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PUTTING PEN TO PAPER
Posted by By John Schuhmann on July 14, 2006 at 11:30 a.m. ET

NEW THREADS FOR BIG BEN

It's going to take a while to get used to. Ben Wallace was such a huge part of what the Pistons have done in the past several years. They have been a fixture in the race for the Eastern Conference championship and he has been a fixture on their front line.

Yesterday, Wallace officially became a member of the Chicago Bulls, changing the complexion of the Central Division and the Eastern Conference.
-- [Bulls.com]

It has probably been the biggest surprise of the offseason. Not many people, including Wallace himself, thought Big Ben would leave Detroit.
-- [Chicago Sun-Times]

Before we continue, NBA exectutives and coaches (heck, anyone in sales for that matter) should take a hint from the article linked above: Presentation means everything, even if that presentation is done wearing jeans.
-- [Arlington Heights Daily Herald]

Of course, it does help to be willing to pay more than the other guy.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

So everyone in Chicago is feeling pretty good about the Bulls chances next season ... just as long as Wallace isn't at the line with the game in the balance.
-- [Chicago Sun-Times]

Free throws aside, Wallace will show you what he's all about, rather than talking about it much.
-- [Bulls.com]

(THREE OR) FOUR MORE YEARS

Finals MVP Dwyane Wade also signed on the dotted line yesterday, agreeing to a contract extension with the Heat, reportedly for three years with a fourth at his option. Wade didn't bother checking with Pat Riley about whether or not he would still be his coach because he knows that Riles will be around in one capacity or another.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Alonzo Mourning ... Well, that's another question.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

But defenders beware: Wade plans on expanding his game next season.
-- [Miami Herald]

TIP-INS

Paul Pierce and the Celtics are just waiting on the league.
-- [Boston Herald]

Still no progress with Drew Gooden and the Cavs.
-- [Akron Beacon Journal]

Maybe not getting Mike James wasn't such a bad thing for the Mavs. Of course, you would hear no such thing from the man himself.
-- [Dallas Morning News, St. Paul Pioneer Press]

Back in the NBA, Anthony Parker will have a different set of concerns this season.
-- [Toronto Sun]

The Stache is no joke.
-- [Indianapolis Star]


FOLLOWING SUIT
Posted by By Brad Friedman on July 13, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. ET

LBJ A TREND-SETTER LIKE MJ

Remember how when Michael Jordan was in the league, even the league's brightest stars wanted to be like Mike? Jordan's affinity for sharp suits spurred a culture among players where leaving the locker room meant looking like you were headed to the red carpet -- it was the unofficial version of today's NBA Dress Code.
-- [NBA.com]

LeBron James doesn't yet have quite the influence Jordan had over his peers, but 'Bron does appear to have the ability to spark a trend. On Wednesday, the Cavs swingman took an atypical route for a superstar by agreeing to a less than max-length contract -- four years with an option for a fifth.
-- [Cavaliers.com]

Now it looks like Finals MVP Dwyane Wade and Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh won't be signing max-length extensions as well.

Wade reportedly inked a three-year contract extension with a player option for a fourth year in agreeing to an extension with the Heat.
-- [Miami Herald]

Bosh, originally anticipated to take a max contract with the Raptors, reportedly will also sign a three-year deal with a fourth-year player option.
-- [Toronto Sun]

Of the four studs in 2003 Draft Class, only Carmelo Anthony opted for the long term security in agreeing to his extension with Denver. Although he considered a shorter extension, his family thought passing up a max deal was 'crazy.'
-- [Rocky Mountain News]

PEJA TO HORNETS OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL

As expected, Indiana Pacers free agent Peja Stojakovic will join the Hornets. The only surprise was how he'll get there. General manager Jeff Bower said a sign-and-trade deal "was better for both sides." The Hornets will send the draft rights to 1998 second round pick Andrew Betts to Indiana for Peja and cash in return.
-- [The Oklahoman]

While some say the Hornets are betting the farm on the Serbian sharpshooter, the franchise doesn't believe they overpaid to get him.
-- [The Oklahoman]

NOW WILL THE RUMORS STOP?

The most traded man on the planet never to be traded, Paul Pierce, is reportedly set to sign a three-year extension with the Celtics that will put him under contract through the end of the 2010-11 season.
-- [Boston Herald]

Danny Ainge says the sides are "just ironing out some of the final details," according to the Boston Herald, and an official announcement is expected soon.

ALL THAT JAZZ

Jazz swingman Matt Harpring has officially agreed to a four-year deal to remain with the Jazz. A trade with Golden State that brings in point guard Derek Fisher to tutor second-year guard Deron Williams also became official Wednesday.
-- [Deseret Morning News]

Meanwhile, the Jazz could have a press conference as early as today to announce the re-signing of center Jarron Collins.
-- [Salt Lake Tribune]

NO LONGER IN LIMBO

Indiana or Golden State -- where does Al Harrington's future lie? A court ruling Tuesday cleared the way for the Hawks to move him in a sign-and-trade deal in the midst of the ongoing legal feud between Hawks' owners.
-- [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

OTHER DEALS GOING DOWN

The Clippers have re-signed Sam I Am.
-- [Clippers.com]

Restricted Knicks free agent center Jackie Butler has agreed to a three-year offer sheet with the Spurs, and it's unlikely the Knicks will match.
-- [NY Post]

Dallas appears to be headed to a three-year deal with Greg Buckner.
-- [Rocky Mountain News]

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo thinks he's getting "one of the top free agent guards" available in adding Maccabi Tel Aviv's Anthony Parker, an American and former NBA first-rounder who has spent much of his career overseas.
-- [Toronto Sun]

T-MINUS 12 HOURS
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on July 11, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. ET

PLAYER MOVEMENT SET TO BEGIN

Twelve hours to go until all those rumored contracts can become official.

