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Tag:Free Agent Buzz
Posted on: September 9, 2009 3:17 pm
 

Could Knicks give LeBron his own channel?

This from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: The latest piece of the LeBron-to-New York puzzle has the Knicks' parent company, Cablevision, ready to give LeBron James his own channel as part of a free-agent package to lure him to the Knicks in 2010.

It's all grist for the rumor mill at this point, as Isola points out. But such a plan would present an interesting twist in terms of how the value of such a channel would circumvent NBA salary cap rules. On one level, it would be no different than marketing income that teams in large cities can use to lure free agents. On the other hand, it's not fair that a team that also happens to own an entire cable system serving nearly 3 million residents in one of the largest suburban areas in the nation would be able to dangle that asset as extra compensation not governed by the cap.

I live in Queens -- not Long Island, which is Cablevision's stronghold -- so fortunately I won't be subjected to WLBJ-TV if and when it hits the airwaves. If there are any Cablevision customers out there, riddle me this: What's currently on channel 23?





Category: NBA
Posted on: September 9, 2009 2:59 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2009 7:33 pm
 

Iverson to Memphis: Sad

It seems poetic that Allen Iverson announced his signing with the Memphis Grizzlies on Twitter. Think I'm too old? I'll break news on a medium that most 34-year-olds don't understand.

That's my A.I. Always tweaking (tweeting?) the doubters, never shy with the rhetoric.

Iverson in Memphis, a city that can barely support its NBA team with a league-worst average paid attendance of 7,570 last season -- is a sad bookend to an otherwise remarkable career. The problem with Iverson, though, is that the end will be much like the beginning and the middle. Too much sizzle and not enough substance.

Selfishly, I wanted something better for Iverson. So did he, presumably. I wanted him to swallow his pride and accept a reserve role for a contender. He didn't accept such a role in Detroit last season, then boldly proclaimed that he'd retire before coming off the bench ever again. He almost had to make good on those words, which came back to haunt him. No contenders came calling. Only teams desperate to squeeze the last few drops out of Iverson's uncanny ability to sell tickets.

One of the fascinating aspects of Iverson's Hall of Fame career has been his ability to connect with fans -- especially kids. No one who has watched Iverson for any substantial length of time can say that they haven't been struck by how hard he plays -- every night, every play. No one who has watched him can deny the ooh-and-aah factor. It's still there.

But if Iverson couldn't win with Toni Kukoc or Chris Webber, how is he going to coexist on the same floor with Zach Randolph? It promises to be one of the boldest and spectacularly doomed experiments of modern times. I suggest the following promotion to the Grizzlies' marketing department. It'll be a smash hit. Sign up a watch company -- Bulova, Movado, get your bids ready -- and see how many a lucky fan can smash with a sledgehammer during a timeout. No. 1, it's got to be better than the T-shirt toss, and No. 2, the Grizzlies now have the two biggest clock killers in the NBA.

Iverson gets a one-year deal from the Grizzlies, and at 34, it's sure to be his last. That's too bad. There was still a place for Iverson, who by his own doing has never gotten enough credit for his basketball IQ. His ability to score ... and score, and score ... combined with his knack for steals would've been valuable off the bench for a team that is close to championship contention. There could've been no better stamp on Iverson's career, no better way for him to quiet his critics, than coming off the bench with equal doses of scoring punch and humility to win his first NBA title in his last season. Obviously, that isn't going to happen in Memphis. What's worse, his presence is going to be beneficial only in the attendance column -- not the win column. The minutes and touches Iverson will demand undoubtedly will slow the growth of the Grizzlies' younger guards, who need the experience and the burn.

Will Iverson pass to Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, or Darrell Arthur? Sure, because he knows they'll give it back. If I were Randolph, I wouldn't expect Iverson to be looking for me too often. Once the ball goes into the post for Z-Bo, it rarely finds its way out.

What do I hope? I hope Iverson can play the role of veteran mentor for a team that, despite its unfortunate surroundings, has built a pretty solid nucleus of young, inexpensive players. But I also take note of all the winning teams that took a pass.



  

Posted on: September 4, 2009 4:39 pm
 

Knicks, Lee to huddle next week

Knicks president Donnie Walsh and the agent for restricted free agent David Lee plan to speak after Labor Day, and both sides are hopeful they can resolve the power forward's contract stalemate before the team reports to training camp at the end of the month.

Don't read too much into reports elsewhere that Walsh and agent Mark Bartelstein are on the verge of agreeing on a one-year deal that would make Lee an unrestricted free agent next summer. That's clearly where this is going, but nothing has changed on the Lee front for at least a month, Bartelstein said Friday. As we've reported here previously, Walsh and Bartelstein both recognize that a one-year deal is the only possible outcome here if a sign-and-trade or long-term deal can't be consummated. (Well, Lee sitting out the entire season is another possible outcome, but let's not be ignorant.) Anyway, Bartelstein said Friday that he and Walsh haven't even exchanged contract figures on a one-year deal yet. And based on Bartelstein's comments, that aspect of the negotiation could be somewhat time-consuming.

