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Archive for July, 2010

Does a Luol Deng trade unlock the Wade-to-Chicago intrigue?

July 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Note: The proposed trade discussed below is now being classified by Hoopsworld as a rumor.

Why would Dwyane Wade consider the Chicago Bulls if they can’t add that coveted second max contract free agent? Neither Dwyane nor Chris would be willing to accept the $2,730,417 pay cut, would they?

Well, maybe they wouldn’t need to.

According to Bill Ingram of Hoopsword:

Now hearing reports that the Trail Blazers are in talks with the Bulls to acquire Luol Deng for a package including Joel Przybilla and Jerryd Bayless.

Sounds like pure and unfounded speculation which doesn’t seem to make much sense.

The two Blazers would certainly seem expendable. Portland has a glut at the center position, having extended Marcus Camby for two additional seasons and having Greg Oden in the final season of his rookie scale contract, and would certainly be amendable to a Przybilla trade. Bayless is a Mario-Chalmers-esque tweener better suited as a perennial backup to Brandon Roy at shooting guard than as a future starter at the point.

However, the suggested trade seems to make little sense for the Blazers. There would be no need for the team to acquire an expensive and injury-prone Luol Deng and the $51.3 million remaining on his contract, just to battle it out for a starting position with the more talented, more healthy, more youthful and more economical Nicolas Batum. If anything, the Blazers would covet a floor spacing outside shooter at the position, to complement the distance challenged Andre Miller and Brandon Roy – something which, despite an impressive 38.6% from beyond the arc last season, Luol Deng is not.

But the rumors are out there, so they’re worth at least analyzing. Read more…

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Can the Bulls surround Rose and Noah with three max free agents?

July 3rd, 2010 1 comment

If Dwyane Wade’s reported uncertainty has us all panicked, reports like this one have our hearts stopping outright.

I wouldn’t tell you not to worry about Wade. Nobody truly knows, possibly including Dwyane himself, what his decision will ultimately be.

I can, however, tell you unequivocally: Don’t worry about the possibility of the Chicago Bulls adding three max contract players (the ones set to make $16.6 million) while keeping Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Why? Because the possibility stretches the limits of human sanity beyond all reasonable measures.

Daniel Leroux of RealGM writes:

First we have the 125% rule. This rule indicates that any team can take on 125% of the contract values they send out in a trade, plus $100,000 of buffer room. As such, take the maximum contract value above, divide it by 1.25 and subtract $100k from that total and you get $13,175,126. This is the minimum value a team at or over the cap could send in contracts for a max-level player while satisfying this rule. However, cap space can also be used to reduce this number if it is available.

He was absolutely correct… right up until that very last sentence. And that one sentence destroys the philosophy.

Let me explain. Read more…

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Wade “leaning toward committing to the Bulls”?

July 3rd, 2010 2 comments

For three years now, Pat Riley has sold South Florida on his all-or-nothing strategy to rebuild during the free agency summer of 2010. There was an idea floating around the Heat’s front office that they could pull off a monumental rebuilding coup if they could convince three max-level free agents – Dwyane Wade, plus two others – to take a little less than the maximum salary to sign on. For five years, maybe more, South Beach would be the NBA’s ultimate destination spot.

As the team entered the 2009/10 season, the Heat was little changed. Both of its second-round draft picks chose to play in Europe (in no small part because at the time the Heat did not want to pay luxury tax on their salaries), Jamario Moon was the only player of any importance who did not return (he signed with Cleveland as a free agent), and the biggest change the team had made for the upcoming year was deciding to move Beasley from power forward to small forward (and quickly back again).

The plan was widely criticized. Despite Riley’s master strategy, the math didn’t support the logic. With salary cap projections coming in as low as $50.4 million, the Heat would only be able to surround Dwyane Wade with one maximum contract free agent, with only $6.2 million to spare. Then Pat threw out a huge wrench in the strategy by offering a mid-level exception contract offer to Lamar Odom, a contract that would have paid Lamar $6.0 million and leave the Heat right on the cusp of max level money for even a second max contributor.

Wade was non-committal, having rejected an extension offer. He was screaming for help. There was much hand-wringing locally that not enough was done to surround him with championship-caliber players. After all, short-circuiting the rebuilding process would afford the Heat the opportunity to spend as much as $100 million or more on its team salary, a far cry from $50 million the 2010 off-season was expected to allow.

But Riley was adamant. Read more…

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Wade to Chicago: Legitimate Interest or Master Strategy?

July 2nd, 2010 12 comments

For as promising as the new season had started for the Miami Heat on day one, things have taken a turn for the decidedly worse on day two.