Bulls fans, are you excited? Or maybe I should pose to fans of the other Central Division teams, are you nervous? If Ben Wallace puts pen to paper on that Bulls offer, the division just got that much more difficult.

Pistons youngster Jason Maxiell was saddened by the news of Wallace's departure, but that all changed with a phone call and the thought of increased playing time.
-- [Detroit News]

Speaking of gauging moods, what's the temperature of Cleveland fans today? A little better than last week, I imagine. Even if LeBron doesn't go for the max deal, as has been reported, he's still not walking away after this season. But why wouldn't he sign the max? Brian Windhorst has a few ideas.
-- [ESPN.com, Akron Beacon Journal]

So does Branson Wright.
-- [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

The move isn't unprecedented, says ESPN Insider John Hollinger.
-- [ESPN.com]

So, could LeBron's contract situation have 'Melo doing a double-take, given that he hasn't "officially" agreed to an extension of his own?
-- [ESPN.com]

While those two weigh dollars and years with their current squads, another James is weighing offers floated his way by a number of suitors.
-- [Pioneer Press]

But, all of that could take a while to hash out, so what are some of the moves we can expect to see start rolling in when players can officially sign new deals tomorrow?

Well, let's start with the plethora of Hornets possibilities. The team has been, perhaps, the biggest player in offseason activity this summer.

First there's the trade of P.J. Brown for Tyson Chandler. The deal includes J.R. Smith, too.
-- [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Then the team could re-sign Rasual Butler. The team has reportedly already gotten the verbal commitment from Peja Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson.
-- [New Orleans Times-Picayune, New York Daily News]

All told, the Hornets' moves could position them in the Playoff picture nine short months from now.

We don't have to wait nine months, or even until tomorrow, to learn the fate of Orien Greene, who was cut by the Celtics last Friday. The guard-heavy Pacers claimed the guard on Sunday, and a trade could make room for him on their team for next season. That, though, could take time to sort out.
-- [USA Today]

Also not likely to happen any time soon is us learning the future of Alonzo Mourning. After winning a ring with the Heat, he could ride off into the sunset as NBA Champion.
-- [Miami Herald]

And it's hard to say whether A.I. will really be on the move or if he'll still be a Sixer when training camps open this fall.
-- [Philadelphia Daily News]

But, now, we turn our attention to the actual deals going down. Or that will be in a matter of hours.

LeBRON STAYS HOME
Posted by By John Schuhmann on July 10, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. ET

BUT FOR HOW LONG?

Cleveland fans worried. Nets and Knicks fans dreamed. Writers told us why he might leave. Why didn't he agree right away? What was taking so long?
-- [ESPN Page 2]

Well, everyone can now relax. On Saturday, LeBron James said he will sign a contract extension with the Cavs.
-- [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

To some, all the talk about whether King James would stay or go was much ado about nothing. After all, LeBron wants to out-do his buddy Dwyane Wade by being the first to bring a title to Cleveland since 1964 (Browns).
-- [Cleveland Plain Dealer, ESPN.com]

And hey, he likes it in Cleveland!
-- [Akron Beacon Journal]

But for that championship to come, LeBron needs a better supporting cast.
-- [Washington Times]

Now, one report says that the extension is for only four years and not the originially reported five. But that report seems to have some flaws, quite frankly.
-- [ESPN.com, Akron Beacon Journal]

TIP-INS

There are only two more days before free agents can officially sign, but there are still some questions to be answered and bags to be packed ...

The Warriors are looking to get in the Al Harrington sweepstakes.
-- [San Francisco Chronicle]

Alonzo Mourning is also being pursued by several teams, but if he doesn't retire, he isn't likely to leave Miami.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Another player looking less likely to move is Chris Wilcox.
-- [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

With Toronto trading for T.J. Ford, Mike James is almost definitely playing somewhere else this season. He will meet with Avery Johnson today in Las Vegas.
-- [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Kenyon Martin has met with his current coach, but isn't saying whether or not they've patched things up.
-- [Rocky Mountain News]

Meanwhile, Stephon Marbury is not afraid to say how happy he is with his new coach.
-- [New York Daily News]

A strange sight for many.
(Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Knicks guard Stephon Marbury on how he feels about his new coach, Isiah Thomas:

"They couldn't surgically take the smile off my face."
-- [New York Post]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
July 7 -- Fly Without Wings?
June 27 -- Feeling A Draft
May 9 -- A Tale of Two Styles
May 5 -- The Wait Continues
April 28 -- One for the Little Guy
April 19 -- Still Mostly Cloudy
April 14 -- You Can Do Magic
April 6 -- Work to be Done
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive