Blog Entry

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Posted on: May 6, 2010 6:36 pm
 
John Wall played at Kentucky for John Calipari, a key player in the nexus of basketball power that also includes William “Wes” Wesley, LeBron James and LeBron’s agent, Leon Rose. So it was a huge upset when Wall broke ranks with Rose’s Creative Artists Agency and signed this week with agent Dan Fegan.

Or was it? By spurning CAA, Wall became the third straight Calipari guard to break away from the agency that everyone assumed he would join. Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans both played for Calipari at Memphis, and both signed with Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.

So much for the conspiracy theories that CAA would steer LeBron and Calipari to New Jersey (and then Brooklyn) if the Nets got the No. 1 pick, and thus, selected Wall. The best player available in the draft since LeBron himself will enter the NBA with a clean slate, and with no entanglements beyond those already entrenched within his inner circle of close advisors.

In effect, Wall won’t be riding LeBron’s – or anyone else’s – coattails.

Fegan’s BEST agency was among four finalists to represent Wall, along with CAA (Rose), Wasserman (Tellem) and Happy Walters, who represents Amar’e Stoudemire. BEST’s Kentucky connections didn’t hurt – its parent company, Blue Equity LLC, is based in Louisville, Ky., – but other factors entered into Wall’s decision.

One of those factors, sources say, was Wall’s desire to chart his own course to superstardom and marketing supremacy, rather than join LeBron’s sports marketing company, LRMR, which was formed by his childhood friends – most notably front man Maverick Carter.

“Why would you want to be LRMR when you could do it on your own?” said an industry expert who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Wall’s business dealings.

What Wall does have in common with LeBron, however, is a desire to have his close circle of friends and advisors involved in his basketball and business dealings. To that end, sources say Dwon Clifton – the director of player development at Baylor and one of Wall’s former amateur coaches – is expected to become a certified agent and join BEST to advise Wall on a day-to-day basis. BEST also is in the process of setting up a multi-platform, collaborative marketing plan for Wall, the Sports Business Journal reported.

So just as Clifton’s presence at Baylor did not steer Wall to Waco, the Wesley-LeBron-Calipari triumvirate didn’t send him to the agency everyone expected. It was a coup for Fegan, whose stable of NBA players includes Shawn Marion, Anderson Varajeo, Jason Terry, Nene, Yi Jianlian ... and now, the player who has sent a strong message that he’s not simply trying to be the next LeBron.

And with that, here’s the rest of this postseason edition of Post-Ups:

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This is always a time of uncertainty in the coaching and front-office ranks. But turmoil in Portland and Denver has rival executives even more on edge than usual, sources say. One executive with another team expressed dismay that Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard could be on the way out after he and former assistant GM Tom Penn – who was fired in March – built a team that won 50 games in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and won a road playoff without All-Star Brandon Roy. Two playoff starters were acquired in trades orchestrated by Pritchard – Andre Miller and Marcus Camby – that didn’t sacrifice future cap space. 

A popular slam against Pritchard – the selection of Greg Oden over Kevin Durant – falsely assumes that the then-Sonics wouldn’t have done the same thing. When Oden got hurt again this season, he was averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, finally showing signs of being the defensive force everyone thought he would be. When Oden’s backup, Joel Pryzbilla, got hurt, the Blazers went 27 games with 37-year-old Juwan Howard as their starting center – and still won 50 games. 

All of this was accomplished with the lowest effective payroll in the league – even lower than Oklahoma City if you exclude the $9 million occupied by Darius Miles following his cameo with Memphis last season. 

“If Kevin’s in trouble,” the rival GM said, “what does that say about the rest of us?” 

Pritchard makes roughly 20 percent of Blazers coach Nate McMillan’s $4 million salary and has two years left on his contract, including an option for 2011-12. If the Blazers fire him, his colleagues don’t expect him to be out of work for long. (Even those who don’t like Pritchard personally admit he’s done a good job.) One suggested the Knicks as a logical landing spot. Team president Donnie Walsh, 69, is expected to begin searching for an heir apparent once the free-agent frenzy dies down this summer. 

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Another case in point is Denver’s Mark Warkentien, the 2008-09 executive of the year, who is muddling through a difficult offseason without a contract for next season. Sources say Denver planned to make a decision on whether to retain Warkentien within a week or two after the Nuggets’ season-ending first-round loss to the Jazz. But to date there has been no movement – and there appears to be no urgency on Denver’s part. The Nuggets don’t have a first- or second-round pick this year, and Warkentien’s contract is believed to expire Aug. 1. 

