View Full Version : 7/7 ESPN Insider - JO being courted by the Heat

07-08-2003, 08:53 AM
Ford: The Heat is on O'Neal
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Monday, July 7
Updated: July 7
1:34 PM ET

When NBA GMs vote for executive of the year at the end of next season, expect (former) Heat point guard Anthony Carter to get at least one vote.

Anthony Carter
Point Guard
Miami Heat

49 4.1 1.7 4.1 .356 .660

Carter did in one fell swoop what no other GM in the league has been able to do -- produce $4 million worth of cap space out of thin air.

Word leaked late Thursday that Carter failed to exercise an opt-in provision in his contract. Carter had until June 30 to notify the Heat that he was opting in. His (or his agent's) mistake will cost him $4 million in guaranteed salary and kicks him onto an already brutal free-agent market.

It also will have huge ramifications in that market. By stripping an extra $4 million off its salary total, the Heat are looking at roughly $11 million in cap space this summer -- enough to sign a top-flight free agent to a max-type deal.

That news will come as a major blow to the Pacers, Spurs, Nuggets and Jazz. Why? Because Miami, even with its abysmal record the past few seasons, is considered one of the premier free-agent destinations in the NBA.

Between the beaches, weather, a chance to play for a legend like Pat Riley and nice core of talent -- Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Eddie Jones and rookie Dwyane Wade -- the Heat are now serious players in the free-agent market.


Expect target No. 1 to be Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal, who plans to visit San Antonio and possibly Dallas this week, will likely add Miami to his free-agent visit list, a source close to O'Neal told Insider.

The Pacers have remained confident all along that O'Neal ultimately would return to Indiana. Their thinking, in large part, was based on the fact that they believed O'Neal didn't want to play in the power forward-laden West or play second fiddle to Tim Duncan.

But if a prime job in the East opened up? O'Neal would be joining a team that has a nice combination of young talent and veterans. In Miami, he'd still have the role he desperately wants to keep -- the go-to guy on his team. Combine that with O'Neal's long-standing desire to return to the south (he grew up in South Carolina), and Pacers GM Donnie Walsh can start sweating a little. Scratch that -- a lot.

Adding O'Neal and Wade should give Riley the firepower he needs to propel the Heat right back into the playoffs next season. But don't count out the Pacers just yet. They can offer him an extra year, 2.5 percent more in raises and a starting salary that exceeds the Heat's by around $1.5 to $2 million. Add that up and O'Neal could make an extra $35 million over the life of the deal if he re-signs with Indiana.

O'Neal won't be the Heat's only target. If he decides to stay in Indiana or join Duncan in San Antonio, the Heat have more options. Riley is fond of Clippers center Michael Olowokandi. Olowokandi recently bought a home in the Miami area, so you know he'd head there in a heartbeat. Riley has also been a Lamar Odom fan since he worked him out right before the draft. Would the Heat be willing to risk a big chunk of that money on a restricted free agent?

Other possible targets include Gary Payton, Gilbert Arenas, Andre Miller, Brad Miller and Juwan Howard. However, Payton almost certainly will sign with the Lakers. Adding a guy like Arenas or Andre Miller isn't as important now that the team believes Wade can make the transition to point. Brad Miller or Howard would be solid additions if O'Neal and Olowokandi fall through.

Around the league

Who says that NBA free agents will always go where the money is? The remarkable reports coming out of L.A. the last few days appear to be grounded in truth. Multiple sources tell Insider that Karl Malone has indeed told the Lakers that he'll play for the $1.5 veteran's exception if they can lock up Gary Payton.

Will Payton come? His agent, Aaron Goodwin, told the L.A. Times this weekend that Milwaukee was out of the hunt. And while Goodwin held open the possibility of a sign-and-trade with Portland or Miami, the Times, citing sources close to the situation, is reporting that Payton could announce as early as today that he's joining the Lakers.

The Lakers with Payton and Malone? That's too good to be true right? On paper, a team starting Payton, Kobe Bryant, Malone and Shaquille O'Neal would be one of the greatest ever assembled. How often do you see four Hall of Famers on the court together?

While chemistry problems will still be an issue -- there aren't enough shots in the Western Conference for all four of these guys -- I'm starting to warm to the idea. Sort of. In a perfect world, you'd like to think that Bryant and Shaq would learn to share and Malone and Payton would learn how to win it all. If that's how it plays out, then Dream Team Five will be the story of the year and a shoo-in for an NBA Championship.

