Monday, June 1, 2009
Ouster enough? No fine for LeBron
ESPN.com news services
This might come as little to no consolation to LeBron James: He won't be fined for blowing off reporters after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The NBA's MVP stormed out of Orlando's Amway Arena without speaking to the media Saturday night after the Cleveland Cavaliers were ousted from the playoffs 103-90 by the Magic.
"We are not going to fine LeBron for that," NBA spokesman Tim Frank told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. "We haven't had any issues with him before at all."
If James and the Cavs were still alive in the playoffs, James would have received a warning.
James also did not shake hands with Olympic teammate Dwight Howard or congratulate any Orlando players as he left the floor. On Sunday, he said he sent an e-mail to Howard following Saturday's game.
"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them," he said. "I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me. I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."
Windhorst: Can Cavs Keep King James?
Cleveland has a challenging summer ahead as it tries to keep LeBron James happy, writes Brian Windhorst. Story
In the meantime, Cleveland coach Mike Brown and general manager Danny Ferry will begin an extensive offseason review to figure out how to take the Cavaliers further next season.
One of the first priorities is James, who is expected to be offered a contract extension by the team as early as July 18. On Sunday, the All-Star was noncommittal when asked if he would sign the extension. He can also pick up a player option for the 2010-11 season.
Ferry, too, had little to offer about James' impending contract status, something Cleveland fans are nervously keeping a close eye on.
"At the appropriate time will sit down with [agent] Leon Rose and LeBron, talk about our team, talk about the future, talk about his situation. Until that happens, I don't want to talk too much about it. But at the appropriate time we'll sit down. He knows he's important to our franchise and to our organization and to Northeast Ohio."
James has been widely criticized for walking off the floor after Game 6 in Orlando without shaking hands with Howard or any Magic players. He attributed it to his competitive nature, but that hasn't stopped the backlash.
Ferry doesn't think James acted inappropriately.
"I feel strongly that LeBron would never intentionally disrespect another NBA player," he said. "It was a situation where he was pretty disappointed. We just loss a tough series. He has always conducted himself in a pretty high level both on the court and off the court."
Aside from James, the Cavaliers will have other financial considerations this summer most notably with forward Anderson Varejao, who may opt out of the final year of his three-year contract and become a free agent. The frizzy-haired Brazilian had a solid season, averaging career-highs in starts, points and field-goal percentage.
Varejao, who sat out a large chunk of the previous season in a contract dispute, said he wants to stay in Cleveland and the Cavaliers would like to keep him at the right price.
"Anderson is someone who had a very good year," Ferry said. "He worked very hard coming into this year, his body was in great physical shape. We want him on our team next year."
The Cavaliers will have to make other decisions on forwards Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith, both unrestricted free agents.
Forward/center Ben Wallace may retire to finish his college degree and perhaps pursue a law degree. If the 14-year veteran does quit, the Cavs could save $14 million he is due next season. Ferry said he has not spoken to Wallace and probably will not for several weeks.
"I think it's probably best to give it a little time," Ferry said.
Time will help the Cavaliers overcome the pain of coming up short. Next, will be figuring out how to catch up with Orlando and Los Angeles, which went a combined 8-3 against Cleveland.
"Clearly, there is room for growth," Ferry said. "I don't know how many games we'll win next year. There's no guarantee as to what's in front of us. I think we'll find ways to get better. I don't know how that will manifest itself. There will be ways we can find that we can make ourselves a a better team."
"It will be a challenge, though. Because this team was good."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.