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Posted on: July 2, 2010 1:58 am
 

Free-agency layup line: Handshake deals aplenty

All of the little free-agency stories that flow through. We'll have several of these throughout the day, updated regularly.

Lot of little things going on.

As Ken Berger reported earlier , the Raptors came to an agreement with Amir Johnson for five years at $34 million. Johnson's super-young, super-athletic, and a defensive stalwart. He can't hit the broad side of a barn with a 12-guage, but it's not like offense is what the Raptors need to improve on. Considering the other moves made today, you have to wonder if Johnson's deal wasn't one of the shrewdest.

CSN New England is reporting that the Celtics are taking a good long look at free-agent Brendan Haywood as a replacement for Kendrick Perkins, who is out till December after knee surgery. After Doc Rivers came back to the fold, the Celtics turned their attention to upgrading their roster. Turning to Haywood is an interesting idea. Haywood is an older veteran, but still younger than most of the Celtics at 30, and fits their profile at what is probably a reasonable price. Of course, the Celts' biggest priority is getting Paul Pierce re-signed, as KB informed you they've begun work on

The Nets are feeling pretty good about themselves after this morning's presentation to LeBron James. The sticking point? James will want help, and right now all of the other max guys have different ideas. Wade clearly wants to stay in Miami, Amar'e likes that idea as well, and who knows what Chris Bosh is thinking.

Marc Stein of ESPN reports the Suns are considering Hakim Warrick, which makes about as much sense as any signing you'll hear about. Warrick is a veteran with length and athleticism, with some years left in front of him. He doesn't play defense but can dunk pretty well. Sounds like just about your average Phoenix Sun, no?

Be sure to check back every thirty seconds, because that's about how long it takes for the pendulum to swing back and forth from "Dirk Nowitzki is totally looking at New York!" to "Dirk Nowitzki is going nowhere ."

ESPN's Chad Ford reports teams are still looking to try and nab Chris Paul. But the interesting aspect of this is that no one is talking about the Hornets' side. After trading Mo Peterson's rottting corpse last week to OKC, the Hornets areout of the tax. The biggest reason to trade CP3 is gone, and they have not said they'e considering trading Paul. Your crazy Chris Paul rumor of the moment? The Knicks may take a swing if they strike out on LeBron or one of the other max free agents. Good luck with that.

Rusty Simmons of the San Franciso Chronicle reports that the Warriors are in the market for a small forward after dealing Corey Maggette to the Bucks. Apparently Marvin Williams, Trevor Ariza, and Shane Battier are on the lists. Shane Battier on the Warriors is not only weird, but would be a tragedy to see his defensive prowess on the ole' Dubs.






Posted on: July 2, 2010 1:06 am
Edited on: July 2, 2010 1:29 am
 

Inside the Knicks' presentation to LeBron

Getty Images Forbes Magazine hits us with a pretty stunning scoop : the PowerPoint presentation the Knicks gave LeBron James Thursday morning, provided by a New York marketing firm, Interbrand.

The cliff notes? LeBron can make a billion dollars in New York, for sure. He might be able to in Chicago. He can't in Cleveland or Miami. So naturally, he should come to New York! He has the highest potential earnings through the entirety of the contract by nearly $300 million more than the runner-up, Cleveland. The core of the message is this: It's not just about a bigger market. It's about New York's market specifically, and that's where the money is .

Okay, that's the short story. Here's the full monty. We're going to walk you through the slides step by step to point out some relevant factors. I'd definitely take a long read through that Forbes article and the accompanying PowerPoint:

Slide 1: Don't know if that picture of LeBron is the best you could have used. He doesn't look majestic; he looks like he's scared of some monster chasing him from behind. But a smart move pulling a picture of him from Team USA. No brand attachment to Cleveland and it prompts the memories of how Kobe Bryant was a bigger deal in China in 2008 because of the championships.

Slide 2: Some backside kissing of James and the work he's put in, and then the exposition of the study's intent. This is our first big revelation of the study. Interbrand examined four teams for the study, based on estimated market impact: the Knicks, the Bulls, the Heat, and the Cavs. Notice who's missing there? The Nets. There is no mention of the Nets throughout the entire presentation, despite the very frontal attack the Nets have laid on the Knicks as the key to the New York market. With all of the extraneous business opportunities the Nets are offering James through their move to Brooklyn in 2012, this could be a huge mistake. James and company had just gotten through listening to the Nets pitch when the Knicks came in and completely ignored the team that had been in the building twenty seconds before, and whose minority owner is a close friend and mentor to LeBron. Comparing New York to the other markets is a great idea. Ignoring an attempt to differentiate between the Knicks and Nets was a mistake that easily could have been rectified.

