NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Reports: LeBron leaves meeting with no commitment to Heat — Well, the LeBron James–Pat Riley-Miami Heat summit in Las Vegas is done and the team has no more of an idea of where LeBron will choose to play next season and beyond. The choices, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, seem to come down to the incumbent Heat and his old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Depending on which report you read, the decision may happen soon … or, who knows when. First, here’s Wojnarowski first on the meeting:
Superstar free agent LeBron James met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday in Las Vegas and left without committing to a new contract, a league source told Yahoo Sports.
No decision date has been set, a source close to James told Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears.
James and his agent Rich Paul met with Riley on the same day the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a three-team trade to clear enough salary-cap room to make James a maximum contract offer, opening a path for his possible homecoming, sources said. The Cavaliers are also pursuing a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, contingent on James returning to Cleveland, sources told Yahoo Sports.
If James leaves Miami, Chris Bosh‘s intention is to also leave the Heat, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Bosh has been speaking with the Houston Rockets, who are prepared to clear enough cap room to offer him a four-year, $88 million contract.
If the Cavs can’t get James, their backup plan remains making a run at signing free-agent forward Trevor Ariza, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Timberwolves will demand Andrew Wiggins, the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick from last month’s NBA draft, be a part of any proposed deal, sources told Yahoo Sports.
ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst also have a report on the meeting and what might be next for James:
LeBron James met with Miami Heat officials for more than an hour Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas but emerged without a decision about his future, sources told ESPN.com.
James and his agent Rich Paul are done meeting with teams, according to sources close to the situation. James now will talk with his family and make his choice.
There is no timetable for James’ decision, but with him reportedly planning to attend the World Cup this weekend in Brazil, a decision before then seems likely.
The Rockets’ position, however, got more complicated on Wednesday when their restricted free agent Chandler Parsons signed a three-year offer from the Mavericks for more than $45 million, which the Rockets have three days to match.
If the Rockets match, they will lose the requisite cap space needed to sign Bosh. They can match the offer and still afford Bosh, but only if they sign Bosh first. To make room for Bosh, the Rockets will need to execute at least two trades, likely involving Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, to clear cap space.
The Heat were represented at Wednesday’s meeting with James by president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg. James was joined by Paul. This was the first known face-to-face meeting James has held since officially becoming a free agent on July 1. James’ agent met or spoke with officials from the Mavericks, Rockets, Suns, Cavaliers and Lakers last week, but James was not present.
James spent Wednesday morning and evening working out, playing pickup and speaking to high school and college stars at his LeBron James Skills Academy basketball camp.
No. 2: Uncertainty reigns with Anthony’s decision — What the heck is going on with Carmelo Anthony? Last night, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News was the first to report that Anthony is staying with the Knicks. Over at the New York Post, Marc Berman reported similar news last night, and both papers say that Anthony should make his official intentions known today. Newsday’s Al reports that the Knicks are ‘optimistic’ Anthony is staying put. But, our David Aldridge (see video below) — as well as ESPN.com’s team of reporters — seem to think Anthony’s decision is anything but certain:
Carmelo Anthony remained a free agent Wednesday night, the day before players can start signing contracts with NBA teams.
Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, told ESPN that his client “hasn’t made a decision yet” as of Wednesday afternoon. “No decision yet,” another source said. “Still up in air.”
Newsday reported that New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher hadn’t been told that Anthony had decided to re-sign with the team, despite a report saying he had.
Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that a number of rival teams increasingly believe that Anthony was holding off on announcing any decision about his future until LeBron James revealed where he’ll be playing next season.
Sources said that Anthony — whose decision was widely expected before a resolution to James’ situation when free agency began — has kept the Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and other suitors waiting as he waits for James.
No. 3: Report: Nets to pay record amount in luxury taxes — Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets held back no expense in trying to assemble a squad that could challenge the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. They worked out a trade with Boston that netted high-salary players Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry and also signed (or re-signed) Andray Blatche, Andrei Kirilenko and Alan Anderson. While the Nets only made the East semifinals, they have a big bill to pay this summer, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
The Brooklyn Nets will pay a record $90.57 million in luxury taxes for the 2013-14 season, sources told ESPN.com.
The NBA released its audit to teams ahead of the start of the new fiscal year at midnight Wednesday and revealed the numbers, including the Nets’ penalty for splurging after trading for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last year. In all, the Nets paid more than $197 million in salaries and luxury taxes this past season. Only three other teams had paid more than $90 million in total tax since its inception in 2001.
As part of the memo, the new salary cap was set at $63.065 million, a 7.5 percent increase from last season. That is slightly less than the $63.2 million estimation teams had been using. Revenues were $4.5 billion, up 5.3 percent from last year. The NBA also made an early projection of $66 million for the 2015-16 salary cap.
The new luxury tax line will be $76.8 million, a 7.1 percent increase from last season’s $71.7 million. The luxury tax was estimated to increase to $80 million for the 2015-16 season.
No. 4: Report: Bulls intensify chase for Gasol — The Chicago Bulls did what they could this summer to try and woo Carmelo Anthony, but it looks like they are the odd team out in the race to land him. As such, they aren’t crying over losing out but instead shifting their focus to another target: ex-Lakers big man Pau Gasol. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Bulls have vastly increased their pursuit of Gasol, whom they feel could immensely boost their frontcourt. He also provides more detail on ‘Melo’s visit to the Windy City:
Though the Bulls had yet to be told officially they’re out of the Anthony sweepstakes, the New York Daily News reported Anthony will make his Knicks’ announcement Thursday. That would intensify the Bulls’ pursuit of Gasol, and league sources indicated the Bulls hope to pursue sign-and-trade options with the Lakers for him involving Carlos Boozer‘s expiring salary.
The window to use the amnesty provision on Boozer’s salary officially opened at 11:01 p.m. Wednesday. But the Bulls all along have been trying to trade him, not only to relieve themselves of their financial commitment to him but more to stay above the salary cap. This would allow them to use exceptions to sign other players. Nikola Mirotic, Trevor Ariza, Shawn Marion, Kirk Hinrich and Ramon Sessions are just some of the possibilities.
Sources indicated Anthony strongly considered the Bulls after feeling a personal and professional connection with their in-person pitch July 1. A source familiar with their presentation said Anthony presented a professional manner throughout, engaging in basketball conversation with Tom Thibodeau and easily bantering with Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Scottie Pippen and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf at dinner.
Though Derrick Rose didn’t attend the dinner, his roughly 20-minute talk inside the Bulls’ locker room with Anthony went well, a source said. Gibson and Noah talked up Rose’s desire to win and humble, team-first nature at the dinner, the same source indicated.
Without a sign-and-trade transaction, the most the Bulls could offer Anthony without gutting their team was four years and $73 million.
Conversely, the Bulls actually can outbid serious suitors for Gasol, other than the Lakers. But Gasol, who knew he would be taking a pay cut from the $19.3 million he made last season, is more likely to leave the Lakers without them landing Anthony. In a more advantageous salary-cap situation, they offered Anthony four years and $96 million.
Gasol, 34, is drawing serious interest from the Thunder, Spurs, Heat and Knicks. But those teams are all limited by exceptions that the Bulls could trump. It’s unlikely if the Bulls land Gasol that the deal would be longer than three years.
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