|07.08.10 at 9:18 am ET|
‘The Decision’ that everyone is waiting for Thursday night on ESPN could be an hour-long waste of time if reports that LeBron James wants to team up with stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami are true. Chris Broussard of ESPN wrote early Thursday morning that unless there is a change of heart by James, he’ll leave Cleveland and try to be a part of a dynasty with the Heat.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, one executive whose franchise was among the initial suitors for James said Wednesday morning that the Akron product was only seriously considering Miami and Cleveland.
Meanwhile, while the LeBron hoopla builds to a crescendo, other notable free agents are making their move. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer will sign a five-year, $76 million contract with the Bulls.
After various reports had New York big man David Lee heading to Phoenix to replace Amar’e Stoudemire, it looks like the double-double machine could be heading farther west to California. Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times is reporting that the Warriors and Knicks are close on a deal which would send Lee in a sign-and-trade to Golden State for forward Anthony Randolph.
Already under contract, Kevin Durant decided to extend his stay with the Thunder in a relatively quiet manner when he announced the deal Thursday via Twitter. Sean Sweeney of Dime Magazine writes that Durant signed a five-year, $85 million extension while showing humility amid the LeBron chaos.
The Celtics, meanwhile, have been busy this offseason as they look to bring back most of last year’s team for another run. After reaching an agreement with Paul Pierce and reportedly agreeing to terms with Ray Allen last Wednesday night, Boston reportedly is going after Jermaine O’Neal to replace the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. According to Wojnarowski and Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have offered O’Neal near the midlevel exception of $5.8 million over two years. O’Neal is expected to make a decision by Thursday night.
Another O’Neal whom the Celtics have targeted to replace Perkins has been Shaq, who has shown interest in both Boston and Atlanta. Now, Chris Tomasson of AOL FanHouse is reporting that O’Neal’s first choice to try to win his fifth championship is the Spurs. No matter where Shaq lands, Tomasson writes that sources have said that he won’t return to Cleveland for next season.
|07.08.10 at 7:16 am ET|
According to Yahoo! Sports, center Jermaine O’Neal is poised to accept a two-year offer to join the Celtics. The 6-foot-11 O’Neal is believed to have been offered the $5.8 million mid-level exception.
A 13-year veteran, the 31-year-old O’Neal played the last two years in Miami. He averaged 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 70 games last season after three injury-plagued seasons prior. He also reportedly has been considering offers from the Nuggets and Mavericks.
|07.08.10 at 6:26 am ET|
According to reports from Newsday and ESPN, LeBron James has decided to sign with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh there. James will announce his decision Thursday night at 9 p.m. in an ESPN special.
Shortly after midnight, Newsday‘s Alan Hahn tweeted that “multiple sources” indicated James had decided to pass on the Knicks and go to Miami.
The ESPN report by Chris Broussard followed about an hour later. It notes that James’ friend Chris Paul has urged the superstar to stay in Cleveland and play for new coach Byron Scott, who previously coached Paul in New Orleans, and that James could reconsider his choice. Other family and friends apparently also have reservations about how James would be perceived joining a power-packed team and if that would take away from his brand.
A report at Yahoo! Sports indicates that James’ representatives began calling free agents Wednesday to assess their interest in joining the new “Big Three” in Miami. The Heat have only two players under contract: forward Michael Beasley and point guard Mario Chalmers.
However, the Yahoo! report noted that James reserves the right to change his mind and sign with his hometown Cavaliers, who can pay him a six-year, $125 million contract, more than $30 million more than what he could get from the Heat.
‘LeBron always waits until the last minute to make a decision,’ Yahoo! quotes Chris Dennis, who used to run James’ foundation. ‘He always does.’
|07.07.10 at 11:21 pm ET|
“I’m happy to be returning as a Celtic,” he told WEEI.com via text message. “There’s no other place I wanted to be.”
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, WEEI.com confirmed the deal is worth $10 million annually. The second year is a player option.
