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We knew LeBron James was headed to Miami, of course, but we weren't certain about the specifics until Saturday. As it happens, the Cavaliers and Heat have agreed on a sign-and-trade arrangement that will send a boatload of draft picks to Cleveland. Our Cavs blog, Fear The Sword, has the details:
- LeBron James, who signs a 6-year, $110 million contract
- Two first-round picks, that must be used starting in 2013 and ending by 2017
- 2012 second-round pick Miami received from New Orleans
- Future second-round pick Heat acquired from Oklahoma City
- Cleveland can also swap first round picks with the Heat in 2012
- A large trade exception($15 million or so) that the Cavs must use in trades for one calendar year.
This means that the Heat will not have a single draft pick for the next nine million years. On the other hand, though, LeBron James. For more on what this exchange of draft picks will mean for both teams, head on over to Fear the Sword as well as our Heat blog, Peninsula Is Mightier.
Remember those brutal six minutes worth of nonsense, softball questions Jim Gray tossed up to LeBron James last night before finally — after 18 questions — asking the important one? Yeah, well, Team LeBron apparently paid for all of that, and the rest of Gray’s inquiries that followed.
From CNBC’s Darren Rovell:
ESPN didn’t play down one part of the business arrangement of the deal — that Gray, the former ESPN and NBC reporter who is now working on a freelance basis, was James’ preferred interviewer. But the network didn’t say, and now says they didn’t know, that Gray’s travel and payment for “The Decision” show was being paid by the entity set up by Team LeBron and not by ESPN, as CNBC has learned.
“We aren’t privy to Gray’s arrangement,” said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. “He came as part of the package. We accepted Jim knowing that we would have extensive time for our people to interview LeBron, which was bulk of the show.”
Gray’s agent Sandy Montag of IMG declined comment. Attempts to reach Maverick Carter, through James’ publicist Keith Estabrook, were unsuccessful.
Also, in case you didn’t know, the idea for “The Decision” was Gray’s, in case you need one more person to despise in this whole ordeal.
It might have made for agonizingly contrived television, but America apparently couldn't quit LeBron James' "Decision". According to ESPN's Josh Krulewitz, LeBron's one-hour made-for-TV melodrama drew a 7.3 overnight rating for ESPN, including a 26 rating in Cleveland,12.8 in Miami, 10.7 in Chicago and 10.4 in New York (Seattle was the last market with a 2.4; having your NBA franchise stolen unsurprisingly makes people not care about the NBA).
Just to put that in perspective, CNBC's Darren Rovell points out that the 7.3 rating for "The Decision" was higher than LeBron's other major national television moment, when the Cavs got swept by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals, which only drew a 6.2 rating.
So yes: Stu Scott, Jon Barry, Mike Wilbon and Chris Broussard hemming and hawing about where LeBron James might land, then "congratulating him on his decision", while James equivocated and answered painfully manufactured "questions" from Jim Gray to draw out the absurdity of it all drew more eyeballs than actual games that decided an actual championship that LeBron James played in. Draw your own conclusions about that.
We reported last night after LeBron James made his big Cleveland-to-Miami announcement that a surprising trade of Michael Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves would clear salary cap space and help the Heat fill out its roster.
It appears a good chunk of that cap space will go to free agent swingman Mike Miller, whom, according to his brother, received an offer yesterday from the Miami Heat to team with his good friend James.
From the Argus Leader in South Dakota, Miller's hometown paper:
The Mitchell native and NBA free agent received a contract offer from the Miami Heat to join James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, his brother, Ryan Miller, confirmed Thursday.
"He wants to play with LeBron and have a chance to be part of something special," said Ryan, an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico. "But there's a business side of it, too. He might be leaving a lot of money on the table."
Various reports earlier on Thursday had Miller getting an offer of five years, $30 million from the Heat, and late last night CSN-Washington reporter Chris Miller claimed that Miller accepted that offer. The Sun-Sentinel of South Florida also reported the deal as complete.
The Washington Wizards renounced their rights to Miller on Thursday.
With Miller aboard, followed eventually by the official signings of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, the Heat will have just five players locked up for next season, including point guard Mario Chalmers. Miami also made a qualifying offer of $1 million to center Joel Anthony, which gives it the right to match any offer he might receive from another team. Anthony played in 80 games for the Heat last season, averaging 2.7 points and 3.1 rebounds. Chalmers started 104 games in two seasons with the Heat, including all 82 as a rookie in 2008-09.