However, if Malone and Payton don't get enough love, or if the team doesn't come out of the gate firing on all cylinders (it will take Shaq three months to get into playing shape), Phil Jackson will finally start to earn his money. Unlike other Hall of Fame-caliber veterans, neither Malone nor Payton is renowned for his leadership abilities. When things go sour (not an uncommon occurrence in either player's career) they can whine with the best of them.

Either way, there's finally hope that something will eclipse the growing LeBron nightmare. I'm not sure I can watch 82 Cavs games this year.

The Spurs began their wining and dining of Jason Kidd on Sunday -- including a gourmet meal at coach Gregg Popovich's house. Tim Duncan was there to woo his friend, but one Spur was conspicuously absent.

Tony Parker
Point Guard
San Antonio Spurs

82 15.5 2.6 5.3 .464 .755

Starting point guard Tony Parker apparently is having a hard time swallowing the courting of Kidd. Can you blame him?

"He loves San Antonio and would love to finish his career there," a person close to Parker told the N.Y. Times. "But he feels like he's a point guard and doesn't want to play a two-guard position. Nor does he want to play a backup to a player he won a championship against.

"He's made it clear to the team that if they choose to do that, he would want to be playing elsewhere."

Did he? GM R. C. Buford told the San Antonio Express News that he was under the impression that Parker was all for adding Kidd to the roster.

"Pop has talked to Tony continually throughout the process and as late as this afternoon," Buford said Sunday. "Their conversations have always been positive. Tony has said he thinks they would be great together."

It's hard to believe that Parker would really feel that way. He doesn't have the size or the scoring mentality to be a two guard in the league. Besides, Emanuel Ginobili's a better fit at the two anyway. In all likelihood, Parker would either be traded or spend year three coming off the bench.

Am I the only one left on the planet who can't figure out why the Spurs are going ga-ga over Kidd? While Kidd clearly outplayed Parker in every aspect during the Finals, Parker is still one of the best young point guards in the league. He just barely turned 21 years old. He's going to get even better.

Meanwhile, the Spurs have no center, are thin at the small forward and shooting guard, and have just four players under contract for next season. Assuming they re-sign Duncan and max out Kidd, that would bring the total to six. The Spurs' other six players would have to be minimum-type players. The team wouldn't even have its mid-level exception because it got under the cap to sign Kidd.

Under that scenario the Spurs would likely lose Stephen Jackson this year and Ginobili the next year when he hits free agency. Since Ginobili has only a two-year contract with the team -- the Spurs would be in the same situation the Warriors are in with Gilbert Arenas. The capped out Spurs would only be able to offer Ginobili a deal up to the mid-level exception.

With the Lakers building a dream team, the Mavs and Kings getting deeper by the minute and the T-Wolves making some major strides this offseason -- will Kidd and Duncan be enough to topple some the other giants in the West? Or are they one big injury away from playing the lottery next summer?

Alonzo Mourning still hasn't heard anything from the Heat. And it doesn't sound like he's going to hang around for an offer.

"It's very disappointing to me, but at the same time I understand," Mourning told the Palm Beach Post. "It doesn't surprise me."

"I've said this before, my heart is here in Miami. This is where I want to play, but unfortunately the Heat haven't given me an offer yet. . .But to tell you the truth I'm not in position to wait around. The longer I wait the less chance people are going to have that room for me, so I've got to make some decisions."

There continues to be strong evidence that Juwan Howard is leaning toward signing with the Timberwolves on July 16th. However, that hasn't stopped his agent from trying to get Howard more money to play on a team like the Pistons or Magic.

According to the Denver Post, agent David Falk has called the Nuggets numerous times about several sign-and-trade proposals Howard. They include Howard to the Pistons for forward Corliss Williamson, point guard Chucky Atkins and center Ratko Vardo. The other was with the Magic that included point guard Darrell Armstrong.

The Nuggets aren't interested in the deal because of the amount of salary-cap space they'd eat up.

Clipps free agent Michael Olowokandi will finally get his visit to Denver late this week. Remember, Olowokandi huddled with GM Kiki Vandeweghe in Denver last summer while he was a restricted free agent.

Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe had a lengthy meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles with Warriors restricted free-agent point guard Gilbert Arenas; Arenas' father, Gilbert Sr.; and agent Dan Fegan the Denver Post reported. However, Arenas only has scheduled visits with the Jazz and Heat this week.

Hawks restricted free agent Jason Terry remains in limbo until the team is finally sold. "Jason wants to stay here," agent Raymond Brothers told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "He wants to be part of this team, bottom line. . . . He feels like with the right situation, right ownership, right coaching, [the Hawks] are just around the corner from turning this thing around."

