Sunday, July 18, 2010

A quick programming note...

As you've probably noticed, updates have been sparse lately. I've been out of town all week and will be for the next three weeks as well, so updates will likely be few and far between during that time. Thanks for dropping by and hopefully you'll continue to do so.

In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Twitter, where I'll have some brief ramblings on occasion.

Thanks again for coming by and we should be back at full throttle shortly.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron James announces he will sign with Miami Heat

The rumor all day, which I said earlier that I thought was just something being perpetrated by ESPN, has come true. LeBron James has announced that he will sign with the Miami Heat and join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

We'll see how this plays out from a basketball standpoint in terms of sharing the ball between three superstars, two of whom need to dominate the ball to be effective. Things still need to be figured out from a salary standpoint as well, with all three men likely needing to take less money to make it work. Also, the Heat will have to fill out their entire remaining roster with minimum salary players.

LeBron said during his interview with Jim Gray that he doesn't mind joining Dwyane Wade's team. If the two stars can play nice together on the court, this team could be very, very scary. But when you put these guys together, one thing is for sure: If they don't win it all this coming season, it won't be looked at as a success.

Some thoughts as we await "The Decision"

LeBron James will announce which team he will sign with tonight at 9pm ET on ESPN. It would be almost impossible for you to not know that, especially with ESPN going no more than five minutes between James segments for the last few days. In that same time period, different sources have said there are indications that LeBron is leaning towards all different destinations. It has all been very vague, as you would expect, and no one really knows what will happen.

While we wait patiently for this ego-driven self-love fest to begin at 9, which will feature a sitdown with Jim Gray and a follow-up interview with Michael Wilbon, here are some thoughts about the rumors.

I am still under the belief, even with Chris Broussard's latest vague and indescriptive report that sources tell him LeBron will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, that the big three joining forces is a pipe dream being perpetrated mostly by the "worldwide leader." While the team would undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with, would LeBron James - the same man who needs an hourlong special to say which team he is signing with - really want to play second fiddle to Wade in Miami?

If the Heat won a title with James, Wade and Bosh, it would not be the vindication that LeBron seeks. He would have just jumped on board with an already talented team, Dwyane Wade's team. In Miami, LeBron James is Scottie Pippen and Wade is Michael Jordan. Could LBJ really handle that?

If LeBron were to stay in Cleveland or go to New York or New Jersey, the team would be his. Even with Amar'e Stoudemire in New York, LeBron is the bigger star and would get most of the glory that comes with winning a ring. In New Jersey, LeBron clearly overshadows Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. In Cleveland, it's always been LBJ's town.

In Chicago, LeBron James would be compared with Michael Jordan even more than he already has. If he wins five rings, it won't be enough.

The Clippers have been ruled out by everyone, even though they have a solid team with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and a potentially healthy Blake Griffin. Adding LeBron would certainly make them a contender. So if we assume Los Angeles' "B" team is out of it and the Nets also have no chance, then it's down to the Bulls, Knicks, Heat and Cavs.

If you're LeBron James, which of the following situations would you rather have?

With the Knicks, you can join Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire, and add another big contract next season when Eddy Curry's contract is off the books. With the Bulls, you join Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah (whom LeBron had a little scuffle with during the season), and Carlos Boozer. With the Heat, you join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but you have to take less money than any other team can offer. In Cleveland, it's the same old gang but Shaq will be gone and most of the attractive complimentary players that could be had in a trade are off the market.

Obviously the best chance for winning comes in Miami, but there are many sacrifices that would have to be made, especially for someone who lately doesn't seem like he is very selfless. If LeBron is going to abandon Cleveland, the best chance to become a global icon is in New York. And if he wins just one title with the Knicks, he'll be a hero forever. In Chicago, one will be looked at as nothing near Jordan's level and in Miami it won't be because of him.

We'll know in just a few hours what LeBron's decision is. Throughout this process, though, LeBron has become a "love him or hate him" guy. After tonight, a lot more people will probably hate him than love him.

(Image courtesy ESPN)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dropping Links: Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just a few links on this Tuesday afternoon...

- Even though Dallas Braden was happy soaking up the publicity he garnered for telling Alex Rodriguez to get off his mound, and then bragged about how they don't do it like that in the 209, he isn't pleased with the A's selling "Get Off My Mound" t-shirts. For their part, the Yankees don't seem to care. A-Rod and Joe Girardi were both joking about it, and the skipper said Robinson Cano even wore one of the shirts to tease Rodriguez.

