Blogtable

Blogtable: Say LBJ goes to Cleveland …

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Idle summertime chatter | LeBron + Cavs = ??? | The Good & Bad of ‘Melo in NY



VIDEO: Four years later, former NBA exec Stu Jackson reflects on “The Decision”

> There are a lot of “ifs” to consider, but IF LeBron goes back to Cleveland, are the Cavs really good enough to win the East?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI like the idea of LeBron going back to Cleveland and leading all that potential and raw talent to the top of the East standings. The roster now looks better to me than the crew that won 66 games in 2008-09. Several of the Cavs would get better almost overnight from the defensive attention paid to James. What would they be lacking? A savvy veteran backcourt player would help. Also: Bubble-wrap for Anderson Varejao to keep him healthy.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: If he were to go back to Cleveland, it obviously means the best team in the East has broken up. The Cavs would lack overall experience, cohesion and any real clue what it takes to get though the playoffs.  But hey, they’d have LeBron and a puncher’s chance.  He’s taken a team with less raw talent to The Finals in 2007.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comOnly because the East is so weak, the answer is yes. It would take Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao to stay healthy — and that’s never a given — and for last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett to contribute. They could use a knock-down 3-point shooter or two. You figure a LeBron-less Miami falls out and Indiana might not have Lance Stephenson plus they’ve got a major mental reconstruction job. Toronto and Washington should be on the rise. Maybe the Nets under Lionel Hollins will have a say. But any team with LeBron has to be given a legitimate shot.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: TBD. Who do the Cavaliers have to offload to make the money — and possibly the sign-and-trade — work? Do the Bulls get Carmelo Anthony? Cleveland could be good enough. I’ll go that far. James, Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins is a nice first five for the future, plus maybe Dion Waiters. But I would still pick Chicago with Carmelo, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott and others.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: No. I’m not ready to vault this theoretical Cleveland team past Indiana right now. That said, with LeBron, the only thing the Cavaliers would be lacking is the needed seasoning to compete at the highest level. All that young talent they’ve piled up is fine, save for the fact that they’ve only seen the playoffs on TNT and other networks. They’ll also need to piece together some chemistry overnight. But they’d be right there behind Indiana and capable of overtaking the Pacers if we see the same kind of mental and emotional fragility we saw from the No. 1 seed Pacers we saw last season.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Last season the Cavs didn’t even make the playoffs. Adding LeBron and Andrew Wiggins would be about the best one-two punch you could find. But to me, experience and outside shooting are the two things lacking that jump out at me. The Cavs were in the bottom half of the league last season in 3-point shooting, and that was how the Spurs dissected Miami last year — spreading them out and knocking down jumpers. Miami’s Achilles’ heel was rebounding, and I don’t know that the Cavs have much better depth along the front line than the Heat. It’s funny to me that everyone kinda writes off the Heat — they made it to the Finals and actually split the first two games. To me, the Heat with Bron are closer to another Finals run than Cleveland would be.

Marcelo Nogueira, NBA Argentina: It wouldn’t be enough to just have LeBron back in Cleveland to win the Eastern Conference. The Cavs would need LeBron and a scientist to create a LeBron clone.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: First of all, any team with LeBron in the starting five becomes a contender. Moreover the Cavs have the talent to support him. Andrew Wiggins is a player with tremendous potential and Kyrie Irving has showcased his All-Star quality. Anderson Varejao if healthy is a great role player, Spencer Hawes can reallly stretch the floor and become a great asset for a LeBron-James-playing-style, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett are rising stars. If their core can overcome their injury-filled destiny they can be the next big thing, for sure.

Rodrigo Méndez, NBA Mexico: The Cavs, for those seven years LeBron James played in Cleveland — with a championship eluding them — had a chance to learn a few things. Now if LeBron returns, those lessons come to fruition: build a team around the star, a complete team with a good defense and a full suit of complements on the court and on the bench. That last lesson they can take from the Heat, which had trouble surrounding LBJ in 2013-14.

Blogtable: Summer, when gabbing is easy

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Idle summertime chatter | LeBron + Cavs = ??? | The Good & Bad of ‘Melo in NY


> It’s been a confusing, chatter-filled start to the NBA summer. What’s the dumbest, most forehead-slapping headline or storyline that you’ve seen?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Geez, so many from which to choose —  Jodie Meeks‘ contract, Carmelo Anthony supposedly leaving New York and $30 million or more on the table, Klay Thompson suddenly being regarded as a combo Jerry West/Dwyane Wade in trade value. But I’m going with the hand-wringing in Chicago over Derrick Rose’s alleged “unwillingness” to recruit free agents. That sort of thing, in the best of places, probably ranks 8th or 18th or maybe 28th in what sways a player to choose a new team/market. All Rose should be doing is what he did – allow the targeted player, like Carmelo Anthony, to watch a workout so he can gauge Rose’s health and comeback potential. Beyond that, it’s sheer high-school silliness.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I was very tempted to say “all of the above” since the entire free agency period is mostly rumor, innuendo and flat-out lying posing as pseudo-journalism.  But if I must choose, well, Jodie Meeks at more than $6 million per is a head-slapper.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Orlando agreeing to pay Ben Gordon $9.5 million over two years. That slightly edges Portland agreeing to pay Chris Kaman nearly $10 million over two years.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: You’re asking me to pick one grain of sand on the beach. We know, for example, that the Heatles are definitely splintering, unless that they’re not and are simply giving Pat Riley time to make moves before closing their own deals. And Kobe, Carmelo and Kevin Love definitely magically appeared at the same pickup game at UCLA, except that they didn’t. The silly season in full effect. If there an option to expand beyond free agency and make it the entire offseason for dumbest, most forehead-slapping storyline, it’s an easy call: Jason Kidd.

