Report: LeBron James wants no less than max contract

LeBron James has never been the highest paid player on his team during the 11 seasons he has been in the NBA. He now has the chance to finally do so, being that he is the best player in the NBA as he can get a max deal in this year’s free agency. James will be entering this year’s free agency period with a very different mindset and plan than 2010, and according to ESPN, he will be seeking no less than the maximum contract salary. Team who contact James when free agency begins on midnight will be informed about his intentions. The max number is projected to be a little over $22 million. James took a pay cut back in 2010 to join the Heat, but after seeing his play over the past four years, the four-time MVP is definitely deserving of a max contract. Only seven teams (Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic) have enough cap space to offer James the $22.2 million salary he is seeking. The Lakers and Suns are expected to be serious bidders. Other

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Coach K makes less, stays among top-paid

The four-time national champion remains college sports’ highest paid coach.

     
 

 

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Report: Dwyane Wade likely to opt out, take less money

Dwyane Wade is the highest paid member of the Miami Heat’s “Big 3″, but he’s not about to let his personal gain break up the team that’s helped him reach four consecutive NBA Finals. The New York Daily News is reporting that Wade will opt-out of the final two years of his contract and accept a new deal with Miami for less money. Dwyane Wade is likely to opt out of his final two seasons, at $41.5 million, and probably accept a deal from the Heat worth $50 million-$55 million over four years to help the team open up cap space. The Heat were exposed by the Spurs in the NBA Finals this year and Pat Riley needs to bring in some help in order to capitalize on LeBron’s prime years. Wade has been the face of the Heat for a decade now, and this is certainly a team-oriented move. The post Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade reportedly to Opt-Out & Re-Sign for Less appeared first on Standing O Sports and was written by Mike Lucas.

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As Selection Sunday looms, more results, but less certainty

Oklahoma State is one of many teams with NCAA tournament credentials that are hard to peg.

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Carmelo Anthony: I would take less money to stay with Knicks

Carmelo Anthony says he would take less money to re-sign with the New York Knicks if it would help the team attract big-name free agents, reports ESPN.com. “Without a doubt,” Anthony said Friday while in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend, via ESPN.com. “Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, ‘If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying take my money and let’s build something strong over here.’” Anthony said Friday that his “first priority” is to re-sign with the Knicks. “I’ve never been a guy that comes into a situation, when it’s not going well, to leave,” Anthony said. “That’s not my personality.” Anthony just wants to win an NBA title. “As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me,” Anthony said. “If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern. “My concern is

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Melo rules out trade, open to less than max deal (Yahoo Sports)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks answers questions during NBA All Star Press Conferences and Media Availability as part of 2014 All-Star Weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bruce Yeung/NBAE via Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony said Friday he knows ”for a fact” the Knicks won’t trade him, and said he would be open to staying in New York for less than a maximum contract. The NBA’s trade deadline is Thursday, but Anthony ruled out any chance the Knicks would move him to avoid the possibility they could lose him for nothing in July. ”I know for a fact I’m not being traded,” Anthony said at the NBA’s All-Star weekend. ”There’s two things: I know for a fact I’m not being traded and I’m not going in there and saying I want to be traded.” New York can pay him around $30 million more than any team, but Anthony said he wouldn’t insist on making the Knicks do it.


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Larry Brown has SMU in Top 25 in less than 2 years (Yahoo Sports)

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots against Cincinnati forwards Jermaine Sanders (15) and Justin Jackson (5) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Dallas. SMU won 76-55. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

DALLAS (AP) — Larry Brown knows his quick turnaround at SMU is much different than anything the Hall of Fame coach has done in the past.


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Will Kobe Bryant and LA Lakers Benefit from Less Attention on His 2nd Return?

Kobe Bryant could be returning to action soon for the Los Angeles Lakers. The story’s getting some coverage but not at the epic level that accompanied the superstar’s journey back from a torn Achilles tendon earlier this season. It’s not a bad thing for the team or for Bryant.

On January 10, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times relayed a sign of hope:

Coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday that he hopes that Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant can play January 28 against Indiana, right after the Lakers’ seven-game road trip, their longest of the season. Speaking to reporters at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, D’Antoni said the two stars would return “about the same time. Hopefully both of them are ready.”

