Free Agency 2010: The LeBron-Johnson possibility

10 Comments

Ric Bucher of ESPN has a report today including information from a source discussing LeBron James and the 2010 Free Agency Summer of Doom. The source contends that Hawks guard Joe Johnson may be the King’s preferred partner in crime if he heads beyond the sunny gates of Cleveland.

Bucher outlines how Johnson would absorb less of the spotlight than Dwyane Wade, and he’s a better proven closer than Chris Bosh (despite Bosh’s critical three looooong two against the Hawks the other night). A true dynamite two-guard would seem to be a great compliment for LeBron with the ability to spread the floor.

Whenever we discuss rumors of this type, it’s important to outline a few things, even though we do it every time. One, this is just speculation. The reason it’s relevant is it outlines possibilities and contributing factors from a respected source.

 But at the end of the day, the throngs of folks that say “No one has any idea what he’ll do” regarding James are most likely correct. There are just too many factors to predict. Two, it is supremely far from a sure thing that the Cavs won’t be able to re-ink the Savior. If they walk away with a ring this year, that’s going to be near-impossible to walk away from.

And this possibility makes a lot of sense, but has some issues as well. Johnson is a high-usage player looking at his thirties. The King gets the ball first, second, and third. Johnson can act as a catch and shoot or cutting finisher, but he’s at his best when he’s breaking ankles and nailing floaters over three defenders. T

hose same abilities that make him special not only may make the idea of giving the ball up to LeBron 80% of the possessions unfavorable, but are the same skills that will face decline with age.

I spoke with Johnson at All-Star Weekend and asked him if remaining in the south was a favorable idea like it was when he departed Phoenix for Atlanta. He rebuffed that, saying he was older now and locale wouldn’t make an impact on his decision. So clearly New York is going to be on the board (the most likely destination of a LeBron-Johnson team-up). But making all the pieces fit will be a puzzle for GM’s with a lot on the line.

Heat re-sign Udonis Haslem

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In 2002, not a single team drafted Udonis Haslem.

For the last 15 years, the Heat haven’t been able to quit him.

Heat:

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Haslem isn’t receiving another $4 million windfall like he got last year. He’ll earn $2,328,652 – $1,471,382 paid by the Heat and $857,270 covered by the league (as is done on one-year minimum deals for veterans). An NBA contract, even for the minimum, might be enough of a reward at this point.

To whatever extent Haslem still has a position – he has played just 390 minutes in the last two years – he’s probably a center. The Heat have Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and maybe A.J. Hammons ahead of him. But this isn’t about getting the 37-year-old Haslem on the court, at least not beyond rare spot minutes, where can still be useful as a defender and rebounder.

The Heat want Haslem’s toughness and veteran leadership. He reinforces their culture, and that might be worth a roster spot.

Report: Bulls, agent discussed Derrick Rose returning to Chicago

AP Photo/Jeff Haynes
1 Comment

Derrick Rose meeting with the Clippers barely registered. He has to meet with the Bucks twice before most noticed.

But it seems Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, have finally figured out how to drum up attention – leak interest from more prominent teams like the LeBron James-led, championship-contending Cavaliers and big-market, widely followed Lakers.

What team could generate even more buzz?

The Bulls!

Sam Amick of USA Today:

If the talks went beyond Armstrong asking the Bulls whether they would sign Rose and the Bulls declining, I’d be surprised.

There’s probably a part of Rose that wants to return to his native Chicago, but it seems his former team has long moved on.

Report: Derrick Rose meeting with Lakers

David Banks/Getty Images
2 Comments

Derrick Rose is suddenly in demand – once the market was set at a minimum salary or so.

Not only are the Cavaliers pursuing the former MVP/overhyped role player, so are the Lakers.

ESPN:

Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ramona Shelburne. The Lakers are trying to entice Rose to sign with them, suggesting they can offer more playing time and money in a better environment after Rose’s tumultuous season in New York, sources said.

Rose’s tumultuous season was due in part to Rose. No matter where he signs, he can’t escape himself. And Los Angeles is even further from his native Chicago.

But the Lakers can offer more money. They still have the $4,328,000 room exception. Rose would earn just $2,116,955 on a minimum salary from Cleveland, and the Cavs can bump that offer to only about $2.5 million. (That’d come with exponential additional costs, so they probably wouldn’t do that, anyway.)

The Lakers can also offer a larger role. Lonzo Ball can’t play every minute at point guard, and Rose would fill in the rest. They’ll likely add a point guard, Rose or not. The Cavaliers might be set with Kyrie Irving, Jose Calderon and Kay Felder if they don’t get Rose.

I’m not sure how Rose would work as a veteran mentor, especially on a one-year contract as he eyes a bigger payday next summer. But – say whatever else you want about him, and there’s plenty to say – Rose has remained impressively focused on basketball amid untold chaos. Ball – with outsized attention given LaVar and his media market – can probably relate.

Rockets re-signing Bobby Brown, Troy Williams

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
3 Comments

James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ recruitment of Chris Paul, but the MVP runner-up didn’t work alone.

Paul’s former New Orleans teammates Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown added appeal.

So, unsurprisingly, with Paul in a contract year, Houston is re-signing Brown. The Rockets are also re-signing Troy Williams.

Alykhan Bijani‏ of ESPN Houston:

Williams’ agency:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brown is an undersized gunner who’s not nearly efficient enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies, and he turns 33 before the season. But if he helps convince Paul to re-sign, it would be well worth keeping Brown on the roster all year.

The 22-year-old Williams, who went undrafted last year, is the far more intriguing player. A 6-foot-7 forward, he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. His 3-point shot needs major development – though not quite as much if he becomes more adept at being a small-ball four, an easier task in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.