"If we can't do a sign-and-trade, we'll come up with a deal that pays David for one year based upon who he is as a player and based on comparables and playing for the minimum for four years and being their best player," Bartelstein said. "(Walsh) wants to do the right thing for someone who clearly deserves a long-term deal, but the organization has clearly decided not to do a long-term deal."

In short, don't waste any of your Labor Day weekend contemplating the significance of Lee being a Knick next season. For a restricted free agent faced with a marketplace featuring only three teams with significant cap space -- and with his own team hoarding cap space for next summer -- that has, for weeks, been the only way this was going to end.

Category: NBA
Posted on: September 4, 2009 1:18 pm
 

Sessions signs offer sheet with T-Wolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't waste much time finding a replacement for Ricky Rubio.

Just days after Rubio backed out of a deal to play with Minnesota next season and opted instead to sign a six-year contract with FC Barcelona, the Timberwolves on Friday extended a four-year, $16 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Ramon Sessions. The former Bucks point guard signed the offer sheet Friday afternoon, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The Bucks, who have point guards Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour, and Roko Ukic on the roster, are unlikely to match, the person said. Interesting aspect of the offer sheet: It includes a player option for the fourth year -- not a team option. A team option would've strengthened a growing belief around the league that the Timberwolves are working under the assumption that Rubio will stay in Spain for three years instead of two.

I'll explain: If Rubio agreed to a buyout after two years, his contract with Minnesota at that point would be subject to the rookie scale guidelines. If he waited until after the third year, he would no longer be restricted by rookie scale parameters and thus would be able to sign a far more lucrative deal. That situation evidently is not directly tied to the fourth year of Sessions' deal.

Sessions can play off the ball and should be a good fit in the backcourt with rookie Jonny Flynn, whom team president David Kahn had penciled in as the starting point guard earlier this week when the Rubio situation was resolved. But adding Sessions also gives first-year coach Kurt Rambis the option of starting Sessions at point guard and taking the pressure off Flynn to contribute immediately as a starter.
Posted on: August 21, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2009 4:17 pm
 

Iverson gives play-by-play of his own demise

When Allen Iverson entered the NBA in 1996, people wore beepers. Seriously, Twitter Nation, to communicate with someone, here's what you did in 1996: You called their beeper number, listened for the beeps, punched in your phone number, and waited. Sometimes they'd call you back, sometimes they wouldn't.

It was slightly more effective than smoke signals, or rotary dialing.

Which brings us to the technical innovation of 2009 and how Iverson is using it to offer play-by-play of his own demise.

Iverson, a certain Hall of Famer coming off a $20 million-a-year salary who can't find an NBA job, has been waxing poetic about his comeback via Twitter updates. We call it a comeback because, well, Iverson does -- and also because he was for all intents and purposes retired down the stretch of a miserable stint with the Pistons last year. A proud 10-time All-Star, Iverson couldn't stomach coming off the bench for Michael Curry, who became only the latest coach to get fired after coaching A.I. Iverson went so far as to say that he'd retire for real before coming off another team's bench. But what he really couldn't stomach was the decline of his game. He's 34, his body has absorbed incalculable mileage, and he can't do the one thing he's always done better than anybody else -- get to the basket and score, by any means necessary.

Neil Paine of Basketball-reference.com analyzed Iverson's statistical decline and was spot-on in concluding that one of the problems is that while A.I. can still get to the basket, he's finishing with a lower percentage than he used to. That's what happens to players like Iverson when they get old; they don't fade away, they flame out like a comet.

I don't want to get too much into Iverson's sudden Twitter fetish. You can read the updates yourself. But the tone and volume of updates picked up noticeably this week, with A.I. saying that his "people" are telling him that he's "close to a deal." That was Wednesday morning. Still no deal.

Iverson also has floated the teams with whom he's apparently close to signing. "Waiting for the call," he wrote. "Charlotte, Miami, NY." Iverson, who has thrived off negative energy from his doubters since the moment he was drafted, also wrote, "If you think I am just going away, think again! ... I have heard all of the doubters, but they should know that I will not be broken."

Bobcats coach Larry Brown said this week that he'd gladly coach Iverson again, but didn't want to insult him with an offer that probably would be somewhere between the minimum and the mid-level exception. Miami? Why? As for the Knicks, we told you three weeks ago on this site that the Knicks had "zero" interest in Iverson. That remains true. Just ask the dozen media outlets that wrote it again this week.

Before you brand me an Iverson hater, think again (as A.I. would say). I've known him and covered him since his rookie year. I haven't liked everything he's done, but I've always liked him and enjoyed watching his career. For me, Iverson and Kobe have been my favorite post-Jordan players to watch. So if you're looking for A.I. bashing, or if you want to read someone who's hoping Iverson fails in his attempt to revive his suddenly dormant career, you've come to the wrong place.

I hope he succeeds. I hope he winds up somewhere that's a good fit, on a team that he can help. Some people are ready for the smiling, sanitized stars of the new NBA to take over and leave Iverson's rough public image and his innovative/frustrating/selfish game in the past. Not me. 