Slide 3: Provides a background to Interbrand and what they were attempting to focus on with this study. "Lifetime earnings" is a key factor. This entire study is built upon the concept that James' next stop is his last.

Slide 4: Methodology of what Interbrand looked at and how they modeled it. It's a conceptually strong slide, even if it doesn't actually provide examples of how it quantifies factors (like the post-retirement economic models of players like Wilt Chamberlain and Reggie Miller, especially when outside of Michael Jordan, those players considered really can't be compared to LeBron's theoretical revenue stream). Then again, I sincerely doubt James is going to be looking for them to provide their formulas and double checking with his own advanced statistics team.

Slide 5: A nifty graphic that illustrates the data movement that helps Interbrand quantify brand strength. Interesting stuff. If you're a marketing executive in New York with an emphasis on sports. Literally dozens of people are captivated.

Slide 6: A look at revenue streams analyzed for the presentation. Interestingly, it starts with International "partnerships' which are differentiated from sponsorships. Only local endorsements are considered. Which is particularly odd since it doesn't at all go after the "in the Internet age, anyone can build an empire from anywhere" argument. The entire presentation is built on busting that concept, and the study deftly avoids it. It's hard to say if that's a strength or weakness of the presentation.

Slide 7: Interbrand's assumptions for the study: A. James will play till he's 38 (unlikely, and given the exponential year over year balance is a significant factor, kind of an important one, B. James is finishing his career with the next team he signs with (yes, because the one thing in the NBA is that things always work out as both teams think they will when they sign) and C. the model is built on the current CBA model. This makes sense given the impossibility of predicting the next CBA and that NBA salary represents such a small amount of impact on the results of the study.

Slide 8: Four factors considered in the analysis. The key take away here are on the final two points. Championships are most important, but winning a championship matters more in certain markets than others. And secondly, and this is an odd one, the longer a franchise goes without a championship, the greater the impact on the player that gets them there. This fails to consider the historic impact of previous championships. It also seems like a pretty custom tailored argument for New York (more so than the rest of the presentation). "Sure, we haven't been relevant in thirty years, but that's a good thing!"

Slide 9: A numbers breakdown. Clearly, New York outperforms the others. An interesting note, among interesting notes, is how high Cleveland ranks on these measures, despite market size, which is a key element of the rest of the study. Also, the franchise impact of the Knicks is over four times as great as Chicago . This despite Chicago having had the greatest player of all time inside of 15 years, having a massively popular merchandising brand, and operating in a major market. That the Knicks are more powerful is no shock. That they are that much more powerful is kind of stunning for a team best known in recent history for Jeff Van Gundy holding a guy's leg and John Starks getting worked by Reggie Miller.

Slide 10-13: Team by team breakdowns of the four factors and relevant takeaways. Cleveland is relevant based on the "hometown hero" concept. The study clearly is aimed not at trashing Cleveland (and offending LeBron), but taking out the rest of the competitors and looking better than Cleveland overall. Chicago and Miami bear the brunt, as Chicago is considered too volatile thanks to Jordan's shadow, and Miami is basically tossed aside as irrelevant.

Slide 14: Conclusion: "Knicks rule!" Basically, if James wins a championship and he's in New York, that's the optimum situation for him to make the most money and expand his brand the most. It's not a particularly stirring conclusion considering the Knicks both requisitioned and presented the study, but it doesn't exactly come off as the most in-depth, objective analysis. Then again, when Mike D'Antoni's also telling you he can help you average a triple double, it probably sounds pretty good.

Slide 15: No, thank you , Interbrand.

All in all, the Knicks did a good job of finding data that attacked its competitors while not coming off as tyrannical or arrogant. It simplifies the argument while providing evidence to support the common sense argument. "New York is better." The Knicks needed to prove to James that concept was sound while pitching him on the basketball side with D'Antoni. It's a fascinating insight into how this free-agency period is being played by the teams who are brokering with this monstrous class of players.

-Matt Moore




Posted on: July 1, 2010 5:39 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 5:41 pm
 

Amar'e Stoudemire hedging away from Phoenix

And things looked so promising just a day ago for the Suns to re-sign Amar'e Stoudemire.

So much for that idea.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes that talks between Amar'e Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns have reached an impasse . The impossible roadblock? Amar'e wants five years, the Suns want to offer 4. That extra year is so vital, Ric Bucher of ESPN reports that Amar'e is now a longshot to return, and is considering Miami.

