Tag:Chicago Bulls
Posted on: July 7, 2010 2:58 am
 

LeBron James follows the trend of control

Mr. Young brought you the news that LeBron James is hosting a little dog and pony show to announce his decision on Thursday. James, Bosh, and Wade will share a conference call Wednesday to discuss their plans and possibly coordinate the checkmate moves. The storm clouds are gathering, as one might say.

But let's take a moment and recognize the apex of a movement in cultural interactions between celebrities and their fans. As is often the case, trends in sports and sports personalities reflect the ongoing evolution of our cultural landscape, and King James, he is reflectin'.

Over the weekend, Joe Johnson's agent, Arn Tellem announced without announcing on the Huffington Post that Joe Johnson would be accepting the max offer from the Hawks to return to Atlanta. Tellem was able to give what the Johnson camp wants to expound as his motivations and intentions regarding the decision to re-sign with the Hawks. He painted the picture that Johnson wants painted, and that's the lead story. By controlling the story, shaping it and putting it in a public forum, Tellem took the power away from the small army of reporters that broke news of the extension offer throughout the week prior.

This follows a year where we saw the best and worst of social media interactions with athletes. Some NBA players stuck their foot in their mouth, Michael Beasley famously posted images of himself with marijuana on a nearby table (later confirmed to not be his house). But on the flip side, the Oklahoma City Thunder embraced Twitter and saw their public image soar, particularly Kevin Durant. Dwyane Wade reached out and communicated, as did Chris Paul. By reaching out and communicating up front with their fans, these players made themselves even bigger and did so on their own terms without the risks involved in third party conversations and interviews.

Which brings us to LeBron James' actions throughout the week. First his website appeared revamped, with talk of "finding out first." Rumors of James intending to announce his free agency decision via the website were later debunked . Then the Twitter account opened. Don't think there's been a radical shift in policy with James? Consider that the reporter who's followed him his entire career is completely baffled by the opening of James' Twitter account. That, along with the announcement of the live announcement represent a drastic change in the perception of James by those that have been with him the longest. The stakes have changed. And the playing field has changed alongside with it.

The key to this is the ability to control the message. Instead of having every angle, feeling, and angle about his business decisions laid out by reporters around the media sphere and the world wide web (it's an information superhighway, you know), James has the opportunity to lay out his decision in the most dramatic way possible, while raising money for charity. He raises his profile, puts himself on the map in a way never before seen. He'll never be Jordan, but he can market himself bigger. What's striking is that by doing so, he's somehow moved the importance of this operation from what his decision is to the announcement itself.

It doesn't matter where James goes. It's how he announces it. The man is having an hour on the most powerful sports television entity in the world, selling his own advertising, and donating it to charity, only furthering his image. There will be backlash, because that's what happens when you market yourself. It's self-aggrandizement, but you should also recognize that it's proof of the power of controlling your own message, of honing and delivering it on your own terms. More so than going to New York or Chicago or staying home and being the hero, it's the process of his declaration that gives this moment its weight. It's false dramatics, but then, this is sport. We turn athletes into Warriors and games into legends. We're not above this behavior, James is simply harnessing its full power.

LeBron James is on the verge of a decision which will impact the next half-decade in the NBA. He could win multiple titles or walk away empty handed. He could destroy Cleveland or save it. He could resurrect New York, rise in Jordan's shadow, claim Brooklyn as his kingdom, or bring the party to South Beach. But in reality, regardless of his decision, he's making history. He's bringing the power of individual control to a new level, and capitalizing on the full weight of his business potential. For years, he's discussed wanting to be a global icon. It turns out that where he plays may not be the key to accomplishing that. Instead, his method for revealing his decision could be the launching pad towards finally reaching that particular atmosphere.

-Matt Moore
Posted on: July 6, 2010 10:22 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 11:02 pm
 

ESPN: LeBron will announce decision Thursday

Per independent sources, ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that LeBron James will be announcing his free agency decision live on ESPN Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.

That's right, NBA free agency has officially jumped the shark. Hopefully to complete the effect, LeBron will lay out four hats, start to pick up the Chicago one in the middle, only to have a Cleveland cap underneath. Then he'll proudly put it on, hug his mother and this whole "recruitment" will have gone full circle.

