Friday, July 30, 2010

One More Valuable Piece on its Way?

Eddie House's signing with the Miami Heat bring the comparisons to the Boston Celtics full circle. It was when the Celtics traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett that the formula had been substantiated for the summer of 2010 makeover. James Posey, PJ Brown and Eddie House were three former Heat players that jumped at the opportunity to fill in the gaps for what would turn out to be a special team - albeit one that presumably did not have more than a 5 year window.

This is now the second time that Mr. House has chosen winning over dollars. He is exactly the type of guy that the second unit needs to keep the intensity going. Now 32 years in age, House was replaced in his Boston role by the younger, smaller, more explosive Nate Robinson. House is a streaky 3 point shooter with a 39% career mark from downtown. What that means is that when he gets hot, he is lethal. When you combine his firepower along with Mike Miller's and James Jones's long range, you have assembled one of the league's best 3 point shooting teams.

The really exciting thing about this signing, however, is the knowledge that it brings the team to 14 guaranteed contracts, which opens the discussion for who the final piece should be. Even though Kenny Hasbrouck and Shavlik Randolph received unguaranteed deals, I am of the belief that Riley would like to bring in one more piece.

In my opinion, the final piece should be a guard, but even then many options remain. There are two developmental options in Patrick Beverley and Da'Sean Butler. I like Beverley as a defensive stopper, but he could very well use extra seasoning overseas. Butler may very well be kept because he is a first round talent and the team would be risking losing their rights to him if he were to sit out the year rehabbing. That option could be interesting for him, because he could command a lot of attention for a bigger contract if his recovery goes according to plan. However, with a lockout looming it is hard to believe he would take the risk.

In the current free agent market, Miami seems to be down to options like Jerry Stackhouse, Tracy McGrady and Roger Mason. Assuming Miami was down to those three, Mason would be the ideal choice as he could play at either guard position and has the most reliable three point shot of the three.

One other option that remains is a trade for Rudy Fernandez, who seemingly cannot be acquired before December 15th due to his salary not matching with Chalmers, the only player currently eligible to be traded. Not sure how his situation will shake out, but if he is able to force his way down to Miami, he could be a very special player for the Heat.

Eddie House's signing re-enforced the idea that being the 14th or 15th player to sign does not mean you will be the 14th or 15th in the rotation. Will Miami seek one more rotation player?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is LeBron now the Tupac of the Modern NBA?

Here is my last post on ira's board... i say we come back home now that we have the 3 kings. Here is a comedic piece.

Spo’s teachings through 2Pac:

LeBron: Coach, why is everybody so mad at me for coming to Miami?

Spo: WWPS.

LeBron: What is that?

Spo: Whenever I find myself in a tough spot, I think what would Tupac say and I feel better. Check this out. I re-arranged this song thinking about your situation. (Hits play and we hear the beat for “Picture Me Rollin’):

Yeah, clear enough for ya.
Why (people) look mad.
Y’all supposed to be happy i’m free.
Y’all look like you wanted me to stay in (Cleveland)
Old busters.

Picture me rollin’ in my 500 benz.
I still got love for (Mo Williams),
(But he's no superfriends).
They got me under surveillance.
That’s what somebody be tellin’ me.
Known there’s (some lies being told).
But I ain’t the one (tellin’).
Don’t want to be another number.
I (chose Miami Heat) to keep from goin' under.
(Dan Gilbert) wanna see me dead.
(He dropped) the price on my (fathead).
Now I got 2 rottweilers (donning black and red).
(I’ll keep ‘em fed).
Now I’m released.
How will I live?
Will god forgive me for the (TV special that I) did?
To feed kids.
One life to live.
It’s so hard to be positive
When (people) shootin' (out they lip).
Mama, I’m still (ballin’)
(SI got they hate on).
My (fans is burnin’ jerseys)
And most of them dead grown
Full grown, finally a man
Just schemin’ on ways to put some green inside the palms
Of my gifted hands.
Just picture me rollin’.
Flossin a benz on rims that isn’t stolen.
My dreams is (crazy).
(Shaquille cannot come).
(He said he'd win the king a ring but that talk was just dumb).
My nerves is wrecked.
Heart beatin’ and my hands is swollen.
Thinkin' of the (rings) I’ll be holdin'.
Picture me rollin'.
Can you see me now
Move to the side a little bit so you can get a clear picture
Can you see it?
Picture me rollin.
Yeah (playa)
Eh, but picture how my (homie D-Wade) do it.
Guess who’s back?