Allen, who turns 35 this month, made it clear following the NBA finals that he would like to return to Boston — ‘I’ll deal with that when the time comes, but it’s obvious that I don’t want to be anywhere else,’ he said after Game 7. He garnered attention from around the league, however, once he hit the free agent market. According to one report, LeBron James contacted Allen about joining him, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on a “Dream Team.”
Allen averaged just over 16 points during last season and the playoffs. He set an NBA finals record by hitting eight 3-pointers against the Lakers. Allen will be entering his 15th season in the league and doesn’t expect to slow down any time soon.
‘I believe I’m so far ahead of the game that I’m able to play longer,” he told WEEI.com during the regular season. “People look at basic standards of guys my age at 34, like some guys at 34, there’s no way they could play basketball right now. And I’m thinking at my age now, I can go even a few more years doing what I’m doing the way I’m doing it because for me, it’s not rocket science.”
|07.07.10 at 9:54 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed Ray Allen will return to the Celtics after agreeing to a two-year deal worth $10 million annually, with a player option for the second year. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein first reported the deal on Twitter.
Allen, who turns 35 this month, averaged just over 16 points last season and in the playoffs. He garnered attention from around the league when he hit the free agent market this summer, and was reportedly contacted by LeBron James about playing for a “Dream Team” with him, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Allen had attested during the NBA finals, however, that he would like to return to the Celtics. His agreement keeps the Big Three intact for another shot at a title after Paul Pierce agreed to a new four-year deal last week.
|07.07.10 at 7:53 pm ET|
Celtics 92, Bobcats 71
The Celtics once again got off to a quick start in the first quarter, just like the first two games of Summer League play. Only this time, Boston (1-2) widened its lead and cruised to its first win against the Bobcats.
Tony Gaffney set the tone early as he received the opening tip and finished with a slam dunk. Celtics big men Semih Erden and Luke Harangody led Boston to a 21-10 lead after the first quarter. Erden grabbed four rebounds while Harangody scored eight points, including both of his 3-pointers for the game.
In the second quarter, Harangody was hit under his left eye as he went after a rebound against Alexis Ajinca and was forced to leave the floor as blood flowed. He later returned at the five minute, 11 second mark in the fourth quarter with a patch on his cheek and scored four more points to add to his total of 12.
DeShawn Sims and Ryan Thompson extended Boston’s lead in the third quarter, scoring the first 14 points for the Celtics. With the game in hand, both players got extended playing time while the starters rested. Thompson was 3-of-4 from the field and finished with 11 points in 19:58 of play. Sims caught on fire and put on a show as he scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting in only 15:57 of court time.
Charlotte (2-1) suffered its first loss of the summer as it shot 37.5 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from beyond the arc. Derrick Brown led the Bobcats with 12 points while Jeremy Pargo chipped in 10. The Celtics, on the other hand, had five scorers in double digits and shot a blistering 53.8 percent on the day.
Player of the game
Coming off the bench, Matt Janning scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting while pulling down eight rebounds. The Northeastern product could put up points in college as well, where he became the fourth all-time leading scorer in school history in his four years.
|07.07.10 at 4:56 pm ET|
O’Neal joins Brad Miller, Shaquille O’Neal, Brendan Haywood and Kwame Brown in the race for the Celtics’ mid-level exception and a chance to replace the injured Kendrick Perkins. Brown is obviously the least accomplished of that group.
The Celtics made O’Neal look terrible in the playoffs, but he’s younger than Miller and Shaq and, playoffs aide, O’Neal had a good season with Miami in 2009-10. He appeared in 70 games for the first time since 2003-04 and he shot over 50 percent for the first time in his career en route to averaging 13 points and seven rebounds a game.
It’s expected that the free agent logjam will open up once LeBron James make his decision Thursday. O’Neal was not expected to re-sign with the Heat, an expectation that became reality once Chris Bosh announced he was going to Miami with Dwyane Wade.
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