A week later, Bresnahan was writing a less definitive headline, for the Times, that “Bryant says he plans to play again this season.” No specific timetable was attached this time.

In the same article, Bryant himself seemed subdued and reflexive when discussing the difficulty of watching the Lakers losing season:

I try to detach from it as much as possible. I feel like [I'm] taking… Bruce Banner, and putting him in the middle of a bar fight and hope he doesn‘t become the Hulk. That’s what I feel like watching these games. I mentally take myself someplace else. I think about sitting on the beach. Try to think about something else.

Bruce Banner—the Incredible Hulk’s doppelganger. Recent photos of Bryant show a nearly expressionless man, watching from the bench. You wonder what’s lurking inside—this is one of the most intensely driven athletes in modern sports. He has to be doing a slow boil.

Over the past week, there hasn’t been as much breaking news about a possible return.

If you read a recent report from Mike Trudell for Lakers.com, however, there seems to be at least some progress:

Bryant is expected to be evaluated when the team returns to Los Angeles on either Monday, January 27, or Tuesday the 28th. Bryant said that he expected to get an MRI in “February,” but that could apparently come a few days prior to the change of month.

In a word, the predictions are cautious—so different from the breathless updates that seemed to accompany each and every move after Bryant’s torn Achilles, from the night he crumpled to the ground on April 12 of last year to his eventual return on December 8 against the Toronto Raptors.

Without linking and reliving each moment all over again, suffice to say to there was surgery and recovery, walking on an anti-gravity treadmill and jumping off a diving board. There were special shoes and an eventual return to practice and a parking lot full of vans with satellite dishes at team headquarters in El Segundo, Calif.

The whole thing was capped off with Bryant’s two-year contract extension and then the actual return to on-court action itself, which lasted all of six games before a fractured left lateral tibial plateau sent the legend back to the bench, once again.

For those not up to speed on medical terminology, that’s the big bump that you can feel, right where the lower part of your knee meets your shinbone.

So here we are—the season currently stands at 16-26 and the bulk of Lakers press items seem dedicated to just how much worse things can get or the unlikely emergence of a point guard hero from the D-League in Kendall Marshall, or possibilities for the 2014 NBA draft.

Why is there not a greater anticipation for the second coming of Bryant, this season? Is it a kindness from those who don’t want to assign unfair expectations to someone who has been through so much over the past nine months?

Or has an overly saturated narrative simply become the equivalent of a post-turkey tryptophan-induced nap on Thanksgiving Day?

Perhaps it’s simply the calm before the storm. Perhaps the gathering hoards are waiting to feast in a blitzkrieg of type-pads, tweets and camera lights.

The Lakers themselves are probably grateful for some small respite. Feel-good stories about unlikely heroes eking out small victories on the road are a welcome change from the incessant questions—whether one oft-injured megastar can return to lead a team from the bottom regions of the Western Conference to the playoffs and beyond.

At some point, however, the questions will have to be answered. Bryant is as willful a competitor as has ever played the game. He doesn’t care so much about the expectations of others as he does about the demands he places on himself.

The expression on Bryant’s face lately says that he’s not a happy camper. And when Kobe’s not happy and he’s allowed onto the basketball court, interesting games can happen.

For now, Bryant and the Lakers are benefiting from less attention. That won’t last much longer—the storm is about to begin.

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Chicago Bulls Players Who Should Receive Less Playing Time

Tom Thibodeau has had to juggle quite a few lineups this season, and even with all of his rotational ingenuity, there are a number of his players who could stand to sit a few more minutes.

Under normal circumstances there are a number of factors that affect a player’s on-court time.

Opponent matchups, in-game situations and efficient production are some of the most weighted criteria for playing time.

Then there are times when something like an injury forces a coach’s hand, and a player who seldom sees the floor is called upon to fill the void.

Thibodeau has dealt with all of these scenarios, and while he’s done as good of a job as anyone with his adjustments, there are a few players who would benefit from more time on the pine.

 

Preserving the Point

Kirk Hinrich missed 22 games over the course of the 2012-13 season due to a myriad of injuries.

Derrick Rose’s return for the 2013-14 affair was supposed to lighten the 10-year veteran’s workload, but a meniscus injury to the former removed any chance of respite.

Now Hinrich is serving a second term as the Bulls‘ starting point guard, and that is bound to have some drawbacks if his playing time isn’t reduced.

