As LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony pondered their futures Monday, the league’s chess pieces continued to move around into position for possible strikes, and the Miami Heat finally got commitment from free agents they hope will sway James back to their camp, agreeing to terms with Charlotte Hornets big man Josh McRoberts on a four-year deal worth $23 million and Los Angeles Clippers forward Danny Granger on a two-year, $4.2 million deal.
Miami’s need for size led it to the 6-foot-10 McRoberts, who became a dependable member of the Hornets’ rotation last season for first-year coach Steve Clifford, averaging 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. He also shot 36 percent on three-pointers for Charlotte.
McRoberts has a fourth-year player option on his deal, which is for the Heat’s full mid-level exception. Miami still has a $2.2 million traded player exception after dealing Joel Anthony to Boston last season.
Granger, who spent his first eight-plus seasons in Indiana with the Pacers before being traded to Philadelphia last February, signed with the Clippers after working out a buyout with the 76ers. Injuries hampered his brief stay in L.A., where he saw limited action for the Clippers during the playoffs.
He had had to accept a sixth man role in Indy to start last season, after Paul George, his close friend, asserted himself into an All-Star level small forward. Granger could take a similar role in Miami if the SuperFriends all return next season.
The signings of McRoberts and Granger — who can’t officially sign their deals until the moratorium expires July 10 — are the first player moves the Heat have been able to make since trading for guard Shabazz Napier on Draft night. The Heat had hopes of signing other big men, but didn’t possess enough cap room to be able to sign the likes of center Marcin Gortat, who re-signed with Washington for five years and $60 million, or other prominent 2014 free agents like Trevor Ariza or Kyle Lowry.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets officially made Chris Bosh a max contract offer for four years in case he changes his mind and decides to leave the Miami Heat, but that will only happen if James leaves first.
Amid a hurricane of speculation that James is seriously considering a return to Cleveland, the franchise he left in 2010 to join Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami, the only concrete news remained James’ desire for a max contract and his upcoming meeting with Heat president Pat Riley.
Teams had believed Anthony would announce his decision as early as Monday, but as of early afternoon, his camp had yet to announce his decision — whether he’d return to the Knicks for a five-year deal worth $129 million, or take lesser deals with the Lakers (a max deal at $96 million, to be fair, but for one fewer season), Bulls, Rockets or Mavericks.
While Houston waited to hear from Anthony — still the team’s first choice — it made contingency plans with Bosh, who’d step in at power forward as a strong complement to Dwight Howard and James Harden.
The Rockets believe there’s mutual interest between them and Bosh. They’re comfortable with Bosh running his own process for making a decision, so they’re not pushing him for a face-to-face meeting in Houston as they had in 2010, or that they had last week with Anthony.
The league has waited for a week for Anthony and LeBron James to make up their minds, with the potential balance of power shift delaying much of the league’s other business.
Anthony decided to opt out and take visits with teams, and because more teams thought they had a realistic shot at him, his courtship actually held more of the league’s business up than James’. Anthony went to Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles; he met both the Lakers and Knicks in L.A.
ESPN first reported the Heat’s agreement with McRoberts, and Yahoo! Sports reported the Granger agreement.