Maybe, finally, this will lead to a little clarity.
NBA free agency has been bottlenecked waiting for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to make their decisions, which will open up the secondary markets and after that the dominos will start to fall quickly.
LeBron James is set to meet with Pat Riley and talk about his future with the Heat on Wednesday, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
Riley will be able to point to the signings of Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. Not exactly huge stars, but Miami’s big three of LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade aren’t leaving so much money on the table as to allow Riley to go after the big, more expensive names. Those two are signs of a deeper bench Riley plans to build with the money he does have (whatever it ends up being exactly). Miami’s front office remains confident LeBron will return.
There has been a lot of momentum toward LeBron returning to Cleveland as the prodigal son. There are certainly basketball reasons to do so — Kyrie Irving is better than anyone on the Heat and with Andrew Wiggins and a host of recent and future high picks they can put together an interesting, albeit young team. Part of the momentum and rumors also have been fueled by LeBron’s agent suggesting that the Cavaliers can pull this off. There are also a lot of people close to LeBron who miss what they had in Cleveland — LeBron and his crew had full run of everything in the Cleveland organization, Miami is not that way at all. Miami is Pat Riley and a very solid structure. Some around LeBron miss the old days, the power.
The question is: Does LeBron?
He’s a far more mature person at 29 than he was at 25 when he left Cleveland — he’s married, far more stable, and he has a couple of rings and four trips to the Finals. He’s been through a lot and has grown from it.
He makes his own decisions, he sees both what Miami has given and can do for him and potential in Cleveland.
The question is what does LeBron want.
Like Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce and a host of others, Luol Deng is considering his options and waiting.
Remember he turned down three years, $30 million from the Bulls and now he wants more — certainly more years, ideally more money per year (but not less). He saw what Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala got and wants to be in that ballpark. Miami couldn’t give that to him, so they are out.
Atlanta might as they are the team making the hardest run at him in recent days, but also in the mix potentially are the Clippers (unlikely sign-and-trade), Wizards, Mavericks, Raptors and Lakers are all lurking. Deng knows that once the LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony/Chris Bosh players start to make their moves other offers will open up for him.
What about the Bulls? Deng’s agent told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com it could happen.
“It appeared uglier than it was,” said agent Ron Shade (about Deng’s trade out of Chicago to Cleveland), who works with Chicago-based Herb Rudoy. “Luol is a professional, so what happened if January is forgiven but not forgotten….
“Like I say, Luol is a professional,” Shade said. “He will hear every reasonable option and give it serious thought. We won’t close any door on that possibility at all.”
The problem with Deng to the Bulls is finding a way for both sides to save face.
But that three-year, $30 million number, made so public, has become a set point that complicates the situation. If Deng accepts it now, some will characterize that as “crawling back” on the Bulls’ terms. If Paxson and Forman sweeten the deal, it might be portrayed that they “caved” and are scrambling to make up for their inability to woo Anthony.
More than likely Deng will not return to the Windy City, making the questions where, and for how much, will he sign.
Deng is waiting it out. As are we all.
Pau Gasol is waiting. Like the rest of us.
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have largely bottlenecked free agency as they take their time making their decisions — maybe because they want to play together. Doesn’t matter the reason, they have the right to make their own decisions on their own schedule. It just leaves everyone hanging.
Like Gasol. A host of quality suitors are targeting him, with various contract offers, but he’s not moving until those two do. If Anthony goes to Los Angeles Gasol likely follows, if not… who knows. Adrian Wojnarowski has the latest.
About the Thunder, signals are mixed apparently, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Thunder and Spurs reportedly have the same mid-level exception offer ($5.3 million a year to start, max four years), so for Gasol that would be a matter of fit. Reportedly he was impressed that both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook pitched him personally. It’s very easy to picture Gasol working well in the Spurs system and making them even more difficult to beat.
The Bulls, if they don’t land Anthony, could be a great fit with him at the four, and they will be contenders if Derrick Rose can stay on the court. Plus the Bulls can potentially offer more money.
He loves Los Angeles and playing next to Kobe Bryant, if Anthony comes it’s expected Gasol returns. The Knicks would like to get in the game but need to clear out enough salary to even offer the mid-level exception money.
Gasol has options because he’s still as skilled a big man as their is in the game — other teams realize his slide the last couple years was more about how Mike D’Antoni used him than his skills deteriorating. Look at the caliber of teams targeting him — they get what has happened and that he could be a good value addition.
However, Gasol is in no rush to choose one of those options. Just like LeBron and ‘Melo.
As we patiently await the decisions of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency, it’s worth looking anywhere we can for clues on what the future may hold.
On Monday night, Las Vegas was the scene that provided us with a new set of tea leaves to pore over where the future of the Heat is concerned. And depending on how you choose to read them, the events could be viewed as a positive sign for LeBron returning to Miami.
From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:
LeBron James & Dwyane Wade had dinner at LAVO in Vegas late last night with some friends before going to Marquee Night Club, a source said.
A spokesperson from LAVO told PBT:
They were joined by a large group of friends from Miami and Cleveland. James and Wade enjoyed items from the LAVO menu such as sea bass, steak and grilled vegetables but stuck to their strict off season paleo diet.
We know: Extremely riveting stuff.
As we mentioned in discussing the latest pretend scenario, where Anthony may be waiting out Chris Bosh to see if a spot opens up for him on a fictional Heat roster, it isn’t as though the players aren’t talking amongst themselves about these decisions, and doing so far more regularly than is reported to the masses.
James is reportedly set to meet with Heat president Pat Riley in Vegas as early as Tuesday, and beyond that, is in town for his Nike Elite Youth Basketball Skills Academy, which takes place from the 9th to the 12th.
The reason for Wade’s presence isn’t as clear, though it seems reasonable to speculate that he, too will be meeting with Riley and/or James more formally this week.
All of this could mean a Heat reunion is in the works, or it could just as easily have been a night out between two friends who have already played their last game together as teammates. No one knows; it’s merely another piece of information to chew on as we continue to wait for some concrete answers.
The Knicks selected Thanasis Antetokounmpo with the 51st pick in this summer’s draft, and the 21-year-old brother of Bucks sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo appears to have an NBA-ready skill set, at least on the defensive end of the floor.
But New York is going to take its time in developing this particular prospect, and will reportedly stash him in Europe for the upcoming season.
From Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Greece’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo will be able to show his skills when the Knicks open their Las Vegas Summer League schedule Friday, but The Post has learned it will be the last American venue for their second-round selection for a while.
According to source close to the defensive specialist, the Knicks drafted him with plans of stashing him in Europe for one season, even if he has a solid summer league showing. The Knicks have their first summer-league practice Tuesday in Las Vegas. Antetokounmpo was selected by the Knicks with the 51st pick, which they acquired as part of the Mavericks trade that sent Tyson Chandler to Dallas.
There’s always a bit of a risk with not locking up these European prospects to NBA deals immediately, because many of them choose to stay overseas for extended periods that are longer than what the NBA team was initially led to believe was the plan.
With Giannis being in the states and already thriving in Milwaukee, that’s mitigated here to a strong degree. But it seems as though Knicks fans will have to get their fill of Thanasis during Summer League, enough to last them for at least the duration of the upcoming season.