CNN interviews LeBron & Maverick Carter about “The Decision”

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

In a relatively short interview with CNN, LeBron James and Maverick Carter were asked whether or not race played a role in the backlash after “The Decision.”

O’BRIEN (voice-over): According to industry insiders, James and Carter have done just fine, striking multi-million dollar deals with State Farm, Nike and McDonalds. But those deals were overshadowed by this summer’s decision and negative headlines which seemed to tarnish LeBron James, the athlete, and the brand.

CARTER: It’s just about control and not doing it the way it’s always been done or not looking the way that it always looks.

O’BRIEN (on camera): Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this.

JAMES: I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.

CARTER: It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure.

O’BRIEN (voice-over): LeBron James and Maverick Carter say what does bother them is that lost amid the controversy is the fact that “The Decision” TV program raised $3 million for Boys & Girls Club of America.

CARTER: We own the advertising time. We went out and sold it to brands and we took every dime and donated it to charity.

FRANK SANCHEZ, V.P., BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF AMERICA: LeBron was using a significant moment in time to benefit young people. And a lot of people can take those opportunities and make it about them. He really was — his goal was to make it about kids and make it about giving opportunities for kids.

JAMES: For me to have an opportunity to give back to the Boys & Girls Club of America, that I would never change that. And if I have to take heat to give back to kids, I would do it the same way every single time.

I included the bit about the Boys & Girls Club because it is admirable that they donated all the advertising revenue to charity, but it still doesn’t change the way that LeBron ripped the heart out of his fans in Cleveland during an hour-long, primetime special. Again, it’s not the fact that LeBron left Cleveland that non-Clevelanders have a problem with, it’s the way he did it.

To be fair, Carter said that race played a factor in “some of the stuff coming out of the media,” but “The Decision” was such a big blunder that had it been Steve Nash or Larry Bird (in his day), the backlash would have been brutal.

It’s a free country and LeBron has the right to do whatever he wants, as long as he’s willing to deal with the consequences.

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Udonis Haslem arrested for possession of marijuana

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem (C) fouls Boston Celtics' Rasheed Wallace in the fourth quarter during Game 4 of their Eastern Conference basketball playoff series in Miami, April 25, 2010. At left is the Heat's Joel Anthony. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This is not the way that the new-look Miami Heat wanted to start the season.

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem was charged Sunday with marijuana possession, speeding — and, for good measure, having illegal window tinting, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

An FHP trooper pulled over Haslem, 30, who had been driving east in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz, after he was clocked going 78 mph in a 60 mph zone, Wysocky said.

The trooper smelled marijuana in the vehicle, FHP said. After a search, Haslem and his passenger, Antwain Fleming, were arrested and charged with marijuana possession, Wysocky said.

There is a legitimate movement to decriminalize marijuana across the country, but this is one case where Haslem deserves whatever punishment he gets. To say that this was a dumb move is an understatement. He was going 18 mph over the speed limit while he was smoking (or his buddy was smoking) pot in his car.

Celtics beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely says the arrest means it’s unlikely that Haslem will play in the Heat’s season opener against Boston.

#Heat suffer first loss of Big Thrice era. PF Udonis Haslem’s pot charge likely means he’ll be out for the season opener vs. the #Celtics.

Haslem should know better.

9/17/10 Update: The charges have been dropped.

What’s next for the Heat?

July 09, 2010 - Miami, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02243370 Miami Heat President Pat Riley (C) takes his seat during NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines arena in Miami, Florida, USA, 09 July 2010. The Miami Heat reached an agreement with LeBron James to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sign with the Miami Heat.

Now that the Miami Thrice is locked up for the next six years — well, for four years at least — it’s time for Pat Riley, the greatest general manager in the history of time, to fill out his roster.

Larry Coon, who manages the excellent NBA Salary Cap FAQ, wrote a piece for ESPN about how Riley can proceed with filling out the rest of the roster.

Sources told ESPN.com that James and Bosh signed for $14.5 million and Wade $14 million, leaving the Heat with nearly $8.3 million to spend.