Miami also controls the rights to three second round picks from last month's NBA Draft: center Dexter Pittman, forward Jarvis Varnado and swingman De'Sean Butler.
The Heat's deal with Minnesota apparently included a swap of future first round picks, according to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, in addition to the Heat getting next year's second round pick from the Timberwolves. Miami didn't complete the deal until two hours after James' announcement, but asked Beasley to prepare to be traded and scrap a workout at the Heat facility earlier on Thursday, according to ESPN.com.
Not sure if we can call Dan Gilbert's missive "The Letter Read 'Round The World" yet, but we're getting there.
We at least know it's made its way to South Florida, because the Associated Press also caught up with LeBron James' new Miami Heat teammate, Dwayne Wade.
"I think I'm happy that I have the owner that I have here in Miami," Wade told The Associated Press late Thursday night. "I'm happy Micky Arison is my owner. I couldn't believe it. I'm speechless. It's very unfortunate and I think it makes LeBron that much better about his decision.
"We knew 'Bron would take some backlash," Wade added. "I told him he's a strong man for it."
Since LeBron James told the world on Thursday night that he's leaving Cleveland to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat, you've hard from writers, journalists, players, pundits ... and of course Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
But what about the fans?
The Cleveland Plain Dealer tracked down some of these unfortunate folks at a Cleveland watering hole to watch the LeBron announcement on ESPN. The video, shot by photographer Lynn Ischay at the Winking Lizard Tavern in the Lakewood neighborhood of Cleveland, shows fans as they get the news delivered to them at the bar. Seemingly genuine shock ensues.
|Cavs fan react to The Decision|
Want to hear from more fans? Be sure to keep a browser tab on our Cleveland Cavaliers blog, Fear The Sword, for more fallout from LeBron James' departure.
You can't put the spoken word in Comic Sans font, unfortunately, but that hasn't kept Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert from continuing to voice his disapproval -- strongly -- after LeBron James' announcement Thursday night that he's leaving the franchise for the Miami Heat.
Gilbert, who earlier in the evening published a loud, angry letter about James' decision, conducted a phone interview with Tom Withers of the Associated Press, telling the reporter that he felt "betrayed" by the 25-year-old superstar.
Gilbert also told the AP that it's "accountability time" for James.
"He has gotten a free pass," Gilbert said in the interview "People have covered up for [James] for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."
Gilbert also told the AP that James quit on the Cavaliers during each of the last two postseasons, most recently during the second round series against the Boston Celtics.
"He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."
More highlights from the AP interview:
The news that LeBron James has signed with the Miami Heat is the real big story of tonight. However, the Heat appear to have pulled off another minor coup that will give them more flexibility to add veteran players to the roster.
ESPN.com sources: Miami has agree to a trade with Minnesota that will send Michael Beasley to the Wolves. Link forthcoming.
Wolves-Heat deal, sources say, calls for 'Sota to absorb Beasley into cap space and send its 2011 second-round pick to Miami to seal deal
The move clears Beasley's $4.962 million salary off their cap, which will give the team a bit more room to sign other free agents for more than the minimum salary. Exactly how much more depends on how much money James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will make in their first season, but it could be a fairly significant amount. I can't overstate this: as talented as Beasley is, this is really, really good news for the Heat.
As for Minnesota - well, I guess Beasley can battle Wesley Johnson for the small forward spot. Or something.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has just sent out an open letter to Cavaliers fans about LeBron James' decision to sign with the Miami Heat, and man, is it harsh. Honestly, I'm speechless. You can read the whole thing over at SB Nation's Cavaliers blog Fear the Sword, but here are some choice excerpts.
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING' WINS ONE"
You can take it to the bank.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.
For some, this will all be seen as sour grapes. That's fair. But at the same time, I think it's admirable that Gilbert has mirrored the passion of his fanbase here. Let's face it: LeBron did turn their back on them in brutal fashion. I'm happy to see someone from the Cavaliers call him out for it.
Here's the Knicks' full statement on LeBron James deciding to sign with the Miami Heat, via SB Nation New York. Gee, did you remember they have Amare Stoudemire? Everything's going to be okay, Knicks fans.
"We are disappointed that LeBron James did not pick the New York Knicks, but we respect his decision. Today, we signed five-time NBA All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, and we will continue to move forward, getting back on track to develop into a championship contending team."
Cleveland fans are predictably angry about LeBron James' decision to join the Heat, expressing that anger by burning LeBron's jersey, among other things. Their next target for destruction, therefore, would probably be LeBron's billboard in the center of town.
