Update from Friday, July 11
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
Earlier Updates from Friday, July 11
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports notes that James' teammates aren't sure which way he's leaning:
Dwyane Wade left cross-country flight with LeBron James to Miami still unsure of which way James is leaning, sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has more regarding the letter, noting that many around the league are wondering how it will impact James' decision:
Across the league, team officials wondering if the idea that LBJ is suddenly hung up on @CavsDan letter is softening ground for Miami return— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 11, 2014
Sam Amico of Fox Sports reports the Cavaliers were unaware of any potential issue with the letter:
Told reports of Dan Gilbert's old letter to LeBron has never been relayed to Cavs as possible sticking point. So reports are news to them.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 11, 2014
ESPN's Chris Broussard provides more insight on James' thought process:
One reason, if not the major reason, that LeBron James has taken so long to decide whether to play in Miami or Cleveland next season is the infamous letter Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert penned about James after the superstar left Cleveland in 2010, sources said.
In the letter, written in Comic Sans font, Gilbert called James a "coward" and mocked the many nicknames and catchphrases attached to James, such as "King James," "The Chosen One" and "Witness." ...
... While league executives wait for James to make his announcement, many refuse to believe he'll return to Cleveland to play for Gilbert. Some even believe it would be hypocritical after how powerfully James spoke out against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after racist comments by Sterling were made public in May.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the latest on James' potential decision:
Hours after the Cleveland Cavaliers believed they were on the cusp of a commitment out of LeBron James, the superstar free agent jetted 30,000 feet over America with Dwyane Wade on his way back to Miami. ...
... Calls were going to agents, searching for the kind of experienced, winning players who would make sense in a supporting cast for James, league sources said. Some agents postponed potential deals elsewhere, believing Cleveland's exuberance to be an assurance James was on his way back.
In the late morning, the Cavaliers operated with a belief James would soon commit to them, that it was only a matter of time. They had word out of everyone, except as one high-ranking source said, "It still hasn't been confirmed by the only man whose confirmation counts."
Riley hasn't been bombarding James with text messages and calls, but ultimately left Wade as a most intriguing, last-gasp suitor in the desert. As much as anything, Wade's bad knees could be chasing him out of Miami, and suddenly he had been cast back into the recruiter's role.
Four years later the city of Cleveland and its front office took a deep breath and waited on James again. For weeks, James' inner-circle had predicted he'd release his free-agent choice and board quickly for a flight to Brazil for the World Cup final, sources said. James would leave the outrage and adulation behind, leave it for someone else to clean up.
Updates from Thursday, July 10
Broussard reports the latest on James' plans:
LeBron is currently on a flight back to Miami. Then he's off to Brazil.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 11, 2014
Wojnarowski adds more detail about the flight James is on:
Dwyane Wade expected to be on a flight back to Miami with LeBron James tonight, league sources told Yahoo. They had been together in Vegas.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
James has plans to fly to World Cup over the weekend. Heat and Cavs expect his decision before he leaves for Brazil, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN provides an update on James' plans for Thursday:
Word from LeBron camp: He has no plans to travel to Ohio tonight.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 10, 2014
ESPN's Jeff Goodman reveals an intriguing photo of Dwyane Wade accompanying James at his camp in Las Vegas:
D-Wade is now here at LeBron's Skills Academy camp -- for whatever thats worth. pic.twitter.com/PfssvqRyKD— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 10, 2014
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported on Miami's potential knowledge of LeBron James' decision:
Miami Heat officials have not been told anything about LeBron's decision, per sources. They have no timetable for that either.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 10, 2014
Sam Amick of USA Today also reported on rumors that James was expected to make an announcement on his next destination:
LeBron James won't be making an announcement in three minutes, or the next hour, for that matter, I'm told.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 10, 2014
The Cavaliers have not been informed of LeBron James' decision and know nothing of a possible afternoon announcement, I'm told.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 10, 2014
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported on the security outside LeBron James' home and when we may be able to expect an announcement:
To be more precise, no less than five police officers at LeBron James home. They were told to expect a 3:30 ET announcement.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 10, 2014
Was told LeBron was very clear with Pat Riley in whatever he has decided. Did not seem to be struggling.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 10, 2014
Cavs source offers no hints, if even aware, LeBron decision indeed coming soon: "We're doing what we need to do. Our future is very bright."— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 10, 2014
Mary Kilpatrick of Cleveland.com shared an image from outside James' house:
Goodman reported that James is still in Las Vegas:
First LeBron sighting of the day here in Vegas. Just walked in, we will see if he plays against college kids at his camp.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 10, 2014
Earlier, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reported on James' travel plans:
LeBron James has cancelled plans to return to Akron, per ABJ sources. Now flying directly from Las Vegas to Brazil.— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) July 10, 2014
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Chris Broussard added that James is expected to attend the World Cup in Brazil this weekend:
James and his agent Rich Paul are done meeting with teams, according to sources close to the situation. James now will talk with his family and make his choice.
