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Bulls use amnesty clause to cut Boozer

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls said goodbye to forward Carlos Boozer on Tuesday, using the amnesty clause to cut the veteran forward after four seasons with the team.

Boozer came to Chicago in a sign-and-trade deal with Utah in July 2010. The two-time All-Star averaged 15.5 points and nine rebounds in 280 games with the Bulls.

He had one season left on a five-year deal worth roughly $75 million. The amnesty clause allows a team to waive one player during the current labor deal and have 100 percent of his salary taken off the cap and the tax. The 6-foot-9 power forward is still owed the money.

“Carlos epitomized professionalism in everything he did for the Bulls both on the court, and in the community, during his time here in Chicago,” general manager Gar Forman said in a release. “Over the last four seasons, Carlos’ productivity helped elevate our team to another level. I have nothing but respect for Carlos, and certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.”

The 32-year-old Boozer took to Twitter to thank the team for his four seasons with Chicago.

The Bulls also waived forward Lou Amundson and guards Ronnie Brewer and Mike James as they continue to clear salary-cap space for the signing of free-agent center Pau Gasol and the first NBA contract for 2011 draft pick Nikola Mirotic.

Chicago made two trades on Monday. It sent forward Anthony Randolph, two second-round draft picks and cash considerations to Orlando for the rights to Milovan Rakovic. It also traded forward Greg Smith to Dallas for the rights to Tadija Dragicevic

 

Dwyane Wade could flee to the Bulls, according to report – SBNation.com

The Chicago Bulls are interested in free agent shooting guard Dwyane Wade if the Chicago native decides to leave the Miami Heat, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.LeBron James’ decision to depart from South Beach and return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers is rippling through free agency.

LEBRON GOES HOME

Wade reportedly ‘understands’ James’ decision

The “Big Three” era in Miami has ended, and Wade remains as the lone member with an uncertain future after he opted out of a significant amount of money to allow the Heat more financial flexibility to create a revamped roster for the trio. Chris Bosh will likely sign with the Houston Rockets on a maximum contract after James’ announcement.

The Bulls are still waiting for Carmelo Anthony to make a decision on his future and could start exploring their alternative options. Wade was expected to take a significant pay cut to remain with the Heat, but it’s unclear if he will consider his own options without Bosh and James returning.

Wade met with the Bulls during free agency in 2010 but re-signed with Miami. James and Bosh are both preparing for returns to their home states, and Wade may have the option of doing the same for himself.

NBA Free Agent race for a better year

The 2014 free-agency period hasn’t had the fireworks or instant gratification of past years, as it seems like every major player and team is waiting to see whatLeBron James will do and the domino effect that will have on the market.

In some ways, James will set the market for everyone else because his choice can change the landscape of the league. While we know that James is absolutely worth the max and that his price won’t change unless he decides to take less, the future of multiple teams and marquee players can be impacted by his decision.

Even with that being the case, we can reasonably predict the price range and set the market for the remaining 2014 free agents based on what we’ve seen so far. Jodie Meeks signing with the Detroit Pistons for more than the mid-level exception certainly set a market for shooters, and Kyle Lowry’s deal worth $12 million a season established the price range for near-max unrestricted free agents. 

Using the salaries of players already signed and existing contracts throughout the league, let’s set the market for the best remaining 2014 free agents according to category of player. 

It’s important to remember that all max contracts are not created equal, as players who have been in the league longer and are coming off old deals under the last collective bargaining agreement can make substantially more than players coming off their rookie deals.

Basically, someone like Greg Monroe can get the “max” and Carmelo Anthony can get the “max,” and their annual salaries can still be around $6 million apart. 

For this offseason, there are only three unrestricted veteran free agents who should receive a max offer: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.

Realistically, Dirk Nowitzki could have joined that group, but he instead decided to take much less money to help Dallas retain cap space to bring talent around him. Nowitzki’s three-year deal worth $30 million is one of the best bargains we’ve seen in a while.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, James wants a max salary this offseason:

LeBron James will have a completely different process and a different priority when he opens his free agency at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday than he did in 2010, sources told ESPN.com.

