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Tag:Cavs
Posted on: August 3, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 10:46 am
 

The Big Shamrock (UPDATE)

Shaquille O'Neal is about to take his talents to South Bay -- Boston, that is. The 38-year-old, 15-time All-Star is close to agreeing to a deal with the Celtics, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Shaq, soon to be known as the Big Shamrock -- or, fill in your favorite nickname -- is on the verge of accepting the veteran's minimum starting at about $1.4 million, the person with knowledge of the deal said. The number of years was still being worked out Tuesday, but Comcast SportsNet-New England -- which first reported the Shaq-to-Celtics news -- said O'Neal is seeking a two-year deal. In all likelihood, the second year would be a player's option.

As Royce Young pointed out , the fit is ideal for both O'Neal and the Celtics. Shaq, who struck out in his bid for a fifth championship last season with LeBron James in Cleveland, wants one more shot with a veteran-laden, contending team. The Celtics, who already have added another O'Neal (Jermaine) to bolster their frontcourt, needed another experienced big man to help them navigate the early part of the regular season while Kendrick Perkins recovers from a knee injury sustained in the Finals against the Lakers.

Shaq had significant talks with the Hawks about bolstering their young roster with his experience, but the Celtics are a better fit. The no-nonsense, winning culture that Doc Rivers has created will be the perfect environment for Shaq to thrive with whatever abilities he has left in the tank. Based on his increased production in the playoffs, it appeared to me that Shaq had more to offer last season than former Cavs coach Mike Brown was willing to give him a chance to provide. Rivers, however, will have to wrestle with the glaring deficiency in Shaq's game at this stage of his career -- the same issue that caused Brown to skimp on his minutes last season: Shaq's defensive abilities have declined far more than his offensive talents.

Rivers will have to figure out a way to incorporate Shaq into the Celtics' team defensive concepts, a task that won't be easy with the departure of associate head coach Tom Thibodeau, architect of Boston's defense during the Big Three era. But once Perkins is back, Shaq's presence will give Rivers more flexibility with his front line in the playoffs than he's had in recent years. When he needs a basket on the block, he can go to Shaq. When the situation calls for a defensive presence, he can go with Perkins.

When he needs a free throw from either one, forget it -- but hey, nobody has a perfect plan for next season other than the Miami Heat. At least Shaq didn't wind up there.

In all seriousness, O'Neal's presence in Boston could represent the Big Antidote to Miami's Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The only glaring weakness in the Heat's rotation is at the center position, so Shaq-to-Boston makes even more sense when you consider that. And we won't have long to wait to see it happen, with the Heat and Celtics reportedly opening the 2010-11 regular season on Oct. 26 in Boston.






Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:29 pm
 

Where selective law enforcement happens

The NBA office issued a memo to all 30 teams Tuesday reminding them of the league's tampering policy and warning of steep penalties that would result from illegal contact with Chris Paul or his representatives.

It was a welcome development, no doubt, for the New Orleans Hornets, who are dealing with their disgruntled point guard's desire to be traded. I'd also have to guess it generated a day-late, dollar-short reaction in Cleveland, where the Cavs will be reeling for a decade or longer from the suspicious departure of LeBron James to Miami.

The memo issued Tuesday, first reported by ESPN.com, was similar to one sent in December 2008 warning teams about commenting publicly on prospective free agents under contract with other teams and outlining the penalties for making contact with such players. League policy calls for penalties up to and including loss of draft picks, the voiding of player contracts and a maximum fine of $5 million for discussing transactions with players under contract without consent of their teams. The 2008 memo was in response to growing public commentary by team executives regarding the free-agent class of 2010, which of course included James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Paul, through his new agent, Leon Rose, informed the Hornets recently that he wants to be traded and gave the team a list of preferred destinations. Paul and Rose met Monday in New Orleans with Hornets president Hugh Weber, GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams to hash out their differences. Not surprisingly, everyone emerged from the meeting saying they've all agreed to get along. But we know better, and so does the league office. Sources told CBSSports.com that Monday's meeting did not quell Paul's desire to push for a trade and this his representatives planned to continue applying pressure to get him out of New Orleans.   The league memo Tuesday only underscored the reality facing the Hornets.

But under league rules, such conversations can only be initiated or approved by the Hornets. So on Tuesday, the league made a strong statement in defense of an organization that faces an uphill battle in keeping its franchise player happy. The last thing Demps and Williams need is to have Rose and William Wesley recruiting trade partners through back channels -- which is how much of the business of the league is done.

"This kind of thing happens all the time," said a person within the NBA. "But the league wants to have more control over the players. They don't want players working behind the scenes to get themselves traded."

That train, it could be argued, whizzed past the station long ago.

