Conspicuously absent from LeBron James‘ free agency is LeBron James. The four-time MVP has let his childhood pal-turned agent, Rich Paul, handle all of his interaction with teams, and — at Paul’s urging — this summer’s topsy-turvy July moratorium has led the poor Cavs to start shedding salary in anticipation of signing LeBron to a maximum contract, reports Yahoo! Sports.
Here’s Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski with the latest hubbub about LeBron James and his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers — desperate to make a play for their former King:
At the urging of LeBron James’ agent, the Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a maximum contract salary slot to bring back the free-agent superstar, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Rich Paul, the president of Klutch Sports, has been funneling belief into the organization that the Cavaliers are in strong position to lure James from the Miami Heat, sources told Yahoo Sports.
For years, Paul has confided to people that bringing back James to Cleveland has been something of a mission for him, and he’s encouraging Cavaliers officials to offer no restraint in the recruitment of James, sources said.
This becomes dreadful if LeBron decides to again pass on Cleveland. As Wojnarowski notes, if Paul continues to feed Cleveland’s hope LeBron’s mulling a return to Ohio, but eventually decides to re-sign with the Heat, or sign with the Suns, Bulls, Lakers, Rockets [ad infinitum], it’ll once again turn James into a villain.
Then again, Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst at ESPN also report James is inching towards a return to Cleveland:
There has yet to be a firm indication that James actually is ready to leave Miami after four years and two championships with the Heat, but sources told ESPN.com that the four-time MVP is increasingly considering the Cavaliers as an option as he moves into the final stages of deciding which team to sign his next contract with.
So far, Heat president Pat Riley has been unable to make a big name free agent splash since the calendar flipped to July, but LeBron isn’t helping him recruit, like he might have done before:
A league source tied to Miami’s recruiting efforts tells Yahoo, “LeBron is the ultimate recruiter, but he hasn’t been any part of this process. The first question they all ask is the same: ‘Do I get to hear from LeBron? What’s he going to do?’ “
Nobody knows — not even Miami! So LeBron and agent Rich Paul continue to hold the league hostage. Everything is coming down where LeBron and Carmelo Anthony decide to sign, with more than half the league’s available free agents stuck in limbo until then.
The Cavs are currently trying to shed backup point guard Jarrett Jack and his $6.3 million next season to allow for the max contract LeBron wants. They purportedly have a deal with Brooklyn in place if they can find a third team to take Marcus Thornton‘s expiring $8.7 million.
In pursuit of max slot for LeBron James, Cavs searching for team to take Nets' Marcus Thornton in deal to unload Jarrett Jack, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Heat president Pat Riley will reportedly meet with James this week to discuss their situation, and it could prove to be include a simple declarative, “I’m in,” or “I’m out,” on LeBron’s part with only James and his agent knowing which way he’s really leaning.
If these reports are accurate, and ESPN and Woj usually are — Cleveland fans should start to get excited. Then again, we’d caution Ohioans to temper any of that excitement with memories of the summer of 2010…
Does LeBron go back to Cleveland? If not, will he be reviled again?
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