So it should come as no surprise that Cleveland police is doing everything they can to prevent that from happening. Here's a picture of a bunch of cop cars standing around the billboard, via @brucedouglas.
Miami Heat fans over at SB Nation's Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier are predictably excited about LeBron James teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. But here's one thing that they want you to remember in all their excitement: credit Pat Riley for putting this all together.
Will anybody ever doubt Pat Riley again? He has been planning for this for a while now, and tonight his ultimate dream became a reality. He landed the three most coveted free agents that were out there, taking LeBron from his home and bringing him down to Miami.
It's a good point. Even though LeBron, Wade and Bosh chose to go here, it takes a lot of salary-cap maneuvering and a long-term plan to even make this all possible. Riley deserves a ton of credit for that, and it'll be interested to see how he tries to fill out the roster with basically only minimum contracts.
Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant released the following statement just now about the news that LeBron James will sign with the Miami Heat. Notice the conspicuous absence of a certain former Cavalier in it.
"We believe in this team, this organization, this community, and what we will do to compete at the highest level. We believe in the new coach and leader we have in Byron Scott, and the world class basketball organization and positive and strong culture we've established. Dan Gilbert and our ownership group are firmly committed to reaching our goals and succeeding on the court and in the community, at the highest level."
"Our fans stepped up and showed their support, to a degree unlike anywhere else. We are fortunate to have the support of the best fans in the NBA. That passion and dedication will be rewarded. We will work relentlessly to continue to build a team that will contend. A team that will win championships. We are all competitors and our one goal is to win, that and Dan Gilbert and our ownership team's commitment and investment in this organization and community are constants that will not change."
Good for them.
Of course Cavaliers fans are upset about LeBron James' decision. SB Nation's Cavaliers blog Fear the Sword sums up that anger here.
LeBron spoke of Miami being the best opportunity for him to win multiple championships. Perhaps he is right. What we can say, however, is LeBron James' global icon status is no more. LeBron needed to build a team, and win a championship, as the greats in the past have. He did not. He chose to turn tail and run.
Something happened in the Boston series in which LeBron James decided he didn't want the pressure of leading a team. LeBron James is not MJ, he's not Kobe, he's not Bird or Magic. LeBron James is a complementary piece on another great player's team. Perhaps that is what he wanted all along.
"King" James? Nope. "The Chosen One"? Hardly.
Fear The Sword also called for real Cavaliers fans to stay strong and continue to support the team even without LeBron.
via Blazers Edge.
LeBron James will sign with the Miami Heat. He made the announcement during an ESPN one-hour special Thursday. It's now official.
James will join fellow superstars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to form a superstar trio the league hasn't seen in quite some time. The Heat still have much work to do to fill out the roster, and unless they move Michael Beasley, they can only use the veterans' minimum exception to do it, but regardless of who else is on the roster, any team with those three superstars is a legitimate championship contender. There also exists the possibility that all three will sign for significantly less than the maximum contract in order to allow the Heat to fill the roster more easily.
We'll have much more on this story later. For more, check out SB Nation's Heat blog Peninsula is Mightier.
If you watched two minutes of this ESPN LeBron James special, you've seen everything you need to know, because we've basically heard everyone repeat themselves many times. But in case you haven't even done that, here's what I can tell you.
Don't worry, everyone. LeBron James and his team are really determine to draw this whole process out even further. According to ESPN's Chad Ford, they still haven't contacted any team to tell them whether LeBron would sign with them.
Was just in contact with a few teams who are in the hunt for LeBron ... they've heard nothing.
This seems like an appropriate time for a prediction that I'm sure will be wro ... sorry, you'll get nothing out of me. I have no clue, and neither does anyone. LeBron wins.
We're just minutes away from the beginning of "LeBron: The Decision," which ostensibly will include 59 minutes of people prattling on and one minute of LeBron actually making his decision. Because I wanted to torment myself further, I decided to watch the one-hour SportsCenter that preceeded the one-hour filibuster before the ultimate decision. Here's a quick recap of what happened.
Two of the best national reporters to emerge from this mess are Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears, so it only makes sense to link their final take on all of this. Basically, the conclusion they reach is that, while most of LeBron James' associates say Miami, Cavaliers officials still don't believe he's leaving.
LeBron James and his associates have been relentless in the hours leading up to Thursday night's television announcement in telling multiple league officials that James has made up his mind and will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat.