I got (kids, going for full custody).
Cost a (brotha) 200 g’s.
I’m a street commando.
(Divorced from a psycho).
This lavish lifestyle is hard to handle.
So I got to floss cuz I’m rollin like a boss playa.
Thug branded to be a women layer
So many playa haters, imitators (quotes mis-stated).
Make me (never wanna stop recruiting).
So I caught up (with the gang).
(Split some) change.
(Got UD paid).
(brought Miller to shoot from any) range.
All that jealousy and envy comin’ from my enemies
While I’m sippin' on (my Gatorade)
In front of Lincoln Navigators, (T-Mobile never roams).
(Signature sidekick) sittin on chrome
As we head up (court to face) the zone,
Stone facing is on.
Look and admire but don’t look too long.
I’m livin' a dream with triple (rainbows) and my pockets bulgin'.
It’s hard to imagine.
Picture me rollin.

I gots to get the (homies) in.
(Not remaining idle).
Cuz (my brothas) straight sufferin from lack of havin’ titles.
My (girl) fin to have a bastard, see?
So I need to hit a lick, drastically.
I see some bald head (Barkley getting rich off of my spots)
And (he is even taking a few shots).
(Go head and sing, King).

We caught em sleepin'.
(“Riley warned about the season tickets”)

This how we do it (on the Dream Team)

(Gotta stop the madness)
It’s time to count the profit.
CB1, we got the bomb (squad).
(Brotha), time to (go hard).
(We got the outside, you can hit the low post)
This (championship will be legit, we don’t care who scores most).

Move smooth as a (power forward, that’s me all time).
I’m cool as a (power forward), I’m a get mine.
Now we satisfied.
Got the pockets on swollen.
(D-Wade and this King fella).
Picture us rollin.

Heh, heh, heh.
Y’all ready for me?
Picture me rollin roll call.
You know there’s some (ungrateful bastards) out there
I just could not forget about.
I wanna make sure they can see me.
Number one on my list: Dan Gilbert, Delonte & the “Cavaliers”,
All you bitch asses.
Can you (playaz) see me from there?
Ballin on all y’all punk ass.
Heh, ha ha!
Picture me rollin, baby.
Yeah, all you (experts) up in them (web blogs),
I told y’all (experts, I was about business).
That’s right (experts), picture me rollin
Oh, I forgot…. MJ(his airness)
Yeah, (the greatest) had alot to talk about (playin’ golf).
Can the (Bobcats) see me from (there)?
Can (you guys even make the playoffs)?
Picture me rollin’.
And all you punk (cold states), can you see me?
Am I clear to you?
Picture me rollin’ (top down), legit.
(Wearing flip flops) all day
You can’t stop me.
You know I got my (team of advisers) up in this (Miami business).
(Mav, my moms, and whoever I want get jobs)
Can you picture us rollin?
Can you see me (now)?
Is y’all ready for me .
We up out this (beach).
Any time (Cleveland) wanna see me again,
Rewind this track right here, close your eyes
And picture me rollin.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Official: NBA Dream Team

Yes, Miami Heat fans, that was your LeBron James taking center stage at 9 pm Eastern Time. He stopped being Cleveland's LeBron James seven days ago and today he is yours. Embrace him, because what he did was not easy for him. You could tell as the telecast was starting that what he was about to do was going to take a lot of intestinal fortitude. He had to tell Cleveland that he was off to greener pastures.

Miami had the strongest combination of weather and front office brain power out of all competitors, and as of yesterday, they had the better supporting cast. Game recognize game, as they say. Many were projecting LeBron to land in Chicago for the better supporting cast, but that view must have been from the standpoint of viewing LeBron as an egomaniac who could not coexist with Dwyane Wade. Thankfully, that was not the case and he was smart enough to know that all dynasties were built with multiple Hall of Famers. I was so proud watching the young man defend himself from all of the hateful and disrespectful criticism that he has already received for wanting to play with the best players possible.

The reality of the situation is that Phil Jackson is one title away from his fourth "3-Peat" and only one man could stop him - LeBron James. Thankfully for Heat fans, the only teammates that gave him a real shot to accomplish that were Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. For as much as LeBron says that stopping the Lakers was not important to him, do not believe him. LeBron proved that he cares about winning titles by deciding on the one team that could put him in that conversation next year.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is Free Agency Scripted?

Four years ago LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh signed the same exact contracts as a team. In doing so, they gave themselves the option to actually become a team in 2010 and dominate the league for a decade. It is really a high concept and sounds "Pie in the sky" if you ask Bosh himself.

However, living in the heart of Hollywood for the past five years, I am of the belief that it sounds more like we are in the midst of what is called pre-production in this town. That is the stage in the process where you pitch an idea, which then has to be developed into a script which then needs to be "packaged" in order to create the perfect storm of money that gets a project approved, or "green-lighted".

When you get a green light in Hollywood, it means that you have raised the money required between the studio, investors, and sponsors/advertisers to push the project forward, get everybody paid and promote the heck out of it in order to create a blockbuster success. Blockbuster projects are what pay for the entire industry. Most projects fail to make money, but the big ones push the industry forward year after year.