But as high school-ish as this all sounds, what's cool is that LeBron's people reportedly requested the option to sell sponsorship for the one-hour special, with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of America. I can dig that. As childish and self-centered this whole free agency thing can be, that's a pretty selfless, quality gesture. And good PR as well, mind you.

Obviously everyone is probably thinking what I'm thinking right now: So does ESPN already know? According to the report, no they do not. And supposedly won't until LeBron announces it live on TV.

Brian Windhorst also tossed out that ESPN was in talks with LeBron about filming his free agency "tour" but those talks ended after the Cavs bowed out in the playoffs to the Celtics. So LeBron was already planning out this televised special while he was playing in some of the most important games of his life? I think you can draw your own conclusions there.

So I guess we can all stop worrying about this Thursday night. Until then, speculate like you've never speculated before. Because even as draining and mind-numbing as this is, it's kind of fun, isn't it?

-Royce Young


Posted on: July 6, 2010 5:34 pm
 

The Bosh Conundrum

Deciphering the riddle of Chris Bosh with what we know so far ...
So if Chris Bosh wants the extra year, and wants to play with LeBron, then he might be able to go to Cleveland, New Jersey, or Chicago.

If he wants to play with Dwyane Wade and Wade wants to go to Miami, he can go to Miami, but can't get the extra year.

If he wants to play for the Knicks, well, tough.

If he wants to play with Dwyane Wade and get the extra year, he'll have to convince Wade to go to Chicago, New Jersey, or conceptually, Cleveland.

If he wants to play for the Clippers, he's obviously incurred brain damage.

Does that wrap things up?

Bosh no longer has one decision to make, he has several. He has the options in front of him, and now has to choose which road. Does he take the money, and the security? Or the best chance to win a championship? Does he take the weather? Or the fame? In one sense, Bosh has become the catalyst in all this. He commits to a sign-and-trade with Cleveland, that may be enough to pull LeBron back. He doesn't, and he's left waiting, staring at James in a game of chicken they both lose in. On the other, the onus may now be on Bosh. If he wants to get the perfect situation (a move to Chicago that gets him the extra money, and the city he wants, and a superstar contending core), he'll have to talk either Wade or James into leaving home. That doesn't seem like something Bosh has much interest in, but then again, trying to figure out Bosh's priorities at this point is as much a Nintendo Duck Hunt as it is with the other two.

There's a weird standoff taking place. For as much as the three have talked and discussed playing together, every indication is that each wants what he wants and wants the others to want what he wants as well. How's that for a tongue twister? James wants to stay home and not stab the state of Ohio in the heart, while contending for a championship and getting his extra money. Wade wants to stay home where he's made himself part of the community through charity and business, and most importantly, wants to contend for a championship again.

Bosh? No one knows what his angle is. But whatever he decides may end up deciding the future of the league for the next half decade.

No pressure, Chris.
Posted on: July 5, 2010 1:26 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 1:28 pm
 

Free-agency 4th of July weekend winners

After the first weekend of the most important free-agency period in history, and one of the wildest, who were the winners and losers?


WINNERS:


New York Knicks: They continued their rally from Friday by getting a second conversation with LeBron James' people Saturday night. Chicago is the only team we know of to get a second meeting with a max agent or his representatives. On top of that, they're zeroing in on Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks have done a complete 180 in the last four days, and look like they're going to be improving at some level in the first week of free agency.

Cleveland Cavaliers: They had to make their shot count. Seven years of hard work and dedication could have been eliminated if they hadn't made a significant pitch when they met with LeBron James Saturday morning. They didn't pitch him a billion dollars or a super team, but they did do a pretty good job of making an appeal to his sense of drama:



David Lee: Dude's getting paid . Lee had meetings with the Timberwolves, who have already proven they love to overpay frontcourt players. The Knicks are looking to use him as a sign-and-trade option to land a major player, which keeps his value high in that scenario. And he gets out from under the Knicks who haven't really valued him much despite his contributions. Win-win weekend for Lee.

LOSERS:


Miami Heat:
They haven't even gotten a meeting with their own free agent yet. The Chris Bosh rumors have cooled off, and Amar'e is headed for New York by all indications. The Heat are still in this thing, but it's their lack of activity over the weekend that makes you think they lost some ground this weekend. The next four days are going to crucial for them.

