LeBron James: Back to Cleveland

(Photo Credit: LeBron James)

Former Miami Heat star LeBron James has just announced (via Sports Illustrated) that is he coming back to Cleveland.

In his letter, he explains that while he will “always think of Miami as [his] second home,” with his wife Savannah being pregnant with their third child and the Cavaliers still deserving their shot at a title, he decided it was time to return.

James also addresses past issues with owner Dan Gilbert (who infamously wrote an open letter to James, after he decided to take his talents to South Beach), stating “everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

With this story just breaking, the questions on everyone’s minds are first, what kind of contract James has received, and of course, where the likes of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will now end up.

More to come as free agency has finally gotten interesting.

Heated Topics

As you may have noticed for the last couple of weeks, all has been quiet on the Bringing The Heat front. With free agency having officially started July 1 (and gossip beginning long before that), things in the NBA have gotten a bit hectic. Although some major moves have already taken place, for the most part, information currently circulating out there is hearsay at best. I will admit I am guilty of closely following the rumor mill myself, but am keeping it to Twitter until a piece of news has been confirmed. 

With that said, here is the latest:

LeBron James is set to meet with Miami Heat president Pat Riley, today in Las Vegas.

James and Dwyane Wade had dinner together in Vegas, biggest Wade news heard in a minute.

Chris Bosh has been offered a maximum, 4 year contract by the Houston Rockets.

Danny Granger has been signed to the Heat on a $4.2 million/2 year deal.

Josh McRoberts was signed to Miami on a $23 million/4 year deal.

The Heat could use Mario Chalmers, via a sign-and-trade, to clear space.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are doing everything in their power to get James back.

Ray Allen and Mike Miller are also on the Cavaliers’ mind.

Carmelo Anthony seems as though he is waiting on James’ decision, before making his own.

The Summer League has begun: here are the players to keep an eye on.

What does an NBA Free Agency contract, even look like?

Fingers crossed that something more than empty chatter happens over the next few days. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ChitownHeiress) and check out ESPN’s awesomely compiled NBA list to stay up to the date on all the latest as well.

July 1: Only the Beginnng

(Photo Credit: www.bleacherreport.com)

Since I have last taken to Bringing The Heat, Miami has drafted Shabazz Napier, Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade have both opted out of their contracts, and Chris Bosh was reported to have done the same, later having his agent deny that fact. Although the Heat’s off-season may already appear to be busy, I imagine this is only the beginning.

Having opted out June 24, LeBron James is apparently seeking a maximum contract with Miami. Surprisingly, James has never been the highest-paid player on a team before. In 2010, James (along with Wade and Bosh) took a pay cut in order to allow the Big Three to play together, but it seems as though this time around, he is not willing to do the same. If given the contract he is after, James will make about $21 million next season. As of now, James is not scheduling any meetings with other teams and is letting his agent Rich Paul handle most, if not all, of the necessary conversations surrounding free agency.

The only teams who currently have the wiggle room to offer James what he wants are the Heat, the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic.

After Haslem and Wade announced they were opting out, it was reported that the Heat have a record $55 million in cap space. As things stand currently, it seems as though the Big Three are right on track to re-signing with Miami and continuing to work towards their main goal: winning as many championships as possible. Although the fantasy of three-peating was cut short by the San Antonio Spurs, the dream to be the best of the best, is still very much alive.

So far, Kyle Lowry and Luol Deng are at the top of Miami’s free agent list. With much initial speculation of the Heat trying to land Carmelo Anthony, the buzz has since died down. Anthony is set to meet with the Chicago Bulls at some point today, followed by the Houston Rockets, the Mavericks and the Lakers. But with that said, many are still firm in their beliefs that he will re-sign with the New York Knicks. Along with Lowry and Deng however, are a handful of other available talents that Miami will certainly look into. Having been approached by the Heat last season, after he was let go by the Milwaukee Bucks, Caron Butler is once again on Pat Riley’s radar, joining Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza.

Free agency officially began at midnight, so obviously there is still a ways to go before anything is set in stone. As players take meetings and team front offices make decisions, deals will slowly fall into place, taking fans on the usual off-season emotional roller coaster ride. Day one and counting.

Shabazz Napier: Future Heat Player?