Dwyane Wade’s decision to grant the Bulls a second meeting has columnists suggesting it was more than just a courtesy visit and South Floridians panicking over the prospect of losing their MVP-caliber shooting guard.

Per Chad Ford:

Dwyane Wade is leaning toward committing to the Chicago Bulls, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford on Friday.

According to the source, Wade requested a second meeting with Bulls shortly after the 2006 NBA Finals MVP spent more than two hours getting wooed by the New York Knicks at a downtown Chicago hotel Friday morning. The source stressed that Wade needed the meeting to clarify issues around signing with the Bulls.

Up until today, it was deemed ludicrous that Wade would ever leave the Heat. People weren’t pitching him; he was pitching for them. Read more…

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The point of free agency

July 2nd, 2010 3 comments

The NBA has truly become a point guard driven league.

The bulk of the current power teams in the league are employing point guards of the highest caliber. Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Jameer Nelson, Jason Kidd, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash and Tony Parker were all starring in the playoffs this season.

But for as much as 2009 was the year of the point guard, 2010 appears to be anything but.

Last summer, an astonishing 12 point guards were selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, including Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, the highly sought after Nick Collison, the playoff bound 55-point gamer Brandon Jennings, and perhaps the best of the class in Stephen Curry. The free agency period that followed it up wasn’t all that bad either, headlined by Andre Miller, Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby.

This time around, the story is decidedly different.

Much like in 2008, this year’s version of the NBA Draft kicked off with the selection of a highly touted point guard prospect in John Wall. But the only other point guard taken in the first round was Eric Bledsoe, if you can call him a point guard, at No. 18, a position the Heat traded out of.

Free agency would appear an equally bleak prospect for teams looking for a top-tier point guard. The best available names include: C.J. Watson (R), Derek Fisher, Earl Watson, Jason Williams, Jordan Farmar, Luke Ridnour, Raymond Felton and Steve Blake.

Felton is the best of the class, and that’s all you need to know about the paucity of available talent at the position. Remember, he’s the guy that struggled mightily in the first round of the playoffs when he was consistently outplayed by the Magic’s Jameer Nelson in Orlando’s four-game sweep of the Bobcats.

Among the list of options above, the only ones that have been reportedly linked to the Heat are Felton, Fisher and Blake (by me). Read more…

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Anecdotal evidence keeps building

July 2nd, 2010 No comments

Not content to sit idly by and have their off-season plans destroyed by the departing Chris Bosh, general manager Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors opted instead to kick off free agency by agreeing to re-sign Amir Johnson to a five-year, $34 million contract.

The Johnson signing represents a commitment to rebuilding with the right long-term pieces for the start of the non-Bosh era. The 23-year old figures to be a key part of the frontcourt rotation for years to come and will have a chance to expand beyond his current role as a shot blocker and rebounder.

But to brush aside this ridiculous contract as a quality investment would be to assume that other teams were prepared to pay an average of $6.8 million per season over five years for a back-up big man who has had an exceedingly difficult time remaining on the floor due to his severe propensity for committing fouls. It is a perplexing expenditure for a franchise currently dealing with the consequences of another exorbitant contract that blew up in its face, and one dealing with several others (Calderon, 3 years and $29 million; Bargnani, 5 years and $50 million).

The consensus opinion after the first day of the most anticipated free agency period in league history is that rampant overspending is to be the norm, so the Raptors are certainly not alone in their dread. If Darko Milicic, who has averaged five points and four rebounds in 17 minutes per game for his career and was seriously contemplating moving back to Europe (always something of a buyer beware situation), can get a four-year, $20 million contract to play in sunny Minnesota, Johnson’s contract would seem right in line. The problem with that logic, however, is that such rampant league-wide spending is never an excuse for fiscal irresponsibility which can cripple an organization for the better part of a decade, particularly one that is already at the decided disadvantage of being located in another country and desperately trying to recruit citizens of the United States. Read more…

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Minnesota’s Moves May be Telling

July 1st, 2010 7 comments

Some interesting developments have taken place today in Minnesota.

The Wolves have agreed to terms with two centers: free agent Darko Milicic and 2008 second-round draft pick Nikola Pekovic.

Milicic agreed to a rather eye-popping 4-year, $20 million contract. Just five months ago, the seven-footer wasn’t getting any floor time, and was seriously contemplating giving up on the NBA to return to Europe. Pekovic has a verbal agreement in place on a 3-year, $13 million contract. He has played for Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos for the past two seasons, staking his claim as one of the best centers not in the NBA. The deal, as reported, could be the most lucrative rookie contract for a second-round pick in NBA history, though it doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable.