So why such a strong stance against tampering with Paul when nothing has been done to investigate whether James was tampered with prior to his "decision" to join Wade and Bosh with the Heat? One possible explanation is that once a case of alleged tampering has occurred, standard procedure is to investigate only after the offended team files a tampering charge. The Cavs never complained publicly or to the league about a reported meeting last November attended by James, Michael Jordan and Heat president Pat Riley. Another reported meeting last month involving James, Wade and Bosh would be more difficult to probe because league tampering rules essentially are aimed at teams and team executives. Meetings and conversations among players are more difficult to police. Nonetheless, the Cavs have no plans to file tampering charges, preferring instead to focus on moving forward with their post-LeBron plans.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are just trying to get through each day without Rose pitching possible trade scenarios for Paul to competing franchises.

Conversations this summer between James and Paul -- which presumably led Paul to drop his association with Octagon and hire Rose as his agent -- would be difficult, if not impossible, to tie to any kind of tampering. The league obviously can't control agents like Rose and operatives like Wesley as closely as it can monitor its teams' executives. So a memo like this warning teams to leave Paul alone is the best that can be done, I suppose. Is it mostly for show? Yes, mostly. The NBA grapevine is a free-for-all, with illegal conversations that can't be adequately policed happening all the time. But at least for now, the league's stance theoretically will provide a chilling effect to what has become the Summer of CP3.

It may or may not help the Hornets keep their star point guard. It won't, however, do anything to help the Cavs get over the loss of LeBron. That's life, I guess, in the NBA.


 








Posted on: July 16, 2010 9:56 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2010 10:38 pm
 

Summer League Buzz

LAS VEGAS -- If members of LeBron James' entourage get hired by the Miami Heat, the NBA wouldn't rule out opening an investigation into possible salary-cap circumvention, a high-ranking official familiar with the league's thinking told CBSSports.com Friday.

While league officials are not actively pursuing any tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with the Heat -- and, in fact, have received no complaints that would trigger such a probe -- it wouldn't be surprising to see an investigation related to any jobs given to people in James' circle of advisers. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the league would not need a team to lodge a complaint to launch such an investigation.

In a detailed account of the Heat's nearly two-year effort to recruit James to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, Yahoo! Sports on Friday quoted an NBA front office executive who said he wants the league to examine whether Heat president Pat Riley promised jobs or other benefits to members of James' camp as part of his recruiting pitch.

 “You can’t promise jobs or preferential services outside of a contract or a job for a friend," the team executive told Yahoo! Sports. "If that’s part of the deal, it’s a violation.”

The penalties for such side deals designed to circumvent salary-cap rules are severe. In 2000, the Minnesota Timberwolves were fined $3.5 million and lost three draft picks after disclosure of a written deal with free agent Joe Smith. The arrangement called for Smith to play under three consecutive one-year contracts, after which it was agreed that the team would use his Bird rights to sign him to a multi-year deal to make up for the money he'd left on the table. Owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale agreed to leaves of absence in order to get back two other draft picks that had been taken away as part of the penalty. In addition to forfeiture of draft picks, league rules call for a maximum fine of $5 million, voiding the contract of the player in question, and up to a one-year suspension of any team officials involved.

One impediment to prosecuting such a case against the Heat -- if and when members of James' camp are hired for any jobs -- is that it will be difficult to prove it is any different from what the Cavs did to appease James when he played for them. One member of James' circle of friends, Randy Mims, was employed by the Cavs as a "player liaison." The hiring was never investigated, and the Cavs were never subject to any punishment for the arrangement.

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While the Hawks have ruled out paying luxury tax to sign Shaquille O'Neal -- or any other free agent, for that matter -- the organization hasn't shut the door completely on bringing Shaq to Atlanta, a person familiar with the team's thinking told CBSSports.com. If O'Neal were to lower his asking price from the mid-level exception -- starting at about $5.8 million -- to the bi-annual exception of about $1.9 million, the Hawks would be interested in exploring such a signing. Atlanta would be able to pay O'Neal the bi-annual exception -- or a portion of its mid-level -- and avoid paying luxury tax. But the current ownership group has never paid luxury tax and doesn't plan to begin paying it now. Also, the Hawks haven't discussed -- nor are they interested in -- a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Cavs that would cost them a piece of their young core, sources say.

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The Raptors continue to explore several potential trade scenarios involving point guard Jose Calderon, who was going to be dealt to the Bobcats earlier this week before Charlotte owner Michael Jordan backed out of the deal. Interest from potential trade partners has been lukewarm, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. ... Wizards assistant GM Tommy Sheppard and Kings assistant GM Jason Levien will interview for the Hornets' GM opening, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. Hornets president Hugh Weber already has spoken with Spurs executive Dell Demps and plans to speak with former Trail Blazers execs Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn, as well as former Suns exec David Griffin, sources said. Weber, according to one of the sources, is hoping to have the process wrapped up quickly, perhaps as soon as Sunday. ... Demps has spoken with Suns officials about that team's opening for a personnel man to work under incoming team president Lon Babby, a former player agent.



