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Mannix on D&C: LeBron still wouldn’t make Miami the favorite

07.08.10 at 10:33 am ET
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Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined guest hosts Bob Ryan and Bob Neumeier on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to weigh in on the LeBron James situation and offer his opinion on the validity of reports that James is headed to Miami.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On  Miami’s position to compete in the Eastern Conference if LeBron joins Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh:

I think next season it would be extremely difficult. Now, I’m convinced that Michael Beasley is going to stay on the roster because they can’t give him away for a ham sandwich. They’re trying to pass him off on every team in the league, which is a little mind-boggling considering that two years ago this guy was the No. 2 pick in the draft. We were arguing about being possibly the No. 1 pick with Derrick Rose. Their willingness to just give him away is a little baffling.

But you make the point, even if those three guys sign, you’re left with Mario Chalmers suddenly becomes the Rajon Rondo of the Miami Heat, where he sort of he’s sort of an unknown commodity and he has to play exceptionally well for them to succeed. But the other problem is they don’t have a Kendrick Perkins equivalent. There’s no center down there. There’s nobody down there. They’re going to have to sign a Mikki Moore to play center for that position. They’re going to have fill up the rest of the roster with veteran minimum salary players.

I think come next year, if maybe Beasley proves himself he can be a trade shipment and you can use that whole mid-level exception to use on one guy and maybe spread it out over two guys,  I think that next year they’re in a better position. But I’m not convinced guys that even if those three guys come together — and I’m sure they’re going to win 65 to 70 regular season games — I’m not convinced they’re getting out of the Eastern Conference. I mean, if Boston can get their act together and Kendrick Perkins can come back in the second half of the season and give them something close to what he gave them last year, I think they’re still going to be considered the favorite. I just think they still have enough left in the tank to make one more run and chemistry-wise and talent-wise, I think even though they have all the stock power down there in Miami, I don’t believe they have enough to get past the Celtics or even maybe Chicago in the conference finals.

Whether the odds are in favor of the Bulls if they get LeBron:

Yeah, I would think so. I think they still have to get a shooter. I mean, all these teams need a shooter. I don’t know who else is out there. … You have to find a shooter. I think Mike Miller is a very good fit. I wonder if they’re going to have enough money or assets to acquire him, because I think he’s still very much a capable shooter. I mean, he’s only 30 years old, he’s had some tough stretches the last couple of years in Washington and in Memphis but I think he still has enough left in the tank. He’s the kind of specialist you’re looking for. He and [J.J.] Redick are the two guys that are floating out there. I’m convinced that Orlando’s going to do anything they can to resign Redick and try and match any offers he gets with the mid-level exception. But I think that Mike Miller’s your next best fit. But I think he’s a great fit in Chicago.

On his reaction to the media hype surrounding LeBron’s one-hour special on ESPN:

It’s amazing. I would say that. I think to a certain degree this LeBron hype is almost deserving because we’ve never had a free agent of this magnitude hit the market. We’ve never had a guy that not only can change the fortunes of the team but can change the entire dynamics of a city. I mean, this guy is a one-man recession-buster. He goes into a town and all of a sudden that city lights up. Can you imagine if he goes to Jersey? Even if they’re playing in Newark they’re going to sell out every game down there in that new arena. He goes to Chicago — they’re doing great with attendance anyway — but then all of a sudden they’re selling out every game. Miami, which has not been good with attendance, they’ve been absolutely putrid sometimes in attendance, they’re going to sell out every game and change the course of the way that city is run.

I just think we haven’t had something that he remotely couples in any sport. Everybody talks about this being the biggest free agent in NBA history, I mean maybe you guys can tell me, but I can’t think of anybody who’s hit the market that has been close to this in any sport out there. I’m totally through with it and I’m done with and of course I’m wishing it would be over, but I can understand the hype because of what this guy brings to the table both on the court and off of it.

On whether the one-hour special and decision drama is a conspiratorial thing to bring this brand to the forefront and get ESPN its sources:

There might be some measure of truth to that, but I think more than anything — and I’m not going to disparage [Chris] Broussard because I think he does have a tight relationship with Maverick Carter and the guys in James’ camp. Remember, Broussard’s from Cleveland. He grew up and went to school just outside the city, so he’s been close to these guys for years and it’s kind of one of those things, like the chicken’s coming home to roost there, in a sense, where he’s getting those sources. We all have those situations. We’re all tight with one person or the other.

Remember in Boston, with Will McDonough and Bill Parcells, that stuff was all going through him. I think when you have a guy that works with you and is good with you, you kind of got to count your blessings and thank him for it because I don’t view any conspiracy there, I just think Chris just found a nice golden goose there that is willing to leak him information. I will say this, it does not surprise me at all if Chris is wrong. If LeBron sits up there and says I’m staying in Cleveland for a three-year deal, that would not shock me one bit.

On what to expect in the one-hour special:

I can see the hats [like at a college recruit press conference]. I can also see the envelopes sitting up there where he does: “My third choice is the Cleveland Cavaliers. My second choice is the Chicago Bulls. My first choice is the Miami Heat.” I believe that it’s going to be an extravaganza, it’s not going to be something as simple as him standing up there and making a speech. I think he’s going to do what you’re talking about. I think he’s going to have some sort of show put together where he knocks teams off one by one, “You are the weakest link,” or something like that where he’s just up there and doing his thing. I really believe that’s going to happen tonight.

On the fallout in Cleveland, with the Knicks and with the Nets, if LeBron goes somewhere else:

I think Cleveland you all have of a sudden have to look at yourself as the Washington Wizards. The Wizards lost Gilbert Arenas, they realized they were not a contending team, they just had a salary full of overpaid quasi-All-Stars. I think at that point you have to go into a massive rebuilding process. Because I think even though the Cavs would be left with about $8 million in cap space, that’s not enough to get a guy to replace LeBron. … I think Jersey, you have to exclude them from this, because they lose out on LeBron they’ll just sort of say, ”All right, we’re a bad team, we’re going to figure this out in the next few years.” New York and Cleveland, I mean, you’ve been building up to this moment for two years, three years even, you have to be stunningly disappointed and totally caught off guard because now your whole situation changes. You have to go in a direction you never thought you would have to go.

New York, I live there, guys, they have been convinced this was going to happen for over a year. … You pick up the New York Post ,the countdown to LeBron is on the second page. Same thing with Cleveland, they’ve all been convinced this guy was going to stay, too. I think it just changes the direction of the franchise and the direction of everything that goes on out there. I’m not sure there’s words to qualify it, to quantify it, because it’s something that they just would never expect to happen and both teams would be completely unprepared for it.

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