(Photo Credit: www.huffingtonpost.com)

As we close in on the 2014 NBA Draft, fans from around the league want to know who their favorite teams are going to target come Thursday night. For the Miami Heat, the answer to that question seems to be Shabazz Napier.

Napier, a point guard out of UConn, is exactly the type of player Heat president Pat Riley likes to have on his team. Having played all four years during his college days, Napier is already set to transition into the pros, having spent enough time mastering the game and perfecting his craft. He has won two national championships in 2011 and 2014, the latter in which he was named both American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the tournament’s most outstanding player. He averaged 18 points and 5.8 rebounds this past season, gradually improving each year.

In fact, reports allege that Riley flew to work Napier out, trying to convince the Huskies talent to stop training so that he would fall in rankings as Miami has the No. 26 pick. Unfortunately, this is near impossible as teams like the Orlando Magic (No. 12), the Atlanta Hawks (No. 15), the Chicago Bulls (No. 16) and so on are all considering drafting Napier.

Riley would not be the only one impressed with Napier’s efforts however; this past April, LeBron James himself tweeted “No way u take a PG in the lottery before Napier.”

It is unlikely that the Heat will be able to move up in the draft either, with only the 26th pick and Norris Cole to offer. And getting rid of Cole would be a huge mistake. The team does not even have a first-round pick from next season to give, as the Cleveland Cavaliers have Miami’s if it falls between 11-30.

But having put all of this on the table, with James having just opted out of his contract, and everyone still waiting on news from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, truth be told, the draft may not even be too high on the Heat’s radar currently.

Tune into ESPN at 6 p.m. CT to catch all the happenings of the 2014 NBA draft. 

LeBron James Has Opted Out

(Photo Credit: www.time.com)

ESPN was first to break the news this morning that LeBron James has officially decided to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat. Since then, James’ fans and haters alike have been speculating as to what this could mean, and what effect it would have on Miami’s future. Ah, the circus that is NBA free agency.

The facts:

James was supposed to earn $20.5 million next season and $22.1 million in 2015-16.

Now he has three choices. He can either sign a five-year maximum deal with the Heat for roughly $130 million, sign a deal for less money and less time with the team, or sign a four-year deal worth up to $96 million with another team.

In other words, James opting out does not necessarily mean he is going anywhere.

What else you should know:

Teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have yet to come forward with their own courses of action.

James has not yet set up any meetings, but may do so after July 1.

James has always valued winning championships over everything; therefore, it is unlikely that money is acting as the main motivator for any of his decisions.

The photo that James’ wife Savannah posted on her Instagram, is probably not an indication of anything more than her excitement to go back home for the summer.

In James’ own words:

“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” he stated last week. “That’s in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. … There’s a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional.”

Although the dramatics of this offseason may not send the league into as much chaos as “The Decision” did, I am willing to bet things are still going to get crazy, and soon. Buckle up folks, the ride is about to start.

Heated Topics

The 2014 NBA Draft is right around the corner, and who the Miami Heat go after may be an indication of what is expected to happen with the current lineup, come next season.

5 things to know about Miami’s offseason.

Draft may be a good way to replace Mario Chalmers.

Heat have several voids to fill before next season.

According to Pat Riley, 2013 draft pick James Ennis has a bright future.

Word on the street is Miami may trade its pick for Iman Shumbert.

Right now, Kyle Anderson would be best-case scenario on draft night.

Mock drafts are coming in steadily.

Stay tuned for more on this year’s draft as Thursday night approaches.

2014 NBA Free Agents

As we all know, free agency is upon us (starting July 1) so I thought it might be helpful to provide a full list of available players:

Jeff Adrienforward, player option

Cole Aldrich, center, unrestricted free agent

Lavoy Allen, forward/center, unrestricted free agent

Ray Allen, guard, unrestricted free agent

Al-Farouq Aminu, forward, unrestricted free agent

Chris Andersen, forward/center, player option

Alan Anderson, guard, player option

Carmelo Anthony, forward, early termination player option

Joel Anthony, forward, player option

Trevor Ariza, forward, unrestricted free agent

Darrell Arthur, forward, player option

D.J. Augustin, guard, unrestricted free agent

Gustavo Ayon, forward, unrestricted free agent

Leandro Barbosa, guard, unrestricted free agent

Andrea Bargnani, forward, early termination player option

Jerryd Bayless, guard, unrestricted free agent

Aron Baynes, forward, unrestricted free agent

Kent Bazemore, guard, unrestricted free agent

Michael Beasley, forward, unrestricted free agent

Chauncey Billups, guard, team option

DeJuan Blair, forward, unrestricted free agent

Steve Blake, guard, unrestricted free agent

Andray Blatche, forward, player option

Eric Bledsoe, guard, restricted free agent

Matt Bonner, forward, unrestricted free agent

Trevor Booker, forward, unrestricted free agent

Chris Bosh, forward, early termination player option

Avery Bradley, guard, unrestricted free agent

Elton Brand, forward, unrestricted free agent

Aaron Brooks, guard, unrestricted free agent

MarShon Brooks, guard, unrestricted free agent

Caron Butler, forward, unrestricted free agent

Rasual Butler, guard, unrestricted free agent

Andrew Bynum, center, unrestricted free agent

Vince Carter, guard, unrestricted free agent

Mario Chalmers, guard, unrestricted free agent

Jason Collins, center, unrestricted free agent

Darren Collison, guard, player option

Jordan Crawford, guard, restricted free agent

Jae Crowder, forward, team option

Dante Cunninghamforward, unrestricted free agent

Jared Cunningham, guard, unrestricted free agent

Troy Daniels, guard, team option

Ed Davis, forward, unrestricted free agent

Glen Davis, center, player option

Nando De Colo, guard, unrestricted free agent

Luol Deng, forward, unrestricted free agent

Boris Diaw, forward, unrestricted free agent

Toney Douglas, guard, unrestricted free agent

Chris Douglas-Roberts, guard, unrestricted free agent

Tim Duncan, forward, player option

Jordan Farmar, guard, unrestricted free agent

Jimmer Fredette, guard, unrestricted free agent

Channing Frye, center, player option

Francisco Garcia, guard, player option

Pau Gasol, forward/center, unrestricted free agent

Rudy Gay, forward, player option

Drew Gooden, forward, unrestricted free agent

Ben Gordon, guard, unrestricted free agent

Marcin Gortat, center, unrestricted free agent

Danny Granger, forward, player option

Aaron Gray, center, unrestricted free agent

Jordan Hamilton, forward, unrestricted free agent

Al Harrington, forward, unrestricted free agent

Devin Harris, guard, unrestricted free agent

Udonis Haslem, forward, player option

Spencer Hawes, center, unrestricted free agent

Gordon Hayward, forward, restricted free agent

Xavier Henry, forward-guard, unrestricted free agent

Jordan Hill, forward-center, unrestricted free agent

Kirk Hinrich, guard, unrestricted free agent

Ryan Hollins, center, unrestricted free agent

Robbie Hummel, forward, unrestricted free agent

Kris Humphries, forward, unrestricted free agent

Bernard James, center, unrestricted free agent

Damion James, forward, unrestricted free agent

LeBron James, forward, early termination player option

Richard Jefferson, forward, unrestricted free agent

Jonas Jerebko, forward, player option

Grant Jerrett, forward, team option

James Johnson, forward, unrestricted free agent

Wesley Johnson, forward-guard, unrestricted free agent

James Jones, forward, unrestricted free agent

Chris Kaman, center, unrestricted free agent

Ryan Kelly, forward, unrestricted free agent

Andrei Kirilenko, forward, player option

Rashard Lewis, forward, unrestricted free agent

Shaun Livingston, guard, unrestricted free agent

Kyle Lowry, guard, unrestricted free agent

Shelvin Mack, guard, unrestricted free agent

Shawn Marion, forward, unrestricted free agent

Cartier Martin, forward, unrestricted free agent

Kenyon Martin, forward, unrestricted free agent

Josh McRoberts, forward, player option

C.J. Miles, guard, unrestricted free agent

Darius Miller, forward, unrestricted free agent

Mike Miller, forward, unrestricted free agent

Patty Mills, guard, unrestricted free agent

Nazr Mohammed, center, unrestricted free agent

Greg Monroe, center, restricted free agent

E’Twaun Moore, guard, unrestricted free agent

Anthony Morrow, guard, player option

Byron Mullens, center, player option

Toure’ Murry, guard, unrestricted free agent

Dirk Nowitzki, forward, unrestricted free agent

Jermaine O’Neal, center/forward, unrestricted free agent

Greg Oden, center, unrestricted free agent

Emeka Okafor, center, unrestricted free agent

