Multiple Sources Suggest LeBron to Choose Miami Heat

July 8th, 2010 2 comments
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After more than three years of planning and preparing, of salary dumping and cap-carving trades and wishful thinking, it appears as if the Miami Heat will be paid off with the ultimate reward: LeBron James.

According to multiple NBA sources, two-time MVP is expected to choose the Heat, where he would join fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The two Wednesday announced their commitments to the Heat but neither Wade nor Bosh has agreed to terms, which suggests they are waiting on James as the third piece.

James officially will announce his choice during a one-hour special, “The Decision,” on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. He will make his selection from a group of six teams – the Heat, Knicks, Nets, Cavaliers, Bulls and Clippers – that met with him last week during a three-day period of presentations and sales pitches.The show will be staged at the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. Proceeds for the show will go to the Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity that is special to James.

If the Heat is, indeed, the choice, James, Wade and Bosh would form an unprecedented superstar trio that would instantly become a perennial NBA title favorite and mark the beginnings of a potential Heat dynasty.

Did you ever dream of a scenario so absurdly amazing?

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NBA Sets Salary Cap at $58.044 for 2010-11

July 7th, 2010 3 comments
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As we were all calmly processing the news that Chris Bosh will be joining Dwyane Wade here in Miami, and as we were all eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the LeBron James saga, Commissioner David Stern shocked us all by announcing Wednesday night that the salary cap for next season will be $58,044,000, nearly $2 million more than was projected just two months prior.

The new number, although a considerable increase from initial doomsday projections of $50.4 million issued one year ago, hasn’t created much fanfare around the league. That’s probably because it has absolutely no effect on 2/3 of its teams. But it could very well have a major impact for the Heat in its off-season planning. Read more…

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Ray Allen, Celtics agree on two-year deal

July 7th, 2010 No comments
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Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics have agreed upon a two-year, $20 million deal, his agent Lon Babby confirmed. The second year of Allen’s deal is a player option.

It was widely hoped that Allen would consider accepting a minimum contract in order to join a Wade-James-Bosh trio in South Florida. At one point, it was speculated that LeBron James had contacted Allen about the possibility of doing just that.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported on June 30:

LeBron James is calling the possible union of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and himself, “Dream Team.”

Those were the words James used when he reached out to another free agent in the past 10 days and pitched the idea of joining them.

He said, “Would you be willing to take less to join Dream Team?” the player, who did not want to be identified, told the Daily News. He said his people were putting it together.

The Miami Herald’s own Jorge Sedano followed it up with:

I’ve come across a source who has told me that free agent player could be Ray Allen. The source tells me that Allen has spoken to James and his preference is to remain with the Celtics, but that’s predicated on Paul Pierce remaining with the team. The money is not a huge factor. Winning more championships is the most important factor.

According to the source, Allen has spoken to James and would consider joining said, “Dream Team.” Along with possibly taking less money if it was the perfect opportunity.

Apparently, it wasn’t the perfect opportunity. Oh well.

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Bulls come to terms with Carlos Boozer

July 7th, 2010 2 comments
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Mere hours after Chris Bosh committed to the Miami Heat, the Bulls secured their consolation prize – locking in Carlos Boozer to a long-term deal.

Per Ric Bucher of ESPN:

Carlos Boozer is the latest domino to fall, agreeing to a five-year, $80 million contract with the Chicago Bulls, a source close to the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher on Wednesday.

Boozer follows agreements by premier free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, Amare Stoudemire with the Knicks and Joe Johnson in Atlanta.

The 5-year, $80 million contract equates to an average of $16 million per season. For Boozer, it was approximately $11.4 million short of the maximum.

Boozer represents a nice back-up option for the Bulls. He’s certainly not to be mistaken with a member of the Trifecta, but he’s an ambidextrous scorer at the rim and a fierce rebounder at both ends of the floor. Of course, he’s also a man who has missed the season opener in three of his eight NBA seasons, and one who doesn’t much like to defend.

One can’t help but take notice at how his contact breaks out. It was likely structured with the maximum 8.0% annual raises, which would make his 2010/11 salary $13,793,103. That’s not a random number. The Bulls now have committed salaries totaling $36,644,079, enough, after incorporating roster charges, for a full maximum contract player (with $45,389 to spare at current cap projections).

