Agents say there is no "free agent summit" but LeBron says otherwise


nba_james1_250.jpgWhen you’re an agent, you don’t just negotiate the fat contract for your client then watch the money roll in. Well, not if you’re a good one. Your job is bigger than that.

You have to have your player’s back, keeping him out of trouble.

So, hypothetically, if you’re client starts talking about all the free agents getting together to talk and choreograph their free agent moves — to border on tampering — then you get your political spin machine going and shoot that down.

Which is exactly what the agents for Dwyane Wade and Amar’e Stoutdemire said to Darren Rovell yesterday at CNBC.

“Dwyane never made reference to a summit,” [Wade’s agent Henry] Thomas told me. “He said that he’d have conversations with some of these guys and that still will happen. These guys came into the league at the same time and they’re in similar situations, so it’s unrealistic to think that they won’t talk. But there’s no summit of any kind planned where they’ll all be in the same location.”

Except, in the leaked transcript of LeBron James’ Larry King interview (as seen here at Blogabull, but reported in several spots), the biggest fish himself basically says there is one.

KING: What if [you tell free other free agents] you go there and I go here and we go here? Is that possible?

JAMES: I don’t know to that extent, but it will be fun. It will be fun to get all the free agents together and, you know, figure out a way how we can make the league better.

Now let’s delve into the semantics of spin.

Wade never used the word “summit.” In fact, there is very little chance — with the busy summer schedules top NBA players have — that all of them are going to be able to coordinate and sit down together in the back of some expensive New York restaurant and just talk it out. There likely will not be one big meeting.  (For the record, we at PBT had never used the word “summit” until this story, although we did compare it to the Apalachin Meeting, which was a summit.)

But not having everyone sit down in one place for a meeting and not having everyone share information as would happen at a summit are two different things. In our modern world of communications, meetings like this are often not face-to-face.

Wade, James and Bosh all share CAA as an agent firm. If you don’t think they are all sharing information, you are a fool. They admit as much, saying they are doing it just to get the best deal for their clients. But when those clients leak that “LeBron is going to X, Bosh is going to Y” info to others it will change the landscape. Others will try to get in with them. If LeBron really wants to play with a particular player, they will talk. If Wade really wants Stoudemire in Miami, they will talk. And so on, and so on, and so on. Everyone will share the information.

So Wade’s agent Thomas is right, there is not going to be a “summit.” But efforts bordering on tampering by any other name smells as sweet.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”