Pat Riley is trying to convince Stoudemire using what is referred to as the "power of three" PowerPoint presentation that outlines how championship cores are built on a nucleus of three. Much like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. But anyway, it's a good pitch, and Riley is pitching Florida's no-state tax as a selling point. The probably issue is going to be that Stoudemire has never felt he's a third banana. Being the least important cog in a Dwyane-Wade-LeBron-James-Amar'e triangle may not sit well with his ego. That's before we start to consider how much Stoudemire would have to adjust to the play of the other two.

Phoenix still remains in this thing, with Stoudemire's agent Happy Walters trying to get a deal done. But Walters is adamant that no deal will be done without that fifth year, and Robert Sarver isn't known to be the kind of owner who buckles when things get tough financially. But in this kind of free agency climate, we've already seen two teams buckle to the demands of their stars to keep them with Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Rudy Gay in Memphis. The Suns will need to give Stoudemire what he wants if they want to keep him. The market has decided his value, not his performance. And it's that value that will impact his decision. Not his loyalty.

-Matt Moore

Posted on: July 1, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Phil Jackson returning

The news is spreading like wild fire. Via the defending champion Lakers , Phil Jackson is returning. Jackson had spent the last three weeks considering whether to return, but has decided after consulting with his physician to return for another season.

Jackson will have to sort out some things. First off, he doesn't want to travel with the team anymore, which means he'll have to figure out how to coordinate that with his staff. That likely means that Brian Shaw will handle the team on the road, after Shaw withdrew from the Cavs' coaching race earlier this week. Jackson will also have to sort out the matter of his contract, with Jerry Buss expecting a paycut for Jackson, especially considering his limited time on the road.

But in the end, Jackson will be back for what he says is his last hurrah, with a loaded roster still in its prime. He has a chance to win his 14th ring, his 12th as a coach, which will cement his legacy as the greatest professional basketball coach of the modern era. When you look at it that way, with everything he's accomplished and how easy it may be for him to reach the finish line once more, how could he say no?

Besides, somebody's got to buy Ron Artest some books.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:54 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 9:46 pm
 

Free-agency layup line: Knicks, Nets feuding

All of the little free agency stories that flow through. We'll have several of these throughout the day, updated regularly.

Okay, a lot is going on with LeBron today. Try and keep up.

First off, the gigantic 225-by-95 foot mural of Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov that the Nets installed outside of Madison Square Garden has irritated MSG chairman James Dolan so much that he called minority owner Jay-Z to complain that it was "intimidating his employees." This is a pretty baffling statement until you consider the Knicks defense, in which case you understand why anything big and tall would overpower them. (Yahoo! Sports)

The games began in earnest today when LeBron James' contingent started meeting with teams at a "secret" location . Of course, Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer knew where it was because he knows anything and everything about LeBron. The meeting was held at the LRMR (James' marketing company) headquarters at the IMG building in Cleveland. The neighbors across the street must have known. They had a message for the King . The Nets gave their presentation and were on their way. Except for Jay-Z, who stuck around for a few minutes for whatever reason (speculation: private meeting between mentor and mentee). I also found it funny that the Nets seemed to one-up the Knicks in everything, including the size of the private jet . The Knicks were next up . (Brian Windhorst' Twitter)

The schedule is for LeBron to meet Knicks and Nets today, Heat and Clippers tomorrow, and Bulls and Cavs on Saturday, according to Chad Ford of ESPN . The Bulls and Cavs being last is probably significant as Ford writes, but the Knicks and Nets have spared no expense in trying to make a good first impression. I'd give nearly anything to be in the room for the Clippers presentation, which I'm pretty sure is just going to be a Los Angeles Tourism Center brochure and a cake with Blake Griffin's face on it (and not his knee).  (ESPN)

For complete details of today's visit, check out this report which outlines the whole shebang. (CBS)

In lesser known free-agency news:

Heat center Joel Anthony has gotten a slew of offers according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy . Anthony is a young big with good efficiency numbers and solid upside that could be gotten at good value. Then again, if ten teams are vying for him, he may wind up with more than he's worth. Mostly because this is the NBA and that's how it works (everyone wave at Darko). (Alex Kennedy's Twitter)

Kennedy also spoke with Matt Barnes who said that if Dwight Howard wants something, "it probably will happen" which will only fuel speculation earlier in the week about Chris Paul and Carlos Boozer. (Hoopsworld.com)

Seven teams have contacted free agent Raymond Felton, and the Bobcats are not one of them. Which is a little insane considering the Bobcats essentially have no point guards beyond D.J. Augustin and Felton is the best agent in class at his position. The Bobcats didn't have a draft pick last week, and their only option may be Jordan Farmar. Who's being courted by Indiana pretty hard right now. (CBS, PBT)

-Matt Moore




Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:07 pm
 

Bucks still working to re-sign Salmons

As free agents start agreeing to deals (before the July 7th date they can sign), many teams are trying to take care of their own business before looking elsewhere. The Bucks in particular have been focused on re-signing John Salmons, who is the B-grade version of Joe Johnson in this year's free agency.