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: How about the latest one, “Hayward get max offer sheet from Hornets.” In a summer when financial haircuts are being discussed for All-Stars — superstars in some cases — a guy who has never sniffed the All-Star team gets a $60 million offer from an Eastern Conference playoff team. Hayward is worth whatever someone is going to pay him, so I’m not mad at him. But, as I said on Twitter last week (when Hayward was supposedly on tap for a max offer from the Cavaliers that never happened), something is awry in this system when Lance Stephenson (as flawed or deficient as he might be in some areas) sees this headline about Hayward and is supposed to be cool with an offer $16 million lighter in total. Even if Utah matches, as they have said all along that they will, this is still one of the gems of “Crazy Season!”

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Well to be fair, it was probably a headline that I wrote that was dumb. But as far as a wild storyline, the thought that signing Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts will put Miami over the top is pretty out there. I mean, the Pacers basically let Granger walk, and Basketball Jesus a.k.a. McBob is a nice player but … putting Miami over the top? That’s a head-slapper. The Spurs beat Miami up and down and left and right in the Finals. It’s going to take more than just one or two additions to make the Heat a Finals winner. Then again, getting LeBron to re-up would be a pretty good start.

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA Deutschland: The most confusing thing for me is that everyone is waiting for everyone. Melo is waiting for Bosh’s decision, Bosh and Wade are waiting for LeBron’s decision. LeBron is waiting what the Heat will do, but the Heat have to wait, what their Big 3 will do to know how much cap space they will have. Then the second row with Deng, Parsons and Ariza are waiting what Melo, Bosh,Wade and LeBron will do. And all teams with cap space are waiting for the decisions of the superstars to remain flexible. So everybody is waiting and the worst is, we have to wait, too. LeBron, get the ball rolling!

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I’ll go with Jeremy Lin being upset because Houston used his uni to court Melo. Free agency is like love and war: all’s fair. It has been done before (Rockets GM Daryl Morey remembered they used Patrick Beverley‘s #12 last year to recruit Dwight Howard) and you shouldn’t be upset when your team is trying to get  one of the best players in the game, especially if you are in the trade rumors mill.

Karan Madhok, NBA India: After LeBron’s “Decision” in 2010, nothing in the NBA off-eason really surprises me anymore, and I truly leave all options open to possibility. That said, there were a couple of stories that made me shake my head with mild disbelief. One was The Pick-Up Game that Never Happened rumours of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and even Kevin Love playing ball at UCLA, as reported by some sources, as a hopeful indication of what the Lakers roster could look like next season. The second was the Recruitment Pitch that Wasn’t Made, a saga of Derrick Rose – did he or didn’t he try and recruit Carmelo Anthony to Chicago.

Blogtable: Where Will Melo Land?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss



