1. 10 Things To Know For Free Agency
When the clock strikes midnight on Sunday, it will be just 10 days until the date the NBA has had circled on its calendar for some time: July 1.
So now that the scintillating Celtics-Lakers series has ended, let's take a fresh look at the free-agency situation.
With 10 days to go, here are 10 things to know:1. All about LeBron
Akron, Ohio, held a LeBron Appreciation Day rally on Saturday, and in a surprise move, LeBron James showed up after most had left.
Like his appearance, his statement was brief and noncommittal. "Akron is my home, it's my life," James told the remaining crowd. "Everything I do is for this city. I'm going to continue to do great things. I love every last one of you all. Akron is home."
A 19-year-old from Parma, Ohio, brought a homemade flag to the event bearing the word "Hope."
But so far, all the local fans are hearing is "Nope" -- as in, nope, LeBron's not ready to commit to staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And if nothing changes, then when July 1 comes 10 days from midnight, LeBron will no longer be a Cav unless and until he decides that his future lies in the same place as his past.
What's next in the LeBron Watch? For one thing, the Cavs are moving ahead in their coaching search, with Byron Scott the leading candidate now that Tom Izzo has decided to stay in college.2. More about LeBron
Starting Sunday, ESPN's "SportsCenter" will have a three-part series on LeBron's free agency:
Sunday: The Wooing of LeBron: How cities have made their case
Monday: Global Marketing: How LeBron's decision will impact global marketing
Tuesday: Worldwide Wes: How much influence does William Wesley have?
Still to come in the next few days from Ford: How the Heat, Clippers, Wizards, Mavs and Cavs plan to win the LeBron sweepstakes.
See the LeBron Tracker for everything on Bron.3. Actually, it's not all about LeBron
Although fellow free agent-to-be Chris Bosh reportedly is very interested in playing alongside LeBron, he also has sent mixed signals on that front. Late last week he talked to SNY about the chance to play for the Knicks with LeBron. "Any time you have the opportunity to play with certain guys, you have to take that into consideration," Bosh said. "When it all goes down, [LeBron is] gonna be one of the all-time greats. At the same time, I can't just sit around and wait. I have to be proactive with my choices and what's gonna make me happy. I have to make sure I take my time and make the right decision."
Interpret that as you will. From here, it looks about as clear as everything else in the murky world of free agency.4. Silence is golden?
With all the ambiguity from James and Bosh, maybe Friday's pronouncement from Dwyane Wade on Twitter will come as welcome news to some ears: "I wanna thank all my fans 4 thr support thur everything. From ths moment on I'm on twttr hiatus until after Free agency is ova.."
But before that, Wade told ESPN.com's J.A. Adande on June 13 that he intends to bring other players to Miami rather than search for a better opportunity: "It's going to be fit with me first," Wade said. "I've made that very clear. Do I want to leave? Nope. Mmm-hmm. I want to be in Miami. That's where it starts."5. The free-agent summit
Will it happen? Will LeBron, D-Wade and others get together to discuss their futures?
Since Wade's initial claim that he would be getting together with other superstars to discuss the future, the whole idea has been splashed with cold water by Wade's agent, David Stern and most recently Bosh and Carlos Boozer.
But as Wade has made clear, conversations have been and will be happening, summit or no summit.6. Key dates
July 1: Free agents can have discussions with teams and declare their intentions, but they can't sign. Some think it will all be over quickly, as soon as LeBron declares his intentions. But others expect that during this time, the private jets will be soaring, the champagne will be flowing and dreams will be dreamed by front-office types and fans alike.
July 8: Free agents can officially sign. Will we know everything by then, or will we still be days or weeks away?7. Where will they go?
You don't have to go to Vegas to play the slots, pal. Here's the best spot to see how our NBA experts think free agency could play out: Free Agent Slot Machine8. Salary-cap space
The New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves all have significant room in the cap that was set at a relatively rosy $56.1 million on April 14. Here's how the chase shapes up, according to Kevin Arnovitz.9. The buyer's guide
Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire have been profiled so far.
