There will be no free agency summit.
So says NBA commissioner David Stern, claiming he’s been assured at the “highest level” that there will be no sitdown among LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the other superstars who could hit the market on July 1.
And that was the players’ choice, not an order from him.
“I would expect our players to talk to one another, and we don’t have any problem with that,” Stern said during his annual NBA Finals press conference Thursday in Los Angeles. “If some kind of tampering is implicated, I will have a later and different view, but we’re not expecting that.”
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The idea of the get-together among the free agents grew after Wade said the players would talk to each other at some point, though he never said they would all gather in one place to have an official discussion.
And though some fans wondered if that would constitute tampering, Stern wouldn’t have tried to stop it.
“They can have it,” he said. “I was wondering whether they would get together, eight players and they’ll all look at D-Wade’s ring? They’d be better off watching these finals to see how you construct a team and how you play and the like. There’s not going to be a summit.”
Stern did have to do rule enforcing, confirming that the league had told Lakers coach Phil Jackson to stop rewarding players with $50 for taking charges.
The league has been busy lately handing out fines, penalizing Dallas owner Mark Cuban $100,000 and docking two others lesser amounts for comments about James. Teams aren’t allowed to talk about players under contract with another team until free agency opens July 1.
“You really don’t want to be a complete spoilsport, but you work hard and you say, ‘OK, this crosses the line,’ and you fine somebody,” Stern said. “It’s no fun, and it’s not necessarily a productive use of our time. But our teams who have these players under contract are easily offended, and appropriately offended, when inappropriate statements are made about players already under contract, and that’s what we do.”
Stern said a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires next summer is “No. 1” on his agenda, but he isn’t sure it will get done this summer.
BULLS FANS MAKE PITCH FOR LEBRON
Chicago Bulls fans are taking their sales pitch to James to another level – like 30 feet off the ground.
The group behind the Web site SendLeBrontoChicago.com has paid for a billboard in downtown Chicago pleading with “King James” to leave Cleveland for the Windy City.
It reads “Chicago Wants LeBron” and “Unfinished Business,” with the Chicago skyline in the background and “LeBron” in Bulls red. In one corner are six trophies, one for each championship the Bulls won with Michael Jordan leading the way. A seventh trophy – hint, hint – is in another corner.
James is the top prize in a star-studded free agent bonanza that starts next month and the Bulls have enough salary cap room to offer a maximum contract.
SendLeBrontoChicago.com says on its website it might put up a second billboard in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio.
SOURCE: BROWN LIKELY TO RETURN
Larry Brown has begun preparations for next season in Charlotte and is leaning toward returning for a third season coaching the Bobcats, a person familiar with the situation said.
Brown has been at Time Warner Cable Arena this week and is expected to be on hand today when the Bobcats work out rookie prospects, the person said.
The 69-year-old Brown could address his plans as soon as today.