VIDEO: Free agent Carmelo Anthony will have a choice to make in the days ahead

> The Bulls are charging hard for Carmelo Anthony. Other teams will follow. What are the chances he stays in New York? If not New York, where?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’d peg it at a 75 percent chance Anthony stays in New York. Or should I say, 34 million to 1, since that’s the gap — $34 million — between a max contract from the Knicks and the best deal he can get anywhere else. Typically, I scoff when media folks report the difference in contracts only in raw dollars, neglecting to note the difference in years (four vs. five). You usually can assume the player will get a “next” contract. But at Melo’s age, any new deal at age 34 won’t be starting at $29 million (the other $5 million is due to the bigger raises New York can pay him). Besides, he and his wife like the stage of New York, they have a child in school there and there’s no assurance he’d win a ring anywhere else. If he does go? Flip a coin: Miami or Chicago, the former if they’ll have him, the latter because that’s actually the best available fit for him.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: As a totally amateur oddsmaker, I still put it at about 10-1 against that he bolts. At the end of the day, Anthony is looking at leaving nearly $40 million on the table to leave the Knicks and his history has not been in that direction. Toss in the word that his wife supposedly doesn’t want to give up those Broadway lights and I think he stays. However, if Melo goes, I’d give Chicago the best shot.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I’ve got it as a 50/50 toss-up right now between New York and Chicago, and I give the Knicks that good of a chance only because the city will surely tug at his heartstrings. After all, he is home.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI have the Bulls as the team to beat, with the Knicks still in play. He obviously likes the city because he wanted to go there in the first place, and nobody tops the money. If it’s a winning thing, though, New York is out. Then it’s Chicago and Houston, and maybe Miami. The Heat give him the wins. I’m just not sure about the money and the role. I am not as convinced about Melo/South Florida as a lot of other people. See the appeal, just don’t see it actually happening.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIf the Knicks are really offering Anthony the max (and willing to pay him more than $29 million when he’s 34), it would be hard for him to pass on a five-year, $129 million contract. If the chance at a championship is his top priority, then the Bulls have the most to offer, especially if they’re able to keep Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. I’m not inside his head, so I can’t tell you what the odds are, but at this point in his career, Chicago should be his top choice.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comIt’s a toss up. The chances of Carmelo staying in New York depend on what it is the Knicks do when they get that last shot to recruit him. If they come up with a max offer, this is over. But I don’t think ‘Melo is conducting this national tour (from Chicago to a Texas two-step and then to Los Angeles) for show. He’s searching for the opportunity to win and win big, but he has to keep the bottom line in the equation as well. The Knicks can offer more than anyone else, of course, so they do have that chip to play, if they are willing to go there. But I don’t think this is about Carmelo going to the highest bidder. He’s in chasing titles mode right now, which means he’s got to give serious consideration to bolting from New York. Chicago makes the most sense to me. The structure is in place for him to compete at the highest level and in the Eastern Conference, where the landscape isn’t nearly as treacherous as it is in the Western Conference. That said, I wouldn’t count out the Hollywood/Kobe Bryant factor in this Melodrama.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogI think he stays in New York. I know he was out and about in Chicago and will be visiting with other teams in coming days, but to me the deciding factor here is money. Will Melo really leave $30 million on the table and leave New York, the city he jockeyed so hard to get to just a few years ago? And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Melo will decide or has decided that the chance to win right now is the most important factor for him. If that’s the case, Chicago probably makes the most sense. (Actually, signing pretty much anywhere other than New York will give him that chance.) But considering that Carmelo is 30 years old and this is likely his last chance to sign a max contract, I don’t know if he’ll walk away from that extra cash. After all, money talks.

Blogtable: A steal of a free agent

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss


> Who’s going to be the absolute steal of this free agency class, a guy who signs way under where he could have signed and gives way more than most expect?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: If some of these reports prove true about the Miami stars’ reconfigured deals, I’ll say Chris Bosh. The prospect of getting a discount of 30 percent or more from his pre-opt-out 2014-15 salary ($20.6 million) would make him a terrific bargain for the Heat or any other contender. He’s got a flexible offensive game — he could do more inside if Miami hadn’t nudged him to the perimeter — and his defense is an asset, too. Other candidates, for opposite reasons: Boston’s Avery Bradley (he might get paid at his current level but take a big step up in game) and Indiana’s Lance Stephenson (assumptions about Lance’s behavior with big guaranteed money could drive down his price).

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: He’s not The Matrix anymore, but I could see Shawn Marion joining a contender on a sweetheart deal and making a difference.

Eric Bledsoe (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Eric Bledsoe (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: We know it won’t be Jodie Meeks. The lucky guard hit a nice pay day with the Pistons. My money’s on Pau Gasol. The odds of my favored scenario actually taking shape probably aren’t great, but I’ve been touting it all along — Pau needs to go play for Miami. He could be dynamite for this team as long as he can stay healthy — but that’s a prerequisite for just about any player over 30. The way the market is shaping up, Miami can give Pau a decent salary, maybe $7 million, $8 million, maybe even a little more. For a chance to play with LeBron and chase titles, that’s pretty good. The Lakers might be able to hit his preferred $10 million – $12 million, but that roster has yet to take any form — let alone the form of a contender.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: LeBron James is going to be the steal, the guy who won’t get paid what he can deliver. But if you’re sticking to “a guy who signs way under where he could have signed,” that’s clearly more under-the-radar: P.J. Tucker. He should have received more attention for Most Improved Player. Now he’s going to become a great value as a free agent. Defense, 3-point range — he will produce more than he will get paid, probably just without a lot of attention.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comGreivis Vasquez made a big impact in Toronto when he arrived in the Rudy Gay trade. The Raptors were at their best when he was on the floor and his willingness to pass the ball was infectious. He’s a restricted free agent, but there are other point guards ahead of him on the free-agent market, including one – Kyle Lowry – on his own team. So he could be had at below mid-level money, and he could make a similar impact wherever he goes as a second point guard that can share the floor with the starter. If the Raptors can keep both Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, and Lou Williams returns to form, that could be the league’s best bench outside of San Antonio.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comEric Bledsoe. And he’s a restricted free agent, so whatever offer he gets is going to be below the mark of what he could command on the open market as an unrestricted free agent. He was spectacular during an injury-curbed season in Phoenix, but every executive I have spoken with seems to think he’s the one impact player of this summer that few people are talking about. The Suns have the opportunity to match whatever big offer comes his way, and that means some teams will be scared off, therefore reducing the dollars he can command.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I think so much of this depends on the place these players end up. If Greg Monroe, for instance, signs with Atlanta, that allows Al Horford to shift to the power forward spot and could have a huge impact beyond just Monroe’s stats. That said, I don’t think Monroe’s going to be undervalued. If Wade and Bosh and Bron all end up in Miami, as it seems, a bunch of teams who had money saved up may have extra cash to spread around. But the guy who I think is being undervalued right now is Luol Deng. He’s not a name that will sell season tickets, but he’s the ultimate team player, a former All-Star, and a guy who goes all out every night. Some team might be able to get themselves a superstar at a bargain.