Coming up: Dirk Nowitzki (Monday), David Lee (Tuesday), Dwyane Wade (Wednesday), Joe Johnson (Thursday), Rudy Gay (Friday), Ray Allen (Saturday), The bargain bin (June 28)
His agent says Iverson wants to help a team win a championship. We're not talking practice; we're talking title.
2. LeBron Appreciation Day
3. Stoudemire Out Of Suns Picture?
Even in the midst of this tense and unpredictable NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, I found myself yearning for the wide-open style and high scores of the Lakers-Suns Western Conference finals. Now I'm simply mourning the Suns.
The fun days are over; the feel-good is finished. The first indication is the departure of easygoing general manager Steve Kerr, and the sure sign will come when Amare Stoudemire leaves as a free agent.
The Suns' high-scoring offense couldn't beat the bigger and better teams in the Western Conference, and now it can't beat the accounting books, which remain the most formidable foe in the NBA. Kerr and Suns owner Robert Sarver clashed this month, and you can see the result.
"Kerr wanted a little raise; Sarver wanted him to take a pay cut," one source said. "There's no other way to spin it."
Well, a second source indicated it wasn't as simple as a money grab by Kerr. He wanted more money for the coaching staff, video crew, front-office secretaries -- all the people who helped produce this unexpected trip to the conference finals that yielded more than $10 million in extra revenue from eight home playoff games. But when Kerr went to bat with Sarver, "The guy just bludgeoned Steve," the second source said.
So Kerr's out. Stoudemire's next.
"Amare's done," according to the source. "He's gone."
4. Merits Of New York For LBJ
ESPN The Magazine
Knicks owner James Dolan doesn't bring to mind Jerry Buss or Mark Cuban when it comes to success, but he is a big spender who gives his presidents an open checkbook. That, however, doesn't make him any different from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
Where the Knicks look good is with team president Donnie Walsh, a basketball lifer who built the Indiana Pacers into a strong franchise during the 1990s and beyond. Walsh is a solid team-builder who follows his gut, which has proved to be correct more often than not. He went against the entire state of Indiana when he drafted noted Knicks killer Reggie Miller for the Pacers in 1987. Then, he put the right pieces -- Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, Antonio Davis and Dale Davis, among others -- around Miller to get the Pacers into the playoffs 16 times in 17 years. With the Knicks having several roster spots to fill, even if they sign LeBron and another star, Walsh's track record should bring comfort.
LeBron certainly likes Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, who got close to James as an assistant with Team USA, but LeBron also recognizes the importance of defense. He understands you can't win big without an emphasis on stopping people, and that's where D'Antoni falls short. Being a good defensive team takes a strong defensive philosophy, not just throwing a few good defenders out on the floor. The Knicks would be wise to hire a defensive guru as an assistant coach for D'Antoni -- and wise to force D'Antoni to listen to him!
• For the full Broussard story, click here.
5. Where Will LeBron Land?
6. Wade In The House
7. Bosh's Take
710 ESPN Los Angeles' Mason & Ireland talked to Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh about how he's dealing with his upcoming free agency.
Bosh said his main goal is to win and be happy. "Winning is very important to me," he said.
"Everybody's laying low," he said. "It's a poker game, and nobody's folding."
8. Chicago's Hope
Q: Hey Nick, I love your work for ESPNChicago.com. I was wondering if you feel the Tom Thibodeau hiring affects LeBron James' decision. I've always felt LeBron was going to sign a three-year deal with Cleveland all along. -- Phil G., Willowbrook, Ill.
A: I don't think the Thibodeau hire affects LeBron's decision much one way or another. My colleague Melissa Isaacson reported last week that the organization felt essentially the same way. Obviously, the connections between James' representatives and Thibodeau's representatives (they are represented by the same group -- headed by power agent Leon Rose and basketball kingpin William "Worldwide" Wesley) can't go unnoticed, but I just don't think it's as big a deal as it seems.
I could be wrong, but as I said before, I still think LeBron will stay in Cleveland. The Bulls clearly liked what they heard from Thibodeau, and I think it forced them to act quicker than they had planned on once it became clear that the New Orleans Hornets were going after him as well.
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