LeBron’s mind is likely already made up. Anecdotal evidence suggests he has chosen Miami, the third part of the coveted holy trinity. If there remains any doubt, however, the Boozer addition in Chicago could make things interesting.

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Salary cap expected to be released tonight

July 7th, 2010 17 comments
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UPDATE: The salary cap will be higher than the $56.1M projection, according to a league executive. The moratorium ends on Thursday morning at 12:01 AM and it will be when the NBA releases its official cap figure for the 10-11 season.

Well, it’s unofficially official. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each has publicly declared his intention to sign with the Miami Heat.

That leaves LeBron James as the only member of the triumvirate yet to make a decision.

There has been much discussion as to whether the Heat can actually afford to pay him the max within the confines of the salary cap. Of course, that depends on what the salary cap is.

The latest estimates provided by Commissioner David Stern, on April 16, called for a cap of $56.1 million. The final figure is expected to be released by tonight.

Keep these two figures in mind:

$55,986,936: If the cap meets or exceeds this figure, the Heat will be able to offer three max contracts IF it moves Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers

$56,367,721: If the cap meets or exceeds this figure, the Heat will be able to offer three max contracts IF it moves Michael Beasley

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Heat now a frontrunner for LeBron James?

July 7th, 2010 1 comment
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Whether fans are sick of the LeBron’s self-glorification or not, he has done a good job of keeping people guessing.

It’s probably safe to eliminate the Bulls, Clippers and Nets from the running. Otherwise, the Cavs, Heat and Knicks are all still mentioned as viable candidates to sign the two-time MVP.

One theory has Cleveland emerging as the clear-cut favorite to retain James. The thinking would be that even he would have the nerve to break the hearts of his hometown Cavs fans in a grueling, one-hour ESPN special (Thursday, 9:00 pm). It just seems so unreasonably cruel. But then it was reported that James had long planned some kind of agreement with ESPN regarding his much-hyped free agency, well before the notion that James would even consider leaving Cleveland surfaced.

If LeBron’s sole focus is to win a championship, as he has so emphatically claimed it to be, signing alongside Wade and Bosh in Miami gives him the best chance to do it.

James tried desperately to recruit Bosh to Cleveland, with no luck. Maybe this was all a charade. Maybe it was all part of James’ exit strategy. He can now say to his hometown fans, “I did everything I could to bring an all-star caliber player to Cleveland, but it didn’t work out.”

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Official with team that made a formal presentation to LeBron tells Y! Sports: ‘It’s down to Cleveland or Miami for him.

Of course, this is only a theory.

Whatever the case, the Heat appears to be the clear-cut winners, as much for what it did get as for what its rivals did not, of the biggest free agency sweepstakes in league history.

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Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat!!!

July 7th, 2010 4 comments
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Per Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are teaming up together on the Miami Heat, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

ESPN’s Shelley Smith also reported the pending move through independent sources.

Whether LeBron James, the kingpin of this summer’s celebrated free agent class, will join them remains to be seen. James will announce his decision Thursday night at 9 ET during a one-hour special on ESPN.

Wade and Bosh are expected to announce their decision on Wednesday, according to the source.

If the reports are true, on July 8 the Heat will have Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers under contract, and $15,601,383 of remaining cap space available, of which up to $11,812,551 can be spent on any one player.

Yeah, baby!!!! None of us ever had a doubt!

Wade, James and Bosh plan one final call

July 7th, 2010 6 comments
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The triumvirate is planning one final conference call on Wednesday to decide its fate.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are expected to share a conference call on Wednesday to discuss free agency and try to move closer to finalizing their decisions, a league source with knowledge of the plan told Yahoo! Sports.

The three players are motivated to reach resolutions and make their choices public by Thursday, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. The stars and their agents with CAA continued on Tuesday to churn through numerous machinations and possibilities.

Cleveland has emerged as the clear-cut favorite to retain James. I can’t imagine that even he would have the nerve to break the hearts of his hometown Cavs fans in a grueling, one-hour ESPN special (Thursday, 9:00 pm). It just seems so unreasonably cruel.

So it could all come down to whether Wade and Bosh choose to team up in Miami or Chicago, or part ways altogether.

