LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, NBA free agency and the Wizards

Jul 06, 2010

NBA and Wizards beat writer Michael Lee will be online to discuss the opening weekend of NBA free agency, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson's early free agency deals and the future for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Wizards.

Hey, everybody. Sorry I'm running late, but I'm having a poor Internet reception right now. But I'm back and ready to answer your questions about the latest edition of "Owners Gone Wild" as the supposedly strapped NBA owners are throwing around dollars at any player with a pulse - and we still haven't heard from the guys who really matter. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will make a decision sometime before next season, which will give us a better idea of what we should expect in the future of this league. But I'm sure you guys are concerned about the direction of the Wizards, too. So, let's go...

Mike, give your assessment of the Wizard's offseason plan of waiting for Tier I and II players make the decision while picking up back up players on teams attempting to clear cap space.

It seems the costs involved in preventing them from even going for a lower Tier type player like Boozer. Also what options will they have at SF given that many of the top players like Gay, Johnson, Pierce, and Allen have already make committments? Is waiting for Melo worth this?

I think at this point, they have boxed themselves into that position since they've used most of their cap space to acquire Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian. They can't make a play for any of the big names because in theory, they only have about $5 million  to $6 million to spend on a free agent. Plus, they really want to let these young guys get an opportunity to perform and develop, similar to what happened in the second half of the season. So, you're right, there are no chances to sign a guy like Carlos Boozer or David Lee.

When guys like Amir Johnson and Darko Milicic are pulling down big checks, you have to give the Wizards credit for taking a wait-and-see approach. They don't want to waste all of their remaining money on some overpriced guys.

Since they've committed to the youth movement and don't want to make any long-term mistakes, this is a good strategy to follow right now. I've heard about waiting for Carmelo Anthony, but I'm not sure if he really wants to return near his home to play for the Wizards. I also have a hard time seeing him pass on that $65 million extension with Denver. That's too much money to leave on the table when there is a new collective bargaining agreement coming after this season.

Joe Johnson's a max player? Rudy Gay's worth $82 million? Really?

I usually spend each summer shaking my head at the ridiculous amounts of money thrown around. I never blame the players because I encourage them to get as much as they can while they can. I'm usually disappointed in the owners who just don't know how to control themselves. It seems like every year, somebody gets a $100 million deal or some exorbitant contract and you know immediately that it's a mistake.

When you look at the guys who have received $100 million deals, they usually flop (Michael Finley, Allan Houston, Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O'Neal, and right now, Gilbert Arenas). 

I think the Johnson deal is really confusing because I thought the Hawks were well positioned to recover from his departure. He has shown you that he can only carry you to the second-round at best and he isn't a box-office draw, so why give him a max deal? I've always believed that max contracts should go to players who can take to the conference finals at least or sell out the arena every night, because this is a business. If a guy can't do either one, then it's not a good idea.

These owners just don't know how to protect themselves from themselves. Now they are going to beg the players to help them from going crazy. It makes no sense. All they have to do is study a little history of what doesn't work and stop repeating it over and over. But what do I know?

So what are the odds that Arenas actually plays for the Wizards this year? That he ends the season here?

I think there is a strong possibility that Arenas starts the season as a Wizard, because he is under contract and hasn't shown anybody that he can play a full season just yet. He's played 47 games the last three seasons because of injuries and his suspension, so it would be a dangerous move for any team to acquire him without knowing if he can still play, if he's healthy or if he can give you maximum production for more than a fraction of the season. He can prove that with the Wizards and if he shows that he can play, maybe teams would be willing to take a chance. But again, owners can't help themselves. Some desperate team with cap space might feel the need to add a name of some kind so that they won't be empty-handed this summer.

Are the Wizards going to change their Unis this season? While doing that they should also change the team name. Teddy is a genius I'm sure he has a plan.

No. The Wizards can't change the uniforms because they didn't apply for the change last season. These things have to be approved well in advance. Something could be done before the 2011-12 season - if there is a 2011-12 season.

What are the chances Shaun Livingston comes back to DC as a backup point guard? And is Nick Young a part of the Wizards future plans?

Shaun Livingston is probably not coming back. I don't see it happening - and that was before the Wizards added John Wall and Kirk Hinrich. There just aren't enough minutes in the backcourt to satisfy Shaun. I also don't see him wanting to play for a lousy team again. He's been on some bad teams since coming to the league and he's been hurt the rest of the time. I think he's looking to play and win if he gets the chance. I believe some good team will give him a shot.