Using last season as a point of reference, he is playing a similar amount of minutes and has already sat out a five-game spell with back spasms.

Reducing his workload is easier said than done.

The most sensible solution would be to use another point guard to steal more rest for Hinrich, but D.J. Augustin is the only other backup now that Marquis Teague is toiling away in the NBDL.

Given that the starter himself admitted to the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson that last year’s role wore him down, it would be prudent to be proactive so that this year is not a repeat.

Trading away Luol Deng has created another black hole-like talent void that is going to take a huge collective effort to overcome.

Thibodeau must do all that he can to preserve the health of his remaining contributors.

Finding a way to scale back Hinrich’s time on the floor could be the key to sustaining a serviceable backcourt.

 

Banking on Butler

Jimmy Butler is the most likely successor to Deng as Thibodeau’s all-around workhorse.

While that may be flattering in some ways, it is a frightening concept under current conditions.

Butler missed nearly four weeks in late 2013 with a turf toe injury.

He has played 12 games since returning to action back in mid-December; the 34.6 minutes per game he’s been averaging is slightly higher than the 32.2 minutes he was putting in before his injury.

The toe ailment is a delicate one that can be easily re-aggravated, but the Bulls seem to be throwing caution to the wind now that the third-year wing has recovered enough to play again.

A lot of the Bulls’ future stock rests on Butler’s shoulders. It would seem logical for a team that has only a quark’s chance of competing for a championship this year to not push him so hard, especially coming off of an injury.

Rookie Tony Snell has shown a lot of promise, so far. Add a few more minutes to the youngster’s rotation to ward off the temptation of making a Deng 2.0 out of Butler.

 

 Padding the Middle

Joakim Noah’s 32.5 minutes per game is tops among all Bulls players only because of the recent Deng trade, and that is down from the 36.8 average he put in during 2012-13.

The issue here is not the game-to-game playing time but rather the total minutes put in.

Noah has played the most total minutes of any of his teammates this season.

As the games keep coming and the former Florida Gator keeps trucking, those miles are going to add up.

To be fair, Thibodeau did say back in July of 2013 that Noah’s minutes will come down, per ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell, and he has made good on that assurance.

But this team has not been able to shake the injury bug. Couple that with the Bulls having only one reserve center in Nazr Mohammed, who only plays 8.0 minutes per game, and it’s easy to become a little concerned.

Solving this riddle is similar to the one that confounds Hinrich—adding another center.

Since the Bulls management waived Andrew Bynum immediately after acquiring him, per the team’s official website, their 12-man roster is one below the league minimum for signed players.

Chicago could add a free-agent center who can be used to provide a few more minutes of valuable rest for Noah.

The importance of this team’s emotional leader has never been higher.

Everyone on the roster needs Noah in uniform and on the court to help them navigate what is bound to be another tough transition.

 

Safeguarding the Future

The recent moves by the Bulls front office shows that their sights are shifting to retooling for another run at returning to title contention.

While they make moves that put the team in the best position to add the necessary talent, Thibodeau must do his part to help insure that the remaining athletes are in the best condition to contribute to that vision.

It is definitely not an easy task.

Thibs is a fierce winner who can do no less than demand the best from his players; however, it is possible for him to keep his high expectations and preserve the health of his squad.

In the long run, everyone who is a part of the Bulls organization knows that the intention is to set this team up to win for many years.

Thibodeau will definitely do his part to help facilitate that plan.

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LA Lakers Players Who Should Receive Less Playing Time

With the Los Angeles Lakers falling lower and lower on the Western Conference ladder, now is a good time for them to ramp up the development of their young players and figure out whom they want to retain moving forward.

While tanking the season has never been a part of the team’s culture, especially with Kobe Bryant on the roster, the Lakers may still be headed to the lottery even with the second return of the Black Mamba looming.

While older and more experienced hands like Pau Gasol have developed good chemistry with the energetic young talent and kept the Lakers competitive through the first 20 games of the season, the Lakers have struggled as of late. Now is the time for the Lakers to start managing the minutes of their veterans and their prospects in order to find a workable balance if they want to salvage the season.

Other than Kobe Bryant, most of the veterans on the roster aren’t expected to be integral parts of the Lakers’ future. However, some of the young talent like Nick Young and Jordan Farmar have shown that they could be important rotation players as the Lakers proceed into the Black Mamba’s final run with the team. 