But in all the Twitter updates, amid all the bravado, I don't see the one line that Iverson needs to write. I don't see him stating that he'd accept a bench role, that he'd be willing to do what he could've done in Detroit -- which is allow his scoring gifts to impact the game as a reserve. If Iverson would say that, he might actually be getting some interest from teams other than the bottom-feeders whose intentions are really about the lowest common denominator: signing Iverson to sell tickets as opposed to signing him to improve their team.

I don't know how many more Twitter updates we'll see before Iverson signs somewhere. Maybe I'll page him and ask.



 



 
Posted on: August 7, 2009 3:17 pm
 

The LeBron-o-thon continues

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: August 3, 2009 5:45 pm
 

Knicks, Lee still at impasse

David Lee's existence in the NBA's purgatory known as restricted free agency has entered its second month, and negotiations with the Knicks are "nowhere new," the power forward's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Monday.

The Knicks are "open minded" and "willing to listen," said Bartelstein, who continues to seek sign-and-trade possibilities that are severely limited by the dearth of teams with cap space and Lee's status as a base-year compensation player -- which makes it more difficult to match salaries in a trade. Running out of options, Bartelstein and Knicks president Donnie Walsh have begun talking in general terms about a one-year deal that would make Lee an unrestricted free agent next summer, when at least half the league's teams will have significant salary cap room.

"There's a possibility a one-year deal could happen," Bartelstein said. "We're not ruling anything out. If it’s a one-year deal, we’ll try to get a one-year deal that compensates him for who he is."

Lee's situation is holding up some of the remaining player movement at the back end of the free-agent process. Comparable players like the Celtics' Glen "Big Baby" Davis (also a restricted free agent), Tyrus Thomas (eligible for an extension with the Bulls), and Aaron Gray (who is expected to re-sign with Chicago) have been waiting to see what happens with Lee before proceeding. So have their respective teams. The Celtics, meanwhile, struck pre-emptively Monday by agreeing to terms on a one-year, minimum salary deal with free agent forward Shelden Williams.

The Knicks, determined to hold onto precious 2010 cap space, also are in negotiations with Bucks restricted free agent Ramon Sessions. But a person familiar with those talks said they reached an impasse over the weekend -- although the line of communication remains open. The Knicks and Sessions' camp exchanged proposals on Friday and again Monday, without coming to terms on an offer sheet.

The Knicks have until Thursday to negotiate exclusively with ex-Clipper Jason Williams, who has decided to end his retirement. By claiming Williams on waivers, the Knicks acquired the Clippers' exclusive negotiating rights. But a person with direct knowledge of the Knicks' plans said they intend to trade Williams if they can reach agreement with him on a contract. Since they acquired his rights by claiming him on waivers, the Knicks wouldn't have to wait the customary three months to trade him. It's a risk-free way to acquire another minor asset without incurring any cost. This is a significant change in approach for the Knicks, who have spent the past decade or so acquiring minor assets at extraordinary cost.




Posted on: July 31, 2009 10:41 am
Edited on: July 31, 2009 3:48 pm
 

Knicks pursue Sessions; get rights to J-Will

Ramon Sessions is expecting offer sheets from the Knicks and Clippers, with New York the favorite to land the Bucks' restricted free agent.

Sessions' agent, Chubby Wells, has exchanged proposals with both teams over the past few days and anticipates closing the deal with one of them as early as Friday. The Bucks, who already gave up their rights to restricted free agent Charlie Villanueva earlier this summer, are not expected to match the offer sheet, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

UPDATE: Before getting involved with Sessions, the Knicks are focusing on Jason Williams and have been granted an exclusive, five-day window to negotiate a deal with the unretired point guard, Yahoo! Sports reported. Williams, 33, must navigate a minefield of beaurocracy after filing retirement papers last September, only a month after signing a one-year deal with the Clippers. L.A. relinquished its exclusive rights to negotiate with Williams last week. Any team wanting to acquire those rights would have to claim Williams off waivers first.
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Hakim Warrick, whose qualifying offer was withdrawn by Memphis as a precursor to moving him in a sign-and-trade or clearing his $6 million cap hold by rescinding his rights, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks, according to NBA front office sources. The Cavs and Sixers also were in pursuit of Warrick, a 6-9 forward who averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds for Memphis last season. Milwaukee's decision to draft point guard Brandon Jennings with the 10th overall pick also signaled to rival executives that the Bucks would be unlikely to match offer sheets for Sessions. The Cavs, meanwhile, have made a contract offer to Celtics free agent Leon Powe, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which says Powe is ahead of schedule in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
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Another consideration for the Knicks reportedly is Allen Iverson, 34, who would accept a one-year deal at the $5.9 million mid-level exception, thus preserving precious cap space for next summer. Sessions, 23, would require a multi-year offer sheet, but is younger and less risky than Iverson. But a person with direct knowledge of the Knicks' plans squashed any notion of A.I. coming to New York with the following description of the Knicks' interest in the future Hall of Famer: "Zero."





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