Point guard Darrell Armstrong is still waiting to hear from the Magic. In the meantime he's talked to the Cavs, Wizards and Heat the Daytona Beach News Journal reported.

Summer Love

The NBA summer leagues got underway on Sunday in L.A. ...

When the crowd starts chanting "Pargo! Pargo!" you know we're all a little hard up for a little hoops fix. Second year point guard Jannero Pargo had 27 points and six assists as the Lakers beat the Canadian national squad 91-87 in the first game of the L.A. Summer Pro League.

"It was pretty cool,' Pargo told the Long Beach Telegram. "Our team was having trouble bringing the ball up the court. With me, being a point guard, they wanted to see me get back in there, get the game under control and finish out the game.'

Kareem Rush added 20 points. Rookie Brian Cook had seven points and nine boards. Rookie Luke Walton had two points, five rebounds and four assists.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was focusing on the "veterans."

"I think the summer league is bigger for Kareem Rush and Jannero Pargo than it is for the rookies,' Kupchak said. "For the rookies, they're just trying to adjust. With Kareem and Jannero, we want to see how they develop from last year and see what other ways we can use them.'

The Mavs and Grizzlies play their first games tonight.

The Mavs have an interesting roster including veterans like Ike Austin as well as a few intriguing rookies like last year's pick Mladen Sekularic, this year's pick Josh Howard, and undrafted rookies Josh Powell and Marquis Daniels. Of course, it wouldn't be the Mavs if they didn't have a little international intrigue. Point guard Yuta Tabuse of Japan is providing that. The 5-foot-9 point guard has already impressed assistant coach Donnie Nelson. "He's pretty darn good," Nelson told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "He's a nice backup, and he makes everybody else better."

The Grizzlies' squad will give us our first taste of Troy Bell, Dahntay Jones and Polish center Cezary Trybanski.

Several interesting free agents have cropped up on the rosters of the Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League.

The Cavs are giving Marquette's Robert Jackson, Oklahoma's Hollis Price and Latvia's Kristap Valters a look. Not surprisingly, Smush Parker isn't on the roster. The Cavs are through with him.

The Pistons won't have any of their three draft picks -- Darko Milicic, Carlos Delfino or Andreas Glyniadakis -- on their roster. Contract disputes for Milicic and Glyniadakis and a sore ankle for Delfino will keep them out. Tayshaun Prince will have to shoulder most of the load for Detroit. LSU's Ronald Dupree and Florida's Justin Hamilton lead the undrafted rookies in camp.

The T-Wolves also have an interesting roster that includes veteran Quincy Lewis (who starred in Europe this year), John Wallace, and Cal Bowdler. On the youth side, this year's picks Ndudi Ebi and Rick Rickert, will be joined by Wisconsin's Kirk Penney, and Texas Tech's Kasib Powell.

07-09-2003, 02:32 PM
I don't knowif this has been posted somewhere else. I also didn't want to start a new JO thread

Pacers' O'Neal cancels trips to visit other NBA teams
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana free agent Jermaine O'Neal called off visits to other NBA teams as the Pacers' president said he was prepared to offer the All-Star forward $120 million to sign on for another seven years, according to media reports.

Donnie Walsh, the franchise president, said Tuesday that he's working with O'Neal's agent, Arn Tellem, on a contract that would pay O'Neal almost $120 million over seven years.

"We've started talking about some of the finer points and we're getting close to the end of the process," Walsh told The Indianapolis Star. "All I can say is it looks good. But until the 16th, I don't know if its good. It's not over until you sign the contract."

NBA teams cannot sign free agents or make trades until July 16, according to the collective bargaining agreement.

Meanwhile, O'Neal canceled scheduled trips to Dallas and San Antonio this week, according to the Star and Indianapolis television station WTHR.

At 25, O'Neal appears to be the cornerstone of the Pacers' future. He averaged 19.0 and 20.8 points the last two seasons and represented the United States on its national team.

He has become the Pacers' primary inside threat, and his presence helped Brad Miller develop into a first-time All-Star last season.

Walsh said he also has been in contact with representatives for the Pacers' other two primary free agents, Reggie Miller and Brad Miller.

Reggie Miller, who is in Malibu, Calif., rehabilitating from May 19 knee surgery, is not expected to make any sudden moves. "Reggie hasn't pushed anything," Walsh said. "He wants to go last."

Brad Miller's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said he and Miller were in discussions with at least four teams including Indiana.

"We're talking to a bunch of people -- Miami, San Antonio and Utah, and obviously with the Pacers," said Bartelstein.