Chicago Bulls:
They got a second meeting with Wade. They pushed up their meeting with LeBron. They gambled huge to try and pull off a coup over the weekend, and they missed. The Bulls have some great signs, including the latest from ESPN's Chad Ford that Wade's divorce may be leaning him that way .

Joe Johnson:
How could a guy that signed a max-max contract lose? Because he's nearly guaranteed that he won't win a championship in his career. In four years he's going to be one of the worst contracts in the NBA, constantly shopped around as the Hawks try to get out from the crushing yoke they've put on themselves. And Johnson will be facing all the responsibility thereof. Hope he can comfort himself in the gigantic bed made of cash.


Posted on: July 3, 2010 10:21 am
Edited on: July 5, 2010 12:52 pm
 

Free-agency day 2 winners and losers

After the second day of the most important free-agency period in history, and one of the wildest, who were the winners and losers?

Winners:

New York Knicks: From worst to first in 24 hours, folks. Yesterday the Knicks were losers , having not made a dent in LeBron James and looking at the up close side of panic. But Friday, everything turned around for them. Their meeting with Dwyane Wade went well enough to get Wade to say he was "intrigued." And as close as these free agents are playing their cards to their vests? That's a huge win right there. Then, the Knicks advanced talks with Amar'e Stoudemire after the Suns basically let him walk, and came to a "broad agreement" with him , KB reported.  Huge upswing for the Knicks Friday.

Chicago Bulls: Any time you get one of the top free agents in the field who isn't one of your guys to provide a second meeting, along with the third best player? That's a win. Huge win. The Bulls jumped hard into this pool and made an impact. If they can convince LeBron James today to buy-in with Wade, they'll have pulled off one of the biggest gambles in NBA history and be the impact team for the next decade.

Los Angeles Lakers: Signed Steve Blake to a 4-year, $16 million deal, which essentially means that combined with Derek Fisher's expected one year, $2.5 million contract, they'll have their starter and backup point guard positions improved and solidified for $6.5 million. It's good to be on top.

Losers:

Miami Heat: Pat Riley made an impassioned plea   to LeBron James based on sacrificing to win championships, and the Heat have met with every available free agent except Dwyane Wade. So far, there have been no reports that anyone is "leaning" towards Miami aside from a few Chris Bosh rumblings. Meanwhile, Wade was "intrigued" by New York, and took a second meeting with the Bulls. Not a great day for the Heat, but they didn't lose much ground, it seems like.

Los Angeles Clippers: In a stunning turn of events, absolutely no one is talking about the Clippers' meetings having any effect whatsoever on any of the top free agents. It's almost like a lifetime of misery and bad luck compounded by having the worst owner in the NBA has negatively impacted their chances at getting a top free agent in the most competitive class ever. Huh.

Phoenix Suns: I like Hakim Warrick. You'd probably like Hakim Warrick. He works hard. He's tall. He's talented. He's not Standing Tall and Talented. He's not Amar'e. The Suns watched as arguably their best player (considering Steve Nash's age) walked away from the table, likely headed to New York. Even though the Suns chose to go this route and were proactive in their approach, it's still a rough day for the Suns, who had an era end for them today.

Posted on: July 2, 2010 7:00 pm
 

Wade going for second visit with Chicago

Free agency moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Just hours after Dwyane Wade told reporters he was "intrigued by the presentation of the New York Knicks (Knicks fans: "Yay!"), Wade is headed back to Chicago for a second meeting with Bulls brass according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel . And he's bringing his agent in tow.

Reports vary between Winderman and ESPN as to whether the Bulls requested this meeting, or Wade did .

This comes hours after LeBron James' schedule was adjusted for Saturday. The meeting was moved up, and multiple reports suggest that the move was made because the Bulls intend to push for a decision from James by the end of day. Which sounds like abject suicide. Until you consider that the gambit may be to try and get Wade and James sealed and delivered (but not signed since they can't until the 8th) before any other teams can make another run at him. Then it sounds like a dangerous, but bold, manuever that could result in the mega-team the Bulls have been working towards, or a complete strikeout.

So the Nets started out strong, then the Knicks made a comeback. Then the Heat started appearing strong, and the Bulls looked terrible. Now the Bulls look like they're coming back. (The recurring theme is that the Clippers are irrelevant. Which means reports will indicate they're "close" to a free agent tomorrow most likely.)