Blogtable: Jason Kidd is in Milwaukee

Jason Kidd joins a team that won only 15 games last season (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Jason Kidd joins a team that won only 15 games last season. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss


> Is Jason Kidd the right man for the job in Milwaukee? Anything else you want to say about how this whole Kidd-to-Bucks thing went down?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’ve been out front and outspoken on this topic already, so I’ll try not to repeat any previous harangue. When Kidd was hired by Brooklyn last year, my thought was: Interesting choice but he needs to take over a rebuilding team so he can learn and grow as a coach along with his players. The win-now, veteran-heavy Nets roster seemed like (and mostly was) a mismatch. So if Kidd had been fired, oh, last December when Brooklyn was losing and got hired by Milwaukee now — sometime after Larry Drew‘s firing — it would have seemed legit. But then, he wouldn’t have tipped his hand in craving personnel power — a privilege completely unearned at this point — or in relying so much on “buddy ball” with his wealthy pal, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. One more thing: Letting a coach weasel out of a four-year contract after one season to switch teams and double his pay is something the players and their union might want to bring up to the NBA owners at the next CBA talks in 2017.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: It was one thing to have Kidd trade in his jersey for a suit jacket and stand on the sidelines running a team packed with veterans and led by a couple of future Hall of Famers.  Now the Bucks are asking him to roll up his sleeves and go to work with a 15-win club.  No.  I believe that job takes more of a coaching background and resume. In addition, Kidd is a guy who always creates turmoil and heads for the door at the first sign of trouble. No reason to think he’s got the stomach or the know-how for this long-term job. As our man Steve Aschburner wrote, Kidd and the new owners ham-handedly handled the whole situation. Replace Larry Drew?  Fine.  But you do it with a whole lot more class.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Who knows if Jason Kidd’s the right man for the job in Milwaukee? Which coach was the last right man there? George Karl? Don Nelson? I’ll give Kidd this, he managed to get the Nets turned around after that clueless start. But we’ll see what kind of patience he has with a young team that needs a teacher. As for how the whole situation went down, I have one word — despicable.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The big picture is that we just learned a lot about how the new Bucks ownership intends to conduct business. It’s not a good lesson, of course. Beyond the obvious that Kidd and Marc Lasry just gave a clinic on how not to handle the situation, beyond the fact that Larry Drew and John Hammond are two of the classiest people in the league and deserved professionalism and honesty instead of this back-door play, Lasry gave away his honeymoon in Milwaukee and gave away his credibility to get someone who would have been a questionable hire under the most basic circumstances. Underhanded and arrogant — making a basketball decision without input from your basketball people — never looks good. Underhanded and arrogant to get a coach with one season of experience and position him to run personnel looks even worse. So, no, I really don’t have anything else to say.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Once the Nets found their identity in January, Kidd did a nice job of managing his rotation and getting contributions from everybody, while keeping his vets relatively fresh. He made the most of his team’s matchup advantages in the playoffs against both Toronto and Miami. He’s a basketball savant. But what happened in Brooklyn is the latest evidence that he’s just not a good person. And the most important aspect of a coach’s success is the talent he has on the roster. The Bucks are lacking in that department.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: He could be the right man for the job, but the way this was handled makes it extremely difficult to have anything but a sour taste in your mouth about Kidd and his future in Milwaukee or anywhere else. I’m going to avoid the moral soapbox and refrain from cracking Kidd or the Bucks for doing what they have done. This is the NBA. No one goes in thinking it’s going to be all roses and lollipops. Larry Drew, as low down as he was treated by both the Bucks and ultimately Kidd, will survive this. The Bucks will even shed this drama in time. Kidd’s reputation, however, might never recover.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Perhaps it came out when I was watching the Money In The Bank pay-per-view the other night, but somehow I missed the memo where Larry Drew isn’t a good coach. I enjoyed watching his Hawks teams, who utilized a balanced offense and went to the playoffs three consecutive seasons. Drew also was terrific drawing up back-picks and slip-screen plays in last minute situations; Drew was no fan of Hero Ball. I think Jason Kidd is also a very good coach, and he improved as the season went along with the Nets, and he’s a bigger “name” than Larry Drew. So that’s all great. Maybe the way this situation shook out wasn’t handled as cleanly as it could’ve/should’ve been, but it is what it is. Either way, I’d like to have seen Kidd win more than 15 games last season in Milwaukee with that roster.

