Wednesday, June 30, 2010
First Cup: Wednesday
- Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "The Nuggets are pressing Carmelo Anthony for a long-term commitment, because if he declines a three-year, $65 million contract extension now on the table, the team must consider trading its leading scorer. Trade Melo? Would the Nuggets really part ways with a 26-year-old forward in the prime of his NBA career? Denver might not have any choice. With an eye on how megastars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have held the league's competitive balance in their fickle hands and turned this summer's free-agency period into a three-ring circus, the Nuggets seem determined not to let Anthony do the same in Denver. While their offer of a hefty contract extension proves the Nuggets hope Anthony will remain the face of the franchise for years to come, the team is prepared to trade Melo rather than let him walk as a free agent next summer, according to a source familiar with the negotiations."
- Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: "One day before the deadline, Paul Pierce has triggered his early termination option and is set to join the prized class of unrestricted free agents Thursday. The move shouldn't come as too much of a shock ... not yet, anyway. It could be in the best interest of both Pierce and the Celtics for him to navigate this channel. Pierce walks away from a guaranteed $21.5 million this season, but sets himself up to make as much as $96 million over the next four seasons. Especially with an uncertain labor situation looming, Pierce's move could allow him to lock in a deal worth an average of $24 million per season that would take him toward the twilight of his NBA career (he'd be on the backside of 36 when such a four-year deal expired). If Pierce ultimately re-signs with Boston, this move might also free up a bit of cap space for the cash-strapped Celtics. It should be noted, however, that the savings would appear to be minimal and Pierce's price tag in the final years of any deal would be prohibitive, particularly if the salary cap doesn't rise accordingly in the new CBA. Only time will tell how this all plays out. Pierce will give the Celtics first crack and there's potential to essentially guarantee he ends his career in Boston. But Pierce now also boasts the option to run for the hills if he doesn't like how the 2010-11 team is constructed."
- Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times: "When LeBron James starts listening to pitches on Thursday from the teams trying to lure him away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, one person who is not expected to be present is William Wesley, a prominent, behind-the-scenes adviser to various athletes and a longtime acquaintance of James. ... Maverick Carter, James’s longtime business manager, said Tuesday that Wesley would not play a role in James’s deliberations and would not be present as various teams visit his client in Ohio. 'All the Wes rumors are untrue and he will not be at the meetings,' Carter said. 'Wes has nothing to do with where he goes.' James, Carter and James’s agent, Leon Rose, are scheduled to be at the meetings, which are expected to begin shortly after the free-agency period officially starts at 12:01 a.m. Thursday."
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The Cavaliers are reportedly telling teams they have no intention of being part of a sign-and-trade with LeBron James. That could be the biggest mistake they make during the James sweepstakes. This scenario came to light in the last week, ESPN.com reported, when Dallas approached the Cavs about trying to get involved in the sweepstakes with a sign-and-trade. That's when the Mavericks were informed that they would be out of luck. The Mavs are over the salary cap and have no available cap space. Supposedly, the reason the Cavs don't want to execute a sign-and-trade is they don't want to be remembered as the front-office executives or owners who traded James. If he leaves and signs elsewhere, won't they be saddled with that albatross anyway? If the Cavs are unable to sign James in free agency, which starts Thursday, observers think it's imperative they execute a sign-and-trade. Why wouldn't they want to get players, draft picks or a hefty trade exception in return? Out of spite? Because they are pouting? Are they drawing a line in the sand? It's almost ridiculous to think they wouldn't want to do what's best for the franchise. Fellow executives will laugh at them behind their backs."
- Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "This chance of ours that mesmerizes and thrills and sets the imagination alight still requires the biggest little disclaimer in the language: if. You have to start with that because this whole massive gambit of Pat Riley's still teeters on that word and will until the moment this stupefying possibility turns from surreal to real. LeBron James and Chris Bosh, both of them, together with Dwyane Wade? Turning every Heat game into an event? Making Miami the new epicenter of the NBA for years? Catholics have flocked to confession for thoughts involving far less greed and gluttony than that. I would dare say that making this triumvirate happen, and all it implied in future gold, might be the most seismic episode in local sports since the Dolphins' perfect season and consecutive Super Bowl victories in 1972-73."
