LeBron James Rumors

Eastern Notes: Heat, Anthony, Young, Raptors

April 15 at 6:23pm CDT By Ryan Raroque

The general consensus among several NBA executives is that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will presumably re-sign with the Heat, says Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. As for Carmelo Anthony, most executives reportedly believe that the seven-time All-Star will re-up with the Knicks (Twitter links).

Unfortunately, the Knicks reported today that an MRI revealed a small tear in Anthony’s right labrum; however, no surgery is needed and he’ll be re-evaluated in a month (Twitter links via the official Knicks PR account). Depending on how one looks at it, it may be considered a blessing that the star forward will not risk aggravating the injury by trying to play through pain had New York made the playoffs this year. Al Iannazzone of Newsday (via Twitter) notes that Anthony decided to continue playing on a torn labrum in his left shoulder at the end of last season.

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Thaddeus Young isn’t sure if his time with the 76ers is running out, but the veteran forward tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’ll remain with the team as long as they want him and he’s under contract. Young is still on the books for 2014/15; however, the Sixers could look to deal him this summer if they feel that he’ll eventually choose to turn down his $9.8MM player option for 2015/16, adds Pompey.
  • Soon-to-be restricted free agents Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez are “immensely open” to re-signing with the Raptors on long-term deals this summer, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Charania also hears from DeMar DeRozan, who says he never thought about trying to push for an early escape from his four-year extension when the team was struggling early this season.
  • Nets GM Billy King is exploring all of the team’s options in the NBDL right now, relays Tim Bontemps of the New York Post (via Twitter). King added that an announcement will be made as soon as a decision is reached.
  • Toney Douglas considers himself to be in a more advantageous position heading into free agency this summer after making the most of his chance to revive his career with the Heat this season, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post. 

Windhorst On Cavs: Thompson, Hawes, Griffin

April 4 at 9:21pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Robert Attenweiler of Cavs:The Blog.com chatted with ESPN’s Brian WIndhorst about the Cavs. The entire article is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from their Q & A session:

  • Windhorst believes re-signing Tristan Thompson is very dangerous. He thinks the team shouldn’t extend him this summer and let him test his market in free agency. Thompson is looking for a salary in the $10MM range, and Windhorst doesn’t think the team should pay more than $8MM.
  • He believes Spencer Hawes has a future with the Cavs, but only at a salary similar to his current $6.5MM. Windhorst mentions that Cleveland will need to overpay to attract unrestricted free agents, but long-term deals to players like Hawes and Luol Deng carry big risks.
  • The team most likely won’t keep David Griffin as GM beyond this season, Windhorst opines. He believes that team owner Dan Gilbert will “swing for the moon” and go out and make a big name hire.
  • One of those names might be Isiah Thomas. Windhorst says that, “Thomas wants the job really bad. He’s pretty much out in New York. His influence is over. He’s met with Gilbert a couple of times – they had lunch or dinner together – and he really wants it. I think Gilbert is charmed by him, as everyone else is.
  • Windhorst believes that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland. He says, “The truth is [Kyrie’s] camp has been putting out there for years – years – that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. That they don’t want him in Cleveland. He doesn’t like Mike Brown. He didn’t like Chris Grant. He doesn’t like Dion Waiters. He’s already gotten a General Manager fired. He might get Mike Brown fired. This is the last time – once he signs he loses all of his leverage – so this is the last time he gets to enact leverage. I know he’s said all the right things so, fine, on July 1, when they offer a max contract – which they will – and I don’t even know if he’s a max player, but you have to sign him – sign a five-year, no out. That’s what a max contract is. A max contract is five years, no out. If you want out or you want three years, that’s not a max contract. You want three years? Okay, we’ll give you $12MM a year. We’re not giving you the full thing.”
  • He doesn’t think Irving leaving would have a negative effect on their chances to lure LeBron James back to town. Windhorst believes the team would have to trade Irving to accommodate LeBron, and said, “LeBron and Kyrie have drifted apart in the last few years, even to the point that if the Cavs wanted to get LeBron they would maybe trade Kyrie for someone who would fit better with LeBron.”

Eastern Rumors: Heat, LeBron, Jackson, Hinrich

April 3 at 12:53pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Heat team president Pat Riley thinks it would be difficult for Miami’s stars to abandon a run of success that “can go for 10 or 12 years,” as he says to Michael Wallace of ESPN.com, but Riley is nonetheless cognizant that nothing’s for certain.

