‘Final Scoreboard’: NBA Free-Agency Begins-Lebron meets with Nets and Knicks; Phil Returns to L.A.
Lebron meets with Nets and Knicks; Phil Returns to L.A.
This was a day that was greatly anticipated since last summer. Today marked the first day that NBA free agents could negotiate with their suitors. They can agree to terms, but cannot sign earlier than July 8. With some of the names floating around this is poised to be the biggest free-agent summer in recent history. Some tidbits from the day:
• Lebron James has already met with the Nets and Knicks in Cleveland. New Nets owner and billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov led a Nets entourage that included new coach Avery Johnson and rap superstar Jay-Z, who owns minority stake in the team. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and according to Johnson went "well." Close behind the Nets were the Knicks, whose group of owner James Dolan, president Donnie Walsh, coach Mike D'Antoni and former Knicks guard Allan Houston spoke to James about two hours ago. D'Antoni told reporters that James "didn't give much feedback" from the meeting. James is expected to meet with the Heat and Clippers tomorrow and the Bulls and Cavs on Saturday. Both the Nets and Knicks are roughly $30 million under the cap.
• Dwayne Wade and met with the Bulls on Friday in Chicago. He is expected to meet with the Knicks before leaving for South Florida. Chis Bosh is expected meet with the Bulls on Friday. He is also scheduled to talk with Miami as rumors continue to abound of the James-Wade-Bosh triumvirate converging for the Heat. The Rockets are also interested, but are considered a long shot.
• The first few agreements s today provide some interesting and outrageous numbers for second-tier free agents. Hawks G Joe Johnson is expected to remain in Atlanta after receiving a max offer of $119 million over five years from the team. While Johnson is certainly a good player, some think a max deal is too lucrative a deal. Rudy Gay resigned with the Grizzlies, agreeing a $81.6 million deal over five years. He averaged 19.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season. Drew Gooden agreed to a $32.5 million deal over 5 years with the Bucks. Milwaukee have also agreed to a 5-year, $39 million deal with John Salmons, who they acquired in a trade form Chicago last season. The Bucks have a good nucleus in place with Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings and a newly acquired Corey Maggette scheduled to join Salmons.
• While the Big Three from the Class of '03 took headlines, the most infamous member of that lottery class also cashed in. Darko Milcic, the number two overall pick of '03 and the lone ink blot on the fine script of the top 5 of that class (James, Carmelo Anthony, Bosh and Wade), agreed to 4-year, $20 million deal with the Timberwolves.
• Last but not least, Phil Jackson has agreed to return to coach the defending champion Lakers. Jackson, who has 1,098 regular season wins, 225 playoff victories and 11 titles with the Lakers and Bulls, was considering retiring after medical concerns. His return has to make the Lakers the favorites to three-peat.
By: Brian Cox