Now, what is packaging, you say? Packaging is when you gather the best writers, producers, directors and actors in order to stack the odds of success in your favor. This is how power agencies like William Morris and CAA (Creative Artists Agency) have been running Hollywood for ages. They are the kings of packaging. All of the Hollywood "players" come away with a big wads of guaranteed cash whether the project succeeds or fails, because investors and advertisers are always willing to bet on the big names.

Why am I talking about this? Many of you already know that Wade and Bosh share an agent (Henry Thomas) and that they also work with the same agency that has LeBron's agent (Leon Rose). That agency is none other than CAA, which only got into sports business five years ago. The company that represents Spielberg, Clooney, Hanks, Pitt and Springsteen exploded onto the scene with the likes of Manning and Jeter joining their ranks. We have seen how prevalent Manning and Jeter are in the advertising world. However, I was a bit more intrigued by their power move of bringing David Beckham to America in a deal that was paid mostly by Beckham's shoe company Adidas.

You see, the Galaxy and MLS could not afford Beckham's $8 million a year salary, but the league was able to strike an agreement where the league paid $1 million, the club paid $1 million and ADIDAS paid $6 million. How were they able to structure that deal within American rules? ADIDAS bought the jersey ad space on the front of the Galaxy jersey and then sold it to local company Herbalife for a pretty penny once the Beckham deal was closed. Everybody wins. The league grows, Beckham gets paid the wages he was used to and moves to Hollywood where he can pitch products and pursue entertainment opportunities and Herbalife gets on the map by getting to put their logo on David Beckham and his replica jerseys.

That product has not reached expectations up to this point, but Beckham's arrival opened the gates for Cuauhtemoc Blanco to go to Chicago (which was a success) and soon to be arriving in another megadeal, according to rumors, is Reebok's Thierry Henry to the New York Red Bulls. If the formula continues to work, it is possible that Nike could bring Ronaldinho a few years down the road.

All of that tangent was to explain that shoe companies are making these sort of deals left and right in the soccer world and are now doing it in our country. It has been rumored for years that Nike would bring LeBron to a larger market and today we have the three biggest markets in America - Los Angeles, New York and Chicago - making their pitches to King James.

The dark horse in all of this is Pat Riley, who's legacy was built with the "Showtime" Lakers of the 1980s and knows exactly how business is run in that town and has opted to create a package that not only pairs up two stars, but instead three. Three is definitely better than two, you can take that to the bank. Also Riley has been seen with a mega star that has a huge fan base in Allen Iverson recently... Bosh, James, Wade and Allen Iverson were 4 of the 5 starters for last year's Eastern Conference All-Star squad.

Coincidentally, have you noticed who else besides the Big Three is being represented by CAA? None other than Allen Iverson. Oh, and wait just a moment. There are two other major names at the top of their client list - Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker, the two biggest names in next year's free agent class, who also happen to be on the trading market, threatening to leave teams that have a hard time recruiting top end talent in free agency. There is a reason why Pat Riley was in Los Angeles for the first day of free agency. It is where basketball's future will be decided.

Call me crazy, but sports and entertainment are coming together and a LeBron, Wade and Bosh dynasty could be the first domino to fall. The fact that Riley, and other markets are offering these players package deals for less than the max suggests that the owners know a thing or two about how much money CAA can find for these players if they create something special on the court. While the free agent window has just opened, CAA has had plenty of time to pitch scenarios to advertisers. Agreements could already be signed that are conditional on players landing in various cities with specific teammates. Those deals could have built in clauses based on championships as well. Whatever the case, let's hope for the Hollywood ending to come to fruition, because Pat Riley has delivered the strongest package... one that already has "the Godfather" Pat Riley in place.

Possible Entertainment Revenue Sources:

I almost expect a reality show following Bosh, Wade and James to surface next year following their free agency plans. Basketball Wives and Shaq Versus were both successes. TO and Chad Ocho Cinco are reality stars now too. How far could the trio take it? Would they force each organization to make their pitch to the stars on camera?

If LeBron, Wade and Bosh filmed that footage, they could even make millions by turning this into a movie, in the mould of Michael Jackson's "This Is It". I don't know if this is in the works, but it would be a project that would easily be green lighted.

On the note of sports and "movie theaters", the latest experiment is the showing of 3D sporting events. I will be attending either the World Cup semi-final or final in a movie theater with 3D glasses on. You can laugh at me all you want, but ABC/Disney/ESPN have the rights to the World Cup and to the NBA for the foreseeable future and if they can come up with a way to sell out movie theaters around the country for basketball games, they will. Football games cannot be too far behind in some sort of megadeal with movie theaters and TV stations if this catches on. People are already spending lots of money going to sports bars in order to get together and share the game with friends, so if you can sell tickets to these events and have a vendor going up and down the aisles, you could have a major phenomenon on your hands.

Stay tuned, we are heading into a new era of sports entertainment and revenues streams are going to be maximized to unprecedented heights by this group of athletes thanks to their joining into the CAA fraternity.