Posts Tagged ‘Rich Paul’

Morning shootaround — August 1


VIDEO: Superstar 1-0n-1 games after USA Basketball practice

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Roster spots up for grabs at USAB Showcase | Get real time for Eric Bledsoe | No offer sheet for Pistons’ Monroe | Beal still has something to prove

No. 1: Roster spots up for grabs at USAB Showcase? – The roster for the World Cup, which starts later this month in Spain, is not set. Sure, there are a few projected “locks.” But the rest of the roster is fluid. Some answers as to who fills out the roster could be gleaned from tonight’s USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas, where NBA.com’s very own John Schuhmann has been all week. He sheds some light on where guys stand heading into tonight’s showcase:

We won’t know the details of the roster reduction until Saturday at the earliest. Neither will the players, who’ve been left in the dark about their status all week. Colangelo, head coach Mike Krzyzewski and their staff will meet after the game, discuss and evaluate what they saw.

“This isn’t evaluating one individual and his game,” Krzyzewski said Thursday. “It’s about evaluating a group and how a group will go together. All these guys are outstanding players. It’s just a matter of how we feel they can mesh as a unit.”

The U.S. won’t necessarily cut the roster down to 12 when it departs for the Canary Islands (for four more days of training and an exhibition against Slovenia) on Aug. 23. They took extra bodies abroad in 2010 and could do so again.

“I’m not saying we are going to do that,” Krzyzewski said, “but we don’t have to have the 12 until the day before [the World Cup begins]. We’d rather have it done before, but we’ll see.”

Here’s how I believe the roster stands at this point …

The locks

There are six guys who, barring injury, will absolutely on the team as it opens pool play at the World Cup on Aug. 30. They are (in alphabetical order) …

Stephen Curry – Curry didn’t play big minutes on the 2010 team that won gold in Istanbul, but he’s blown up on the NBA level since. It looks like he’ll be the sixth man, though he could be a starter at either guard position.

Anthony Davis – The starting center and likely one of two guys who will play big minutes (around 30 per game, maybe more in the final). Though he barely played in 2012, his last-minute addition to that roster (due to a Blake Griffin injury) is turning out to be a blessing. That experience will go a long way.

“It’s one of those things,” Krzyzewski said Thursday, “where a really good thing happened even though something bad happened.”

Kevin Durant – Well, duh.

Paul George – The starting small forward alongside Durant. He’ll get the toughest perimeter defensive assignment.

James Harden – Likely the starting shooting guard, who will share playmaking responsibilities with Rose and Curry.

Derrick Rose – Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski have been downright giddy about what they’ve seen from Rose this week. He’s looked strong and in control, and his jumper is better than ever. It would be a real surprise if he isn’t the starting point guard against Finland on Aug. 30.

The other point guard

Colangelo told USA Today on Wednesday that it would be hard to keep more than one “pure point” on the roster, and labeled Rose, Kyrie Irving and John Wall as the true points in camp.

So it seems clear that one roster spot will come down to Irving vs. Wall. Irving is the more dynamic one-on-one player, but Wall is the better passer and defender.

Also, while Irving (35.8 percent) was a slightly better 3-point shooter than Wall (35.1 percent) overall last season, Wall was much better on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Wall had a 3-point percentage of 43.1 percent and an effective field-goal percentage of 60.8 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, while Irving’s numbers were just 32.1 percent and 46.0 percent. Opponents will pack the paint and hope the U.S. Team is having an off night from the perimeter, so catch-and-shoot skills should be more important than pull-up skills with this team.

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Aldridge: James’ agent turns up heat on Riley, Miami’s front office


VIDEO: LeBron James’ agent may soon be meeting with four teams not named the Miami Heat

Not so subtly all of a sudden, LeBron James is turning up the heat — no pun, not now — on Pat Riley to deliver.

James’ camp has maintained military-like silence on his intentions and plans for free agency for a year, with the three-time MVP deflecting questions all season and during the playoffs about how he’d decide what to do. And then, suddenly, there was a story on ESPN Thursday night that James’s agent, Rich Paul, had held meetings this week with teams that are not the Miami Heat — Cleveland, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, a list confirmed by sources. (Those are in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference. You have to spell everything out these days, when NBA Nation is so on edge.)

Then, ESPN reported late Thursday that the Lakers would meet with Paul in Cleveland over the 4th of July Weekend.

Where the information came from is not the issue. The message is. And it is clear to anyone who’s been paying attention: Riles, you’re really on the clock.

For weeks, the operating principle throughout the league was that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were acting in concert. Perhaps not literally, but certainly, each had an idea of what the other was planning to do. Why would Wade walk away from a guaranteed $41.5 million over the next couple of years if he didn’t know James was returning to Miami? Why would Bosh indicate a willingness to take a pay cut if he wasn’t certain he’d be playing with the other SuperFriends for the next few seasons?

