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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.

The Pitch – Chicago Bulls

CHICAGO — Joakim Noah had better get used to seeing Cleveland a lot more in the spring again.

The Bulls always knew they were going to have to get past LeBron James in order to win a championship. Now they’ll just have to do it by going through Cleveland the next few years.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James and Joakim Noah

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsJoakim Noah will have to deal with LeBron James a lot more now that he is returning to the Cavaliers.

With James’ decision to return to the Cavaliers, the Bulls must hope against hope that Carmelo Anthony will turn down almost $60 million in guaranteed money from the New York Knicks, or find some way to work out a sign-and-trade. The Bulls got encouraging news in the aftermath of James’ announcement, when sources toldESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that Anthony had eliminated the Lakers and is deciding between the Bulls and Knicks.

If the Bulls don’t land Anthony, they are looking at the very real possibility of heading into next season as the third-best team in their own division. James’ choice makes the Cavaliers the new favorite in the Central. TheIndiana Pacers, despite all their dysfunction at the end of the season, still have Paul George and a core that has been to the Eastern Conference finals the past couple of seasons.

If Lance Stephenson decides to sign elsewhere, that will change the dynamic within the division, but it won’t change the fact that James’ presence in Cleveland remains the biggest roadblock facing the Bulls.

James’ decision has other ramifications on the Bulls — namely, the backup plan of trying to acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Steinthat Love is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing with James, and would be open to signing a long-term deal with the Cavs.

If the Bulls don’t land Anthony, the next best option is to continue calling Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders to see if they could work a deal to bring Love to Chicago.

The Bulls’ offer figured to include Jimmy ButlerTaj Gibson and/or Nikola Mirotic along with a future draft pick or two. If the Cavaliers offer Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in last month’s draft, along with a few other assets, will that be too good of a deal for the Timberwolves to pass up? Gibson and Butler are great defenders and solid players, but they don’t have the potential star power of Wiggins.

No matter what happens in the coming days in free agency, the Bulls know that James remains in their path more than ever. Like it did in Miami during his first season there, it’s going to take him some time to learn the intricacies of playing with new teammates likeKyrie Irving and company, but James is the type of player who makes everyone around him better.

The Bulls have the same kind of talent in Derrick Rose — a player who opens up space for everyone else on the floor — but Rose has played in only 49 games in the past three seasons because of various injuries. James’ move doesn’t change much in that regard. Rose must continue to work on his game and hope his body can withstand the grind of a long NBA season. Until he can prove that he is healthy — and playing at the same level — it’s foolish to believe the Bulls are a serious contender to win a championship. Even if Anthony signs in Chicago, the Bulls still need an elite-level Rose to be a serious title contender.

The key for the Bulls becomes simple now. They must hope that Anthony signs with them, which would give them the superstar scorer they’ve been missing throughout the Tom Thibodeau era.

Anthony’s presence would take a lot of pressure off Rose and the rest of the team, and it would be an antidote for the intense defense James has played against Rose in the past. The Bulls have to hope that Anthony remembers what their pitch was — that Chicago offers him the best chance to win right away.

The Knicks can offer the most money, but they are still selling hope. Anthony must buy into the notion that the Knicks’ new kingpin, Phil Jackson, can turn around the roster in summer 2015, when he’ll be working with a lot more cap space.

The Bulls have to hold onto the belief that Anthony knows that the best way to get through Cleveland and to a championship is to join forces with Rose and Noah. The reality for all parties is that they are much better equipped to do that together, not apart.

Melo Needs to make his Mind…

Carmelo Anthony has narrowed his options down to the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. He is no longer considering the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

 

 

Knicks president Phil Jackson said Thursday that he hadn’t heard from Anthony in recent days but remained confident the All-Star forward would re-sign with the Knicks. Jackson said the Knicks have made five different contract offers to Anthony, one of which is believed to be a maximum deal of $129 million over five years.

As of Friday afternoon, the Lakers had yet to be informed they were out of the running for Anthony, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon that his client “hasn’t made a decision yet.”

