|07.08.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
After an interminable half-hour of television that followed two years worth of hysteria and hype, LeBron James announced that was leaving Cleveland and signing with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a new superteam.
In the end, we may never know the whole story on all the background machinations. Maybe there was a master plan all along. Maybe it was just a bunch of young men playing mogul.
Regardless of all the drama, both real and contrived, James joins Wade and Bosh as the single biggest free agent haul in the history of the sport. James will also have to live with the fallout for the rest of his career after he abandoned his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now that it is official, we can finally ask the basketball question: How good are the Heat? Good enough to instantly become one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference along with the Celtics and Magic, even with just five players and three second-round draft picks on the roster at the moment.
One of those players, Michael Beasley, is expected to be traded in a salary-cap dump, which leaves Mario Chalmers as the only other player with NBA experience on the roster. Pat Riley has his work cut out for him in shaping the roster.
They are over the cap now, which means they will have to entice a center and most of a bench with minimum contracts. What’s also unknown is how these three superstars will play together. [Note: An earlier version of this post noted the Heat’s interest in Mike Miller with the mid-level exception. They don’t have the MLE after these moves.]
This isn’t quite like the Celtics moves in the summer of 2007 when Danny Ainge added Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce. Those were all veteran players hungry to win a championship and the better-than-expected young core of Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo certainly helped them attain that goal.
Wade, Bosh and James are at different stages in their careers and there is no one remotely as good as Perkins, to say nothing of Rondo on the Heat roster.
Ainge has brought the Celtics back together for one more run after a playoff run that saw them beat Wade and James’ teams, and it has been reported that Tony Allen will be as returning as well. Allen will have his work cut out from him when they play the Heat.
If nothing else, this move, and others in free agency, make the East much stronger. The Knicks added Amar’e Stoudemire and appear ready to try and play to win again, while the Bulls finally added a low-post scorer in Carlos Boozer.
The Celtics road to repeat as Eastern Conference champions just got more difficult, but not impossible.
|07.08.10 at 8:29 pm ET|
ORLANDO –Some highlights of Danny Ainge’s 10-minute sit down with the media on Thursday. Ainge was literally sitting down, as he occupied the last chair on the Celtics bench throughout the team’s summer league loss to the Pacers and spoke to the media at halftime of the contest.
Contract status of Jermaine O’Neal
“I’m going to do all that once it’s done. I’m not going to comment on anybody until it’s done. I can’t tell you ‘¦ I’m supposed to wait until the contracts are done. The moratorium today is the first day we can talk, but not until the contracts are done.”
Is there mutual interest?
“We intend to sign him. And I’ll talk about it when we do.”
“I can talk about it when it’s done, which is probably tomorrow.”
Assuming these deals will be done, are you happy with the offseason to this point?
“I think the priorities to start the offseason were obviously Paul and Ray and then to strengthen our center position in lieu of Perk’s injury. Those were our priorities right there. So hopefully by tomorrow we’ll have those three things taken care of and then we can continue to work on it.”
Status of Kendrick Perkins
“Perk is scheduled to have surgery on Monday (pushed back). I guess the philosophy is to get more range of motion and the swelling and strengthening. Just rehabbing before the surgery.”
Is it just the ACL for Perkins?
“I know there were injuries to the MCL and the PCL, but I don’t know to what extent they need to be surgically repaired. Those might heal on their own, as sprains or strains. But I do know that the ACL needs to be repaired.”
Any Rasheed Wallace updates?
“We like Nate and Tony and I’m sure that they are still looking at the market too. The market is pretty crazy right now so we’ll be patient and look at other options as well in case they go in another direction. But we do have interest in both of them. Always have.”
Can this team compete in what will surely be a much different Eastern Conference?
“Absolutely, yeah. We’re the Eastern Conference champions and we think we’re going to be better.”
After the first call to David Lee, was there any more contact during the free agency process?
“Yeah, yeah. We couldn’t compete [financially].”
|07.08.10 at 6:28 pm ET|
While all the fuss Thursday has centered on LeBron James‘ apparent decision to join the Heat, ESPN’s Ric Bucher recently posted on his Twitter account that the consensus among GMs, agents and league officials is that he will not be going to Miami.
James was, however, spotted Thursday at his basketball camp at Cleveland State University, watching high school stars play in front of college coaches. Those in attendance included Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Bob Huggins, to name a few. From there he is headed to the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn., where his hour-long special will air.
If he were to re-sign with the Cavaliers, rumors abound that it would be a three-year contract. And because of the firestorm James’ decision could have on the people of Ohio, there is reportedly going to be increased police activity in downtown Cleveland.
|07.08.10 at 5:02 pm ET|
Saying he believes King James will end up re-signing with Cleveland, Cuban explained, “The sports world is full of uncertainties. When in doubt, go for the love.”
James, who joined the Twitter world Tuesday afternoon, already has over 300,000 followers and gave his fans an update Thursday morning, encouraging them to send questions regarding where he will end up.
|07.08.10 at 4:25 pm ET|
In order to free up space to sign LeBron James to a max contract of nearly $130 million, the Heat reportedly have been in discussions about a four-way deal with the Raptors, Bobcats and Rockets.
According to ESPN.com, the complicated deal would have Michael Beasley and his $5 million leaving South Beach. Although the Heat could give near-max contracts to James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, getting rid of Beasley would go a long way toward helping reshape their roster.
|07.08.10 at 3:34 pm ET|
Carlos Boozer, who agreed to a five-year, $76 million contract with the Bulls, is attempting to woo LeBron James via text messages. Boozer said he sent LeBron a message Wednesday night and hopes to get the superstar forward to join him in Chicago.
The Knicks are hoping that their recent signee, Amar’e Stoudemire, will be enough to get King James to choose New York. General manager Donnie Walsh spoke about the possibility of signing James at Stoudemire’s introductory press conference Thursday.
Said Walsh: “I was pleased with the meeting we had in Cleveland. I thought we were able to present our franchise the way we wanted to. I did think New York was the perfect place for LeBron.”
Meanwhile, Magic GM Otis Smith, at a press conference in Orlando to introduce Chris Duhon, told WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane that he still believes James will stay in Cleveland.
|07.08.10 at 2:19 pm ET|
ORLANDO, Fla. — I just spoke to Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith after a press conference announcing the signing of Chris Duhon. Smith was impressed by the Celtics‘ ability to keep the core together and add Jermaine O’Neal.
“They did a great job,” Smith said. “To sign Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and add a piece like Jermaine O’Neal? They are going to be tough again next year.”
Smith, who wouldn’t comment on the status of free agent J.J. Redick, was asked about LeBron James. If James signs with the Heat, would it signal a shift of power in the Eastern Conference?
“I still think you have to put teams together,” Smith said. “That’s it. If all three of those guys go to Miami, that’s a very good team. But three guys don’t give you anything, you need a team. It gives them a chance to win a title, but doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Does Smith think James will end up in Miami?
“I would be surprised.”
Does he think he’ll end up in Cleveland?
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