- Ken Berger of CBS Sports gives us today's Free Agent Buzz.

- Shutdown Corner has more on JaMarcus Russell's arrest for drug possession.

- Busted Coverage relays the story of a 14-year-old who was murdered because his vuvuzela was annoying his neighbor.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Knicks agree to terms with Amar'e Stoudemire

Ken Berger of CBS Sports is reporting (along with many others) that the Knicks and Amar'e Stoudemire have agreed on a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Amar'e would end up in New York but it was sealed with a handshake today and can be made official on Thursday.

The marquee at Madison Square Garden even featured a Photoshopped image of Stoudemire wearing a No. 1 Knicks jersey.

Coming into the Summer of 2010, the Knicks were the only team with room to sign two max free agents and can still add a big name to go along with Stoudemire. The Knicks are presumably hoping that adding Amar'e will help to lure LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to New York. If not, the Knicks could re-sign David Lee and pair him with Stoudemire, as well as explore the rumored trades for Tony Parker and Monta Ellis that have been reported.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Channing Frye, Amir Johnson, Rudy Gay re-signing with current teams

As the first official day of the 2010 NBA free agent period draws to a close, three targets have decided there is no place like home. Rudy Gay, coveted by many teams as a sort of backup plan, will stay with the Memphis Grizzlies, reportedly agreeing to a five-year, $82 million deal. The Raptors came to terms with Amir Johnson to the sound of five years and $34 million. Channing Frye also will return to his current team, agreeing to a five-year, $30 million contract.

Rudy Gay was being sought after by many of the same teams who were trying for the "Big Names" on the market, but the Grizzlies decided to be aggressive instead of letting those other clubs set the market for him. Since Gay was a restricted free agent, it made sense for Memphis to sign him right away instead of being forced out of the bidding by other teams who could frontload the contract, which wouldn't have allowed the Grizzlies to match the offer due to their current salary cap number. While the team may have overpaid for Gay, they avoided a bad situation by doing so.

When it comes to overpaying, the Raptors certainly did so with Amir Johnson, who averaged six points and five rebounds per game for Toronto last year.

Channing Frye commanded some interest from the predatory teams looking for new pieces but decided to return to the Suns. Playing alongside Steve Nash, Frye had the best season of his career in 2009-2010 with Phoenix.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Phil Jackson will return to coach Los Angeles Lakers

After taking some time to decide whether he would like to retire after his 11th head coaching championship - his second in a row and fifth with the Lakers - Phil Jackson has announced that he will return to the team after all.

In a statement, Jackson said:
"After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It'll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one."
While Jackson's health has become more of a concern over the past few years, the lure of a third consecutive NBA title was too much for Jackson to pass up. He'll return to a team that will likely be the favorites to win it all again, barring the almost impossible scenario of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teaming up somewhere.

What is interesting in all this is where it leaves Brian Shaw. The Lakers' assistant had interviewed with the Cavaliers, but bowed out of the running citing "timing issues," which led to the Cavs hiring Byron Scott. One could assume that those issues involved not wanting to pass up the opportunity to coach the Lakers if Jackson were to retire now.

But it isn't all bad for Shaw. If this is, in fact, Jackson's last run in Los Angeles, Shaw would be the logical candidate to become the head coach next season and inherit the great team that comes with it.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

Drew Gooden to Bucks, Darko to Wolves in first NBA free agent signings

As you may have heard, the NBA free agent signing period began at 12:01am ET today. While all the talk thus far has been focused on where LeBron James will end up and the highly unlikely scenario of James joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami, two free agents have come to terms already.

According to Yahoo Sports, the Bucks and Drew Gooden have agreed to a five-year, $32 million deal. Gooden has played for the Grizzlies, Magic, Cavs, Bulls, Kings, Spurs, Mavs and Wizards in his eight-year career. Though he's been around the block, Gooden should be a nice addition to a Milwaukee team that now features Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

ESPN's Chad Ford is reporting that Darko Milicic has agreed to re-sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The deal is reportedly worth $20 million over four years. Darko began last season on the Knicks and was dealt to the T'Wolves after barely playing for Mike D'Antoni, but shined during his time with Minnesota. The Wolves also signed Nikola Pekovic, their 2008 second round pick. He had been playing for Panathinaikos in Greece.