“You always fear,” Riley said. “It’s not a real fear. I always have concern when players are in the situation they’re in. But we feel we have the best organization in the league for those players to stay, and to also attract others to want to come here. With our three guys, we hope that this turns into a generational team. And that it’s not just we’re at the end of this four-year run right now because players have some options this summer.”

With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh less than three months away from the June 30th deadline for them to decide what to do with their early termination options, here’s more on the Heat and their Eastern Conference rivals:

  • James is well aware of what Riley can do to keep the Heat in championship contention, as he tells Wallace for the same piece. “He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Not me, not Dwyane, not Chris. No one,” James said. “His résumé speaks for itself. His stature speaks for itself. So we’ll see what happens.”
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson told reporters today that he and owner James Dolan agreed that Jackson could do away with the team’s ties to any agency if necessary, notes Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal. The team’s seeming allegiance to the Creative Artists Agency “won’t hold weight with me,” Jackson said (Twitter links).
  • Jackson said again that he has no intention of coaching and that he has yet to have a conversation with Carmelo Anthony about the future, as Fred Kerber of the New York Post and Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com pass along via Twitter.
  • Kirk Hinrich says he enjoys playing in Chicago and would like to re-sign with the Bulls this summer, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details.

Eastern Notes: Hopson, Augustin, Heat

April 1 at 8:57pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Cavs used the room exception to sign Scotty Hopson on Monday, but because the maximum 4.5% raise permitted via the exception is tied to what he actually makes, rather than the exception’s full value, Hopson isn’t a particularly intriguing trade chip. Mark Deeks of ShamSportsexplains the matter in his latest piece for the Score, noting that Hopson’s salary of about $1.37MM this season and $1.44MM next season is roughly equivalent to what a veteran of 10 seasons or more would make on a minimum-salary deal. Hopson is ineligible to be traded until July 10th, meaning he’s of no use for a draft-night trade.

More news from around the east:

  • Since being picked up by the Bulls after Toronto waived him in December, D.J. Augustin has averaged 14.3 PPG on nearly 42 percent shooting, including 41 percent from 3-point range, in 30.4 minutes per contest. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, but would love to return to Chicago, writes Cody Westerlund of CBSChicago.com.
  • The Heat‘s “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can all become free-agents after the season. There has been speculation that one or all three would consider leaving Miami, but before making any decision, the trio plan to sit down together to discuss their options, writes Darren Rovell of ESPN.com.
  • Phil Jackson has been to only two of the eight games the Knicks have played since he took over their basketball department. Some say Jackson should be with the team as much as possible to get to know the players and staff and help them in any way he can as they try to make their playoff push, but Carmelo Anthony is not one of them, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Anthony said, “He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been in this situation before with fighting for spots and trying to win basketball games. So he knows what to expect, and now he’s on the outside looking in. I guess he’s giving us our space. We’re not really concerned about that.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Bosh, LeBron To Stay In Miami Next Season?

March 25 at 6:26pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Chris Bosh spoke on ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard Show and told Le Batard that he and LeBron James would be playing for Miami next season, reports Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report. Both James and Bosh have the ability to terminate their contracts early and enter free agency this summer, but Bosh responded with “true” when asked a pair of true/false questions inquiring whether he and James would be playing for the Heat next year.

While Bosh’s words are by no means binding, they do come in the midst of heavy speculation  that the “Big Three” might be on their way out of Miami, each in search of a max deal. It’s certainly possible that Bosh and James terminate their contracts, which have the potential to extend until the 2015/16, only to re-sign longer pacts with the Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade has the option to end his deal with the club and enter free agency as well, but Bosh made no comments to Le Batard regarding Wade’s intentions this offseason.

The tone of the interview was “lighthearted,” according to Skolnick, but Bosh’s comments should nonetheless serve some level of comfort to Heat fans who’ve been hearing speculation of James returning to Cleveland and Bosh heading off to Dallas this summer. Another championship couldn’t hurt the superstars’ willingness to stay, and the Heat are definitely capable of going all the way again in 2013/14. James and Bosh respectively sit at number one and three on the Hoops Rumors 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.

