Posted on: November 11, 2009 7:28 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The King has spoken: No more 2010 talk for the rest of the season.
Our long national nightmare is over.
In a strange turn of events that could have -- some would say, should have -- taken place weeks, or even months ago, LeBron James announced Wednesday night that he will not answer any more questions about his impending free agency until after the season.
"Honestly, you know, this fee agency talk is getting old," LeBron said at the end of a seven-minute interview session with reporters before the Cavaliers played the Magic in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals. "You know, it’s getting old. I'm gonna stop; I think tonight will probably be the last time I answer any more free agent questions until the offseason. I think I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to myself. It’s just getting old."
For a player who carefully calculates every word he speaks publicly, this seemed like a spontaneous decision. It was only five days ago when James went to New York and soaked up the atmosphere provided by one of the teams unabashedly clearing salary cap space for him. As he always does when visiting the Big Apple, LeBron seemed to relish all the attention being on him. He entertained every question, carefully constructing every phrase in a way that only further stoked the speculation.
On Wednesday night, prior to Cleveland's first meeting with the Magic since losing to them in the conference finals, James entertained several questions about free agency. At one point, he even admitted that he and pal Dwyane Wade -- whose Heat host the Cavs Thursday night -- have talked privately about playing together. (In case you've been hiding under a rock, both LeBron and Wade can opt out of their contracts next summer and become unrestricted free agents.)
Then, when someone exceeded the "last question" limit that had been set by one of the Cavs' media relations people and asked James again about playing with Wade, he fidgeted nervously and made his no-2010-talk proclamation.
"I'm focusing on this season and this is going to be a really good season for us," James said. "I don’t want to have any more distractions to my teammates, to my organization, to my family. This will be the last time I answer a free agent question for the rest of the year."
Posted on: November 7, 2009 12:34 am
NEW YORK -- LeBron James had everything he wanted Friday night: A star-studded packed house at his favorite arena, handshakes with his favorite Yankees after the game, and a win. What he could've done without was an injury to his shooting hand.
James, who scored 33 points -- 19 in the first quarter -- as the Cavs beat the Knicks 100-91, had his right hand in a bucket of ice in the Cavs' locker room afterward. He appeared to be in some pain, and a member of the Knicks' training staff examined him. After his postgame news conference in a crowded interview room, James walked to the Knicks' training room for a precautionary X-ray, which was negative, according to a source. It was a huge sigh of relief to the Cavs, as James appeared to be in some pain after the game and spent his entire postgame news conference clutching the injured hand. He didn't know how he hurt it.
The part of the hand that concerned James was the bone leading from the knuckle of the ring finger to his wrist. Though it was painful, James was in good spirits after the game, joking with teammates and performing his usual singing routine. His good mood was justified when the X-ray results came back. Just another night at the office known as Madison Square Garden.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 2:07 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jameer Nelson played three years at St. Joseph's with Delonte West, toiling endlessly in practice and forming a strong bond, not to mention a prolific backcourt. Never once did he know or suspect that West was dealing with mood disorders or depression.
"People don’t look at us as having problems because we are professional athletes," Nelson said Wednesday after practicing with the Orlando Magic. "They look at us as the guys that go out there on the basketball court. We have outside life as well, and things can go on in your life that would trigger you to act a certain way. We’re human just like anybody else."
Nelson said he spoke on the phone with West several times during the summer, and nothing seemed wrong.
"He seemed well," Nelson said. "But you can never tell over the phone how somebody is doing."
Now, as West has spiraled into his second day of unexcused exile from the Cleveland Cavaliers' training camp, Nelson's calls have gone unanswered.
"I know he’s going through a lot," Nelson said. "It’s tough on a young man to go through. We all go through things and we handle things differently. I just hope that he gets through it."
Few NBA players can appreciate the depths of West's despair the way Nelson can. Not only are they friends and former teammates, but Nelson also has endured more than his share of hardship. Only weeks before the start of the 2007-08 season, Nelson's father, Floyd, died accidentally while working as a welder for a tugboat company on the Delaware River. He was 57. Nelson suffered through his pain and grief while trying to do his job as a professional basketball player. And so he wants to be there for West, when his former teammate is ready.