What does the signing of Amar'e in NY do to the chances of a sign and trade of Arenas to NY for Eddy Curry's expiring deal?

The Amare Stoudemire signing certainly puts the Knicks in play to attract more guys to New York this summer or next. Right now, the Knicks have a name on the marquee, so they won't be compelled to make a desperate move for Gilbert Arenas -- unless they really, really want him.

They looked like they'd come away empty handed and desperate if LeBron or Wade stayed put, but with Amare in tow, they have opportunities to get somebody now or get better next season if Tony Parker or Carmelo Anthony become available.

Michael, in all the hoopla, I haven't seen much about how a possible lockout/hard cap will affect these potential mega contracts.

Say Miami signs LBJ, Wade and Bosh, will they end up having to let two of them go in two years or will these contracts get grandfathered in?

I think the possible lockout is being taken into consideration, since owners are probably looking at the possibility of not having to paying half or all of the salaries next season, depending on the agreement that gets worked out. The lockout certain forced a lot of players to exercise their opt-out clauses to sign longer extensions. From the rumors out there, the owners are looking to really drop the hammer next summer, asking for a hard cap and a possible reduction of every salary by about 15 percent. The problem is, with all the money that owners are spending this summer, they are losing all the leverage in crying about how broke they are. Oh, you're so poor you had to give Drew Gooden $32 million or Amir Johnson $34 million. Okay. Whatever. I know that owning an NBA team is not close to being as profitable as before, but the owners are to blame to me. They are handing out these big checks. Nobody is making them.

OK, what is your actual take on what the Wiz have done? I say so far so good in that they are not taking on long-term money so they have room to spend once Wall (hopefully) officially becomes Derrick Rose. Hinrich helps mentor Wall, Yi worth a look...

I think the Wizards have done a great job in not making any long-term commitments in anyone except John Wall. If they are going to build, they don't want to be hamstrung by more large, long-term contracts. They got the cap room by trading Antawn and Caron, so it makes sense that they wouldn't turn around and use all that on Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer or somebody. Those guys are in the primes of their careers and would need to win right now. The Wizards are trying to win tomorrow.

That being said, I'm not that excited about Hinrich or Yi. But I understand that there is limited risk in both players.

How come no talk of James Singleton reupping? He would be ideal fot for what they are trying to do this year and next, right?

To my understanding, they didn't contact James Singleton's reps on July 1. That doesn't mean they won't bring him back, but I don't think they feel obligated to lock him up right now. He told me that he wants to come back because he liked his 32 games here and working with the young guys. But we'll see. The first priority is finding a veteran wing player.

With all of the front court help the Wizards claim they need, I'm surprised there's been no buzz around the 'Zards acquiring David Lee. He seems like a pretty good fit. Why is there no interest?

You know I'm in favor of having more Lee's in DC. But they can't afford David Lee. He probably commands about $10 million a year and the Wizards don't have that kind of money. And, if they are looking to get more of a defensive mentality...well...Lee ain't the guy.

Are the owners spending themselves to bankruptcy? I thought the NBA was already in a bit of trouble -- should we brace ourselves for lockout?

I think it's coming, because the owners are getting ridiculous. I think it's amazing that some of these guys are brilliant businessmen - they have to be to make enough money to own franchises - but some have no idea how to protect themselves from overspending on guys. As Ted Leonsis likes to say, there are enough things in place to keep NBA owners from taking "stupid pills." Since some of these owners are overdosing on stupid pills, they are going to need some rehab, which comes in the form of trying to take back money from the players. The players will look at this summer and let the owners know that their tears will be ignored. It just seems inevitable.

Is there any thought about bringing Mike Beasley into the fold? It seems lame MIA is trying to give him away to get that extra cap room.

How does Beasley and an unprotected #2 for a heavily protected #2 sound?

I think the Wiz had minimal interest in Michael Beasley, and that has cooled considerably in recent weeks. I don't think they want to bring him back home with the problems that he's already had in Miami in his first two seasons.

Where is Mike Miller now in his choice of teams? And have the Wizards decided on a particular veteran big man to target?

Miller is in great position to sign with the team of his choice. He has drawn interest from New York, Miami, Cleveland, both Los Angeles teams, and the Wizards. He could go whereever LeBron or DWade go because they would likely need a shooter to spread the floor for their drives to the hoop.

The Wizards can wait on a veteran big, as they did last season, because they have six frontcourt guys that they'd like to see play and learn.

