Thursday, July 1, 2010
LeBron's Schedule and the Nets' Plan B
By Chad Ford
There was a flurry of free agent activity last night, but the real work begins this morning as teams move from courtesy calls to substantive negotiations. Here's a few things I'm hearing:
LeBron James is the No. 1 target but per his request, he didn't take any meetings last night.
He got things kicked off this morning in Akron with the New Jersey Nets. Led by new owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part-owner Jay Z, the Nets should have the flashiest presentation of the week. The Nets are surprisingly confident that LeBron will choose them after 'Bron spent the weekend in New York hanging out with Jay Z. The team does offer a veteran coach, a former All-Star at the point, a future All-Star in the middle and a lot of young talent.
The Knicks also get to see LeBron on Thursday and are planning a huge presentation as well. GM Donnie Walsh, who is still recovering from neck surgery, will be in attendence. Expect head coach Mike D'Antoni to lead the pitch for the Knicks. He's the one with a relationship with LeBron and he hold the keys to LeBron accepting an offer from New York -- style of play. Of all the teams vying for LeBron, D'Antoni is the one who has the clearest vision of what to do with LeBron on the court and what players he needs to be surrounded by.
On Friday the Heat and the Clippers get their pitch. Saturday it's the Bulls and Cavs. If I were you, I'd read some significance into the Bulls and Cavs getting the last pitch. Multiple sources continue to believe that LeBron is still leaning toward Chicago and Cleveland at the moment.
The Nets are also pursuing plan B today as well. After meeting with LeBron in Akron, they are heading to Chicago this afternoon for a sit down with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The team also is taking a very aggressive approach toward Grizzlies free agent Rudy Gay. If LeBron says no to the Nets, sources say they will make a big offer to Gay. The Nets biggest need is at small forward. If the team can't land LeBron or Gay, look for them to go back to the Pacers and a potential Danny Granger for Devin Harris and Derrick Favors deal.
• The Indiana Pacers have turned to free agency in their ongoing search for a point guard. The team worked hard in the draft to work out a deal that would land them a young point guard like Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor or Darren Collison but couldn't get anything done. They're now wooing the top two young point guards on the market Kyle Lowry (restricted) and Jordan Farmar (unrestricted). I don't expect either player to get full mid-level offers.
• The Lakers are also in the hunt for a point guard and sources in LA say that they're making a strong push to sign free agent Steve Blake. Blake had a successful run in Portland the last few years before being traded to the Clippers at the February trade deadline.
• To see dozens of NBA trade and free agency rumors, check out NBA Rumor Central.