Teams that contact James will be informed that he wants no less than the maximum salary number for next season, sources said. The max number for James is projected to be about $20.7 million.

Both Bosh and Anthony should land max deals either with their current teams or elsewhere. If James returns to Miami, Bosh will likely have to take less than his full max, unless Dwyane Wade takes a massive pay cut to to compensate for both deals. 

Anthony could potentially take a little less, but if no one is joining him immediately in New York or he’s not leaving money on the table for another free-agent acquisition elsewhere, there’s probably little incentive for him to do so. It is important to note his stated priorities, however.

“My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career,” Anthony said on SportsCenter in February, via ESPN New York. “I want to compete at that level.”

LeBron and Melo are the best bets to receive the most money possible, while Bosh’s deal will almost certainly depend on what LeBron does.

Here’s where the big surprises in free agency will likely come from.

Pegging how much restricted free agents can land is often difficult, as sometimes they don’t get offer sheets from other teams and instead negotiate with the team that holds their rights exclusively.

That’s what happened with Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who, according to Baxter Holmes of TheBoston Globe, signed a four-year deal worth $32 million.

Bradley came with an expensive price tag, but that’s nothing compared to what some of the big restricted free agents should make.

Greg Monroe is still a candidate for a max offer, as David Aldridge at NBA.com explained earlier this year: “The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe’s agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he’d get for his clients for two decades—and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract.”

With no other viable franchise big man on the market other than Bosh, Monroe should get the max once a few other pieces fall in place.

He won’t be the only restricted free agent to get that, though.

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe should receive a max offer sheet somewhere, as Phoenix isn’t likely to negotiate with him unnecessarily while there are still players like James and Anthony out there who could potentially sign with cap space.

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward didn’t seem quite as likely to receive the full max, but Rick Bonnell of theCharlotte Observer reported on July 8 that he got just such an offer from the Charlotte Hornets. Now, it’ll be up to the Jazz to make a decision on whether to match.

Bledsoe and Monroe should both get max deals, and there’s a chance Hayward does as well. No other restricted free agent has a good shot, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Parsons received one.   

Chicago Bulls Make Hard Pitch to Carmelo Anthony

The Chicago Bulls are making the hard sell for Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks superstar free agent arrived at a decked-out United Center on Tuesday in a limobus with coach Tom Thibodeau and two other people, a police SUV trailing behind.

Anthony walked past the Michael Jordan statue, waving to a small group of cheering fans as he went inside.

The Bulls believe they have a strong pitch and a simple selling point: Anthony can transform a playoff team into a championship contender.

They believe uniting Anthony with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who arrived earlier at the arena, would put them in position to contend for their first title since Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the way to two three-peats in the 1990s. And they certainly made their feelings clear on Tuesday, turning the arena into one giant welcome mat.

Two giant digital images above the entrance on Madison Street showed Anthony in a Bulls No. 7 jersey dribbling next to a championship trophy, fans stopping to take pictures. Another image around the corner also showed him in a jersey dribbling.

Signs wrapping around corners of the building and stacked on top of each other read, “Carmelo Anthony and Chicago basketball” and “Melo” with a cropped Bulls logo.

Still, Anthony is a top target in NBA free agency and he is expected to visit other teams.

