Tag: Miami Heat

Charlie Villanueva

Charlie Villanueva launches ‘Crossroads’ webisode series documenting his free agency experience (VIDEO)


Charlie Villanueva is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he (like everyone else) is waiting for the decisions of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony before teams will begin to execute plans to fill out their regular season rosters.

In Villanueva’s case, he’s likely to be further down the list, but hopes to prove he still has plenty to contribute when NBA teams come calling. He was used sparingly in Detroit over the last three seasons, and will likely need to work out for teams to show what he can do before securing his next deal in free agency.

Whatever happens along the way should be fascinating, and Villanueva is documenting it all with an eight-part video blog series entitled “Crossroads,” in a nod to where he finds himself at this stage of his career.

Check out the trailer for the series in the video clip above, and head over to Villanueva’s blog to check out Episode 1 in its entirety, which features a conversation with his agent Jeff Schwartz, footage of his workouts, and some of his personal thoughts as he begins to deal with this process.

Reports: It’s LeBron, agent, Pat Riley alone in a room Wednesday afternoon In Vegas

LeBron James

Everything else is just chatter.

There have moves to lay the foundations in Cleveland and Miami — trades to clear cap space, and mid-level exception signings — but those are just part of the storm swirling around the periphery, not the thing at the center. Then there are the rumors of what his agent wants or his wife wants, dream trade scenarios, superstars holding out fantasies of joining forces, and none of that really matters.

What matters is what’s in LeBron James’ head and he has been silent. Here’s what we do know — Pat Riley and LeBron James are meeting in Vegas today and it’s a small group.

That means no Dwyane Wade, no owner Micky Arison. Just the guys with the real power across the table from each other (and their right hand men). What does that mean? Nobody really knows. What you think it means really says more about what you want to come out of this meeting than it does the actual meeting itself.

Here are my thoughts as we wait for a meeting that may provide some clarity and be the first domino in free agency.

• What matters here is what LeBron wants — more than any other superstar (save maybe Kobe) LeBron runs his own show now. He listens to others, but this is a more mature LeBron than the one that left Cleveland four years ago. LeBron steers his own ship and this will be his call and his call alone.

• LeBron knows that Kyrie Irving is better than anyone on the Heat right now, but he also knows that the rest of that Cavs roster is young and untested (and Minnesota isn’t looking for picks or rookies in a Kevin Love deal). If he’s on Cleveland they are contenders, one of the best teams in the East, but is he closer to a title next season than he would be in Miami? Could they beat the best in the West? Is that move lateral on the court in the short term?

• Are Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger a big upgrade? No. It’s about the best Riley could do acting like a capped out team, but it’s not that impressive.

• In 2016 what is expected to be a much-increased new national television deal is going to kick in and flood the system with cash — the salary cap will jump, and as max salaries are a percentage of the cap they will jump also. Meaning a max contract in two years is worth a lot more than one today.

• A lot of people around LeBron want him to return to Cleveland. Remember when LeBron was in Cleveland before he and his posse had the complete run of the place, they had real power. Miami doesn’t work that way, it’s Pat Riley’s show (and the city is sloppy with celebrities). Some people would love that power and attention again. Question is does LeBron?

• Outside of the obvious Miami fans complaints (how many notice before the season starts next year?), if you want to know what the backlash to LeBron going to Cleveland looks like, it looks like what J.A. Adande wrote at ESPN. That he surrendered his leverage as league spokesman. It’s not just the Dan Gilbert letter, it’s Gilbert was a hard liner in the last CBA negotiations that LeBron railed against.

• For all those reasons — and what most around the league said — I used to think a return to the Cavs this summer was a long shot at best. It’s not anymore, it’s a very real possibility. LeBron himself may not be speaking but he apparently did reach out to veterans to see if they want to come to Cleveland. He is considering it. Seriously considering.

• Carmelo Anthony is waiting — if LeBron chooses Miami Chris Bosh is expected to return to South Beach too, but if LeBron goes to Miami and Bosh goes to Houston anyway Anthony might squeeze into Miami. Also, I might win the Powerball Lottery. Close to the same odds, but ‘Melo is holding on to his ticket.

• My guess (and that of others around the league) is LeBron re-signs for two max years in Miami, and we do this all again in 2016. And the Cavs very well could win then, although it’s hard to see that far into the future in an ever-shifting NBA landscape.

Ray Allen says a team’s city isn’t a big factor in choosing where to play

Miami Heat's Allen and James slap hands during the second half of Game 4 of their NBA first round playoff series in Milwaukee

The notion that Ray Allen would leave Miami to go play in Cleveland would seem to be a bit of a stretch, even if it meant accompanying LeBron James to contend for a title in a brand new location.

The weather, beaches, nightlife and real estate in that particular part of Florida are all far more desirable than those same things in Cleveland, in almost any objective observer’s eyes.

But somewhat surprisingly, the location of the franchise may not mean what we think it does to every NBA player. It’s certainly not a consideration for Allen, who explained that life in the NBA is largely the same no matter your specific team’s home town.

From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

And while Allen has clearly enjoyed his time in Miami—recently deciding to buy the house that he’d been renting—he downplayed the importance of a franchise’s location.