Blogtable: What is D. Wade really worth?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: What is D. Wade worth?


> If you’re Pat Riley, what’s Dwyane Wade worth to you? How do you use him over the next three or four years? Does his past performance mean anything for this contract? Should it?

Dwyane Wade played a career-low 32.9 minutes a game last season for the Heat, but averaged a career-best .545 shooting. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Dwyane Wade, who will be 33 at the start of next season, played a career-low 32.9 minutes a game last season for the Heat but averaged a career-best .545 shooting. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: If the Heat made this “retooling” only about winning, the shrewd move might be to go with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony as “Big 3 2.0″ and either re-sign Wade at a mid-level exception price or (assuming he’d balk) wave goodbye. But as competitive as Miami, James and Heat impresario Pat Riley are, I don’t think they’re that ruthless. This has been a cooperative venture from the start, with Wade as “rings leader of recruiting” and the shooting guard from Marquette still will be the first guy in bronze outside the AmericanAirlines Arena. As for new deals, I’d like to see James, Bosh and Wade sign for precisely the same money Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili played for this season (about $30 million), to see if the Heat could beat the Spurs at their own game. Going Popovich with Wade’s PT didn’t work out, but maybe that would.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: He’s the third leg of the stool. Maybe not the D-Wade/Flash character that was MVP of The Finals in 2006, but just as important moving forward. He’s obviously got a lot of miles on his body and needs to have his minutes reined in. He had a horrible series against the Spurs. But how quickly we forget. Wade was producing at a very high level. One has to look no further than San Antonio and Manu Ginobili to see that it would be foolish to simply write him off. A year ago, much of the basketball world was ready to dump Manu onto the scrap heap. But he responded brilliantly, stayed healthy, had a solid season, excelled at the end and now has a fourth ring.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: If I’m Pat Riley I’m exploring just how negotiable of a mood D-Wade is in. If I can get him at four years, $40 million, I’m feeling great. That’s probably too light, but I’ve got to keep him below $14 million and close to $12 million. Wade’s broken-down knees are a tricky issue. He is going to have to find ways to tailor his game to his ability, and coach Erik Spoelstra is going to have to play him more like Manu Ginobili minutes (22.8 mpg) last season than the 32.9 Wade averaged when he was in the lineup. I liked our own John Schuhmann‘s suggestion recently that Wade needs to become a better 3-point shooter the way Jason Kidd — as well as Vince Carter — did late in his career. The Heat know what they’re getting with Wade. They need to get younger and more athletic at his position, and then carefully and patiently follow another maintenance plan, and hope for the best.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Dwyane Wade gets rewarded and he gets rewarded big. Yes, it is much more for what he did in the past. Yes, it is deserved, because none of this happens without Wade. Not the first championship, not the Big 3 convergence and subsequent titles, and, now, not the chance to re-shape the super team. If Wade made an ego play and insisted on remaining The Man, LeBron James and Chris Bosh don’t come as a package deal. If Wade had stayed in the contract this summer, that changes the entire landscape as well. Plus, how management handles someone with the stature of Dwyane Wade sends a message to players everywhere: You’ll be taken care of here. It’s a statement to free agents three or five years out. That’s invaluable. So of course it is about the past more than the present. And it’s about the future.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Wade is the third most important player on the Heat and he’s apparently good for 60 games a season (at most) going forward. That obviously means that he should be paid less than LeBron James and Chris Bosh, maybe in the range of $7-8 million per year. But there’s a loyalty factor that will prevent that from happening. Wade was there first. He was the MVP of the 2006 Finals. If it weren’t for him, the other two wouldn’t have come. And he’s the one that took the least money in 2010. So it’s hard for me to see him getting paid less than Bosh this time.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com:  His worth from the time the Heat drafted him to now is immeasurable. There is literally no monetary value that can be placed on what Wade has meant to the franchise. He helped create an identity for the franchise and was a part of three championships.  He’s a Heat icon for life and will have one of those cushy gigs alongside Alonzo Mourning whenever he decides to hang up his sneakers. But that cannot be the deciding factor now, as the Heat and Wade face a career crossroads at a time when everyone knows Wade’s star is fading. Somehow, someway, Riley has to convince Wade to take a role off the bench (Manu Ginobili, Eastern Conference style) now that LeBron James is the face of the franchise. It’s the way he can best help the Heat in the future and there is no sugar-coating the obvious. That means spreading that $40-plus million Wade opted out of over the next four to five seasons, at roughly $8.6 million a season. It’s a huge salary haircut (and btw, I don’t think a $10-$12 million a season salary is out of bounds, in fact it’s much more likely) and an enormous financial sacrifice, but one Wade would have to make for the greater good to finish his career playing on a contender.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Surely Dwyane Wade has some sort of institutional value to the Miami Heat. But I’m on Team Klinsmann, not Team Kobe, when it comes to this situation: You don’t reward someone now for what they have done previously. (Wait, let me clarify: I think this applies only in sports situations when a salary cap or luxury tax is involved. If you were, say — and this is totally random comparison — running a basketball website and paying a group of sports writers, you should definitely them pay based on the work they have previously completed.) For what it’s worth, Wade wasn’t awful for the entirety of the season — he did average 19 points per game — but he surely isn’t worth what he was making, either. I do think you reward Wade for being a player who can help your team, and for opting out of his contract and helping create salary flexibility for your team. I think, and this is no great novelty idea, Wade would be a nice fit as a sixth man, playing 15-20 minutes a night and going against second unit players on other teams. Let Wade be Miami’s Ginobili, and sign him to a four-year deal that’s more reflective of his true value (I’d say around $12 million a year).