David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that Salmons is close to signing a 5-year, $39 million deal with Milwaukee. A person involved in the process told CBSSports.com today that Salmons' deal "might get done with Milwaukee, might get done with somebody else."

"Nothing's done right now" the source added.

With Salmons along with recently acquired Corey Maggette to go along with Brandon Jennings' development and a healthy Andrew Bougt, the Bucks would likely feature a balanced, versatile offensive attack. Wing was really their weakest position last year, until a mid-season trade for Salmons with the Bulls helped boost their attack, only to see Bogut go down with a broken wrist.

The Bucks may not be looking to add any of the max free agents, but Hammond has been very active in the offeason thus far. And we're less than a day into free agency.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 1:55 pm
 

Darko gets 4 years, $20 million from Wolves

On the "David Kahn: The Greatest Hit s" mixtape, there will be a plethora of sweet tunes. My favorites being "The Night I Drafted Three Point Guards " and "I Don't Love You Anymore, Al Jefferson." Of course none will rival his seminal diddy, "Please Come Home, Ricky Rubio " but his latest chart-topper is sure to bring music to people's ears. It's a rip-roaring sing-along. What's it called?

"Darko Milicic Is My Answer At Center, Now And Forever ."

Kahn today reached an agreement with Darko Milicic on a 4 year, $20 million dollar deal , Chad Ford of ESPN reports. That's a lot of green for a guy widely considered to be one of the biggest draft busts in modern history. Kahn has been enamored with Milicic since he traded for him last year. While downplaying (and destroying the trade value) of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, Kahn feels that Darko is the center of the future for the Wolves.

Can't you see it? Darko and Ricky Rubio running the pick and roll, Darko clumsily lumbering towards the rim towards a misguided pass Rubio has trouble adjusting to agianst NBA length? Missed alley oops, poorly executed pick and rolls, and of course, wasted possessions with Darko in the block. It's a dream come true!

In all seriousness, this is the beginning of the end for Al Jefferson in Minnesota. He's assured to be gone now, it's just a matter of figuring out where to dump him and how much of a loss they're going to take on the promising young power forward with excellent touch. After all, who needs those thing when you've got a 7-foot Serbian who loves the idea of thretening referees and their daughters and who was ready to head back to Serbia this summer.

And the hits just keep on coming...

-Matt Moore


Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:25 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 12:26 pm
 

Bucks sign Gooden to MLE.. wait, what?!


Let's take a minute and look back at what the Milwaukee Bucks have done in the past ten days.

Traded for Cory Maggette.

Traded for Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Kept Carlos Delfino.

Drafted Larry Sanders.

And now, they've signed Drew Gooden for the Mid-Level Exception, at a clip of 5 years for $32 million (via Yahoo! Sports). This despite having Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on roster, both whom are considered high-upside, versatile, talented players, and Gooden having spent time in more cities than a mid-70's hobo.

So what in the name of Bogut is Bucks GM John Hammond up to?

The Gooden signing makes sense if you listen to Bucks blog BrewHoop, which says the team needed veteran depth at power forward. And Gooden certainly provides that at 29. You do have to wonder about the contract, the length of the contract, and how Gooden fits. The Bucks' offense was definitely their weak point last season. They do need someone who's able to produce offense. And Gooden averaged 15.7 points and 11 rebounds per 36 minutes last season .

The problem is usage (estimated percentage of possessions used). Gooden had the 12th highest usage of any power forward in the league playing at least 30 minutes last season. That's a lot for a guy who is considered a journeyman role player. His efficiency numbers are good, and Gooden comes with a wide range of verstaile skills. It's just curious that the Bucks seem to have loaded up so much at the forward positions, especially with John Salmons still drifting in unrestricted-free-agent land. Probably most curious was the fact that Hammond committed five years to a 29 year-old role player when he has such a young nucleus.

It makes you wonder if Hammond is done with moves beyond re-signing John Salmons and other free agent Luke Ridnour.

-Matt Moore


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com