If someone could get me some duct tape to keep my head strapped on to my neck, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

-Matt Moore
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: June 28, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 1:58 pm
 

The coaching factor in Lebron James' free agency

Our own Ken Berger outlined for you the totality of what LeBron James is condering in his free agency courtship ritual that starts Thursday. But lost among the discussions of weather, teammates, finance, marketing, wine, women, and song is that somewhere in there, he's got to play actual basketball. And while the roster certainly plays a part in that, what about the potential head coaches he'll be leveraging a system with? Let's be clear on this, his new coach's system will be molded to fit James' game, not the other way around (ironic, since James is the one free agent with the most versatility of this monstrous class of 2010). So what exactly is he going to be examining starting Thursday at 12:01AM EST (yes, yes, we know, he's already looking at those things. Play along, will you?).

Chicago: Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is coming in as a blank offensive book. He's been focused on defense for the past ten years, and there's been scare discussion of what exactly Thibodeau has in mind. One thing we do know is he wants to initate the offense with Derrick Rose , capitalizing on his speed and strength. The question for James is if he's prepared to play off-ball and be set up to use his incredible array of talents, or if he wants to run the LeISO sets, as they were called in Cleveland, where he single-handedly orchestrated the offense. Certainly in crunch time those are the possessions you want, with your best player with the ball in his hand. But if James recognizes that Rose's dribble penetration and mid-range game can open up more opportunities while saving his energy, Chicago could become a lot more attractive.

New York: Mike D'Antoni. If James has visions of wanting to challenge for averaging a triple double, New York is where he needs to be. Seven Seconds or Less will boost anyone's stats, and when you examine what Shawn Marion was able to do (21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds) with a lesser skillset under the 'stache, James' numbers could be through the roof. It's the defensive side of the ball where James is likely to be hesitant. If there's one thing his playoff failures have taught him, from Detroit to San Antonio to Boston to Orlando and then Boston again, it's that defense wins championships. He's had that mantra pounded into him from the day the Cavs made the playoffs, and all his most succesful teams have been built around defense. It would take a dramatic departure for James to embrace D'Antoni's style, which would defensively result in more highlight breakaways off of turnovers, but would also make life much harder for him against the Eastern elite. Numbers aren't everything, and the team defensive numbers are likely to matter more.

Miami Heat:
Pat Riley's pitch is going to be simple. Talent matters, and if you play with Dwyane Wade, everything else is irrelevant. The problem is that while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has made the playoffs with the Heat and won consistently, the offense has been a bit of a disaster. Too often Spoelstra has surrendered command to Wade and not induced enough off-ball movement and against playoff schemes designed to converge on ISO players (like, say, Boston), the Heat's strategy has wilted considerably. Spoelstra's defensive components should be sound, and he's well liked by the players and organization. Miami could be an attractive option if James decides he wants more control over the offense, since a simpler system will have fewer principles for him to crack.

New Jersey Nets:
Avery Johnson has experience with creating offense. His Mavericks teams were good on both sides of the ball, but under Johnson they were versatile behemoths, slayed primarily because of a series of bad matchups in the playoffs. Johnson had success using Devin Harris as a drive and create guard, and circling the offense through Dirk Nowitzki in the high post. We heven't seen James operate much in the high post, curiously, as he usually either attacks from the perimeter or sets up in the low block. Using James as a Josh Howard/Dirk Nowitzki hybrid could yield some explosive results under Avery, and his commitment to man-defensive principles could appeal to James' simplistic concept of defense without as many of the help systems he adhered to under Mike Brown.

The Clippers and Cavs currently don't have a coach. The question is if that's a good thing or a bad thing for them as they attempt to lure James. It could be good from the perspective of giving James the option of selecting his own coach from a series of candidates. But it could also look like the organization doesn't have their house in order. Both candidates the Clippers are exploring do have head coaching experience, but aren't considered top rung. And the longer the Cavs get jerked around by Byron Scott waiting on the Lakers, the worse it looks for them, especially with Danny Ferry out.

As Berger said, there's a world of things James will be considering, and he'll be the final one making the decision. Coaching in the NBA isn't the most important thing, but it's certainly a factor. And in a competition where you're judged down to the minute detail, because James simply has the luxury of examining you to that degree, things like coaching will matter. What James decides to go with will say a lot about what he thinks of his game, and where he thinks his future is best invested, system-wise.

-Matt Moore

 
 
 
 
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