Blogtable: Over the top with the Draft

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: LeBron, staying or bolting? | Banking on the Draft | Wrangling over an RFA



VIDEO: Big things are expected from one of the most-awaited Drafts in years

> Do you see a lower-level lottery team that, through smart picking alone on Thursday, can change its fortunes this season and make the playoffs? What makes you say that?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: The question seems to be twisting our arms in Phoenix’s direction (No. 14) or maybe Denver’s (No. 11) because the teams around them – Minnesota, Orlando, Philadelphia – deep in the lottery (Nos. 1-14) don’t seem ready to be transformed so quickly, and Charlotte (No. 9) made the postseason two months ago. But that’s fine, because Denver is the right answer anyway. The Suns came close last season and I’m eager to see coach Jeff Hornacek‘s second act, but the Nuggets could add a valuable piece – think shooting guard – and take a mighty stride thanks to the return of various injured contributors (JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson) in Brian Shaw‘s second act.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I guess it’s too easy to say Phoenix, since the Suns barely missed out last season.  So I’m gonna cheat on you a little bit and take a team that has picks in the top (4) and bottom (12) of the lottery and say the Magic.  If GM Rob Hennigan hits on both picks, with the core of young talent on hand, I could see the Magic making a bid for the playoffs in the (L)east.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Here’s the deal, as bad as the East was this year, I don’t see any of the so-called “lower-level” lottery teams — which I’ll consider the bottom four in each conference — making a significant enough leap to get into the playoffs. So let’s go West: Sacramento. Stop laughing. Once Rudy Gay arrived he transformed into Mr. Efficiency. DeMarcus Cousins could have been an All-Star last year — and probably would have been Dwight Howard‘s backup had the center position still existed. Let’s assume Isaiah Thomas remains. Ben McLemore enters his sophomore year. And there’s some decent role guys on a roster that heads into Year 2 under coach Michael Malone. So now add the eighth overall pick in a deep draft. The problem in the West is finding a team that drops out of the playoffs. Does Dallas slip? Memphis? It’s difficult to think of any of the top six dropping out.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The obvious thought would be the Suns, in a good position to make the playoffs anyway, except that they will have to be pushed over the line next season by returning players and whatever moves are made via free agency or trade, not when No. 14 is the best pick. If you’re looking for draft impact for a team that is not coming off a playoff appearance — eliminating Charlotte, in other words — Cleveland could do it if the pick is Jabari Parker, more NBA-ready than any of the top prospects. The Cavaliers have the obvious advantage of getting close last season. I would put Orlando in there as well, with two picks in the lottery, as long as No. 4 isn’t spent on Joel Embiid. It’s got to be two players expected to be in uniform opening night. Making up 15 games is a big jump, but it’s the East. What are we talking, a good week?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The obvious answer is Phoenix, but the Timberwolves (plus-219) had basically the same point differential as the Suns (plus-216) this season, and it was mostly awful late-game execution (and defense) that kept the Wolves from winning eight or nine more games. If they keep Kevin Love or if they get a couple of good players (David Lee and Klay Thompson, perhaps) for him, add a No. 13 pick that can contribute right away, and improve their defense under Flip Saunders, the Wolves could be in the playoff mix next year.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I don’t. And it’s not because of the team picking but because even for what everyone deems a deep draft, a lower-level lottery team would need to unearth a surprise pick that no one saw coming in the lead-up to the Draft. It’s been years since we’ve had a genuine Draft stunner like that, a talent capable of lifting a lower-level lottery team to change it’s fortunes in such a short period of time. We’re talking all the way back to the heralded 2003 Draft and what Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade did for their teams (Denver and Miami), in terms of a fist-year impact like that.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I almost answered this with a simple “No,” but I knew doing that would mean a series of angry emails and phone calls from The Powers That Be, so I’ll go with Phoenix, mainly because they just missed the playoffs last year. Also, they’ve got a system that looks for and rewards energy and effort, and while it may take some picks time to learn the NBA game, energy and effort are the one thing every player comes armed with. Other than PHX, I don’t know what “lower-level” lottery teams I’d expect to make a run at the postseason this year. Most of the teams are building for some vague future, from Orlando to Philly to Charlotte to Sacto. Phoenix is the only team that plays and prepares as though the future is now.

Blogtable: Wrangling over an RFA

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: LeBron, staying or bolting? | Banking on the Draft | Wrangling over an RFA


> Name me a free agent – let’s make it a Restricted Free Agent – who is liable to sign a big-money offer sheet from another team that his current team will hate to have to match.