Posted on: July 15, 2010 8:28 pm
 

Scola agrees to five-year deal with Rockets

LAS VEGAS -- The Rockets won't have to worry about anyone trying to steal Luis Scola with an offer sheet. Not that it was much of a concern, anyway.

Scola, a restricted free agent, agreed to a five-year, $47 million extension with Houston Thursday, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The agreement was first reported by the Houston Chronicle .

Scola, 30, averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds last season with the Rockets. The fifth year of his extension is partially guaranteed and includes performance bonuses that would bring the total value to $47 million, the person with knowledge of the deal told CBSSports.com.

The Rockets were expecting the Nets and Bobcats, among others, to tempt Scola with an offer sheet, which owner Leslie Alexander was completely committed to matching, sources said. That's now a moot point, as is the offer sheet guard Kyle Lowry signed with the Cavs, which Houston GM Daryl Morey already has announced that the team will match.



Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Free-Agent Buzz

The Nuggets bolstered their front court Wednesday by agreeing to terms with Al Harrington and Shelden Williams, while also bringing back one of their own free agents, guard Anthony Carter, people with knowledge of the deals confirmed to CBSSports.com.

In giving the full mid-level exception to Harrington -- five years, $34 million -- the Nuggets are now out of the running to match the Raptors' four-year. $18.8 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Linas Kleiza.

Harrington, 29, is a good teammate and proven scorer whose presence will help the Nuggets survive the absence of injured big men Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen at the start of the 2010-11 season. But Harrington's erratic, often puzzling offensive play could present a problem for a Denver team that already has its share of free spirits.

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Luke Ridnour's four-year, $16 million deal with the Timberwolves only bolsters belief around the league that Minnesota will trade Ramon Sessions, one of the many point guard GM David Kahn has assembled. Charlotte, having lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks, is the most sensible destination. A person with knowledge of the Bobcats' dealings said the club has yet to engage in such talks with the T-Wolves.

Of far more importance regarding the Ridnour signing is what it says about Ricky Rubio's future in Minnesota, when Kahn already has Ridnour, Jonny Flynn and Sessions (for the time being) to play the same position. The Knicks have coveted Rubio since draft night in 2009, but Kahn continues to steadfastly refuse to entertain trade offers for the Spanish sensation, who will play at least one more season in Italy -- at which time Kahn will persuade him to play for the Timberwolves or acquire three more point guards.

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The Hawks want Shaquille O'Neal to eat up some minutes in under the basket and sell some tickets. The Cavs like Marvin Williams, who was drafted under Cleveland GM Chris Grant's watch when Grant was a front-office employee with the Hawks. A sign-and-trade with O'Neal getting the veteran's minimum or close to it -- about the best he's going to do at 38 -- makes perfect sense . But at this point. a person who would be involved in such discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday it has never been discussed. Give it time.












Posted on: July 8, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 10:01 am
 

LeBron chooses Heat (UPDATE)

In the end, the King took the easy way out.

LeBron James, in the most overhyped free-agent decision in sports history, announced Thursday night that he’s joining the All-Star duo of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. It’s the new Big Three. The Dream Team. The Trio of Tyranny.

Or the Axis of Evil, depending on your perspective.

James joining Wade and Bosh creates a vortex of power in Miami that could reshape the NBA landscape for the better part of a decade.

"This morning I woke up and had a great conversation with my mom," James said. "And once I had that conversation, I think I was set. The last time I changed my mind was probably in my dreams. And when I woke up this morning, I knew I had made the right decision."

LeBron’s announcement, the culmination of an unprecedented tsunami of hype and ego, came nearly a half-hour into the choreographed TV show fit for a King. He chose the Heat, and an alliance with the two other top players from the most anticipated free-agent history, over his hometown Cavaliers – who drafted him out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School down the road in Akron in 2003 -- as well as the Knicks, Bulls, Nets and Clippers.

"I don’t have any doubts on it at all," James said.

It was a rare chance for a player in the prime of his NBA career to team up with high-profile contemporaries and chase down championships – and for James, that cupboard is bare after seven years with the Cavs. It was also a chance for James to prove his stated loyalty to his hometown, the heartbreak capital of sports, and remain committed to bringing Cleveland its first pro sports championship since 1964.

But James, 25, passed on that chance, dealing a crushing blow to Cleveland and embracing instead the get-mine culture that will once again be associated with the NBA.

"It’s about joinig forces with the other two guys that I feel like I respect their games the most," James said.

He also passed up on the international stage – and another All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire – offered by New York; the chance to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan in Chicago; and the allure of his friend Jay-Z’s Nets team, which in two years will move to Brooklyn. The Nets fell out of favor in the LeBron chase, and most league executives never believed the Clippers had a chance.

