Dallas Mavericks: Steve Kerr
The league smacked Gearon with a $25,000 fine for his May 19 comments that violated NBA anti-tampering rules in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"If somebody came to us tomorrow and said you can have LeBron for max money and it puts you in the luxury tax, I'd do it in a heartbeat," Gearon told the paper. "But am I going to do that for (Cavs center Zydrunas) Ilgauskas? Am I going to do it for Jermaine O'Neal? I don't think so."
Cuban still leads the league with the largest fine at $100,000 for saying he's "hopeful" that LeBron will choose to do a sign-and-trade with the Mavs. Kerr chipped in $10,000 for a tongue-in-cheek comment about paying LeBron the mid-level exception -- about $5.5 million -- next season.
It is fascinating how the NBA is scaling the severity of tampering and the ensuing fines for each offender. Apparently a nominal fee will be charged for cracking wise about LeBron's potential free agency such as Kerr did. They'll take the fine up a notch if the tamperer presents a hypothetical situation as Gearon did, and quadruple that when someone like Cuban offers up a potentially real scenario.
To all NBA owners and front-office personnel, repeat after me: When asked about LeBron James or any other potential free agent, the only proper response is, "No Comment."
OK, who's next to contribute to the LBJTF?
As brought to our attention by a loyal reader, Phoenix Suns general manager answered questions about LeBron James during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show last week.
"If he'll take mid-level, we'll give it to him," Kerr said when asked whether the Suns could be included in the LeBron sweepstakes.
Kerr elaborated when asked what the mid-level was.
"About 5 1/2 million," he said. "I think he'll take it. Don't you think?"
Kerr clearly had tongue in cheek, but simply answering a question about a potential free agent violates the letter of the NBA's anti-tampering law. The league memo sent out in December 2008 reminded teams of that.
And Kerr offered a serious take when asked where he thinks King James will go.
"I have no idea," Kerr said. "I want him to stay in Cleveland. I think that's good for sports when you've got players you connect to over a long period of time, so I hope he stays."
If the NBA punishes Cuban for publicly acknowledging the Mavs' hopes to woo LeBron, Kerr should at least get a slap on the wrist as well. They're guilty of breaking the same rule, as harmless as their comments might have been.
Coach: Don Nelson
Record: 60-22 (T1st, Midwest Division)
Playoffs: Defeated Portland (4-3); defeated Sacramento (4-3), lost to San Antonio (4-2)
Team payroll: $72.9*
Highest-paid player: Michael Finley ($11.95 million)*
Offseason transactions: G Walt Williams (free agent); G Raja Bell (free agent); F Popeye Jones (free agent); G Adam Harrington (free agent, then released in January)
Major transaction: G Antoine Rigaudeau (free agent, signed Jan. 17, 2003)
The high: The Mavs posted a second consecutive franchise record for wins. They started the season 14-0, falling one win shy of tying the NBA record. Dallas led the NBA in scoring for a second straight season (103.0) and committed an NBA record-low 11.6 turnovers a game. Dirk Nowitzki averaged a career-best 25.1 points a game, finishing sixth in the league, and joined Mark Aguirre as the only Mavericks player to score 2,000 or more points in a single season. Nowitzki finished with 2,011. He and Steve Nash (17.7 points, 7.3 assists) made the West All-Star team again. After taking a 3-0 lead over Portland in the first year of the first-round being expanded to best-of-7, the Mavs had to pull out a Game 7 to advance. Dallas then slayed Sacramento in seven games, a series that included a thrilling 141-137 double overtime win in Sacramento and a 112-99 Game 7 win in Dallas in which Nowitzki scored 30 points and had 19 rebounds. It put the Mavs in the West finals for just the second time in franchise history and first since 1988.
F Dirk Nowitzki (team-leading 25.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 111 steals)
G Michael Finley (19.3 ppg, 37.0% 3FG)
G Steve Nash (17.7 points, team-high 7.3 assists and 41.3% 3FG)
G Nick Van Exel (12.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 27.8 mpg as sixth man)
F/C Raef LaFrentz (9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 91 blocks in 69 games)
C Shawn Bradley (6.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 170 blocks in 21.4 mpg)
F Eduardo Najera (6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg in 48 games)
F Walt Williams (5.5 ppg, 37.4% 3FG)
G/F Adrian Griffin (4.4 ppg in 18.6 mpg)
F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Played in just 14 games)
G Avery Johnson (3.3 ppg in 48 games)
G Raja Bell (3.1 ppg in 75 games)
F Popeye Jones (2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg in 26 games)
G Antoine Rigaudeau (1.5 ppg, 0.5 apg in 11 games)
F/C Evan Eschmeyer (1.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg in 17 games)
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.