Celtics may look to retain Ray Allen

June 13th, 2010 No comments

The smooth stroke of Ray Allen

Boston had two major contract concerns heading into the 2009-10 season. They moved quickly to take care of Rajon Rondo, locking him into a 5-year, $55 million contract extension. The soon-to-be-35 year old Ray Allen, on the other hand, appeared to be the forgotten man.

There has been a lot of groundwork laid in Boston to get rid of Allen – the Celtics made several public overtures about their desire to get younger and cheaper at the position on the trade market, putting an extra emphasis on the $18.8 million salary he didn’t quite earn this year (his contract also includes a $1.0 million bonus for winning an NBA title).

The 14-year veteran was supposedly interested in heading south to the Miami Heat or, in order to stay near his home in Connecticut, the New York Knicks.

Heat fans couldn’t help but think to about how nice the free agent-to-be would look in red and black. Allen is the best pure shooter in the game today. He has also secured his place in NBA history as one of the game’s all-time best. No other human has ever been able to duplicate the grace with which he shoots the basketball.

What a difference a few months make.

Unable to find a trade partner in February, it would now appear the Celtics are likely to try to retain the 6’5″ guard for one final season. The change in logic is as much dictated by the team’s finances as it is by Allen’s on-court resurgence.

Allen struggled through a difficult regular season in which he shot just 36.3% from beyond the arc, his worst such mark since his junior season in Milwaukee. His Game 2 performance against the Lakers in the NBA Finals would suggest, however, that Allen still remains a viable scoring option. Allen broke his own NBA Finals record with eight three-pointers, en route to 32 key points in his team’s victory in Los Angeles.

Boston’s financial situation may ultimately dictate his fate.

In the season to come, the Celtics have $63.6 million in guaranteed salary to its six-player core of Paul Pierce (player option), Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo. With a salary cap projected at just $56.1 million, allowing Ray Allen to walk would provide the organization no additional flexibility with which to acquire a replacement. The team’s cap space is already used up, and the Mid-Level and Bi-Annual exceptions would be available under either scenario. Read more…

Wade will re-sign for the full six years

June 12th, 2010 4 comments

Dwyane Wade employed a brilliant strategy the last time he was a free agent, back in July of 2006 — with a six-year extension offered by the Heat, he instead took just three.

It was brilliant because it kept his options open. It kept pressure on the Heat organization to build a title contender around him (which is certain to pay big dividends in the coming off-season). It also allowed him to secure the best possible contracts for himself as his career progressed (players with seven years tenure are eligible to receive up to 30% of the adjusted salary cap).

Will it happen again? Will Wade ink a new three-year deal next month?

Don’t count on it.

There is one key difference this time around – the current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in the summer of 2011. While nobody knows exactly what to expect from the new agreement (if one is successfully negotiated), initial indications have not been promising.

Commissioner David Stern, after witnessing a decade of horrific, franchise-crippling contracts that have left teams hemorrhaging cash to the tune of $200 million annually, wants to make some huge changes.

A hard salary cap, drastic reductions in the value of maximum salaries, shortening of contract lengths, and the loss of Bird rights have all been suggested by Stern. There are also rumors of potential reductions to the guaranteed nature of contracts as well as reductions in the share of basketball related income earned by players from the current 57% to as low as 45%.

In such an uncertain climate, Wade would be foolish to leave guaranteed money on the table. Taking a three-year deal rather than the six the Heat will undoubtedly offer would be doing just that.

Every potential free agent will be looking for a full value, full length contract this off-season. Even Dirk Nowitzki insinuated as much by deciding to opt out of his $21.5 million next season salary.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Wade can’t negotiate a longer-term contract with an opt-out provision after three seasons. Such an arrangement would still provide him significant leverage and put pressure on the Heat to maintain a winning product.

But the issues would be substantial. Read more…

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James Jones to sign with the… Heat?

June 11th, 2010 No comments

James Jones could be a nice option for the Heat at the minimum

Here’s an interesting idea: re-sign James Jones to a minimum contract after he is waived prior to June 30.

It could make a lot of sense for both parties.

It feels terrible when I think about the Heat surrendering $1.856 million to a player that will no longer be on the roster in the coming season – perhaps the most critical from a cap space efficiency perspective in team history.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about it. But wouldn’t it feel at least slightly more palatable to employ his services, even as an end-of-the-bencher, at the very same $1.856 million against the cap?

For James, it makes a world of sense too. He loves Miami. He loves the Heat. He could find himself having a much bigger role next season than in seasons past, with Robert Dozier perhaps to be his main competition at the small forward reserve position. And the money isn’t as different as you’d think.