There is no timetable for James' decision, but with him reportedly planning to attend the World Cup this weekend in Brazil, a decision before then seems likely.
Updates from Wednesday, July 9
Wojnarowski reports on the latest with the meeting between LeBron James and the Heat:
LeBron James left the meeting without committing to a deal with the Heat, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
LeBron's next move is to speak with some familiar faces, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
After a meeting that lasted nearly hour with Heat president Pat Riley, a source said that LeBron James now wants to talk to his family.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 9, 2014
LeBron will take his time making a decision, per Broussard:
Source: LeBron James will not make/announce his decision tonight— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2014
Source: After meeting with Pat Riley today, LeBron James & Rich Paul will not meet with any more teams. LJ will talk w/family & make choice.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 10, 2014
Windhorst reports on LeBron's contact with the Cavs:
LeBron James does not have a meeting set with Cavs at this time, sources say.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 9, 2014
Contradicting those reports, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reports that James has indeed made a decision:
Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick reports on what he currently has been told regarding a decision:
Can confirm only that the LeBron/Riley meeting is over, and there is no announcement of any kind pending.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 9, 2014
Amico previously reported on how LeBron James is expected to announce his decision in free agency:
LeBron expected to announce free-agent choice on http://t.co/IZdJH1909N. I'd start refreshing at time of his meeting w Heat (6 pm EST).— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 9, 2014
James also posted a picture with his former high school teammates on his Instagram account Wednesday with the following caption:
Wojnarowski reported on James' potential plans if he were to leave Miami:
LeBron James reached out to two vet free agents last week about joining him, IF he left Miami, sources tell Yahoo. Mike Miller was one.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
Skolnick also reported on James' potential line of thinking about Miami's offseason:
I spoke to a player who is close to LeBron... He laughed at the notion that Heat's recent moves would impress LeBron.... (1/2)— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 9, 2014
... (2/2) That player's belief is Miami would have been better off holding cap space to sell LeBron on prospect of something bigger.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 9, 2014
Broussard reported on who was attending the Heat's meeting with James:
Sources: Today's meeting will consist of Pat Riley, LeBron James and Rich Paul, James's agent. No one else.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2014
Broussard previously reported other big names were expected to meet with James on Wednesday:
In addition to Pat Riley, it is believed Miami's Erik Spoelstra, Mickey Arison and Dwyane Wade will attend today's meeting with LeBron James— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2014
Wojnarowski had more on the people in Miami's meeting with James and the organization's approach:
Miami isn't treating today like some kind of Armageddon w/ James, just normal planning meeting to show financial way team's back together.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
LeBron James and agent meeting w/ Heat will include Pat Riley and assistant GM Andy Ellsburg, the salary cap expert, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
Windhorst provides details on how the Cleveland Cavaliers' three-team trade made on Wednesday could impact James:
3-team trade involving Cavs, Celtics & Nets could allow Cavs to open about $24M in cap space. LeBron max is $20.7M— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 9, 2014
Ken Berger of CBS Sports has more info on Cleveland's intentions:
League source says Cavs' cap-clearing trade today is not LeBron-or-bust. Cavs have space and attractive situation even if LeBron says no.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 9, 2014
Wojnarowski revealed Cleveland's backup plan, should they strike out on James:
If the Cavs can't get James, their backup plan remains making a run at signing free-agent forward, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix details Miami's plan to retain James:
Heat officials are going into today's pow wow with LBJ with no real feel for how James will react to offseason moves. Nervous anticipation.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 9, 2014
Miami continuing to hope that James's faith in Pat Riley and his respect for Erik Spoelstra will be a major factor in his decision.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 9, 2014
Windhorst noted how the Heat find themselves in unexpected territory this summer:
In a time of reckless speculation this is unequivocal: Heat didn't expect to need 2010-style recruiting meeting with LeBron this summer— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 9, 2014
Sheridan joined Bleacher Report's Howard Beck to discuss the chances that James returns to the Cavaliers this summer:
Updates from Tuesday, July 8
Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops reports there may be a front-runner in the LeBron James sweepstakes:
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on James' meeting with Pat Riley, though Broussard says the meeting will take place tomorrow:
Sun Sentinel confirms LeBron meeting with Riley is today in Las Vegas.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 8, 2014
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reported on talks between James and Wade:
LeBron James & Dwyane Wade had dinner at LAVO in Vegas late last night with some friends before going to Marquee Night Club, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 8, 2014
Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press had more on James' day and meetings:
Filed to AP: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade worked out in Vegas today, before James took meetings in an upscale hotel.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 8, 2014
Can also tell you I currently see basically the entire LeBron brain trust here. Have not seen LeBron OR any member of Heat organization.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 8, 2014
LeBron emerged from meeting at 1:42 p.m. local time, telling AP "no complaints. I have no complaints." And that was that.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 8, 2014
This much is clear: Riley is confident James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will return, according to people who have had phone conversations with Riley in the last week. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the conversations.
Of course, Riley's confidence doesn't guarantee anything. But right now, he isn't scrambling.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports notes that Kyrie Irving has joined the Cleveland Cavaliers' crusade to land LeBron James:
Kyrie Irving has made recruiting pitch to LeBron James, sources say. ESPN reports Kyrie as saying Cavs will get LeBron all the help he needs— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 7, 2014
Amico also reported on James' thought process as he weighs his options:
Cavs have had back and forth with LeBron's camp, more than what's been reported, I'm told. But source says he thinks LBJ leaning toward Heat— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 8, 2014
There had been reports Nike had purchased billboards in Cleveland for a potential announcement, but ESPN's Marc Stein shot those down:
Been strongly advised by source close to situation to dismiss Twitter suggestions that Nike bought billboards in CLE for LeBron announcement— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Updates from Monday, July 7
James will be meeting with the Miami Heat soon, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard (via Marc Stein):
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the Heat's most recent additions and how it impacts the chances of LeBron's return:
No guarantees made, but Danny Granger/Josh McRoberts committed to Heat w/ strong belief LeBron James will be a teammate, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Earlier, Wojnarowski noted the Heat's perception of retaining James' services:
Within Heat, still confidence they'll keep LeBron James. They know difference between his agent's agenda, and James' strong mind of his own.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Brian Windhorst of ESPN previously reported on a fascinating twist in the Cavaliers' pursuit of James:
For 4 years, Dan Gilbert's letter after LeBron's decision has been on team website. It appears it was removed today: http://t.co/O256mqVtNs— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 7, 2014
Wojnarowski earlier detailed how James' agent, Rich Paul, has given the Cavaliers hope of landing the superstar:
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.
Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported the Cavaliers feel they have a real shot to land James this summer:
After more than two years of planning, the Cleveland Cavaliers believe they have LeBron James legitimately listening to their pitch to leave the Miami Heat and return to his home state in free agency, according to sources close to the process.
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.
Updates from Sunday, July 6
James plans on meeting with the Heat this week, according to USA Today's Sam Amick:
LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul, plan on meeting with Miami Heat president Pat Riley in person early this week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.
James is a free agent, and the revelation that he will be sitting down with Riley soon is surely comforting to Heat fans who have every reason to wonder if he may be heading elsewhere soon.