Jannero Pargo, guard, unrestricted free agent

Chandler Parsons, forward, team option

Patrick Patterson, forward, unrestricted free agent

Paul Pierce, forward, unrestricted free agent

Zach Randolph, forward, player option

Jason Richardson, guard, player option

Luke Ridnour, guard, unrestricted free agent

Brian Roberts, guard, unrestricted free agent

Nate Robinson, guard, player option

Brandon Rush, guard, unrestricted free agent

Mike Scott, forward, unrestricted free agent

Thabo Sefolosha, guard, unrestricted free agent

Kevin Seraphin, center, unrestricted free agent

Ramon Sessions, guard, unrestricted free agent

Chris Singleton, forward, unrestricted free agent

Jason Smith, center, unrestricted free agent

James Southerland, forward, unrestricted free agent

Lance Stephenson, guard, unrestricted free agent

Rodney Stuckey, guard, unrestricted free agent

Garrett Temple, guard, unrestricted free agent

Adonis Thomas, forward, unrestricted free agent

Isaiah Thomas, guard, restricted free agent

Anthony Tolliver, forward, unrestricted free agent

PJ Tucker, forward, unrestricted free agent

Hedo Turkoglu, forward, unrestricted free agent

Evan Turner, guard, unrestricted free agent

Ekpe Udoh, center, restricted free agent

Beno Udrih, guard, unrestricted free agent

Greivis Vasquez, guard, unrestricted free agent

Jan Vesely, forward, unrestricted free agent

Charlie Villanueva, forward, unrestricted free agent

Dwyane Wade, guard, early termination player option

Earl Watson, guard, unrestricted free agent

DJ White, forward, unrestricted free agent

Marvin Williams, forward, unrestricted free agent

Mo Williams, guard, player option

Nick Young, guard, player option

Note: restricted free agency means the team that owns the player’s rights may match his offer. 

Miami Heat: By The Numbers

(Photo Credit: www.msn.foxsportsnews.com)

With their season having ended this past Sunday night, the Miami Heat cannot relax just yet. Between the NBA draft happening June 26 and free agent negotiations starting on July 1, the Heat have a lot to consider moving into this next year.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding what the team will look like a few months from now, based on everything from mere logic to reading between the lines of what players themselves have stated. However, right now, all that we can be sure of are the numbers. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all currently have early termination clauses on their contracts. With this said, if James and Bosh were to opt in, they will make $20.16 million next year and $22.1 million during the follow one. Similarly, Wade would rake in $20.16 million this upcoming season and $21.7 million during the next.

As for Udonis Haslem, he is projected to make $4.62 million next year but also has an opt-out clause. Chris Andersen has a player option set for $1.45 million, but is expected to bypass this in order to become a free agent. Assuming this is the case, joining him in free agency are Mario Chalmers, Toney Douglas, James Jones, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. Rashard Lewis is currently also on the market however, along with Ray Allen, he is not sure he will take his NBA career any further. And of course, there is Shane Battier, who has already announced his retirement.

On the other hand though, Norris Cole is sticking around for slightly over $2 million and Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal of roughly $816, 482. As it is hopefully becoming clearer now, there are a lot of things up in the air currently concerning the state of this organization. The NBA’s salary cap for the 2014-2015 season is said to be set at $63.2 million, with a tax level of $77 million. The Heat have paid tax for three out of the last four seasons. Let us pretend that each of the members of the Big Three opt in. This will once again bring Miami above the cap, to an approximate value of $3.3 million in terms of a taxpayer mid-level exception; therefore limiting their veteran minimum to $1.4 million.

In this case, they can probably forget about bringing in coveted free agents such as Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, or  Kyle Lowry. However, if the Big Three opt out of their current contracts, Wade would be earning about $87.2 million over four years and James and Bosh are likely to gain $115.1 million over five years; all of which are obviously outrageous figures, especially regarding Wade and Bosh. Therefore, the team’s best bet would be for Wade, James and Bosh to opt out and return for less money, the same going for Haslem. Of course, there is also the possibility that one of the Big Three will decide to leave, in which case the Heat would probably extend their cap to the minimum. Although personally I see the three of them continuing to work towards at least another championship together, there is no denying that something about this season felt different, if not off.

