent prior to the July 1 following the last season covered by the player's contract, or about any other person under contract with another NBA team, the only proper response is to decline comment."

Penalties outlined in the memo could include suspension, prohibition of the offending team from hiring the person being tampered with, forfeiture of draft picks and individual and/or team fines of up to $5 million. But obviously, tampering extends past the media. It's about messing with other team's players period, whether that's through the media or through direct contact.

Other owners clearly feel like what Miami did was tampering . Meeting with players to talk about the future, mid-season, even if it's just supposedly about uniform numbers, feels like a violation of the rule. Or players meeting with players to discuss the future for that matter, though Stern said differently on Monday. But even if the league determined it was and levied the maximum $5 million fine against the Heat, I'm thinking Pat Riley would write that check with a big grin on his face. Small price to pay for the King I suppose.

(Read more about the theoretical case against the Heat from Ken Berger here .)

Posted on: July 12, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Mark Cuban wants re-evaluation of tampering rule

Posted by Royce Young

If you recall, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $100,000 for comments he made back in May in regards to LeBron James. The league determined his comments fell under the anti-tampering policy.

So with word out about Pat Riley and the Heat's escapades to bring Dwyane Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh to Miami, Cuban is obviously peturbed .

"I'm going to bring it up to the league that we really do have to re-evaluate the issue of player tampering," Cuban said. "Who knows what will happen? But I have to suggest it to them because there has to be more definitive rules ... It’s not just the Cavs. It could be any team. It could be the Heat in a couple years. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But there has to be a way to keep these guys away from each other for the last week anyway.”

It's obviously possible that Cuban will file his own charge. But with the deals already done, it's unlikely the NBA will take action right away anyway.

I'm sure the league just can't wait to talk to Cuban. But he's got a point. Cuban is fined six figures for a seemingly harmless comment in a newspaper. Riley is meeting with players. Wade is organizing summits. Discussion about moving teams is reportedly happening mid-season and in the playoffs for crying out loud. There's some real gray area in the rule and Cuban doing what he does best : making some noise
Posted on: July 7, 2010 11:51 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 11:54 am
 

Is the Triple Superstar team becoming reality?

About  an hour ago, Ken Berger reported that the Miami Heat, having locked up Chris Bosh as their power forward of the future next to Dwyane Wade, have turned their attentions to LeBron James in an attempt to create what can only be termed a "superteam." The prospect of the three playing together in Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Timbuktu or the moon is the kind of concept that leaves every other general manager in the league waking up nights in a cold sweat. And according to the sources in KB's story, the push is hard.

Now, Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports via Twitter that a conference call was held this morning between Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and James. The call had been previously reported by several outlets. But the key is that Ford reports the three discussed the exact scenario Berger laid out. If Wade and Bosh were able to make a successful pitch, when combined with Pat Riley showing James his ring during their meeting to drive the point home, then it's actually possible.

You know.

LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. Together. (Along with Mario Chalmers or Michael Beasley, depending on who winds up in a sign-and-trade, but let's try and ignore them for now.)

The idea is terrifying. It would realign the NBA for the next five years. The Heat could literally drag 10 guys off the D-League and contend very seriously for a championship. (I can even give you names.) The Lakers and possibly the Celtics would be the only teams with a core built to overpower them, provided the three trying to play together wasn't an outright disaster. They would create matchup problems every single time down the floor and the marketing possibilities are endless. With Bosh as a low-post passer and scorer, Wade running the system and James doing everything he does, it would be the most terrifying combination of talent we've seen since the heydays of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers dynasties of the 80's.

There's a lot that would need to happen and the possibility is still remote of it occurring. Financially, logistically, practically, the chances of this occurring are not high. But there's been significant movement in the past 24 hours to suggest the conversation is on the table and being heavily considered by all parties involved.

For James, it would require a massive step down from the lofty porch of being the one-and-only top dog. He would be coming to a situation where one or all of the Big 3 are going to take a pay cut, and it may end up being him based on Wade and Bosh getting their deals done first. It would also mean going into a town where Wade is King, heavily involved in the community at both a service and business level, embedded in all marketing extensions of the Heat. But it wouldn't take long for revisions to take place to start pushing the three as an independent entity, capable of individual deals and combination partnerships and sponsorships that might dwarf anything James could get on his own, no matter the zip code. People love winners, and by all accounts, that team would win a lot .

It's a shattering concept that could shape the fact of the league for years to come. It's still a remote possibility, with Cleveland firmly the front-runner to bring the King back home. However, if I'm a rival GM in this league, I'm praying to whatever deity I subscribe to that this doesn't happen.

A Triple-Superstar Heat team?

That would be the biggest bang of all in a free agency period full of them.

-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


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