LeBron James opting out of the final two years of his contract gave an initial glimmer of hope to teams around the league looking to try to lure the league’s best player into a new situation — one potentially primed to win not only now, but for years to come.
Miami has always been the favorite to retain LeBron’s services, but his choosing to become an unrestricted free agent — if only momentarily, and without providing any additional context — at least opened the door to the possibility that his leaving was a real option.
The news that Dwyane Wade joined him in opting out on Saturday put a damper on those hopes, and a seemingly minor tidbit included in one report might serve to squash them altogether.
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
In recent days, teams that have hoped to schedule pitch meetings with James once the free-agency period begins next week have been unable to do so, sources told ESPN.com.
That’s because he isn’t leaving Miami, and never intended to in the first place.
James opting out was expected from day one. Any superstar in their prime would have done the same, in order to secure a longer deal for more guaranteed dollars in total. That’s what Wade will end up with, and Chris Bosh will more than likely eventually follow suit.
Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1, and that’s the earliest that teams can contact free agents to begin the negotiation process. They could tentatively set up meetings with a player’s representation before then, however, but LeBron has held off until now, probably because he doesn’t want to waste anybody’s time.
James Harden had a historic season in Houston.
Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.
Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.
That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.
Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.
Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.
The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.
Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.
Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:
I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.
Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.
But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.
Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction
On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.