And-Ones: Jeanie, Celtics, LeBron

March 18 at 10:16pm CDT By Ryan Raroque

Lakers president Jeanie Buss appeared on TWC Sports Net in Los Angeles tonight, addressing today’s most popular topic: “it was clear that (Phil Jackson) wanted to go back to work, but there was no role for him with the Lakers…He was not offered an official position… There (was) no role in the front office for him.” 

As Jackson’s fiancee, Buss said that she recently met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to discuss a potential conflict of interest now that Phil is running the front office in New York. With regard to the Buss family’s ownership of the Lakers, Jeanie asserted that they aren’t going anywhere soon: “This is the family business and the family is going to own the team for as long as the family is together” (All Twitter links via ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne).

Here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:

  • Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck recently hinted at major roster changes this summer, telling Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe that there could be “fireworks” this June, as Holmes notes within a story on the challenges of playing for a team with so much uncertainty,
  • LeBron James sidestepped a question about a potential return to the Cavaliers earlier tonight: “For me to take my mind somewhere else when I know what’s on its way [postseason] is almost impossible” (Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel via Twitter). Tonight marked LeBron’s final appearance in Cleveland before he can opt out this summer, and the Heat superstar didn’t count anything out: “Only time will tell” (Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio relayed on Twitter).
  • Though Mark Jackson has been a target for ridicule in Golden State, the missteps of Warriors owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers can’t be ignored either, writes Ric Bucher of the Bleacher Report.
  • Bucher adds that it was Lacob who made the call to amnesty Charlie Bell‘s $4MM contract so the team could pursue then-free agent Tyson Chandler, who never planned on playing for the Warriors. Additionally, top management – whether intentional or not – provided the grist which brought forth questions about Jackson’s job security this year, specifically when Lacob expressed disappointment about certain losses and Myers suggested that Jackson has been given all he needs to succeed. The team is currently sixth in the Western Conference and holds just a three-and-a-half-game lead over the ninth-seeded Suns.

Free Agent Stock Watch: LeBron James

March 18 at 4:59pm CDT By Chuck Myron

If LeBron James has learned anything in the nearly four years since he took his talents to South Beach, it’s not to create another frenzy about his next free agent move. This time, the four-time MVP’s choice will simply be a decision, and not “The Decision,” the title of the ESPN telecast on which he announced his intention to sign with the Heat in 2010. James told media at the beginning of the season that he wouldn’t address his ability to opt out of his contract and hit the market this summer, and he’s largely kept his word. The vacuum of information from James himself has led to speculation and rumors, but not nearly as much as has revolved around Carmelo Anthony, who made it clear before the season that he wants to opt out and become a free agent.

Another reason why there hasn’t been much hype around James is the success that he and the Heat are enjoying. There’s been no 27-game win streak like last year, but the Heat remain a strong title contender, and if they win their third straight championship, it would seem counterintuitive for James not to try for a fourth. James, in a rare break from his silence about his potential free agency, said last month that he couldn’t envision himself leaving the Heat, though he insisted that he won’t make up his mind until the season is over. A report soon thereafter from Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio indicated that most NBA executives reportedly feel as though it’s a two-team race between the Heat and the Cavaliers, with the Heat way out in front. Amico wrote much the same today, though he cautions that most of it is merely educated guesswork from people around the league.

A confidant of James recently revealed to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Phil Jackson‘s arrival in New York would prompt the superstar to at least consider signing with the Knicks. That wouldn’t have otherwise happened thanks in part to James’ falling out with the Creative Artists Agency, his former representation and a firm with close ties to the Knicks. New York remains a long shot regardless of Jackson and CAA because the Knicks lack cap flexibility for next summer. The team would surely do all that it could to trade away salary and clear room for James if he wanted to sign there, but that wouldn’t be an easy task, particularly with Amar’e Stoudemire‘s cap-clogging $23.4MM salary for 2014/15.

Still, a lack of cap flexibility didn’t stop Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com from writing in February that the Clippers are “perhaps the most serious competitor” the Heat have for James. A source close to James told Windhorst and Shelburne that the 29-year-old will consider teams without cap room. That means the Heat would have to cooperate in a sign-and-trade, and executives around the league think they’d ask for Blake Griffin from the Clippers if James insisted on such a move. Miami would probably hold out for similar ransoms from other capped-out teams, and James could be less inclined to sign with those clubs if they’re stripped of other significant talent. The Clippers could work out salary-dumping moves with other teams to open cap space, but those trades would also probably mean parting with a key contributor or two.