KING JAMES BACK TO THE CAVS — IM HOME

LeBron James is heading back to Cleveland.

The four-time league MVP told SI.com on Friday that he is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard the deal is expected to be four years for the maximum of $88 million.

 

 

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James told SI.com in a first-person essay. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”

For James, it marks a complete turnaround from his original free-agent decision in 2010, when he bolted Cleveland for the Miami Heat, creating a Big Three with Dwyane Wade and Chris Boshthat went on to win two NBA titles in their four years together.

“The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys,” James said. “I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished.”

James informed Wade of his decision, sources told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst. Bosh, who is out of the country, was informed through his agent, sources said.

 

 

The Heat were in the mix for James again this time around. Team president Pat Riley traveled to Las Vegas to meet with James on Wednesday in an attempt to lure him back to Miami after the All-Star opted out of his contract following the team’s NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

But James said no to Riley and the Heat, instead choosing a Cleveland team that picked him No. 1 overall in the 2003 draft out of St. Vincent-St. Mary, where he starred as a high school player in his native Akron, Ohio.

“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked,” James told SI.com. “It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”

 

 

James spoke with Heat president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison Friday morning on the phone before James’ first-person essay was posted, sources said. ESPN.com reported incorrectly earlier that the Heat did not know of the decision until it was posted and were not expecting it. The Heat had left their meeting with James earlier this week in Las Vegas feeling good about their chances to retain him, even if it was on a short-term deal.

“I’m not having a press conference or a party,” James said in his essay. “After this, it’s time to get to work.”

The decision certainly was cause for celebration in Cleveland, however. The Cavaliers have been mired in four losing seasons since their trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2010, James’ last year with the team.

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel was one of many fans expressing excitement on social media after receiving the news.

 

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who saw James earlier this week at the LeBron James Skills Academy basketball camp, also commented.

“LeBron has a huge heart,” Krzyzewski told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. “This decision is a great decision for him because he’s following his heart and he loves his home.”

Nike, James’ biggest endorser, released a statement that said: “Like basketball fans around the globe, we are excited to support one of the world’s greatest athletes as he enters the next chapter of his career. We look forward to seeing LeBron step back on the court in Cleveland.”

In the days leading up to LeBron’s decision, much was made of the infamous letter that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had issued in the wake of James’ departure in 2010, calling James a “coward” for leaving. James addressed the letter in his essay.

“I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out,” James said. “Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

Gilbert weighed in himself on Twitter minutes after James’ announcement.

 

“I’m thrilled with the news,” new Cavaliers coach David Blatt told ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. “It’s exciting for the team, the state and for basketball. Life is full of surprises.”

Reaction to James’ decision was decidedly different in Miami than in Cleveland. Arison expressed disappointment on Twitter shortly after James’ announcement.

 

James, Bosh and Wade all exercised options in their contracts to become free agents this summer, but the thinking was that they would redo their deals to give the team financial flexibility in an effort to upgrade the roster.

Now, the future is uncertain in Miami. Sources confirmed to ESPN.com that Bosh is finalizing an agreement to return to the Heat on a five-year, $118 million deal after weighing a maximum-contract offer from  the Houston Rockets. The team also is making a push to re-sign Wade. Aside from Bosh and Wade, the Heat currently have just four players who will be under guaranteed contract for next season.

James has spoken with former Heat teammate and free-agent forward Mike Miller about joining him in Cleveland, a source told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.

 

 

 

James spent seven seasons with the Cavaliers, averaging 27.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists and leading them in 2007 to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Spurs. The goal for him now will be to get there again with a Cleveland team that boasts All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and former Kansas star Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Of Irving and James, Krzyzewski told Katz: “That will be a great, great duo … LeBron is a brilliant player and Kyrie is really smart, two players with great knowledge of the game and understanding of the game.”

James said he knows how hard it is to win a championship and that he is “realistic” about the team’s hopes next season — but optimistic.