Do you think Eddie Jordan will ever be a head coach again?

Unfortunately, I think it's doubtful. Things ended so poorly in Philadelphia that I don't see it happening. I thought he got two raw deals and he had absolutely NO support from the 76ers. They set him up to fail and gladly put the Fs on the report card. He would make a great assistant, though.

We know that the Wizards have been tying up cap space via trades with solid veterans (Yi, Hinrich), so they cannot be a major player in free agency. Yet, how many roster spots to they feasibly have open, and who of the second-tier free agents do you think they should be targeting? Do the Wiz have their mid-level exception available?

The Wizards don't have a mid-level exception because they have cap space. You either have one or the other. I think they are looking more into third-tier free agents to be honest. The second-tier is too expensive right now.

Is he really a max player? I've seen him have nice final stats but I never saw him really carry Toronto. I honestly recall other players being catalyst of major comebacks (Candace Parker's brother for one) and runs in Toronto.

Same with Joe Johnson, who is nice. But where does he take ATL? They lose with poor defense and he disappears offensively everytime.

As I stated early, a max player is either a guy who sells out the building every night or makes you a championship contender by himself. In reality, only five or six guys in the league should get max deals - Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Dwight Howard at the top of the list. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Amare Stoudemire are also dancing around that first circle since they've all been to the conference finals. The league should start a new sub-max deal for pretty good players who make all-star teams and put of decent numbers. When I look at Chris Bosh, I see a guy who has no playoff series wins. If you cannot get your team out of the first round and you aren't generating big money for your franchise, then you shouldn't get the max. But this league has proven that making multiple all-star teams means that you are worthy of a max deal. I thinking winning and the financial bottom line are most important. People are dropping money for luxury suites to watch Bosh or Joe Johnson.

The Wiz need a SF, is Ronnie Brewer a possibility?

I would hope so. He's young and played winning basketball under Jerry Sloan. I don't see how he would hurt. 

Any chance of of the Wizards signing this guy?

And what about James Singleton? This guy is someone with high energy and has shown it every night last season after the trade, is it possible for him to return to D.C.? It doesnt look like he will be brought back, what are your thoughts about him as well.

The Wizards certainly are interested in Josh Childress, but it depends on how much he is willing to take. About eight teams have shown interest in Childress and he's making good money in Greece. I think it also comes down to how bad he wants to return to the NBA and how much he'll make.


Correct me if I'm wrong but I suspect Nick has until February to show the Wizards something or he is gone.

I will not correct you, because that appears to be correct. But if no team takes him at the deadline, the Wizards could also let him walk next summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. This is a HUGE year for Nick Young. It looks like he will get yet another chance. If he doesn't make the leap this year, it likely won't happen for him.

Does the fact that the Wiz are "boxed in", on the salary cap, prevent them from re-signing Josh Howard? I know he was only with us for a few games last year, but his energy was impressive. Do you think he will be affordable, or is there some owner out there willing to pay huge bucks for a guy with his on-court and off-court problems? I was much more impressed with him than I was with Al Thornton, who seemed to disappear for large stretches of games.

I think Josh Howard will be very affordable because he is 30 and coming off knee surgery. He won't be able to play at a high level until around December, so there really isn't any way he can expect a huge contract this summer - especially since his numbers have been declining in recent years because of injuries.

Do you think the Wizards would consider going after Carmelo Anthony next year?

If he's available? Yes. They would be foolish not to. The question is if Carmelo would come to D.C. They would be in year 2 of the rebuilding process. Would he want to again go through what he had to face in Denver early in his career?

Please explain to me all of this hype around Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire? They are all good players, but NOT max players! Bosh has been the main guy in Toronto, but has managed to get the Raptors past the 1st round of the playoffs only once. Stoudemire won't have Nash to get him the ball in ideal spots, doesn't play defense and isn't a great rebounder. Johnson disappears when his team needed him against Orlando in the playoffs. New York and Atlanta will be regretting their max signings.

I'll let you tell it. But I think Amare has earned his keep in this league. He's been to the Western Conference finals three times and he was the reason Phoenix rose to the third seed last season. He isn't a great rebounder, but he was a rookie of the year and made the playoffs before Steve Nash arrived. He's not a scrub or some Nash creation. The guy is good. He's just had some bad luck with injuries.

How bad will the Heinrich deal look for the Bulls if they fail to land a big time FA?