James originally signed his contract on July 9, 2008 expecting to make $4.65 million next season. It seems clear now, however, that he will be paid his more modest buyout price of $1.856 million. Add to that the $1,146,337 he’d be making on a minimum contract, and he’d be accumulating total compensation of $3,002,337 next season. That’s 65% of his original contract, in which he was clearly overvalued. Not too shabby.

The most practical aspect about this situation is the timing. If the Heat does bring Jones back at the minimum, it would need to be at the end of the off-season. That would give James the vast majority of the summer months to seek more lucrative employment elsewhere. If nothing suits his palate, the Heat could get a quality reserve at a position in which depth is projected to be thin and Jones could get to play in the city he loves.

Here’s a look at the logistics. Read more…

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Wade out on the recruiting trail

June 10th, 2010 2 comments

Read this (as per this article):

“At the same time the Miami Heat staff was busy throwing free agent Udonis Haslem a surprise birthday party to try and convince him to stay in Miami, it appears as if Dwyane Wade was busy doing some recruiting of his own. Wade was spotted dining at BOA Steakhouse on Sunset along with girlfriend Gabrielle Union, Raptors free agent to be Chris Bosh, and a few others as part of a small late-night gathering at the restaurant. Normally, we wouldn’t think anything [of] a few All-Star NBA players getting together for dinner, but this isn’t your typical set of circumstances.”

“Wade has made it a point to say he was committed to speaking with some of his free agent counterparts about their futures. We all assumed it would be a summit of sorts. Wade seems to be taking a more personal approach during the NBA Finals.”

Yes! Did I not mention the preferred approach was the more personal one-on-one touch, when all else were screaming summit? This is why all three of my readers should trust in me. I’m a strategy man. That, or I got very lucky just this once and I want the world to know.

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Yao Ming to opt out of his contract?

June 10th, 2010 4 comments

It has always been assumed that Yao Ming wouldn’t dare opt out of his current contract with the Rockets, which has one year remaining at $17.7 million, after taking the year off to rehab his seemingly always injured left foot. But when asked about the possibility in March, his answer was surprisingly non-committal.

“Not sure. I’m not sure until after we discuss it,” Yao said. “We have not started to discuss it yet, so I’m not sure, either way. I have to talk to my agent first before we start to decide where I need to go. If you ask my agent, he will say, ‘I have to ask Yao and we will start discussing it’.”

Well, the two sides are now apparently discussing it. But the situation is no less muddy.

Apparently, Yao and the Rockets are working on a contract extension. Rumor has it that he would opt out of his current deal and then would be offered a new 4 year maximum contract. The snag? Well, Yao wants 6 years.

He’s got to be crazy, right?

Every so often, an incredible physical specimen enters into a sport that he is not conventionally built for, but uses that very same advantage to become a dominant force.

When Yao Ming first entered the NBA, he was certainly an incredible physical specimen at 7’6″ tall, and he could do things that guys who were only seven feet tall couldn’t dream of doing. One of the best shooting big men ever to play the game, Yao had an amazing touch. When he got the ball down low, he was the closest thing this league had to unstoppable. Even the league’s biggest centers had no chance of blocking his turnaround shots. The only real answer to his size and shooting ability was to stop him from catching the ball on the block in the first place.

He could do the conventional things big men do too, such as block shots and rebound. He was an amazing talent, nothing like the NBA had ever seen before.

He may not have had the strength of a Shaquille O’Neal or the agility of a (I’m not sure who to put here, but he’s certainly not what you’d consider agile), but his size, skill, and competitiveness were more than enough to dominate on a nightly basis. When the national audience got a peek at him for the first time, we were convinced he would be a star. Remember that January 2003 game against Shaq, when he scored six points and blocked two O’Neal shots in the game’s opening minutes?

In that regard, he hasn’t disappointed. Over the course of his seven-year career, he has proven to be the clear-cut best center in the professional game. Dwight Howard’s performance in the Eastern Conference Finals should end any lingering debate.

But what we couldn’t foresee back then was that the rigors of the NBA would prove too much for his long and slender frame. Read more…

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The True Cost of Extending

June 9th, 2010 4 comments

Christopher Reina, executive editor of RealGM, published this article yesterday – suggesting that free agency will cost each member of Wade/James/Bosh trio millions of dollars.

Huh?

If it didn’t shock the heck out of you, it should have. Because it’s wrong!

The minute Wade becomes a free agent, deciding against exercising his player option with the Heat in order to sign an extension, he will be leaving money on the table. This is true. But only in the first year, and only in the amount of $580,335. Every year thereafter, this number begins to shrink. Until year four, when it vanishes completely.

There is no mysterious $1.9 million cost. It doesn’t exist. Forget you ever read it.

I’m guessing most of you don’t care why. But if you’re curious, click away… Read more…

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Buyer Beware

June 8th, 2010 4 comments

The quality of the 2010 free agent class is well known, and has dominated discussion in South Florida for nearly three years. The “Summer of LeBron,” which kicks off in just over three weeks, is sure to change the landscape of professional basketball.