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Give me a quarter and I’ll flip it – heads Greg Monroe, tails Gordon Hayward. Detroit can’t afford to let Monroe go anywhere, but the pressure will be on Stan Van Gundy to figure out ways for Monroe and Andre Drummond to thrive in tandem. Hasn’t happened yet and heftier price tags (Monroe now, Drummond next) will only add urgency. Hayward’s shooting dropped off significantly last season but the Jazz will be paying for the surprising rookie he was – that’s what the competition will bid up – and a slightly overrated piece.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Somebody might take a big money flyer on Chandler Parsons that could make the Rockets swallow hard, especially if they haven’t already landed LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe sticks out as the obvious choice, although I’m not sure you could say Phoenix will “hate” to match it. All signs out of the desert suggest they’re prepared to do just that. Keep a close eye on Pistons big man Greg Monroe. A sign-and-trade is a real possibility here.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Isaiah Thomas. I’ll wait to see what happens in the Draft to set that in stone, whether the Kings get a point guard or not, but it’s going to get interesting if a rival tries to turn their small-market salary structure into a piñata with an offer sheet with $8 million in a season or even $9 million. Everyone knows Sacramento will match if the deal is close to the mid-level, so teams know, as is usually the case with a restricted free agent, that it will take a number that will make the other front office wince. Sacramento wants to keep Thomas, and it can’t afford to lose him for nothing. But it also may decide it can’t afford to keep him.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comGreg Monroe. He’s a good player with strong numbers, but he’s not a very good defender and the Pistons’ frontline of Josh Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond was a disaster (especially defensively) last year. Stan Van Gundy is a great coach and should get the trio working a little better together, but he should also prefer to play someone other than Smith at small forward. If he can trade Smith (and the $40.5 million left on his contract) for some perimeter shooting, great. If he can’t, does he match a big offer for Monroe and hope that he can make a trade down the line? That combination of size and talent would be hard to let walk

Sekou Smith, NBA.comGordon Hayward is a player that the Jazz seemed to love and loathe at times throughout the Ty Corbin era. I’m not sure it makes any sense for them to try and hold on to him in free agency with a new coach (Quin Snyder) and an expected new system that Hayward might not be a great fit in, at least in theory. But with quite a bit of uncertainty lingering over the franchise, I could see the Jazz agonizing over what to do when someone puts big money on the table for Hayward that no one saw coming. The Jazz had a chance to set the price before the 2013-14 season started and didn’t. Now they could wind up paying more than they wanted to if Hayward has a team out there that covets his services.

Blogtable: Odds on LeBron staying

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: LeBron, staying or bolting? | Banking on the Draft | Wrangling over an RFA



VIDEO: Sekou Smtih and Rick Kamla discuss LeBron James’ looming free agency

> What do you think are the odds – give me some numbers – that LeBron plays for the Heat next season? If he’s not in Miami, where do you see him playing? Why do you say that?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’m at 96 percent confidence that LeBron James stays right where he is next season and even beyond. His days of chasing rings through relocation need to be over — moving again would be unseemly and his legacy would shift from number of championships won to the mercenary way in which he stalked them. More than that, he doesn’t need to chase. The help he needs should come to Miami now, a market with all the necessary advantages to attract whatever and whomever James needs. He, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh conceivably could take massive pay cuts — think Spurs’ Big 3 prices — and wind up with all the depth, shooting and young legs they’d need to contend for another half-dozen years. As for that 4 percent opening I left: Clippers.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: 90 percent.  Maybe I’m being naive or just downright foolish, but I think he appreciates what Pat Riley did in enabling him to win two championships, believes in Riley’s drive and determination to put the Heat on the right track, and also realizes that, even with their problems, they were still in The Finals this year.  Also, the East is still the East.  If he leaves, it means LeBron is just chasing rings and the most ready-made place to do that, pardner, would be Houston.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Call me nuts, but I’m putting it at 95 percent that he’s back with the Heat. Thing is, I can’t see LeBron in another uniform. Chicago? And forever play in the shadow of his idol Michael Jordan? Just don’t see it. It’d be silly for LeBron to take his talents West; just too tough. Who else realistically is left in the East? The Wizards? That’d actually be a pretty solid choice, but Washington has been involved in zero — that we know of — discussion of LBJ. Toronto? Miami is the only logical choice. If the Big 3 negotiate new deals, they can make room for Kyle Lowry and bring in other low-cost reinforcements​ such as Shawn Marion.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: 60 percent. Something that indicates the Heat are the favorite but far from in command. The problem is, I don’t see an obvious landing spot if he leaves Miami. Sure, the Clippers make sense, but how may salaries will they have to move to clear cap space? At that point, will the Heat have a better angle on another championship than the Clips do on their first? I think he gives Pat Riley one more season, then re-assesses and maybe leaves in July 2015.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: 90 percent. A potential move to Chicago or Houston is intriguing, but the most likely scenario is that James stays in Miami, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh take pay cuts, and Pat Riley adds another impact player or two. Though James left Cleveland high and dry in 2010, he doesn’t seem like the mercenary type. He’s comfortable in Miami, where a system built around him is in place and where his team became the first to make four straight Finals in 27 years. You can pick apart the Heat’s issues (and I did that quite a bit over the last two months), but they just need a little more help to keep competing for championships.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI’m calling it 50-50 after getting burned on the original “Decision.” It’s hard to imagine him in another uniform, though, after four straight years of No. 6 in that Heat jersey playing to the final day each season. The Heat have to be considered the favorite to … keep him, I guess. But experience with LeBron in free agency has taught me well. Nothing lasts forever, and that goes for the Big 3 and their run. Cleveland, for so many reasons, is the place that has to be tugging at the heartstrings of not only LeBron but his entire family. But this is a business decision, a choice that is more than anything about his continued professional success and where he can best realize the immense potential that remains. So if he’s not going to continue in Miami, his next stop has to be in a place where there is a championship structure either already in place or in need of that one player, uh … LeBron, that pushes a team there, immediately. As preposterous as it feels typing these words, I think he either goes home to finish what he started in Cleveland or stays with the Heat. Anything else, before we know who does whatever is necessary to land him, is beyond what I can wrap my mind around at this time.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’m not a gambler (as far as you guys know) so I don’t even know how odds really work, but I’ll put it the chances at 90 percent that LeBron returns to Miami. This is based on no inside information, just based on several observations. I understand LeBron being from Akron and that giving the Cavs some sort of interest, but I wonder if he just forgot about that comic sans thing? LeBron went to Miami and talked about it being a long-term thing (“not one, not two,” etcetera etcetera), and his work there is not done. LeBron opting out is fun fodder for Twitter and talk radio and all that stuff, but honestly, it was a smart business move for LeBron whether or not he intends to stay in Miami. And I think he intends to stay.