The following players should receive less playing time for a variety of different reasons. These could vary from lack of productivity to extenuating circumstances. 

 

Pau Gasol

Nobody is doubting Gasol’s ability to produce when healthy. In fact, the big man has been on an absolute tear as of late. Averaging 18.9 points on 47.0 percent shooting from the field and gobbling up 10.9 rebounds per game in his last seven games, Gasol looks like he is in All-Star form. Unfortunately, the Lakers only won two of those seven games and are still out of the playoff picture.

Despite his productivity, if the recent trade rumors, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears, were any indication, it doesn’t look like Gasol is going to be a part of the Lakers’ long-term future.

In fact, Gasol himself has indicated that, although he would like to stay with the Lakers, he wouldn’t be adverse to exploring other options that could afford him the greatest chance of winning a championship, per NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper.

Therefore, a reduction in minutes could work out best in a variety of aspects. A reduction, in this case, wouldn’t mean regulating Gasol to a bench role or anything drastic like that. It would just mean having Gasol play 30 minutes per game or less rather than the 36.7 minutes per game he has been averaging in January.

The Lakers would allow for Gasol to still be a dynamic player on the court while not running him ragged as they try to fight their way back into the playoff picture. In fact, a reduction in minutes doesn’t mean Gasol wouldn’t be playing in the clutch; reducing his minutes could make him more fresh once the fourth quarter hits.

It could also mean a little more time for Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill to continue to play huge and meaningful minutes for the Lakers. Sacre and possibly Hill are the Lakers’ developing projects and could be cheaper options to re-sign than Gasol if the Lakers are still looking to sign another max-level player to pair alongside Bryant. 

While Gasol is still going to be the second-best player on the team and the most talented big man on the roster, playing less minutes makes sense because the Lakers are losing anyways. Even though Gasol has been putting up All-Star numbers and producing like he hasn’t produced since the Lakers’ recent championship runs, the team has still lost two of their last seven. It would be a different story if Gasol’s production correlated to wins. 

Once Kobe Bryant returns, Gasol should play as many minutes as he can while they try to reintegrate the Black Mamba and make one final push for the playoffs.

However, with the Black Mamba and most of the other guards on the roster out with injuries, it doesn’t make sense to overexert Gasol in losing efforts. The Lakers should reduce his minutes to rest him while the rest of the roster gets healthy. 

 

Ryan Kelly

No disrespect to the young prospect, but there is no way Ryan Kelly should be playing more minutes than Chris Kaman. While this may be counterintuitive to the idea of developing younger prospects in losing efforts rather than overexerting veterans in futile attempts, Kelly simply isn’t ready to play as many minutes as he has. 

While it may make sense to play Kelly an extended amount of minutes, there are already two young prospects manning the frontcourt.

Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre are clearly more talented, have more upside at this point in their careers and are rightfully playing huge minutes. The Lakers need veterans to help steer the ship if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs.

The team is already relying on two young and unproven big men in Hill and Sacre. Sacrificing the contributions of a proven veteran like Kaman in order to develop three big men on a team that isn’t sure if it has enough in the tank for a final playoff push doesn’t seem too prudent.

It would definitely be understandable to give Kelly the 27 minutes he played against the Dallas Mavericks on January 7 on a consistent basis if the Lakers were going to tank the entire season. However, by retaining Gasol despite the trade rumors, the Lakers look like they’re ready to give it one last shot. 

Kaman is a proven interior scorer and has a decent jumper that allows him to stretch the floor. While he isn’t a stretch big man like Kelly is, he rebounds, defends, sets picks and does almost everything else better than Kelly does. At the very least, Kaman should be seeing an equal amount of minutes as Kelly instead of racking up DNP’s like nobody’s business. 

If the Lakers are still unable to succeed when Bryant, Young, Farmar, Xavier Henry and Steve Blake return from their respective injuries, then Kelly should get all the playing time he can handle.

However, if the Lakers are looking to tread water until they can make one more push when completely healthy, they should consider reducing Kelly’s minutes and allocating them to Sacre, Hill and Kaman. 

All stats are accurate as of January 7, 2014 and are from stats.NBA.com unless otherwise indicated. 

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