Bosh seems unlikely to take a discount. He wants to sign for the maximum, and he wants to do so for six full years. As it stands, the Bulls don’t have the money, and the Heat doesn’t have the required trade partner.

If Bosh can get Toronto to sign-and-trade him to Miami, you’ve got the think the Heat is in the driver’s seat. Despite the heavy-handed talk, common sense would dictate general manager Brian Colangelo would ultimately cede to Bosh’s wish, and grant him his sign-and-trade. At the very least, he would acquire a $16.6 million trade exception – and perhaps a first round pick or two – with which to make a run at a player(s) of his choosing. At the same time, he would be increasing Chris’ future salary, and thus decreasing the future available cap space of a conference rival. Not a bad combination when the alternative is losing your best and most powerful asset for nothing.

If asked for a prediction, I would say the Heat secures both Wade and Bosh, the Bulls settle on Carlos Boozer, the Nets wind up with David Lee, and the Knicks are left to scramble for a bunch of overpriced short-term contracts with which to surround Amare Stoudemire in the desperate hope of landing Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony next season.

Not too bad an outcome if you ask me!

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Heat Gaining Steam in Free Agent Sweepstakes

July 6th, 2010 4 comments
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LeBron James wants desperately to play with Chris Bosh. He sees Bosh as the key to a team that can win multiple titles. As such, he’s been trying to recruit the All-Star to Cleveland for several weeks. The capped out Cavaliers have even worked out a sign-and-trade with the Raptors to make it happen.

Per Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Everything is set for Chris Bosh to join LeBron James in Cleveland. Everything, that is, except Bosh’s approval.

The Toronto Raptors have told the Cleveland Cavaliers they will do a sign-and-trade with them for Bosh, according to several league sources.

The exact details of the potential trade have not been solidified, but Toronto likely would get Anderson Varejao and or J.J. Hickson, Delonte West, and perhaps Anthony Parker. A draft pick could be involved as well.

The Raptors are certainly doing their part to drive their departing power forward toward a potential union with James, disingenuously suggesting it would not be willing to cooperate in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat.

But Chris has not exactly warmed to the idea of playing in Cleveland. And for good reason. The average temperature in Cleveland is 49 degrees; the average temperature in Miami is 75 degrees. Cleveland has factories; Miami has South Beach.

And for a guy who’s so motivated by the money, he’d be paying approximately $750,000 more in annual taxes (state, net of federal deductions) in Ohio than on an equivalent contract in Florida. Read more…

Plan B Defined

July 6th, 2010 1 comment
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There is no great Plan B for the Miami Heat. If they can’t maneuver to get a marquee free agent to join Dwyane Wade this summer, Wade will likely bolt for the Chicago Bulls and the power balance of the Eastern Conference will shift even further away from South Florida.

A title-contending team needs a future hall-of-fame talent through whom to run its offense. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s LeBron James. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s Kobe Bryant. For the Heat, it’s Wade. If Wade doesn’t re-sign, there’s simply no way to build a winner. It’d be a tear-down rebuild that could take a decade from which to recover.

But if we pretend Wade loves the Heat to such an extent that he’d consider a Plan B scenario, what would it look like?

James is the clear prize of a loaded free agent market. Chris Bosh is second. Both would be ideal. One would probably be enough to keep Wade happy. Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer are the only other possibilities around which a compelling storyline can be crafted. But if the Heat should strike out on all these names, however unlikely that may be, there may still be a path to future success.

The free agent market is considerably lacking in depth if the Heat strikes out on the headline names. In order to present him with a remotely compelling offer, the Heat would need to ferociously attack the trade market.

The good news is that the Heat has considerable assets with which to deal. To start the summer, the Heat will have eight first round draft picks over the next seven years – including a protected first round pick acquired from the Toronto Raptors in Shawn Marion-Jermaine O’Neal swap on February 13, 2009 – and a nearly full complement of second round picks. They’ll also have Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers to dangle, and the most cap room in the entire N.B.A. – a valuable commodity for teams in salary cap hell and looking to shed valuable contracts.

How do you build a championship roster?

You start with your superstar wing player, and you give him the space he needs to operate. Floor-spacing, both vertical and horizontal, is everything. That requires an athletic interior presence down low, and a bunch of multi-dimensional shooters.  Read more…