Free agency, this season more than any other in history, will turn the NBA into a revolving door. Teams that were underachievers will have a legitimate opportunity to transform themselves into instant contenders simply by signing a star player or two. The bidding wars for top performers are sure to be as competitive and entertaining as the games they will ultimately play in their new arenas.

But with more money available this off-season than players on which it can be wisely spent, teams are sure to throw exorbitant amounts of cash at guys that are otherwise undeserving.

General managers need be warned. Choose your investments wisely.

With that in mind, let us be reminded about the ugly side of free agency. In the second of my depressing and controversial two-part expose on the worsts in Heat history, let’s look at the worst free agent signing. Read more…

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Patrick Beverley’s Journey to the Miami Heat

June 7th, 2010 1 comment

Patrick Beverley has had one lifelong goal – to play in the NBA.

After a trying, vindicating, tumultuous, and encouraging 21 years of life, his dream might just be drawing near.

The Early Years

Patrick was born to Lisa Beverley, a 17-year-old single mother, on the west side of Chicago.

As a child, he never met his biological father, Patrick Bracy, a local hoops star in his own youth. His only enduring connection to his father was his old high school basketball trophies that were always lying around. He revered them, claiming early on that he wanted twice the number of trophies his dad got.

The inner city of Chicago is a gritty place, with some of the highest levels of poverty in the United States. The area has been neglected for decades. Public schools are crumbling, store fronts are vacant, apartment buildings are dilapidated, graffiti covers the walls, windows are boarded up with bars on them, trash litters the sidewalks, and weeds sprout through the concrete. Basketball is often seen as the only way out, not just for young kids with talent but also for their parents and siblings. Developing talent is encouraged from a young age. It’s often seen as the only thing that matters.

The playgrounds of Chicago have long been a hoops hotbed. Derrick Rose is the latest in a long line of Chicago-raised NBA royalty. Before Rose, there was Dwyane Wade. Before Wade, there was Antoine Walker. Before Walker, there was Isaiah Thomas. Before Isaiah, there was Maurice Cheeks.  Read more…

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Memory Lane Revisited

June 6th, 2010 4 comments

It was July 2007.

Just fifteen months prior, the Heat had secured its first championship in franchise history, backed by the scintillating playoff performance of superstar Dwyane Wade. The Heat was flying high. Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton both quickly agreed to re-sign, wanting to win another title. During the championship parade in Miami, Shaquille O’Neal guaranteed it.

Then came the awful 2006/07 campaign. Shaq lost his last little bit of youth. Gary Payton was benched for poor performance. James Posey and Antoine Walker were deactivated after failing body mass exams. And the Heat was relegated to mediocrity. Miami became the first defending champion since 1957 to get swept in the first round in the following season, losing at the hands of the Chicago Bulls.

The Heat was looking to rebuild.

The priority was point guard, largely because the Heat had concerns about the health of incumbent starter Jason Williams – who had battled several injuries during his two seasons in Miami.

The primary target: Mo Williams.

Williams was the second-most-coveted point guard on the market, after the Pistons’ Chauncey Billups. In Williams, Riley saw a young point guard who did not need the ball in his hands, one willing to spot up for jumpers and help space the floor for a Wade/O’Neal tandem. The addition was speculated to vault the Heat back into title contention.

The desire was mutual. In his player biography, Williams listed Miami as his favorite NBA city.

The problem, of course, was money. Read more…

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Calculating the Salary Cap

June 5th, 2010 No comments

We’ve all been operating under the assumption of a $56.1 million projected salary cap, which was provided by Commissioner Stern prior to the playoffs. How did he come by that figure?

During July Moratorium, the league will project both basketball-related revenues (“Projected BRI”) and player benefits for the upcoming season. They will then look at the previous season’s Projected BRI to see if it was below the actual results (“BRI”). They will use these two data points to calculate the salary cap.

The league will take 51% of Projected BRI, subtract projected benefits, and make adjustments if the previous season’s BRI was below projections. They will then divide the result by the number of NBA teams to arrive at the cap.

( Projected BRI * 51% – Projected Benefits – (Projected BRI – BRI from last season, only if positive) ) / 30

This season’s BRI is almost certain to fall below original projections. I estimate that last July the league projected BRI growth of 1.6%. At the same time, they issued a warning that BRI could fall as much as 5%-10%, leading to original salary cap forecasts of $50.4 million to $53.6 million. The revised BRI decline of 0.5% then led to a bump in forecasts to $56.1 million.

Why would the league forecast BRI growth of 1.6% and issue a warning it could fall by as much as 10% at the same time?

The answer lies in how Projected BRI is determined. Read more…

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