Did Miami just blow its chance to re-sign Wade?

With their two biggest competitors for Dwyane Wade’s services — the Knicks and the Bulls — both successfully pulling off deadline deals to clear additional cap space, the Miami Heat scrambled to add Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer to the mix to keep Wade happy (and in town). We don’t know what they offered, but whatever it was, it apparently wasn’t enough, because the Heat will try to make the playoffs with the same lineup that has the team at 28-27 and in the #7 spot in the East. To make matters worse, Wade heard a “pop” in his calf on Wednesday night and could miss some time, further hindering Miami’s postseason hopes.

Like the Heat, the Knicks now have enough cap space to sign two “max” free agents, and if LeBron is unavailable, they could go to Wade and ask him who he wants to play with — Chris Bosh? Amare Stoudemire? Carlos Boozer? — and sign both. Wade could get the same deal (and a little more money) from the Heat, but will he hold Miami’s inability to bring help this season against them? Meanwhile, the Bulls (Wade’s hometown team) unloaded John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas, clearing the way for a max offer this summer. Wade would look nice in a lineup with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

I give the Heat credit — they sure tried to acquire a big name. But they failed, and the fact that they were scrambling up until the deadline indicates that they think that losing Wade this summer is a real possibility. And they’re right.

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NBA ticket revenues fall 7.4 percent

Per Ken Berger of CBSSports.com…

Average paid attendance is down 3.7 percent in the NBA through the first quarter of the regular season, sending gate receipts plummeting 7.4 percent, according to league documents obtained by CBSSports.com.

Why are gate receipts important? Bill Simmons explains…

The attendance number doesn’t matter because it’s so easy to manipulate; teams either fib or boost the total by giving tickets away for absurdly low prices, hoping to recoup some of it through concessions and merchandise sales.

Berger goes further…

They’re also important because ticket revenue factors into the overall basketball-related income (BRI) figure that is used to set the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds for next season. The NBA has stood by its projection of a decline in overall revenue this season between 2.5 percent and 5 percent, which would result in the salary cap declining from its current $57.7 million to between $50.4 million and $53.6 million. But a bigger than expected decline in BRI would seriously hamper certain teams’ plans to be big spenders in the 2010 free-agent market.

The article also has a statement from the NBA saying that the gate receipts are down less than the league’s projections, due to creative marketing campaigns used to boost attendance (i.e. lowering prices and hoping increase revenue from concessions, parking, etc.).

The NBA’s statement suggests that the salary cap may not fall as far as the lower end of the aforementioned range (~$50.4 million). This is important to teams looking to spend next summer. For example, the Knicks would have $23.1 million to spend under a $50.4 million cap (not enough for two max contracts), but would have $26.3 million to spend under a $53.6 million cap (almost enough for two max contracts — Brandon Roy’s extension starts at $13.5 million next season).

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Where will LeBron land?

That’s the biggest question hovering over the NBA this season, at least from a free agency standpoint. ESPN tackled this issue by surveying a group of “52 NBA noggins” to see what the general consensus is.

The good news for Cleveland fans is that 73% responded that he’s likely to stay put, in no small part to how the economy has affected the NBA salary cap. The bottom line is that, with reduced cap space, other teams are going to have a tough time signing two superstars, so they become less desirable destinations for LeBron.

New York still lurks as the biggest threat to pry LeBron away from Cleveland, and here’s why…

Read the rest of this entry »

Bosh wants a max deal

Chris Bosh has said in no uncertain terms that he expects that the next contract he signs will be the maximum allowed under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

In other words, it’s a max contract or no deal as far as Bosh is concerned.

Asked yesterday if he felt he was worth such a contract, Bosh didn’t hesitate. “Without a doubt. I really don’t see any negotiation about that part.”

But for anyone wanting to know the direction he might be leaning when it comes to his future, Bosh said again that he has not made up his mind.

As for taking less than a max deal to allow Colangelo to beef up the rest of the lineup, Bosh doesn’t sound like a guy who would consider that.

“An old school guy told me: ‘Take advantage. You can’t play this game forever. Make sure you maximize your potential,’ ” Bosh said.

I think that there are probably 10 to 15 players worth a max deal. The no-brainers are LeBron, Kobe, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy and Derrick Rose are the up-and-comers. Then there are Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki who are all over 30. The next tier of guys — Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer and Chauncey Billups — are all great, but are they really worth max money?

The problem I have with Bosh is that Toronto had a pretty good roster this season and they completely missed the playoffs. He is playing with one of the best point guards in the league (Jose Calderon) and he had another former All-Star on the roster as well (Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion). If he’s really a max contract guy, shouldn’t he be able to carry his team to the playoffs? Obviously, a superstar needs a good supporting cast, but the Raptors had fewer wins than New Jersey, Milwaukee (who played without Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut for much of the season), Charlotte, Indiana, Detroit and Philadelphia. One could argue that Toronto has more talent top to bottom than any of those teams, so why couldn’t Bosh lead the Raptors to the playoffs?

I definitely think he deserves a big contract (something around $13 million per season sounds about right), but there’s a tendency for teams to give their best player a max deal no matter how they stack up against the other superstars in the league. Michael Redd, Andrei Kirilenko, Shawn Marion, Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Mike Bibby and Vince Carter all made more than $15 million last season and while some are better than others, I don’t think any of those players are worth that kind of money.

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