“My patience will get tested. I know that,” James said. “I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys.”

Las Vegas sports books quickly adjusted their odds to win the 2015 championship. The Las Vegas Superbook made the Cavs the outright favorites at 3-1, while dropping the Heat’s odds all the way down to 100-1. The MGM moved the Cavs down to 7-2, co-favorites with the Spurs. William Hill and the Wynn sports books both moved the Cavs to 9-2.

Two months ago, the Cavaliers could be found as high as 60-1 to win the title, but money poured in over the last three weeks after James opted out of his contract with Miami. While the majority of wagers were small in size, the MGM, Nevada’s largest sports book, told ESPN.com that it took a $1,000 bet on the Cavs at 40-1. Sports book operator CG Technology said it took “some higher dollar amounts from respected guys” on the Cavs at 30-1.

ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell reported that the Cavaliers have confirmed they are not raising season-ticket prices in the wake of the news. The team sold $1 million in ticket sales on Wednesday on speculation alone, a source told Rovell.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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.   

Hornets News – Pat Delany as an assistant coach on the staff of Head Coach Steve Clifford

July 9, 2014 – Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has added Pat Delany as an assistant coach on the staff of Head Coach Steve Clifford.

Delany joins the Hornets after spending last season as head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Miami Heat.  In his first head coaching job, Delany led the team to a 31-19 record, which was tied for the second-best record in the D-League.  The .620 winning percentage was the fifth-best in the franchise’s 25-year history and the second-best in its eight seasons in the D-League.

Prior to being named head coach of the Skyforce, Delany served as the Heat’s advance scout for six seasons from 2007-13. He also served as the team’s video coordinator for four seasons from 2003-07 following one season as a video intern.

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.

Dwyane Wade opts out of contract, becomes free agent

image

In a mild surprise, the Heat’s star wing will leave two years and $41 million on the table to become a free agent.

Dwyane Wade has exercised the early termination clause in his contract, becoming a free agent alongside LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

Wade was slated to make $41 million over the next two years, but elected to become a free agent even though his game is in clear decline. The hope is that he can sign a long-term contract, presumably at a lower annual figure.

Wade only played in 54 regular-season games in 2013-14, battling through various injuries and getting rest throughout the campaign. The former Marquette star averaged 19 points per game, the lowest number since Wade’s rookie season in 2003-04 when he scored 16.2 points per night. Wade’s rebounding was also down to to 4.5, his lowest since 2007-08.

NBA FREE AGENCY
Ranking the top 75 players
In the NBA Finals, Wade suffered through a nightmare of a series. He averaged 15 points per game and shot just 7-of-25 over the last two games.

Wade’s departure opens up a huge chunk of Miami’s salary cap. With a $20.1 million salary for 2014-15 and a $21.6 million option for 2015-16 off the books, the Heat have ample room to bring back both James and Wade, perhaps at a much lower cap figure.

By opening up money, general manager Pat Riley can add better depth and role players after being demolished by the San Antonio Spurs. Should Chris Bosh also opt out and forfeit his $20.6 million number, Miami suddenly has the most cap space in the NBA.

Wade will turn 33 years old in January and is likely looking for his last substantial contract.

Carmelo Anthony race to Chicago

Carmelo Anthony has yet to publicly reveal the process by which he plans to entertain other teams in free agency now that he has opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks, but the Chicago BullsHouston RocketsDallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to him starting July 1, according to sources close to the situation.

Teams can’t formally contact free agents until 12:01 a.m. ET July 1, but sources told ESPN.com that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are two more teams that could join the race for Anthony, depending on how things play out before, during and after Thursday’s NBA draft.

The Bulls are widely regarded as the early favorite to steal Anthony from the Knicks, with sources saying Monday that Chicago has been quietly planning for this free-agent pursuit for months, going back to the January trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland. Sources say every move Chicago made during the season’s second half — including the seemingly minor signings of veterans Ronnie BrewerLou Amundson and Mike James to very tradeable contracts — was made with the hope they might be helpful in a potential sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Anthony.