“It’s great because we get to live in great weather and this is an awesome city to live in, but for the most part, we don’t partake in living in Miami the majority of the year because you are traveling and you’re trying to stay off your feet,” Allen said. “I played in Milwaukee, you know; it was cold, you didn’t go outside. I played in Seattle; it rained a lot. So most of the cities in the NBA, at the end of the day, you do the same things consistently throughout. We do have the opportunity to go out and eat at night and be able to enjoy it on off days, but there are so many other things to consider.”

Allen’s right, in that during the season, your time is largely dominated by team-related duties. And for a more mature player near the end of his career, those ancillary things don’t mean as much as they do to someone younger who may be looking to take advantage of their NBA status.

What’s clear is that Allen’s experiences in poor-weather, small-market cities aren’t exactly going to scare him away from finishing his career in a place like Cleveland — especially if it means contending for one last title playing alongside James.

Josh Howard joins Pelicans’ Summer League team trying to get back in NBA

Josh Howard Jazz

Josh Howard, at age 34 and after multiple ACL surgeries, is not giving up on the dream.

The former NBA All-Star with 10 years of service (he was in the LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony draft class) played 24 games for the Austin Toros last season in the D-League, looking to impress some NBA team into giving the veteran a shot. He scored 14.7 points per game but needed 13.3 shots a game to get there, and he struggled from three. He was decent, but there were no calls to come up to the show.

So now he’s headed to Las Vegas as part of the Pelican’s Summer League team trying to get back into the league. Howard spoke with Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune about the chance and how bad he wants it after lat season.

“To fight through all that adversity: the travel was rough, playing in different arenas, that whole avenue of being in the NBA for 10 years and having to go down to the D-League. . . .

“Riding those AAU vans was a humbling experience,” Howard said. “That right there was a motivation in itself. I just took it and ran with it. I couldn’t finish the season because I had a sports hernia, but that was like the last month. I played pretty much every day.”

He’s chosen wisely. The Pelicans don’t have a lot of money to spend and could use help off the bench at the three. Howard fits that mold… if he can still play at an NBA level. And stay healthy.

He’s got competition, the Pelican’s Summer League team has about six guys who are threes on it. They are trying to get a good look at their options.

If it’s not in the Big Easy, Howard isn’t done playing — he loves the game and wants to keep on ballin’.

“I plan on making a comeback. That’s my motivation,” Howard said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the GMs and the coaches to put me on the team. As far as me being prepared and being ready, I put myself in a position to be like that. Whatever happens. Pelicans, D-League, overseas. Whatever happens, just to have the opportunity to play the game that I love. You can’t beat that.”

Got to love that attitude.

Jazz expected to match Hornets’ max contract offer to Gordon Hayward, which is absolutely the right decision

Gordon Hayward

The Hornets gave Gordon Hayward an offer sheet of a four-year max contract, and while nothing can be signed until the NBA’s free agency moratorium period ends on July 10, he has reportedly agreed to sign it when the time comes.

The Jazz have said all along that the plan was to match any offer Hayward received, and multiple reports confirmed this again once the news of the agreement between Hayward and Charlotte became publicly official.

The money being thrown at Hayward may seem excessive at first glance — $63 million guaranteed over four years, although the last year is a player option that may see Hayward choose to leave in free agency before Utah is officially on the hook for that final $16.7 million.

But should the Jazz match as expected, it’s absolutely the right decision.

It’s worth noting that just because we call all four- or five-year contracts “maximum,” that doesn’t mean that they’re all worth the same. They’re the maximum length allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, but the amount depends on how long a player has been in the league, and whether they re-sign with their current team or leave to go somewhere else.

Carmelo Anthony’s four-year max, for example, should he leave the Knicks to sign with someone like the Lakers, is $97 million — far more than Hayward’s number of $63 million, which is necessary to point out to provide some perspective.

It’s still a lot for Hayward, but there’s a reason teams like the Hornets and the Jazz are willing to offer it — they simply don’t have a lot of other choices.

The next marquee free agent that voluntarily chooses to play for the Jazz will be the first. Star-level players never even consider Utah when free agency comes, so if the Jazz are fortunate enough to draft well, they need to overpay for that level of talent if they want to entice it to stay.

Restricted free agency is in place for precisely this reason, to give small market teams a chance to hang onto their rookies for up to seven seasons. That will be the case with Hayward, who has been in Utah for four years and can opt out after three more to pursue unrestricted free agency if that’s what he ultimately believes will be best.

Hayward isn’t quite an All-Star just yet, and didn’t improve as much as expected last season, despite getting a significant bump in minutes. Still, his averages of 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 36.4 minutes per contest show a more-than-solid overall game that’s worth waiting out.

As a comparison, those numbers (steals not included) were matched by only four other players in the league last season —  LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Michael Carter-Williams.

At his current level of production, and even with a small amount of projected improvement, Hayward might not be worth a max contract to teams more closely considered to be actual title contenders. But for markets like Charlotte and Utah, Hayward would be a fine signing at that amount — not only because of his acceptable relative level of talent, but also because of their somewhat limited options.