Now, suddenly, we are told that Wade and Bosh have no idea what James is going to do, and that Paul is lining up alternatives for his client. Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that three finalists could be brought back to Cleveland, where Paul met in person with the Cavs, Mavericks and Suns this week, early next week. Nowhere, now, is there reassuring talk that James will return to the Heat.

That will surely get Riles’s attention.

Even as those teams aren’t at all sure James would actually walk from his team for a second time — “I don’t think we’re high on their list,” an official with knowledge of the discussions said Thursday — they, like everyone else in the league, has to at least entertain the possibility of the idea now. And that will further delay a league already in limbo waiting for Carmelo Anthony to make his own, individual decision.

Anthony finished his tour on Thursday in Los Angeles, meeting with the Lakers and Knicks, after starting the week in Chicago and then going to Texas for meetings with the Rockets and Mavericks. While Houston is still centered and all in on its pursuit of Anthony, Dallas indicated what it thought of its chances for ‘Melo by quickly wrapping up a deal with franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki for three years and $30 million. The Mavs are, if not officially, out of the ‘Melo Stakes in reality.

Indirectly, Anthony’s decision impacts another significant free agent — Pau Gasol, who was scheduled to meet with Riley in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ hopes of keeping Gasol are centered on first getting Anthony, who would then, hopefully, entice Gasol to stay in L.A. rather than follow Riley back to South Beach, or to San Antonio or Oklahoma City, both of which harbor strong and real hopes they can get Gasol to take a huge pay cut to play for a contender.

Oklahoma City, according to a source, hopes that a three-year deal with its mid-level exception can do the trick with Gasol, even as it understands his agent, Arn Tellem, will surely be able to shake out bigger offers elsewhere.

Miami’s hopes of adding a centerpiece “Big Fourth” free agent were always iffy, but as free agency has begun this week, the Heat have had to watch the likes of Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry go elsewhere, in part, because Miami just couldn’t commit enough money to guys looking for their big career payday.

With Miami locked in below $10 million in cap room, it couldn’t make a realistic pitch to Gortat, who took $12 million a year from Washington to stay with the Wizards, or to Lowry, who took the same $12 million a year to stay in Toronto with the Raptors. And with other free agents that could help like Trevor Ariza also looking for big raises, the Heat will continue to be strapped to find an accomplished veteran to take their offers, whatever they may be.

So Miami is concentrating on getting commitments from shooters like Anthony Morrow and Marvin Williams. But they’re not going to come cheap, either, no matter their desire to play for a contender (assuming the Big Three re-sign there). And Riles has to find players as he cocks an ear to the Midwest, and a city he thought his superstar player had left in mind and body, but which is still there, likely a stalking horse, to be sure, but one that must be taken seriously, its revenge/reunion fantasies still intact and getting oxygen as we speak. Or, write.

LeBron: The Team Behind King James

Editor’s note: As the NBA embarks this week on a new season, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James stands as the league’s most iconic figure. In Part One of a three-part series on James and his place in the league, we take a look at the people behind James, who have helped shape him into an international marketing force and a difference-maker for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

In Part Two (Monday), we’ll examine how his on-court game has changed since he burst onto the scene straight out of high school in 2003, and how his early failures shaped the player he is today. And in Part Three (Tuesday), we’ll weigh in on where James stands in the greatest-of-all-time argument.

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VIDEO: The LeBron Series — Business of an MVPa

LeBron James has won two straight NBA titles with the Miami Heat. He is a four-time league MVP (and only the second to win it four times in five years), was the only player in the league to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists last year (he fell just one vote short of becoming the first ever to win the MVP with a unanimous vote) and is the youngest player to reach 20,000 points.

LeBron James

LeBron James (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE )

He is considered by many as the best player in the game today, and one of the greatest ever to play. And as dominant as he is on the basketball court, he’s just as successful off of it.

The NBA recently announced that, for the first time, LeBron has the NBA’s most popular jersey in worldwide sales. According to a recent report in Forbes, LeBron has the most popular sneaker in the NBA, “outselling his nearest rival’s signature sneakers 6-to-1.” (Nike recently debuted LeBron’s eleventh signature shoe, The LeBron 11.) His popularity extends into fields unrelated to sports. He’s currently producing a comedy series for the Starz Network, and he has hosted “Saturday Night Live.” James, an avid user of social media, has over 15 million Facebook  “likes” and over 10 million followers on Twitter.

LeBron’s popularity has translated into runaway success in the business world: James has partnership and endorsement deals with many brands, from Coca-Cola to McDonald’s to Audemars Piguet. Forbes recently ranked James as the fourth-highest earning athlete in the world (behind Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Kobe Bryant), while estimating James’ endorsement income around $42 million a year. If that’s accurate, that would make him the NBA’s endorsement leader.

As James recently told Rachel Nichols on CNN’s “Unguarded,” as they accompanied him on a Nike promotional trip to China …

“When I became a professional athlete I became a business as well, you know, so I couldn’t just worry about the game of basketball 24/7, without understanding the business side of it as well.”