 

 

Sources say the Rockets, meanwhile, have begun working on trade exits for center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin to clear enough space under the salary cap to make a representative offer to Anthony. The Rockets have been confident for some time, sources say, that they can not only move both players if necessary in deals that create the requisite flexibility but also rival the Bulls’ sales pitch.

The Lakers are in the advantageous position of having enough room under the salary cap to make a maximum offer to Anthony without having to clear any salary, but it is believed Anthony would want them to strengthen their roster before he would seriously consider a move to L.A. Sources say the Lakers, to that end, have been exploring their options with the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft and have told teams they are prepared to package the pick with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (owed $9.7 million next season) for the right offer.

ESPNDallas.com reported Sunday that the Mavericks, armed with plenty of cap space themselves, likewise expect to be granted a face-to-face sit-down with Anthony. Yet Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, who also is bound for free agency July 1, has acknowledged that the Bulls and Rockets have better odds of prying Anthony out of New York, labeling Dallas’ chances “not really” realistic.

Earlier this month, ESPN.com reported the Heat had begun internal discussions about pursuing the former scoring champion to try to grow their Big Three into a Big Four, but the Heat could pursue Anthony only if LeBron JamesChris Bosh and Dwyane Wade opt out of their current deals later this week and are willing to take less money to re-sign and play alongside Anthony. Heat president Pat Riley has since confirmed the club has pondered pursuing Anthony but conceded the scenario is a “pipe dream” given the financial complexities involved.

The Hawks would have to clear approximately $10 million to $12 million in salary-cap space to pursue Anthony, but sources indicate that is one of the many options Atlanta is considering, making it a sleeper team to watch.

Anthony is eligible to sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over the next five seasons with the Knicks. A max deal with a new team is $96 million over four years.

“Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and he loves the fans,” Leon Rose, Anthony’s agent, said Monday. “At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options.”

In an online interview that aired Monday, Anthony said uprooting his family to another city could not be dismissed as a factor amid the rising speculation about the Bulls’ desire to team him with Derrick RoseJoakim Noah and hard-driving coach Tom Thibodeau.

In the interview with Vice Sports taped June 3, Anthony said: “The average person just sees the opportunity to say that, ‘Oh, Melo should go here, Melo should go there. I think he should do this, I think he should do that.’ But they don’t take into consideration the family aspect of it. Your livelihood. Where you’re going to be living at. Do you want your kids to grow up in that place? In that city? Do I want to spend the rest of my career in that situation in that city? So all of that stuff comes into play.

 

 

 

“My son goes to school [in New York]. He loves it here. To take him out and take him somewhere else, he has to learn that system all over again, he has to get new friends. And I know how hard it was for me when I moved from New York to Baltimore at a young age. Having to work your way to try to make friends.

“As far as this goes, basketball goes, it’s hard to just say, ‘OK, I’m going to go here, I’m going to make this decision, I’m going to do that.’ Because everybody’s affected by that.”

New Knicks president Phil Jackson tried for weeks to convince Anthony to opt in for the final season on his current contract and delay his free agency until the summer of 2015. But Anthony maintained all season that he intended to become a free agent this summer and, according to a report last week from ESPN New York’s Ian Begley, already has begun researching the city of Chicago.

Thibodeau, meanwhile, has reached out to some of Anthony’s former coaches to inquire about the seven-time All-Star, according to a recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times. And ESPN.com reported in March that Anthony and Noah talked about playing under Thibodeau during the All-Star break in a conversation that turned into a recruiting pitch from Noah to Anthony.

Jackson said late last month that he’s “not losing sleep” over Anthony’s free agency but is “definitely concerned” about the idea of Anthony signing elsewhere. Anthony has said publicly that he would like to stay in New York but also wants to be in position to win an NBA championship.

The Knicks are coming off a 37-45 season under the fired Mike Woodson and don’t have salary-cap space to seriously retool the roster around Anthony until the summer of 2015.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley and ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst was used in this report.

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