In and of themselves, these additions are of no particular interest in South Florida. When combined, however, they are sure to raise an eyebrow or two.

If you recall, the Wolves are the team whose general manager, David Kahn, was reported to have a strong interest in Michael Beasley. In fact, Kahn confirmed on Sunday that he had previously contacted the Heat about trading for Beasley. The deal would have sent Beasley to the Wolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes.

The Wolves entered free agency with as much as $16,433,494 of available cap space at current salary cap projections. If we assume Milicic’s first year salary is $4,319,654 (based on the annual 10.5% raises he’d be eligible for) and Pekovic’s is $4,000,000 (based on the annual 8.0% raises he’d be eligible for), Minnesota will have reduced its total cap space to $8,113,840. However, the team also holds draft rights to Ricky Rubio, at a cost of $2,812,200, which it is not about to just throw away. Therefore, if the above assumptions are correct, after these two trades the Wolves will have a grand total of $5,301,640 in available and unencumbered cap space.

Guess whose salary that is just enough to accommodate?

Michael Beasley is set to make $4,962,240.

Is it possible that Minnesota is saving up just enough money to take on Beasley? Is it possible that a deal with Pat Riley and the Heat is already in place?

Of course, this is just wild speculation. But it is original. And the numbers sure seem oddly accommodating.

Mike Miller Off the Table?

July 1st, 2010 1 comment

Per Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports:

Mike Miller has been offered a five-year, $30M contract by the Lakers.

Miller expects to be recruited by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade wherever they end up.

The Lakers have set a deadline of tonight to accept their offer.

Is Mike Miller off the table?

Miller is a close personal friend of James and so, if he is held to such a deadline, one would suspect that Miller will reject — until he knows for certain that he won’t be playing alongside James, wherever he ends up, in his quest for an NBA championship.

His expectation, however, is interesting — and more than just a little bit exciting — in another regard. There has been all kinds of speculation that James will team up with Wade and Chris Bosh in South Florida.¬†Could they each be willing to sacrifice maximum dollars in order to bring Miller along?

What a dream scenario that would be! Without any quality big men available on the free agent market, the Heat could elect to play small – sliding Bosh over to center and James over to power forward – and create one of the most lethal offenses in league history!

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Rudy Gay Off the Market

July 1st, 2010 3 comments

Rudy Gay is off the market, having accepted to a 5-year, $80 million contract to remain a Memphis Grizzly (is that the singular?). Gay was a Plan B target for many South Floridians, despite the cold reality that such a union was simply not realistic. I couldn’t seem to stress this enough times and have my reader base actually believe me, but it was nonetheless a virtual certainty.

The manner in which the offer came about, however, is quite interesting (and perhaps foolish). We knew coming in that Gay would be a beneficiary of a bloated free agent contract, piggy-backing off more heralded max players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but few could predict his max contract would have come from his incumbent team on the first day of free agency. The strategy when dealing with your own restricted free agents is to stall and threaten to match any contract any team offers in the hopes of scaring them away, which handcuffs the player and his agent. It is a strategy that worked for the Knicks, to the dismay of David Lee, last season.

The NBA and its players are on a collision course with a potential extended lockout, and when loss-making, small-market teams are signing marginally above average players like Rudy Gay to maximum contracts without batting an eye, it is extremely confounding. Particularly when they don’t need to. But hey, owner Michael Heisley was staunchly committed to the developing small forward, and he got his man.

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Joe Johnson Gets His Max Deal

July 1st, 2010 No comments

The Atlanta Hawks have offered up a ridiculous 6-year, $119 million contract offer to Joe Johnson. This is good news for a Heat team that figures to be battling it out with the Bulls for Eastern Conference supremacy for years to come. Johnson figured to be a nice Plan B alternative in Chicago, once which most figured would solve the team’s problem of not having the required cap space to offer up two maximum contracts. It was hoped by some that Johnson would be accommodating to a contract starting in the $13 million range – the theory being that without the necessary cap space to secure James and Bosh, a pairing of Johnson and Bosh would round out Chicago’s rotation quite nicely. Now, however, that appears impossible.

Of course, nothing can be made official until the end of July Moratorium on the 8th. But if the Hawks play hard ball and refuse a sign-and-trade, as they seem destined to do, it would be awfully difficult for Johnson to turn down that offer.

While the Hawks have secured their own star two-guard for years to come, they don’t gain anything with the move. The team now figures to have access to just a mid-level (~$5.7 million) and a bi-annual ($2.08 million) exception with which to improve its roster from last season.

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