VIDEO: LeBron in China

An NBA player supplementing his basketball income with endorsement dollars is nothing new. But doing it with the kind of global reach that James has demonstrated places him in rarified air. Longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, the current president and COO of the Golden State Warriors, points out that James seems to have taken the marketing template presented by a certain previous NBA superstar and expanded upon it.

“He’s obviously a great student because I think Michael Jordan was probably the first contemporary athlete that realized that he could create a brand around his own persona, surround himself with really smart business people who could guide him in that endeavor,” Welts says. “LeBron, if anything, has taken that to whatever the 2013-14 equivalent is of that, which is probably more sophisticated, more international in focus. He’s obviously a guy who listens to advice and has a good innate sense of where he wants to take his career. I think watching the evolution of the professional athlete, he represents to the contemporary athlete today what Michael Jordan represented to the contemporary athlete of his time.”

How has LeBron been able to transform himself into the NBA’s most marketable personality? Certainly, piling up titles and MVP awards and gold medals doesn’t hurt his popularity. But when it comes to his business dealings, James has surrounded himself with talented people whom he trusts. His inner-circle is a trio of men he grew up with in Akron, Ohio. And as James’ stature and skill-set have grown, the members of his team have grown along with him.

Maverick Carter (left), with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates

Maverick Carter (left), with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in 2008 (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

Maverick Carter is the CEO of LRMR Marketing, the company LeBron launched in 2006. (LRMR’s name is a nod to the quartet’s first names: LeBron, Randy Mims, Maverick and Rich Paul.) Carter oversees all of LeBron’s business partnerships, and has spearheaded LeBron’s ascendance as a worldwide marketing force. Part of Carter’s role includes putting together deals such as the strategic partnership between LRMR and Fenway Sports Marketing, a transaction that gave James part-ownership in the legendary Liverpool Football Club.

Paul represents LeBron as his agent. Before opening his own agency, Klutch Sports, in 2012, Paul spent several years working at the mega-agency CAA, learning the ins and outs of the agency business. Since opening Klutch Sports, Paul has signed several clients alongside LeBron, including NBA players Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland) and Kevin Seraphin (Washington).

Mims is LeBron’s day-to-day manager, overseeing all of LeBron’s business relationships, meetings, commercial shoots and appearances. Of the LRMR group, Mims spends the most time with LeBron, and ensures that each day’s obligations are executed properly.

As James told Nichols, being able to build a successful organization off the court is made that much more meaningful precisely because he was able to do it with his longtime friends:

“I mean it’s the ultimate, you know. You grow up, throughout the struggles with your friends, and to be able to reap some of the benefits makes it that much more pleasant at the end of the day.”

Another person who plays an integral part in James’ off-court life is Michele Campbell, an Akron native who is the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. For many years, James sponsored a Bikeathon in his hometown of Akron, a one-day event to unite the community and give bikes to kids. A few years ago, James decided he wanted to create something with a year-round impact. In 2011, they launched the “Wheels For Education” initiative.

“We call the Bikeathon kind of a one-and-done,” Campbell says. “Because it was a great event, but LeBron didn’t really know who the kids were after that. He was ready to make a difference and you can’t [do that] with a one-and-done. So this is a long-term commitment from him and foundation.”

Beginning in 2011, the LeBron James Family Foundation targeted 300 at-risk Akron third-graders. The kids go to a two-week summer camp and then are monitored closely throughout the school year. James regularly posts messages to them and sends them letters. If they miss a few days of school, they might get a phone message from him. Part of the deal is that the kids regularly recite a pledge called “I Promise,” vowing to be committed to doing their best. Aside from the constant interaction and encouragement from James, he shows the kids his support every time he takes the court: During games, he plays wearing an “I PROMISE” wristband.

It’s a massive promise: Each year, the program adds a new group of third graders while continuing to monitor the rising students. Since its start three years ago, there are now about 700 kids in the program. By the time the initial class graduates from high school in 2021, there will be over 3,500 kids at various levels.

“This is not just an athlete giving a check,” Campbell says. “LeBron is the force over this whole thing. He kicks off the program when they enter the program. He’s there, he welcomes them into the program. When they see the Foundation walk into the school or the after-school program, they see LeBron. It’s amazing how they feel his presence.”

His connection to community and the importance of family is obviously significant to James. This summer he married his longtime girlfriend, Savannah Brinson. Together they have two boys, LeBron Jr., and Bryce. LeBron’s mother, Gloria, is also still an integral part of James’ life.

[Even being family won’t save you from being pranked, as LeBron and his wife recently pulled an early Halloween trick on her father and posted it on Instagram.]

As the NBA embarks on the 2013-14 season, the Heat are favored to win another title and LeBron is poised to take home a third straight MVP. There seems to be no stopping James, on or off the court.

It is good to be the King.

“You draw strength from your own character and he has a great public persona now that is drawn from who he is as a person,” says Welts. “He’s not trying to be anybody else. Being able to kind of find yourself within that image is something he’s done as well as any player who’s come before and probably any player to go after. It creates a genuine personality around him, which I think attracts people and is part of the reason he’s been so successful.”