"He's in my prayers," Nelson said. "I know this about Delonte: He’s a strong person and he's a great person. I don’t want anybody to think because of what’s going on and what happened to him that he’s a bad person. He’s a great person, and people need to understand that."
Posted on: August 7, 2009 3:17 pm
LeBron James is often criticized for sitting on the fence when it comes to his intentions for 2010, when he currently has the ability to opt out of his contract and test the unrestricted free agent market. But there was no mistaking LBJ's position on Friday, when he said unequivocally that he will not sign an extension with Cleveland this summer in order to preserve that flexibility.
"I signed a contract in 2006 with an option," James said at an event in his native Akron, Ohio. "It would make no sense for me to sign that contract if I didn't keep my options open. I'll let you fill in the blanks."
So there you go. No filling in necessary.
No extension. The drama lives for another year. The LeBron-o-thon continues.
I can't blame LeBron, nor can I say I'm surprised. He will still have the ability to sign an extension with the Cavs after the 2009-10 season -- and before July 1, 2010 -- that would lock him in under the current salary scale and rules before the CBA takes an expected turn in favor of the owners in 2011. His best option financially, under the current collective bargaining agreement, is to re-sign with Cleveland or participate in a sign and trade because either scenario would get him a sixth year and bigger annual raises after the first year.
But given that we've already crunched the numbers and determined that LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- who have identical contracts -- would be leaving between $2.7 million and $5.2 million on the table over the next four years by foregoing an extension, LeBron's own words tell you everything you need to know about his intentions.
His words don't reveal whether he's staying or going. But they do tell you without a sliver of doubt that waiting to see how close he is to a championship in Cleveland is far more important to him than a few million dollars.
Cavs fans, I'm sorry to inform you that your King is going to hold court with your collective hearts for another year. That means another year of rampant speculation, attempted mind-reading, and hype.
Oh, and guess who visits Madison Square Garden in the first week of the 2009-10 regular season? His Highness faces the Knicks on Nov. 6.
Posted on: July 3, 2009 7:23 pm
Rasheed Wallace was receptive to the Celtics' All-Star recruiting pitch, but will be listening to other teams before deciding his future, a person with knowledge of the discussions told CBSSports.com.
The pitch Thursday in Detroit, attended by Celtics players, coach Doc Rivers, president Danny Ainge, and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck, impressed Wallace and was termed "very good meeting." Contract parameters were discussed -- it is believed Wallace would get the mid-level for 2-3 years -- but Wallace wants to hear other offers. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavaliers have yet to contact Wallace, indicating their lack of interest. San Antonio has expressed interest, and the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that the Magic have contacted Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 6:56 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2009 2:17 am
Shaq can have LeBron. Ron Artest says he'll take Kobe.
But Artest said talks with Cleveland "never got that far." Told that Cleveland, by all accounts, had extreme interest, Artest said, "I don't know how extreme. I love the Cleveland Cavaliers, though. I love LeBron and Coach (Mike) Brown and Shaq."
But what he really loves is L.A.
"L.A. is what it is," Artest said. "I've been here for the whole summer, and it's pretty good. It's good for me. I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."
Artest spoke as though Odom would return to the Lakers to join Artest and Kobe Bryant for another title run. Although the Spurs and several other teams were interested in Odom, the Lakers have the inside track. L.A.'s other free agent, Trevor Ariza, agreed Thursday to sign with Houston for the same mid-level deal Artest got from the Lakers.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:49 am
Edited on: July 2, 2009 5:39 pm
The Celtics' star-laden recruiting pitch for Rasheed Wallace is occurring Thursday afternoon in Detroit. CBSSports.com has learned that Celtics president Danny Ainge, apparently flanked by his Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, will court the former Pistons forward in a matter of hours.
Boston is the first team Wallace will meet with as he weighs his free-agent options. The Celtics' contingent had expressed a desire to meet face-to-face with Wallace as soon as the free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but it was decided that the meeting would take place Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck also is believed to be on the trip.
Wallace's camp has heard from eight or nine teams with interest in signing him, but Wallace will narrow the list down based on the teams' chances of making a deep playoff run and how he will fit in. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Spurs, and Lakers certainly fit those criteria and have interest. Houston initially was a team that intrigued Wallace, but that interest has waned with the news that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season with a broken foot. Although Denver officials are big fans of Wallace -- GM Mark Warkentien and Wallace were together in Portland -- the Nuggets are not among the teams that have expressed interest.
