There is no free agent summit.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire aren’t meeting in some undisclosed location to sit down and plan the future of the NBA.
Wade’s agent Henry Thomas told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that last week, but, for some reason, the news hasn’t spread to most of the media who continue to talk about what was shaping up to the greatest NBA meeting of all time.
Today, we spoke to Thomas, who also counts Bosh as a client, to clear things up again.
“Dwyane never made reference to a summit,” Thomas told me. “He said that he’d have conversations with some of these guys and that still will happen. These guys came into the league at the same time and they’re in similar situations, so it’s unrealistic to think that they won’t talk. But there’s no summit of any kind planned where they’ll all be in the same location.”
Thomas laughs at how big the story has become. A Google search of "free agent summit" pulls up 61,000 hits.
“The way it was first characterized and the way it continues to be characterized – as if the only thing left to determine is a date and a location – is not the reality,” Thomas said.
Happy Walters, the agent for Stoudemire, also called the summit idea out of hand.
"They're all friends and they all talk," Walters said. "But the idea that they're all in this together and they're going to say, 'OK, you go here and I go there,' that's not happening. People just need something good to talk about."
Just as there are tampering rules with owners, there are also tampering rules with players, though that’s harder to regulate if the players aren’t commenting about it in the media.
"We have a rule that prohibits players from tampering with other players,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “With that said, we understand that players talk and interact with each all the time and there's no real way to regulate that. We therefore reserve discipline only for the most egregious player tampering cases."
The other talk has been about the sports agency CAA and the control that they wield in the free agent negotiations. Thomas works for CAA as does Leon Rose, who represents LeBron James.
“To some extent, we do have control because we’re all under the same umbrella,” Thomas said. “We’re going to have really solid information on what’s going on that will clearly benefit our guys. And that’s the goal - to get our players the best deals they can get.”
The great free agent class shaped up the way it did because James, Wade and Bosh didn’t sign max contracts when they could have in 2006.
“The only reason this is happening is that, at least with my guys, we wanted to give them the best flexibility at the very prime of their careers, which is now,” Thomas said. “We also wanted to do it when we knew what the rules were going to be and by that I mean that we’re still under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. And they understood that.”
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