“I don’t think anybody really enjoyed this season like in years past,” Bosh told The Associated Press. “There was no, like, genuine joy all the time. It seemed like work. It was a job the whole year.”

Heat president Pat Riley and the rest of the front office have a lot to figure out over the next couple of months, starting with making sure their star players are happy. It seems as though not just free agents but also certain Miami players will have to be wooed all over again, to make sure next season’s team is up to par.

Heated Topics

As I spent Sunday evening with my family, celebrating the fact that I just earned my Master’s Degree, the Miami Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Unfortunately, by the end of the night, the Heat failed to have something of their own to celebrate, their dream of a three-peat fading in the distance.

Taking a 4-1 series lead over Miami on Sunday night, the Spurs became champions.

The grades are in for the Heat’s performance in Game 5.

LeBron James not to blame for series loss.

The Big Three as a unit left more to be desired during this series.

“Defense wins championships” cliche still holds true.

Despite their recent loss, the Heat are already favored to win next year’s championship.

San Antonio were playing like winners, way before the finals.

Manu Ginobili among those to thank for San Antonio’s road to success.

Spurs’ assistant coach Sean Marks unsure of his future.

Should the Heat have had to play in such Heat?

(Photo Credit: www.latimes.com)

For anyone living under a rock, the air conditioner in the San Antonio Spurs’ arena did not work during Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. This led to extreme temperatures of 90 degrees on the court, and resulted in a horrible atmosphere for the fans and exhaustion for the players. LeBron James, suffering from excruciating leg cramps, was forced to leave the game during the fourth quarter, and ultimately the Miami Heat lost, 110-95. While many are calling James a quitter, seemingly doubting the level of pain he was in, some are wondering if the game should have even been played at all.

As I was just starting to live-tweet the game Tuesday night, I noticed that many members of the media were commenting on how stuffy it was inside the AT&T Center. I wondered if this was to make note of how many people came to enjoy the first game but soon enough, I realized something was wrong. As more tweets about removing blazers and chugging bottled beverages started to appear, it was announced that the air conditioning was broken. I will admit that my first thoughts were along the lines of “those sneaky Texans.” Perhaps the initial act was done unintentionally, but did no one notice how hot it was during shoot around? Pre-game news conference? Anything? But I regress.

The game went on, and screenshots of iPhones reading 85 degrees flooded the Twitter-sphere, quickly turning into 90 degrees shortly after halftime. I could not help but ask myself “should they postpone this game?” But the better question is, should they have played to begin with?

Clearly I was not the only one who pondered such a thing as some said of course and others said they are not so sure.

Here are the facts:

  • It reached 90 degrees on the court that evening.
  • Because of the heat, athletes burned more calories at a higher speed.
  • They also could not keep themselves as hydrated as necessary.
  • While some people seemed fine, others became lethargic or worse; certain people tolerate different temperatures differently.
  • The court and ball were more slippery than usual, given the excess sweat being produced.

Now, with this said, was there danger in allowing Game 1 to proceed business as usual? Yes and no. On the one hand, one could argue that there was no imminent threat to anyone there that night. On top of that, it was hot of course, but both teams are from warm climate cities. There was water and Gatorade handy. On the other hand, there have been people who have died of a heat stroke. Anyone who suffers from the likes of high or low blood pressure and/or a heart condition can tell you that life becomes increasingly more difficult, the hotter it gets. Mix that with a high performance athletic activity and there is definitely potential trouble. Plus, as James proved, there are certainly other health risks associated with becoming overheated. I would also like to bring up the last point above, regarding the court being wet. Obviously it was wiped down every available chance, but even so, why take the chance of players getting injured from slipping? Seems pretty silly to me.

Fortunately, the worst it got Thursday night was James’ leg cramps, but personally I feel as though there could have been an argument to be made for rescheduling Game 1. Soccer and baseball games get rained out. Football games get delayed due to snow. Should the show always go on when it comes to basketball?