The Moment Of Truth: The Miami HEAT and free agent LeBron James met in Las Vegas for several hours and have agreed to hold the line as James decides where he wants to play next.
While there have been reports, one in particular, saying that LeBron has reached a decision, sources from both the HEAT and the Cleveland Cavaliers have said if a decision has been made, they have not been informed.
James told the HEAT that he wanted to talk the situation over with his family and would advise the HEAT when he has a decision but offered no timetable for that information.
James is in Las Vegas for his annual LeBron James Skills Academy co-hosted by Nike. James is also scheduled to attend the World Cup championship in Brazil this weekend.
While this process has become more of a horse race than initially expected, especially from the HEAT side, there is no sense yet which direction James is leaning.
The Cavaliers offer something of a mea culpa for James, who scorned his former team in embarrassing fashion in 2010. They have a roster loaded with young talent and an amazing head coach hire in David Blatt. The Cavs have a ton of tradable assets to build a more veteran laden team around James, now and in the future. However the Cavs currently offer a lot of inexperience and youth.
The HEAT offer the comfortable confines of a team that won four straight Eastern Conference titles and two NBA championships. They can and would return the same core James has been playing with plus a few new additions as free agents signings and possible one more via a sign-and-trade deal involving free agent guard Mario Chalmers. The HEAT are arguably the safer bet for a return to the Finals next season, but their future, their roster assets and potential cap flexibility make them a short-term bet, not a long-term one, hence the debate for James and his camp on where to sign next.
There have been several reports that after obtaining James, the Cavs would shift attentions to obtaining Kevin Love from Minnesota. However, when that story first broke on a Cleveland radio station a high ranking Cavs official labeled that concept as “nonsense”. To be fair to the source, the comment was in response to the characterization on the radio that the Cavs had a deal done.
There have also been a couple of other misrepresentations as it pertains to Cleveland, one of which is that they have reached out to HEAT free agent Ray Allen about coming to Cleveland. Sources close to Allen said unless the contact was a private call from James himself, there has been no contact from Cleveland to Allen or his agents. Those sources did not rule Cleveland out as a possibility if Allen continues to play, only that the reported contact had not taken place.
Sources on all sides of this had a similar message – “slow down”. There appears to be such a race to fill the void and be the “first” to report it, before the process has fully played out.
It’s clear the cavaliers are very much in this process, but it also equally clear that James and the HEAT are not finished yet either.
The hope from around the league is that James will resolve his future at some point today, and then those teams that are left standing can make their next move. Although no one has assurances that will take place.
The Rockets On The Clock: The Dallas Mavericks and restricted free agent Chandler Parsons have reached terms on a three-year, $46 million offer sheet that includes a 15 percent trade kicker and an option year in the third year. Another way to characterize this, it’s a dream deal for a player like Parsons.
Once Parsons signs the offer sheet, which was expected last night, the Rockets will have three days in which to decide to match the deal.
The timing of the offer sheet and sequent signature is interesting because it forces the Rockets hand in many regards. The Rockets are now on the clock to get whatever free agent business done they can, before matching Parsons.
The construction of Parson’s old deal left plenty of room for Houston to sign some free agents with cap space, then handle Parsons’ contract using his Bird rights to exceed the salary cap.
In signing an offer sheet, Parson put the Rockets on the clock in a serious way because if they match him, they would not have cap space to add anyone.
The Rockets have a pre-arranged deal to offload center Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans and it seems they have a similar deal in place involving point guard Jeremy Lin heading to the Philadelphia 76ers along with a protected first round pick.
The Rockets have been after HEAT forward Chris Bosh, and there have been several reports suggesting Bosh would choose the Rockets if LeBron leaves the HEAT. Sources close to the Bosh camp told Turner Sports David Aldridge that Bosh has reached no such agreements and is not planning an exit plan from Miami.
Houston could have as much as $23 million in cap space to work with if they complete the deals to remove Asik and Lin from their cap. They have been aggressive in the market place, but with a decision on Chandler looming, the Rockets have to get some things done today, so expect Houston to be busy. Equally, don’t expect agents with players Houston wants to give them a deal, knowing Houston is under the gun likely means the pricing goes up just a little.
Bulls Moving On: Carmelo Anthony has not informed anyone of his decision, but the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls seem to be moving on. Word broke yesterday that Anthony was likely leaning towards a return to the Knicks, and that an official announcement may come as soon as today.
The Bulls have reached out to free agents Pau Gasol, Lance Stephenson, Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza, with Gasol viewed as the top target.
Assuming the Bulls go through with their option to use their one-time Amnesty cut on Carlos Boozer, they can get anywhere from $9 to $13 million in salary cap space and are trying to add potentially two impact players from free agency.
The Bulls could look to offload even more salary in dumping their young guys, but there is a sense that option was only on the table to clear space for Anthony.
Gasol is getting a lot of attention not only from Chicago who may set a price in the $10 million per year range; he is also being heavily courted by the Thunder and the Spurs. While neither is offer the kind of cash Chicago is said to be offering, they are very appealing.
The LA Lakers still retain Gasol’s rights, so there is a window in which a sign-and-trade could be constructed for Gasol, however the Lakers would like to re-sign Gasol themselves and they have more than enough available salary cap cash to get a deal done.
With the July Moratorium on signings lifted, NBA teams can now begin signing contracts. As the deals get completed we’ll have all the details in the 2014 NBA Free Agency Diary. Check it early, check it often.
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