While James may have given himself the optimal chance to chase championships, there are a couple of issues to consider. First, there will be little flexibility for Heat president Pat Riley to surround his trio of superstars with a championship-caliber supporting cast. Second, and more important, James’ legacy could be damaged by failing to win a championship with the team that drafted him. No matter how many titles he wins, he may be remembered for this unabashed ring-grab.

"It's not a super team yet," James said. "We don't even have enough players to fill the roster. ... A team, or a championship team is not built on just three guys."

James did not divulge any contract terms, saying his agent, Leon Rose, was working on the details. He did predict that all three superstars will be willing to accept less money than they could've gotten in other situations.

As expected since James’ plans for an elaborate TV announcement earlier in the week, it was over the top. James even starred in some of the commercials, with his voice featured in the first one of the night. James announced the decision in an interview with announcer Jim Gray at the Boys & Girls Club of Greeenwich, Conn.



Posted on: July 8, 2010 3:28 pm
 

LeBron's South Beach celebration in place?

Chatter about LeBron James choosing the Heat and teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh grew considerably in NBA front-office circles Thursday, and they're buying it from Las Vegas to Wall Street to the South Beach party scene.

US Weekly reported that James has secured six cabanas at the W Hotel in Miami, evidently to celebrate his decision to join the Heat. The party will have to wait until after James attends buddy Carmelo Anthony's wedding to LaLa Vasquez Saturday in New York.

Anthony, by the way, texted Thursday that he doesn't know what James is going to do. But bookmakers and investors do. According to the World Sports Exchange , Miami is a more than 70 percent favorite to land James, while Cleveland is second with a 25 percent percent chance. Shares of Madison Square Garden Inc., parent company of the Knicks, were down more than 5 percent on the NASDAQ on more than six times the normal trading volume.

At MSG itself, there was a palpable feeling of resignation about the outcome of LeSweepstakes as the Knicks introduced their first (and perhaps only) marquee free-agent signing: Amar'e Stoudemire. Coach Mike D'Antoni and president Donnie Walsh said they didn't even plan to watch James' televised announcement.

Much respect to them for that.

Similarly, other teams believed to be out of the running for James are refusing to have a "pity party" Thursday night, according to one executive who believes his team is out of it. Trades and signings across the league have been on hold until James unveils his decision, so those executives will immediately begin consummating those deals after James graces us with his decision.


Posted on: July 8, 2010 2:38 am
 

Reports: LeBron 'leaning toward' Miami

About 12 hours after Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in committing to the Heat, two reports emerged Thursday morning saying LeBron James was leaning toward joining them.

Newsday first reported via Knicks beat writer Alan Hahn's Twitter account that James "has decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami." The Long Island newspaper followed up with a published report saying that James "is expected to choose the Heat," citing multiple NBA sources.

ESPN's Chris Broussard, who first definitively reported Bosh's decision to team up with Wade on Wednesday, followed up about an hour later on Twitter, saying that James "will join Wade and Bosh in Miami, barring a late change of heart."

James' agent, Leon Rose, did not return a call from CBSSports.com early Thursday. A high-ranking member of the Cavaliers organization was unaware of James having made a decision.

On ESPN News, a sister station of the NBA rights-holding network that will air the announcement of James' decision at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, Broussard said James "still has time to change his mind" and called it "a fluid situation."

Even with the higher than expected $58.044 million salary cap announced Wednesday by the NBA for the 2010-11 season, the Heat don't have the space to fit two max contracts starting at $16.57 million next season under their $31.4 million in cap space after accounting for Wade's deal starting at the same amount. With only Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers under contract heading into the signing period that began at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, that leaves only three options for Miami to form its Dream Team: 1) Send Beasley to Toronto in a sign-and-trade arrangement for Bosh, which sources have indicated is highly unlikely; 2) trade Beasley to another team with cap space, such as Sacramento, Minnesota or Washington; or 3) persuade its new Big Three to accept less than maximum salaries -- a shade less than $16 million in the first year of the deals would work -- for the right to play together.

The $1.944 million increase in the league salary cap above the most recent estimate of $56.1 million given by the league in April meant that the superstar triumvirate wouldn't have to leave as much money on the table as previously thought to fit into the Heat's space. Plus, Florida's lack of a state income tax would mitigate any losses the three superstars would incur.

It's a fluid situation, indeed. The buzz among NBA front office executives Wednesday pointed toward the Knicks making a late push to persuade James to join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York. Another executive within the league -- who has ties to all three of the top free agents -- said the most likely scenario was for James to announce Thursday that he's returning to the Cavaliers. Front office sources with teams in pursuit of James still were in the dark Wednesday about what team James would choose.

"Everyone is on the LeBron yo-yo a little bit," one front office executive said.

Ya think?




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