LeBron James Reportedly Opts to Become Free Agent: Latest Details, Reaction

LeBron James Reportedly Opts to Become Free Agent: Latest Details, Reaction

 

Break out your “take my talents” jokes from 2010. LeBron James reportedly has exercised his early termination option for the 2014-15 NBA season and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports Rich Paul, LeBron James’ agent, has informed the Heat of his client’s decision:

 

 

Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick has more insight into the decision:

 

 

CNN’s Rachel Nichols notes that things are going to get crazy with James hitting the open market:

 

 

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated notes that the decision to opt out was a tactical one:

 

 

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press reports that James has no idea where he’ll wind up:

 

 

The Miami Heat forward was due $20.59 million for next season, which could have been his fifth with the club. James’ six-year, $109.83 million contract carried early termination options for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Speculation about James’ potential departure has run rampant for much of the season. Almost half the league will have significant cap space this summer, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers. James will lead a free-agent class that also includes friend Carmelo Anthony, though it’s far more surprising to see the four-time NBA MVP’s name on the open market.

 

“At this point, I can’t,” James told NBATV in February, when asked if he could see himself leaving the Heat. “At this point, I can’t. We don’t know what can happen from now to July, so what I’ve been able to do this whole season to this point is just worry about what’s at hand, and that’s winning another championship.”

While understandably worrisome, James opting out far from ends his Heat career. Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Miami can offer him a five-year maximum deal worth roughly $115 million. Other teams are limited to a four-year pact maxing out at $85 million. That $30 million can make all the difference for even someone of James’ financial means.

Opting out merely allows James to assess his options.

Dwyane Wade‘s prime has either already been passed, or close to it.Chris Bosh has disappeared in three consecutive postseasons against the Indiana Pacers, and he turned 30 in March. Both have the same ETO as James.

Ray Allen turns 39 in July and is hitting free agency, Shane Battier is retiring, and Mario Chalmers can walk this summer. Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen each have player options, though it’d be a surprise to see either opt out.

There are a ton of moving components here, each of which will have to be solved by Pat Riley.

The Heat, despite their aging roster and noticeable foibles, have won two NBA championships and gone to four straight Finals over the past four seasons. It would have been an historical anomaly to see James walk away at the pinnacle of an ongoing dynasty. But Riley needs to provide James with a cogent plan on how to rebuild the talent surrounding the Big Three. Miami is well over the projected salary cap if you include cap holds, and it’s nearing the dreaded repeater tax bracket.

Given the Heat amnestied Finals hero Mike Miller to reduce their tax last summer, this is no longer the no-brainer situation James walked into.

There is also an underlying financial component.

James is risking his long-term earning power and maximizing it. His five-year max, had he opted into the 2014-15 season, would have been roughly $123 million. He’d be 35 by the end of his next five-year contract, an age at which not many players (Kobe Bryant exceptions aside) are handed massive paydays. Analytically speaking (per wagesofwins.com), ages 34 and 35 feature among the biggest drops inexpected performance.

Should James leave now, his four-year deal would end at age 33. He might even be able to force a third-year player option, which maximizes his potential of procuring max-level money into his late 30s. Doing so also means leaving $30 million guaranteed on the table.

 

 

There is a loyalty factor to consider as well. The biggest draw to Miami beyond winning has been the familial atmosphere Riley has cultivated. As Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald wrote in April, James may have played close to home when in Cleveland, but he never felt at “home” until he signed with the Heat. Beginning with the Big Three and on down the line through Riley and owner Micky Arison, these guys like each other.

But, as we saw in “The Decision” era, he is also a pragmatist. James spurned his hometown and engulfed his public reputation in flames to win in Miami. He’s older and more comfortable with his all-time standing now, yet James is understandingly unwilling to play out the remainder of his prime in mediocrity.

There were already ever-so-slight signs of slippage. Though he averaged his customary 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists, James was downright bad defensively at times last season. His effort waxed and waned, his rotations were sloppy, and there were countless moments when he’d eschew transition defense entirely to complain about a missed call.

Those are signs of the incredible wear James has put on his body these last few seasons. No player on the planet has played more minutes since the 2010-11 season, and only Kevin Durant is remotely close. With Wade breaking down, James might be reading the tea leaves and looking to repeat history—a situation where he can be The Man without having to carry the entire load.

Or he could just be looking for a fat new contract. Either way, Riley and Co. officially have their work cut out for them.

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