One persistent rumor has the Heat using some of their leftover cap room to add sharpshooting Mike Miller to the lineup, and Miller is reportedly close to agreeing with the team on a deal totaling $25 million over five years — which would start at around $4.3 million. While he is a natural small forward (the same position James plays), Miller’s skill set would complement those of LeBron, Bosh and Wade, and there would be several ways of slotting him into the lineup. In addition to using Miller as James’ backup for the 8-12 minutes James is off the floor, coach Erik Spoelstra could play either Wade or James at point guard and put Miller at the vacated position.

Once Miller is on board the team would have just $4 million remaining to spend on free agents. It is possible Riley will try to use this money to persuade forward Udonis Haslem to return to the team. Since the Heat are without their own midlevel and biannual exceptions (sacrificed as part of the process to create cap room), the team would then be limited to offering players only minimum-salary contracts. Riley will have to sell some players on the idea of accepting the minimum in order to be a part of history. In return for their sacrifice the Heat could offer big minutes (including one or perhaps two starting roles), the chance to be part of a media phenomenon and a legitimate shot at the title.

What sort of player would be swayed by such a pitch? The likely candidate is an older veteran who has already banked his nest egg, and is now looking for a ring before he retires.

Coon goes on to mention Shaq, Earl Watson, James Jones and Raja Bell as possible targets for Riley. In my initial piece about how things would work in Miami, I listed the following players:

The list includes, but it is not limited to: Joe Smith, Kurt Thomas, Theo Ratliff, Brad Miller, Rafer Alston, Jerry Stackhouse, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and Matt Bonner.

The Heat could also target Brian Scalabrine, just for comedy’s sake.

It would be another coup if Riley is able to acquire Miller and convince Haslem to stick around at $4 million per season. Along with Chalmers (and possibly Joel Anthony), that would give the Heat a six- or seven-player rotation, and they would just need 2-3 more solid veterans (Derek Fisher, anyone?) to round out the bench.

In other words, this is not going to be as tough as some of the pundits seem to think it will be.

If you sign Wade, Bosh and LeBron, the vets will come.

It’s official — Wade, LeBron and Bosh sign with the Heat

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James show 10,000 fans their Miami Heat jerseys after signing 6 year contracts with the Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on July 9, 2010. UPI/Michael Bush Photo via Newscom

Per ESPN…

The Heat’s two newest superstars signed matching six-year, $110.1 million contracts, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher. Dwyane Wade took an even bigger discount to stay in Miami, signing for six years and $107.5 million, according to the sources.

Sources told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford that James and Bosh are scheduled to make $14.5 million and Wade $14 million in 2010-11.

Each player took $15 million less over the life of the contract to sign with Miami, but the deals came with a caveat.

All three contracts, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, have an early termination option after the fourth season that would allow LeBron, Bosh and Wade to return to free agency in the summer of 2014. Each player also possesses a player option entering the final season of the contract (2015-16).

Bosh and James’ deals were completed through sign-and-trades, making all three eligible for 10.5 percent raises each year.

The Heat sent two future first-round and two second-round picks to the Cavaliers for James, while packaging two first-round picks to the Raptors for Bosh.

Sources told ESPN that Toronto reacquired its first-round selection in 2011, which Miami had from a 2009 trade that sent Shawn Marion to the Raptors, and added the Heat’s own first rounder in 2011.

Miami then sent its first-round picks in 2013 and 2015 to the Cavaliers and Cleveland has the option to swap first-round picks in 2012, according to a league source.

Both the Raptors and the Cavs will receive trade exceptions valued at $14.5 million, sources told ESPN.com.

So Toronto and Cleveland (!!!) cooperated after all, participating in sign-and-trades to enable Bosh and LeBron to get extra money on their deals. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but both teams will get two late first round picks and a giant trade exception that they can use over the next year.

What’s a trade exception, you ask? It allows a team that’s over the cap to trade for a player without having to trade a player with matching salaries (within 125%). So, for example, if the Raptors are over the cap, and they want to trade for Luol Deng, who gets paid $12 million per season, they can use this $14.5 million trade exception to acquire him without sending any players to Chicago. When two teams that are over the cap make a trade, it generally needs to be even salary-wise. The trade exception is a workaround.

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