Other than the obvious – coach George Karl’s ongoing recovery from neck and throat cancer that caused him to miss Denver’s brief playoff appearance – the most pressing offseason matter for the Nuggets will be trying to negotiate an extension with All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Since Anthony is not a free agent this summer, the window for such discussions opened as soon as Denver’s season ended. Warkentien declined to comment on the status of negotiations.

With so much attention on this summer’s free agent class loaded with some of Anthony’s closest friends and teammates from the 2008 Olympic team, it’s worth wondering if Anthony is ready to explore the marketplace next summer. For example, if the Knicks were to strike out in their bid to land two marquee free agents this July, they could preserve enough cap space to make a run at Anthony in 2011. Anthony has an early termination option after next season, and the ongoing battle over collective bargaining will play a significant role in his decision. By signing a three-year extension this summer, Anthony could lock himself in at the current max salaries, which almost certainly will be more favorable than under the new labor deal.

Are there any clues to be gleaned from Anthony’s last extension in 2006? Why, yes there are. Whereas contemporaries LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted for three-year extensions and the chance to become free agents in 2010, Anthony chose a four-year deal with an opt-out in the fifth year. He's faced this decision before, and chose money and security over free agency. But it’s worth noting that Melo was represented by BDA’s Calvin Andrews for that contract. Now, he’s with Leon Rose, under the same CAA umbrella that negotiated the three-year deals for James, Wade and Bosh. 

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The Hornets are in the process of scheduling an interview with former player and current broadcaster Mark Jackson for their vacant head coaching position, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. GM Jeff Bower, team president Hugh Weber and prospective new owner Gary Chouest are hoping to meet with Jackson in Boston this weekend when the former point guard is in town for commentating duties for the Cavaliers-Celtics series. The New Orleans brass already have interviewed Avery Johnson and Mike Fratello, and also are interested in speaking with Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, Rockets assistant Elston Turner and Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau. 

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Reports that Hall of Famer Doug Collins is “intrigued” by the Sixers’ head coaching job are accurate, according to a source who said Collins is “trying to get in there in the worst way.” The Sixers have interviewed Collins and Johnson, and are expected to meet with Blazers assistant Monty Williams next week, perhaps as early as Monday, sources say. Everything in Philly, including Ed Stefanski's team presidency, is up in the air while Larry Brown decides his next move.

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While the Bulls would be wise to investigate Kentucky coach John Calipari’s interest in coaching Derrick Rose, the Chicago front office is moving deliberately in the wake of Vinny Del Negro’s firing. Casey and Turner, both candidates when Del Negro was hired, are expected to get another shot. Also moving glacially in their search for a head coach are the Clippers, who sources say are holding out hope that Brown could be persuaded to move West. Brown is believed to be going to Philly if he’s going anywhere, but that wouldn’t stop him from using the Clippers for leverage, sources say.

Comments

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: May 12, 2010 10:25 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Kisha, being a UK fan, this past year I saw every game except one (that was not on tv in my area).  Wall had pass first mentality all season long until it was obvious that he was needed to score.  IMO, guards who can rebound in the NBA are guys who have a nose for the ball and will hustle.  Wall is a good jumper and works hard, so I think that he will be able to rebound in the NBA and push the ball upcourt like Rondo.  Comparing Durant to Wall just doesn't seem right to me.  They have different games.  At this pont in his career, Wall is way ahead of where Rondo was coming out of Kentucky in his second  year.





Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 10, 2010 2:17 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Great point, Gatorbait0811. Durant had far better skills coming out of Texas than either Wall or Rondo did at the same point in their careers. I did not see an awful lot of Wall this year, but wheat I did see led me to the Rondo comparison. However, I remember Rondo when he was at Kentucky and he couldn't shoot at all. I think Rondo has made himself into a better rebounder than Wall is at this point, with the floor vision also slightly in Rondo's favor. Rondo was always a willing passer, even in college. In fact that and his defense were what got him drafted as I recall - he certainly couldn't shoot!
I didn't see a great deal of pass-first mentality in the few times I got to see Wall play. Perhaps some commenters who watched more Kentucky games might care to weigh in on his passing abilities? But I like the playground description - that seems pretty accurate to me. Maybe Wall will learn to play a better game at the next level. Maybe not. Either way, he is not anywhere close to Durant and certainly not to James.



Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: May 8, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

I don't really see where the Wall hate is coming from.  He and Derrick Rose aren't all that different.  Freak athlete with an inconsistant jumper.  NBA GMs aren't worried about the jumper with Wall because a jumper isn't as difficult to fix as other elements of someone's game.  Fact is he will be one of the fastest players in the NBA immediatly and will eventually be an NBA star.



Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: May 8, 2010 11:28 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Someone on another post basically said wall is way better than derrick rose, wow. Not on this story but wow. where does this all come from? I agree with the earlier poster about cousins, way less risk, and much more NBA ready. As a matter of fact id take evan turner before id take wall.



Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: May 8, 2010 8:26 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

Magic Johnson sighting huh.  John Wall is not even as good as the two previous guards that Jonni C has given the NBA.  To be able to drive the basket in the league you have to be a threat from deep. He right now is not so the great defensive guards will force him to shoot jumpers and take the middle away.  Good luck with that.  Do we actually  think that Calipari would "steer" his former players to agents he has a relationship with.  He might have been born at night, but not last night.     
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nbsp;    I agree that the Portland GM has done a great job with all the medical issues the team has had. Greg Oden was damaged goods coming out of Ohio State,but the next Bill Russell is to hard to pass up.  The draft is part skill, part luck. Always remember , 15 GM's passed on Kobe.  This years draft is like a game of musical chairs where many a young mans dreams are going to turn into nightmares.  Can you ever remember so many boarderline players throwing their hats into the ring??  The European leagues are happier than pigs in slop waiting for the fallout    &nbs
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Since: May 8, 2010
Posted on: May 8, 2010 1:57 am
 

DeMarcus Cousins is the best player in '10 Draft

John Wall is a good guard, but is he even a top-10 NBA point guard? I don't think he is. He has a below average jump shot. He turns the ball over too much for NBA standards. His decision making isn't good in most big games I've seen him play at Kentucky. The most sure bet in this years draft is DeMarcus Cousins. He has a nose for scoring the ball, even when he doesn't get a play call. He is a terrific rebounder. He also has a very underated 15-20 foot jumper. In high school, when he was allowed to take 3-point shots, he was a suprisingly good 3-point shooter. Kentucky really didn't showcase his talent like the way they tried to with Wall. Cousins was a mis-match against virtually every opponent he played against.  I would be very hesistant to take Wall with the #1 pick. John is a player who needs great players around him, and even though he had that at Kentucky, he likely won't have that for awhile with the team that selects him. Cousins is a legit 6'11", and players at that height with his strength who can score are a rare commodity in the NBA. We saw what Kobe's Lakers were like post-Shaq and pre-Bynum and Gasol; a team HAS to have great post players to win an NBA title. I hope no Cleveland Cav fans read this, because as great as Lebron is, they are not going to win it all for this reason. The '10 Draft is a pretty weak one, and if you can get Cousins, you won't have to worry about picking a bust.



Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2010 5:30 pm
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

rose, DH12, Durant??? wall is so overated right its not even funny, sure he is going to be great, but a star??? how was that star PG in the tourney??? in the game where WV made him shoot??? sure he is super fast and is an athletic freak, I would say that there are some goiod athlete in the NBA, he will need to develop a jumpshot or he isnt going to be a star,a nd let me tell you to not expect him to even be better than rose his rookie year, he is raw and has huge potential but he needs work



Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: May 7, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

wall will be good, but i doubt he will ever be in the class of durant...durant is a much much better shooter, better rebounder, better ft shooter, much better defender, while wall is quicker and thats about it. The Rondo comparison is closer, although i think rondos game is alot better overall than walls..i watched alot of wall this past season, it basically to me was him just running full speed and making layups, i never saw anything that resembled good shooting, he was a superior athlete on the floor who played playground basketball, just an observation.



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: May 7, 2010 9:26 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

I totally agree with you.  Kid is a stud but I just don't see him being a better player than Durant. Comperable but not better.  But hey time will tell right.



Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: May 7, 2010 8:03 am
 

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

I was actually interested more in the GM saga in Portland.  That team had a helluva run without key parts all season long and the GM just kept doing his job while not affecting the teams ability to be competetive in later years.  Maybe Greg Oden will be another what if? in the long list of NBA draft mistakes, but that is not proven yet.  I'm a Lakers fan and I hope our team is half as good as Kevin Pritchard and working under the conditions he has had to endure this year. 


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