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: "The battle for New York’s basketball heart will begin not on the hot asphalt of Manhattan or on a bustling Brooklyn street corner, but in a quiet quadrant of northeast Ohio. At 12:01 a.m. Thursday, a small regiment of Nets officials, led by their swaggering new owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, will march into a meeting room with LeBron James. Later in the day, the Knicks will send in a brigade led by the team president Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike D’Antoni. Pitches will be made. Plans will be outlined. Everyone will smile a lot. The scene will be repeated several times in the days to come, with only the location and the faces changing, team officials crisscrossing the map to court Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson. Whichever team scores the biggest names in July will gain a huge advantage in the larger battle to come. In two years, the Knicks and the Nets will become true intracity rivals when the Nets move into the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. 'I think that all of us are trying for the same group of players,' Walsh said. 'Yeah, I look at them as competitors in this adventure.' "
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "While the Wizards are focused on the future, several teams have been positioning for this summer, imagining scenarios in which they can pair up two or possibly three elite players. The New York Knicks have the most money to spend at $34.5 million, with New Jersey ($30 million), Chicago ($29.9 million) and Miami ($27.5 million) all hoping to establish dream teams. 'It could be remarkable,' said an NBA executive from a team that is expected to meet with James in the next few days, speaking on condition of anonymity because he could not talk about players still under contract with other teams. 'Teams could see the possibility of who was going to be out there. That was it, more than anything else.' 'This is about balance of power,' said agent David Falk, who represented most of the top stars, including Jordan, in 1996. 'If LeBron doesn't stay in Cleveland and goes to Chicago with Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh, Chicago becomes a powerhouse. If LeBron and Bosh both decide to go to Miami -- which I think is going to happen -- Miami becomes a powerhouse.' "
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Now the moment is upon the Bulls, and if they want LeBron James, they have to appeal to his imagination, to his creativity, to the magic in that poof of talcum powder he tosses before every game. And that means selling him on something nobody else can offer: Derrick Rose. The Bulls' point guard is 21, has ridiculous skills, appears to be extremely humble and wants to win. It's impossible to speak for the people around Rose or to address how he might change over the years, but at this point in his life, he's an unassuming kid who wants to win and watch movies. That's it. Put him together with James and fellow free agent Chris Bosh, who apparently has decided to be Ed McMahon to LeBron's Johnny Carson, and you'd have a hugely talented and hungry core that also would include the indefatigable Joakim Noah. If James and Bosh joined Rose here, something fresh and unique would be created, something a tad less calculated-looking. James joining Dwyane Wade in Miami would look more like the merger of AOL and Time Warner than two basketball players becoming teammates. At the risk of sounding parochial, doesn't the James-Wade-Bosh combination sound like an NBA All-Star team that wins 152-131? Haven't we seen this before? And wouldn't it carry the risk of becoming uninteresting and ultimately unfulfilling?"
- Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "The young superstar is expected to agree to a contract extension with the Thunder soon and the team is likely to give Kevin Durant the maximum in both years and dollars. The exact value of his deal won't be known until next summer when the salary cap is set, but the current projections indicate Durant won't be hurting for spare change. His five-year deal is expected to be around $84.85 million. Talk about sticker shock. But you know what the Thunder should do? They should pay up and do it with a smile on their faces. Durant is worth the price. He's proven to be a perfect franchise player. He has delivered on the court. Last season, he not only led the league in scoring but also guided the Thunder to the playoffs. He is continuing to improve, bettering his defense and diversifying his game. Even though he is already a superstar, Durant is still working to get better. That's no small thing. Neither is the maturity Durant has shown off the court."
- Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "The Suns need a general manager. Charles Barkley is available. Don't laugh. It's a wonderful time to renew old vows. 'I don't think it's a good job right now,' Barkley said. 'But I would listen to the Suns because I love Phoenix. I would listen to Robert (Sarver) out of respect for working in Phoenix. But I'll be honest: I would not re-sign Amar'e Stoudemire.' That'll get the owner's attention. 'I wouldn't do it for three reasons," Barkley said. 'One, his knees; two, his eyes; and three, he wants a maximum deal. Now, he's a terrific player. Don't get me wrong. But at this stage of his career he's never been the best player on his team. That's not a max player.' "