From Chris Broussard, ESPN.com: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are teaming up together on the Miami Heat, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. ESPN’s Shelley Smith also reported the pending move through independent sources. Whether LeBron James, the kingpin of this summer’s celebrated free-agent class, will join them remains to be seen. James will announce his decision at 9 p.m. ET Thursday during a one-hour special on ESPN. Wade and Bosh are expected to announce their decision on Wednesday afternoon, according to the source, and continue to lobby James, along with Heat president Pat Riley, to join them in Miami, despite the financial complexities involved for the Heat to make room for all three.
From ESPN.com: Kevin Durant says he’s reached a deal on a five-year contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. On his Twitter page Wednesday, Durant said that “God Is Great, me and my family came a long way.” Durant’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, told ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande the deal will be worth about $86 million over five years. The specific amount will be determined when the salary cap numbers are finalized on July 8, when Durant can officially sign the contract. The deal does not contain an opt-out clause after the fourth season, which means Oklahoma City holds Durant’s rights through the 2015-16. The new contract kicks in starting with the 2011-12 campaign.
From Sekou Smith, Hangtime Blog: Every second we wait for a decision from LeBron James is a small victory for Kobe Bryant. Seriously. The longer James waits to make a decision on where he will play the next five or six seasons of his career, the more time we have to admire Bryant and not only what he and the Los Angeles Lakers have accomplished and what might be in store as they chase a championship three-peat next season.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Starting this Friday, you’ll once again get to watch grown men playing basketball with the word Lakers across the front of their jerseys. That’s when the Lakers – or “Lakers” – will begin a five-game summer league sked in Las Vegas. If you’d like a visual metaphor to help you anticipate the experience, imagine receiving a Tiffany’s jewelry box and opening it to find a chunk of cubic zirconium therein. You’re not getting a Tiffany’s rock. Not even close. Because of the packaging, though, your brain might fool itself for a second or two into thinking you’re about to enjoy some lavish gift. (Incidentally, this is totally my plan if I can ever find a girl to propose to and someone to lend me a Tiffany’s box.)
From Brian Kamenentzky, Land O’ Lakers: Halfway through the season, that so many fans would be worried about the state of contract negotiations with Derek Fisher would have seemed odd. He was struggling and at the center of multiple criticisms surrounding the team, from weakness at point guard to a lack of consistent outside shooting. Then the playoffs rolled around, and Fish, as he tends to do, stepped up, highlighted by a monster fourth quarter in Game 3 of the Finals in Boston. Suddenly, the notion of a Fisherless Lakers squad is enough to make people nervous.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: On July 6, 1980, Pau Gasol was born in Barcelona, Spain. Thirty years later, he’s a two-time NBA champion. The Spaniard just completed quite a year, having played a critical role in his first NBA championship a few weeks before turning 29 when L.A. beat Orlando 4-1 in the 2009 Finals, and then offering his best season as a professional and ultimately winning his second straight title with a 4-3 defeat of Boston in the 2010 Finals.
From Ramona Shelbourne, ESPN Los Angeles: Derek Fisher speaks in paragraphs, not sound bites. Like his remarkable career, every answer is filled with an uncommon depth and thoughtfulness. But on this afternoon, I expected him to be talked out. Less than a week had passed since the Lakers had closed out the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to win their second straight title, and Fisher had spent most of that time on a dizzying coast-to-coast run of public appearances. After meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson for an exit interview last Thursday, he flew to Las Vegas for three days of meetings with the NBA Players Association meetings, helping the union draft a new collective bargaining proposal.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The job, believe it or not, will be Steve Blake’s to lose. And Blake is no loser. He certainly has not won Derek Fisher’s five NBA titles, but Blake has similar solidity that makes him the Lakers’ ideal free-agent addition. The reason it’ll be his job to lose is simple: Even assuming that Fisher and the Lakers eventually find that number that results in his re-signing, the club will go into next season expecting Blake to be on the court more at lead guard than Fisher … the very same way Jordan Farmar was expected to be but wasn’t good enough to be. Blake, 30, is good enough, experienced enough and defensively tough enough to be a wizard when Farmar, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic have only been the tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: A season after Ron Artest stormed cross court to get in Kobe Bryant’s face during the 2009 NBA playoffs, Bryant welcomed his arrival in L.A. with open arms. Four seasons after Raja Bell clotheslined him in a Lakers’ playoff game against the Phoenix Suns, Bryant apparently is doing the same thing. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that both the Lakers and Bell share a “strong mutual interest to reach agreement on a deal,” with Bryant being what Wojnarowski described as a “strong advocate” for a deal to happen. For those wondering how Bryant can go from enemy to friend in a heartbeat simply don’t understand that he views adversaries and teammates simply in the context of basketball. It’s fair to say Bryant doesn’t have many friends in the game within his inner circle, although he created bonds with several teammates in the 2008 Olympics.