Blogtable: Are Spurs the faves in 2015?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: What to do in Miami | Spurs faves in 2015? | Who wants to be Lakers’ coach?



VIDEO: The champion Spurs have some issues to address in the offseason

> If San Antonio’s Big Three all return, and even if sparkplug free agent Patty Mills leaves, given how they played in The Finals, are the “old” Spurs automatically favorites to repeat?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: First of all, Patty Mills needs to talk with Gary Neal before he commits to another team with the idea he’ll be as effective – and have as much fun – as a non-Spur. The cash might be greener but the grass seldom is. But no, I think there will be a fairly even distribution of No. 1 predictions in the West – Spurs, Thunder, Clippers – along with Miami as class of the East and therefore a championship threat. San Antonio won’t have the right-that-wrong motivation next season and, logistically, coach Gregg Popovich will have to manage everyone’s injuries and playing time just-so again. The players will have to respond at a best-case level, and so on. In other words, way too many variables to just anoint the Spurs as easy favorites.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: At this point the Spurs never go into the season as THE favorite to win it all. That’s simply a matter of Tim Duncan being 38 and Manu Ginobili 37 by the start of training camp. Even with Gregg Popovich managing their minutes, there is no guarantee that their bodies will hold up. But the Spurs have shown consistently for nearly two decades that they’ll always be a contender and, if they’re healthy next April, then they’re the team to beat.

Patty Mills (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Patty Mills (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I’ll be shocked if the Big Three aren’t back, and, yes, I’ll make the Spurs my early favorites to repeat (even though I had a healthy Oklahoma City team beating them in the West finals). The motivation for this group is to get the lone accomplishment still out there: Back-to-back titles. They’re toughest competition in the West will continue to be OKC with the Clippers and Houston likely to come back stronger.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI wouldn’t say automatically, but they would have to be the favorites — at this point. The answer could change completely before the first day of training camp, depending on what other teams do in the summer. But, yes, if the most the defending champion losses is one important reserve while no one else adds anything, they are the favorites until further notice.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I’d call them the favorites, but I wouldn’t take them over the field. They’re the most complete team in the league – no team ranked higher in both offensive and defensive efficiency this season – but it still takes some luck (with health) to get to The Finals. And there are a handful of other contenders with room for improvement.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Barring a breakup of your core group, a championship teams enters the next season as the favorite in almost every instance. And these Spurs, with or without Patty Mills, will enter the 2014-15 season as my front-runner pick to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy. They’ll have to survive a rugged Western Conference, as always, but they have the components needed to do so better than anyone else. The Clippers move into that No. 2 spot to me and Thunder would follow them on my list of teams coming out of the West and thus becoming championship contenders. But the Spurs remain in that No. 1 spot.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: The New Adventures of the Old Spurs was something of a revelation in the Finals. The way they shared the ball and played team defense was brilliant, so much so that you feel like they discovered another gear they didn’t know they had. And once Pandora’s Box is open, I don’t know how they put that back inside. The other thing is, if I’m a Spurs fan I don’t worry so much about losing a player, particularly a bench player, because you know the franchise is so great at finding and then developing players to fill these roles.