Nevertheless, as Cleveland police braced for possible riots and James' departure promised to be hailed as the darkest hour in the city's dark sports history, Cavaliers officials have privately clung to hope that James has done nothing but work up a frenzy about himself leaving only to be welcomed back with a joyous celebration of relief. Some league officials close to James continued to question whether he has the stomach to go to such lengths to disappoint his hometown.
If LeBron does indeed leave, though, I think we can point to this line and laugh about it.
A source with knowledge of the conversation, said James recently told a friend he would sign with the Heat because he didn't see enough effort from his Cavaliers teammates in the playoffs and that he wanted to win a championship as soon as possible - rather than risk having to wait toward the end of his career like Boston Celtics stars Paul Pierce,Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
You're right, LeBron. I distinctly remember it being Mo Williams that shot 3-14 and was booed mercilessly by his home fans in Game 5 against the Celtics.
From the "let's read way too much department" comes this news from Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote.
#Heat LeBron-to-Miami may not be happening. Heat has canceled a full-page welcome ad in The Miami Herald. This time I'm serious.
Gamechanger, right? Apparently not, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Heat pulled James, Bosh, Wade print ads not because of any knowledge of James decision, but because of unsigned status of Bosh and Wade.
That seems a bit odd, considering that Bosh and Wade announced to the world that they were joining the Heat. But hey, everyone loves shooting down a rumor, right?
Obviously, tonight is about LeBron James, but I'm sure there's a little part of you that wonders how much money is being made off all of this. Luckily, we have answers for you.
First of all, the ad sales. According to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times, "LeBron: The Decision" will gross about $6 million.
ESPN agreed to donate the time, sponsors committed about $3 million -- which Nike has pledged to match. Proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Of course, the most interesting part of that article is that it was William Morris Endeavor Agency Co-Chief Executive Ari Emanuel, and not LeBron's business manager Maverick Carter, that pulled many of the strings behind the scenes in trying to put this whole event together. Sorry, Maverick. I know you want all the credit, but I can't give it to you.
Meanwhile, according to CNBC's Darren Rovell, the Boys and Girls Club will get $2.5 million for this event.
"LeBron's decision has generated an incredible amount of interest, and we decided to make his announcement on national television," Carter said, in a statement. "We are donating the proceeds from the program, totaling $2.5 million, to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America...LeBron has a longstanding commitment to giving back to the community and has worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs in cities across the country."
Clearly, this doesn't change the fact that this whole thing is a ridiculous publicity stunt, but at least there will be some good people that will benefit from it all.
What's the prediction from SB Nation's Cavaliers blog Fear the Sword? LeBron James will stay in Cleveland on a three-year contract:
There are several reason for this, but most importantly to James, his people, and his endorsers is Cleveland is the softest landing spot for him and LBJ23, LeBron's Nike-backed brand.
If LeBron's brand is going to approach anything close to what Michael Jordan's has accomplished he needs to maintain a certain level of popularity. The brand needs to also have an identity. Going to Miami, playing second-fiddle to a team that is still not championship ready, along with being the 3rd-highest paid player on the roster does not do a brand or reputation good. That's just reality.
Go check out the whole thing here.
One could argue that the LeBron James free agency watch has gone on since he signed his last contract in 2007. At the very least, we can say it's gone on since the end of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Regardless, it all finally comes to a fitting and decisive end tonight when James officially makes his decision in front of zero people at a Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, New York.
Sorry, did I mention ESPN is blocking off one hour to televise this 15-second decision? Oh right, I forgot about that.
Yes, ESPN will carry live coverage of this, starting at 9 p.m. It's almost like LeBron is going through Signing Day like any hyped 17-year old. (Nobody's made that joke yet, right?).
If the whole thing sounds absurd to you, it is. But let's be honest: How else was this going to end? We can point the finger at LeBron for being an egomaniac. We can point the finger at his handlers for enabling this monster to be created. We can point the finger at the media for feeding people all these baseless rumors and speculation. We can even point the finger at ourselves for actually scooping up all of that. But the truth is, there is nobody to blame, and there is nobody to credit. As soon as all these forces converged, something like this ridiculous TV spectacle was going to happen. It's the only fitting way to close a chapter on the most insane free agent derby of all time.
So at this point, you might as well watch and enjoy it. We at SB Nation certainly will, and we'll be providing updates and snarky, snarky commentary throughout the one-hour show. Hopefully, we can do as well as this. It'll be a tall order, but we'll try.
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