James, like the other two Heat stars, isn’t planning a hometown discount for the Heat, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, and that suggests that the Rich Paul client is looking for the maximum payday wherever he goes. He could make slightly more than $115MM over five years from the Heat and close to $85.5MM over four years from another team, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors explained before the season. That nearly $30MM chasm would be mitigated by a new contract that gives James the maximum salary in what would otherwise be the fifth year of a deal with the Heat, meaning the difference is actually only about $6MM. Still, that doesn’t take into account changes that could come about if the league and players, as expected, opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in the summer of 2017, when James would only be three years into his next deal. There’s no telling if James will still be an all-world force after four more years, when he’ll be 33. So, a legitimate financial incentive exists for James to sign a new five-year max deal with the Heat this summer.

Stll, the most lucrative path might be for James to opt into his current deal for at least one more season, since that would give him a higher 2014/15 salary than he could get in any new contract. Amico’s latest report casts that as unlikely, given the general assumption that most NBA players enjoy being the subject of free agent recruitment. It’s certainly no given that James will opt out, however. I wouldn’t be surprised if he opts in, particularly since it would allow him to make as much money as possible next season while still granting him the flexibility to make a choice again next summer, when he’d hold a player option for 2015/16.

The notion that James might not even become a free agent this summer makes every team aside from the Heat something of a long shot to sign him. The Cavs make sense as the leading non-Miami candidate for him, since James has spent the vast majority of his life in northeast Ohio and still owns a house in his native Akron. Of course, James also has a house in South Florida, too, and he didn’t win a championship until he fled Cleveland. The Cavs don’t appear anywhere close to title contention these days. The odds that they’ll overtake the Hawks for the final playoff berth this season are growing worse, seemingly by the day. Kyrie Irving is already a marquee player, and former No. 4 overall picks Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson are on the rise, but even with James, the Cavs wouldn’t approach the sort of “super team” label that was affixed to the Heat in 2010. The presence of James would ostensibly make Cleveland a more attractive free agent destination, but no superstars signed with the team when James was there the first time.

There’s a team that’s even lower in this year’s standings that might have a better shot at surrounding James with free agent talent. There’s been precious little talk connecting James to the Lakers since a July report from Shelburne and Windhorst noted that the Lakers had him in their sights for 2014. That was before the Lakers signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year, $48.5MM extension that kicks in for 2014/15, compromising the team’s cap space. They’d still have enough room for James this summer, plus perhaps another top-tier free agent in 2015, when Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge and others could become available. Bryant’s ability to recover from a season lost almost in its entirety because of injuries could be the stumbling block to their pursuit of James, since he won’t have a chance to see the 35-year-old shooting guard perform in an NBA game this year. If there’s fear about how Wade, at 32, will hold up, the same is true about Bryant.

The uncertainty over where James will end up next season will make his choice a major story at some point, regardless of how little insight he gives us about his intentions. It won’t be like 2010, but James probably won’t exactly get to enjoy a quiet start to his summer vacation. At least a few teams will probably hold off on other business until they know what James is going to do. I expect he’ll attempt to defuse the hubbub with as quick a decision as possible, and if he feels strongly about staying with the Heat, he might make an announcement well in advance of July 1st, when he’s set to become a free agent. As soon as the Heat are either eliminated from contention or lift the Larry O’Brien trophy, the attention will zero in on the league’s pre-eminent star. What happens from there will shape the 2014 free agent market, the 2014/15 season, and, depending on his choice, the 2015 free agent market, too.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Jackson, Antetokounmpo

March 18 at 12:51pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Most league insiders think it’s unlikely LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will opt in for another season on their deals with the Heat, though the same people feel like they’ll all sign new deals with Miami for at least one season, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Many feel as though James will stay with the Heat even if Bosh and Wade leave, with the Cavs as the next in line for his services, and all other teams as dark horses. Amico cautioned that his sources are merely making educated guesses, as James has offered few hints. It appears we’ll have to wait until the summer for clarity on that front, but there’s plenty of other news around the Eastern Conference in the interim:

  • Phil Jackson strongly encouraged Pistons owner Tom Gores to hire Steve Kerr last summer when Detroit instead tapped Maurice Cheeks as coach, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. Jackson has remained an adviser to Gores, though that ostensibly ends with today’s official announcement of the Zen Master as Knicks president.
  • Most NBA teams thought Giannis Antetokounmpo had a promise from the Hawks that they’d take him with the 17th pick, and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri tried “frantically” to trade into the top 15 to draft him before the Bucks snagged him at No. 15. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the details behind the scramble for the Greek prospect.
  • Ujiri doesn’t deny that he was close to a deal in December to send Kyle Lowry to the Knicks, observes Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, who examines how a better attitude is enhancing the Raptors point guard’s free agent value for this summer.
  • The Sixers are unlikely to spend a lot of money in free agency this summer, writes Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com, who thinks that’s a reason why the team should hold on to trade candidate Thaddeus Young.

Knicks Rumors: Jackson, LeBron, Woodson, Kerr

March 15 at 3:26pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Knicks suddenly find themselves only three games back from a playoff berth after winning six straight contests. Even if they can sneak into the postseason, it seems unlikely they’d be able to upset the Heat or Pacers, but New York might have a brighter future ahead of them now that they have Phil Jackson on board. Here’s the latest out of NYC:

  • With Jackson taking control of the Knicks, LeBron James will now at least look at the possibility of signing in NYC this summer, one James confidant tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. “There’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate,” said the source. “He had a falling-out with CAA (agency) and that was a problem as well. But with Phil there I think he will look at it.
  • At least one NBA coach thinks Jackson is taking the role in New York simply because he’s interested in the payday, reports Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. Jackson’s $12MM salary is much higher than the league average for other executives, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).
  • Mike Woodson sounds like he’s worried about his job security, suggests Adam Zagoria of The Knicks Blog. “It’s basketball,” Woodson said. “They try to re-shape, they go through changes and this is no different. You bring in a great basketball mind into your organization and eventually it will be reshaped, so how and who and when, only time will tell.
  • Growing belief around the Knicks organization is that Steve Kerr will replace Woodson as the next Knicks head coach, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.
  • Jackson has been critical of Carmelo Anthony‘s game in the past, but Melo doesn’t take it personally, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Anthony believes his game has evolved since the Zen Master criticized him back in 2012.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks the decision to bring in Jackson is more style than substance. With great executives like Masai Ujiri earning a fraction of Jackson’s salary, Mannix thinks the move by owner James Dolan is a definite overpay.

Western Notes: Mavs, Lakers, Presti

March 12 at 9:21pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

It doesn’t matter whether the Mavericks go one-and-done, miss the playoffs or end up in the conference finals, the offseason game plan is the same, writes Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News. He says they are going to figure out a way to use the $34MM dollars of cap space they anticipate having to try and add a premier small forward and/or center. Sefko floats the possibility of Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat being their prime free-agent targets. The article also mentions that the deeper the team goes in the playoffs, the more appealing they will become to any free agent, including LeBron James, though Sefko admits that landing LeBron is a long shot at best.

Here’s some more from out west:

  • With the news from earlier that Kobe Bryant wants Mike D’Antoni gone, it seems that he’s not the only Lakers player that would feel that way, tweets Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. He mentions that Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill would also like to see a new coach next season.
  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times supports Bryant calling out Lakers management. He hopes the star player’s comments bring about the needed changes in the organization. Plaschke also thinks that it’s a good thing for the team that Kobe is done for the year as it will help them secure a higher lottery pick. The article also questions the decision to re-sign Bryant when they did. Plaschke believes that Bryant would have signed for less now in order to free up cap space to help the team sign players to make a run during his final years.
  • Thunder GM Sam Presti shared his thoughts on tanking with Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Presti said, “Oddly enough, I think it’s a narrative that was created to tweak the league office, and they are showing to be quite reflexive to it. I’m actually a bit surprised they have fed into it and devoted so much public energy to it given the lack of evidence. The records of the teams in the bottom four of the league are in line with those over the last 20 seasons. If anything, they are actually slightly above those averages. I’m missing the epidemic on this, really. I would hope we’d focus our attention on a lot of the great things our players are ding and that the league has in place now.