It was a brilliant bit of strategy by LeBron James last time he was a free agent — with a six-year deal offered, he negotiated it down to just three years (about $60 million over the three years).
It was brilliant because kept his options open. It kept pressure on the Cavaliers organization to build a winner around him (they tried and brought in a number of quality players but never won). Dwyane Wade liked the idea so much he did the same thing in Miami.
Could it happen again? Could LeBron — wherever he lands — and Wade take three-year deals one more time?
Don’t bet on it.
While nobody has said anything officially, there is one key difference this time around — a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is being negotiated. (Or being talked about being negotiated, as the case may be.) While nobody knows exactly what the new CBA will entail, it likely will have a reduction in the amount of a maximum salary and the length of that contract. All deals may also not be fully guaranteed.
LeBron, Wade, Chris Bosh and other free agents would be foolish to leave money on the table, and taking a three year deal rather than the five a new team can offer (or six from the current team to stay or in a sign-and-trade) would be just that. These guys are smart, they will not leave money behind.
Everyone will be looking for a max deal for the full length, even non-max guys will be looking to get deals to last them into the new CBA.
That doesn’t mean LeBron and Wade couldn’t negotiate an opt-out after three years. That would give them some leverage and put pressure on the teams to build and maintain a winner. But if a player did opt out, he would have to negotiate under whatever the rules are in place from a new CBA. That means they would be costing themselves money to get out of town. Things would have to be pretty bad for that to happen.
Simply put, it will be different for LeBron and Wade this time because it’s always all about the money.
Last season, the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley won the NBA All-Star Saturday skills challenge because of his jump shot. In head-to-head battles with the Hawks’ Jeff Teague and the Bucks (now a Sun) Brandon Knight, Beverley fell behind on the passing part of the competition but made up the ground by knocking down his jump shot at the end.
He was set to come to Toronto to defend his skills title but has been forced to back out due to injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
After tweaking his ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Portland, Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will not travel to Toronto to defend his skills competition title at All-Star Weekend, league sources told The Vertical.
Beverley wants to rest the ankle over the All-Star break for the Rockets’ final push to make the Western Conference playoffs.
This has yet to be confirmed by the NBA, nor has a replacement been named, but no doubt Woj is accurate on this. No player would risk further injury for a skills competition.
The Rockets have lost six-of-eight, and with the loss to the Blazers Wednesday night have fallen out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They will need all their players healthy, including Beverley, but they will also need a lot more than that to climb back in the race — they need to start playing defense, they need to stop becoming disinterested for large stretches of the game, and they need someone in that locker room to step up and be a serious leader of men.
LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.
Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.
James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.
I don’t buy this.
Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.
Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?
I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.
I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?
LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.
The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.
I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.
The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.
Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.
Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.
As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:
Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7
Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.