I don't know. The Bulls have been trying to dump Hinrich for two years, so I think they move on without regret no matter what happens. They still have cap space next summer if they don't sign anybody and they still have to work out extensions for Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Chicago is good no matter what. They might regret the draft pick more, since they probably could've used a guy like James Anderson from Oklahoma State.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say LeBron heads back to the Cavs, Wade and Bosh go to Miami, Boozer heads to Chicago and Ray-Ray Allen goes back to Boston. After all the mega-team talk and unless a Paul or Jefferson or Melo lands in one of these spots, isn't the East wide, wide open?

It's going to be wide open either way. But unfortunately, it would be top-heavy again. The bad teams in the East haven't gotten better. It's like some teams just look at what the best teams do and throw in the towel in July. You don't see that out West, where all those teams are scrambling to improve (or to create the illusion of improvement).

Michael, On draft night I was pleased to see that James Anderson had fallen to 17th and the Wizards had a chance to take him. I figured he was a lock to be draft by us, as he was an athletic wing that is ready to contribute from day 1 in the NBA. Instead we took a project Euro big man. Three spots later the Spurs draft Anderson, and we all know the Spurs have a great track record with drafting. Do you think the Wizards made a mistake by letting Anderson slip threw their fingers?

I remember going Oklahoma last year to watch Blake Griffin and I was blown away by James Anderson. He had about 33 points that night and couldn't miss. I've been high on him ever since. I remember asking about Anderson and mentioning him as a possibility at 17, but the Wizards appeared to have their minds made up on the kid from France for a few days.

I don't know much about Kevin Seraphin because I've never really seen him and play and I've only watched some highlights of him. Given how the Spurs gladly took DeJuan Blair last season, I have confidence that they did all right with Anderson, too.

Do you think there will be more moves to shore up the front court. As of now the starting center would be JaVale Mcgee it seems. Is he mature enough to be the everyday center? Are the Wiz contemplating bringing Brendan Haywood back?

Brendan Haywood will not be back. I think the Wizards want to add a veteran big man, but it won't be somebody who will take minutes away from JaVale McGee. He really gets his chance to shine and build off of his summer.

What will Nets do if they not sign Lebron, Wade or Bosh? They will have a lot of money but for who? Greets from Poland, Kosma

I really don't know, Poland. But I don't think they were going to get any of those guys in the first place, no matter what Prokhorov is willing to spend. I guess they could sign Carlos Boozer or David Lee? I think losing Rudy Gay was a more serious blow. I guess now they have to look into bringing back Richard Jefferson. Heck, maybe even Neward native Randy Foye.

Hey Mike can you help shed a little light on the cloudy speculation and rumors surrounding the Wizards supposedly trying to shop Gilbert?

Well, they have committed $111 million to a guy who has played 47 games over the past three seasons and put nearly every person in the front office in danger of losing his job after bringing guns to the locker room in an embarrassing incident that damaged the franchise's reputation. Not only that, he said he didn't want to play for that franchise any longer. Do you find it odd that the team would consider moving him?

That being said, the Wizards would certainly consider any deal for Arenas, but so far they haven't found any takers. They made a phone call to Orlando to see if there was any interest, given Arenas's relationship with Magic GM Otis Smith, but he's not ready to make a move like that right now.  I think they believe that Arenas will be a part of the team next season - unless some team is desperate enough to deal for him after striking out this summer.

Have you ever seen a summer of free agency quite like this? It seems like a carnival ...

Carnivals aren't this wild.

We couldn't have this chat without a straight ask on where LeBron is heading, right? So, any word on LBJ? I think he is staying put.

I felt all along that LeBron was going to find it too hard to leave his hometown for supposedly greener pastures. It would've been easy for people to accept his departure if the Cavaliers didn't do everything they thought was necessary to build a contender over the years, but they did. And, while Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison had bad series against Boston, the lasting memory of that flameout was LeBron's no-show in Game 5, which had nothing to do with a supposedly lame supporting cast that won 61 games. Leaving like that would really look bad for him. He knows what staying in Cleveland - and winning a championship - would do for his legacy. He also knows that 'round the clock talk on ESPN and the newspapers of America's largest markets (New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) would do to help him in terms of publicity and exposure. A brilliant marketing strategy. So, yes. I think he stays, too. 

Okay, everybody. It's been fun. I'm amazed that there wasn't one question about John Wall. But I've got a little work to to. I hope you all had a good holiday. Peace.

In This Chat
Michael Lee
Michael Lee covers the Wizards and the NBA for The Washington Post. You can follow his daily beat coverage on the Wizards Insider blog.
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