UPDATE: The Celtics offered Wallace a contract at the anticipated mid-level exception after the three-hour meeting, according to the Boston Globe. The Big Three, Ainge, Grousbeck, and coach Doc Rivers attended the meeting.
Posted on: June 29, 2009 6:18 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:32 pm
With the stunning news that the Milwaukee Bucks decided Monday not to make a qualifying offer to Charlie Villanueva came confirmation of what we already knew: This is going to be a strange free-agent signing period in the NBA, one in which conventional wisdom need not apply.
By dumping Richard Jefferson on the Spurs, the Bucks seemed to be clearing cap space to keep restricted free agents Ramon Sessions and Villanueva. But Sessions got a qualifying offer and Villanueva didn't, making him an unrestricted free agent at midnight Wednesday.
In a league that is increasingly becoming about the haves and have-nots, one team's problem is another team's savior. Fresh off their pre-draft acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, the Cavs are looking for a versatile big man to complement the Big Cuyahoga while at the same time not clogging the floor for LeBron James. Enter Villanueva, who would appear to be an ideal piece for GM Danny Ferry's plan of making a serious championship run this season.
When the Cavs acquired Shaq, Villanueva wrote the following on his Twitter account: "Very interesting, Shaq to Cleveland, nice, all Cleveland [needs] is a PF now."
Also in that mix is Pistons unrestricted Rasheed Wallace, who could be an attractive option for Cleveland and Orlando, among others.
The problem is, the best the Cavs could offer Villanueva is the mid-level exception of about $5.5 million. Short of that, a sign-and-trade would work, but the Cavs divested themselves of their two most tradable assets -- Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic -- in the Shaq trade. The Villanueva decision also has a direct impact on the Pistons, who are among the teams with the most money to spend on free agents. Joe Dumars is believed to be targeting Carlos Boozer and/or Hedo Turkoglu. But the availability of Villanueva makes his decision a lot more interesting.
UPDATE: The Bucks' thinking behind not extending a qualifying offer to Villanueva was discussed internally at least two dozen times, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person, who is familiar with the team's strategy, said matching Villanueva's offers as a restricted free agent -- or possibly keeping him on the one-year tender for about $4.7 million -- would've rolled back the flexibility general manager John Hammond had just achieved by trading Jefferson, who was due $29.2 million over the next two seasons.
Whereas most observers -- including rival team executives -- believed the Jefferson trade opened the door for Milwaukee to re-sign both Villanueva and Sessions, there's a chance the team won't keep either one. The organization is determined to get out of the rut caused by overpaying the likes of Bobby Simmons, Charlie Bell, and Dan Gadzuric in similar situations in the past. If the offers received by Sessions on the restricted market are fair, Milwaukee will match. If not, the team is planning to hold the line on not overpaying.
Another factor with Villanueva is that, given the economy and dearth of teams with cap space to sign free agents, the organization believes it is feasible that Villanueva won't be blown away by free-agent offers and thus would have been inclined to accept the one-year offer for $4.7 million. The Bucks didn't want to be in a position of having to rescind the non-binding qualifying offer, which would've hampered Villanueva's efforts to land a free-agent deal. Having chosen to get their financial house in order and preserve the possibility of being as much as $7 million under the cap in 2010, the Bucks' hierarchy felt it was better to be up front with Villanueva and allow him unfettered access to the free-agent market. Although a sign-and-trade technically remains an option, the Bucks aren't interested in jeopardizing their roster and cap flexibility by taking on the kind of contracts that would come back in such a deal.
Clearing up one piece of draft business: While one of the many executives who spoke with the Nets on draft night came away convinced that the team had selected Terrence Williams for someone else with the No. 11 pick, a person with knowledge of the situation said Monday that T-Will is most likely to stay in New Jersey. On the heels of trading Vince Carter in the hours before the draft, the Nets had conversations with numerous teams involving, among other things, the No. 11 pick. Nothing came to fruition, and while the Nets are still listening, it appears that Williams is staying put for now.