Broussard made a case why a new team is currently his favorite to land James:
Cleveland has replaced Miami as my frontrunner to land LeBron James...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
I'm not saying LJ to Cavs is done deal or I know 4 a fact; just my gut feeling based on many conversations I've had around this story...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
These convos aren't sourced enough 4 me to report as fact. But I've heard enough to believe "the wind is blowing" LJ back home. We'll see...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
The Cavs are looking to create cap space in order to secure James, according to Wojnarowski:
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
Cavaliers want to unload Jarrett Jack's $6M annual deal to clear space, without touching Anderson Varejao -- a LeBron James favorite.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was on a flight to south Florida on a plane owned by Dan Gilbert multiple sources tell 92.3 The Fan’s Anthony Lima.
Ilgauskas is extremely close with LeBron James and it is possible that he could be part of the team’s pitch to convince the 4-time NBA MVP to return to Cleveland after he opted out of his contract in Miami after four years.
Amico reports on how LeBron's agent Rich Paul feels about the Cavs' current outlook:
I'm told, by multiple sources now, LeBron agent Rich Paul told Cavs he's impressed w what they've done and what they can still do to roster.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 7, 2014
Wojnarowski reports on how James is impacting the thinking of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade:
Around Bosh/Wade, there's uneasiness about James' intent; uncertainty. No one's sure -- yet. Heat aren't done, but empire's teetering.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Updates from Saturday, July 5
Stein has some surprising news regarding James:
We're gotten to the point in free agency where some teams in pursuit think LeBron is more likely to leave than Melo. Stunning turn of events— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 5, 2014
Updates from Friday, July 4
TNT's David Aldridge confirms James' agent met with the Lakers on Friday:
Lakers did have their meeting in Cleveland today with LeBron James's agent, Rich Paul, per source familiar with the discussions.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2014
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the latest on James:
The Heat fully expects James will re-sign.
One associate of James told me that he still makes the Heat the clear favorite to keep James but also that the four-time MVP is "weighing all his options" and "wants to see how things play out" with the Heat's roster, which he wants upgraded. As has been reported, James wants the maximum money allowed, and the Heat is fine with that.
But that associate also said it's very difficult to envision him signing with Phoenix or Houston. (Dallas did not come up in the conversation with the associate.)
The associate reiterated that the idea of playing again in Cleveland again at some point appeals to James and said the Cavaliers cannot be ruled out this summer.
Updates from Thursday, July 3
Broussard reports an intriguing development in the James saga:
@ramonashelburne reports that Mitch Kupchak flying to CLE to meet with LeBron's agent Rich Paul— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 4, 2014
Wojnarowski has information from the Rockets' front:
Some executives believe there's an opportunity because of a disconnect between James and his teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Another executive attending the meeting flatly said, "I think it's a smokescreen."
"There's clearly a breakdown in communication between LeBron and [Wade and Bosh]," one executive who participated in the meetings over the past two days told Yahoo Sports. "[James is] giving Riley time to go get players for them but if that doesn't happen in the next few days … LeBron seems ready to explore the market."
Stein noted that four teams have met with James' agent Rich Paul:
ESPN sources say reps from Cavs, Suns, Rockets and Mavs have all met with agent Rich Paul in Cleveland while LeBron has been on vacation— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 4, 2014
Wojnarowski has more:
Three finalists could return to Cleveland early next week to make presentations w/ agent and LeBron James present, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2014
A Western Conference team flew to Cleveland with two special potential offers for James' agent, according to Broussard:
Sources: Suns owner Robert Sarver was n Cleveland yesterday & met with LeBron's agent, Rich Paul. Teaming LJ/Melo or LJ/Bosh n Phx discussed— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 4, 2014
Amico has the latest on James' free-agency situation:
James has not visited with any suitors, and sources said interested parties have been unable to connect with him directly. Instead, James is havingCleveland-based agent Rich Paul conduct behind-the-scenes talks based on James' preferences.
The source told FOX Sports Ohio that James is not likely to go through the meet-and-greet scenarios of 2010, when he entered free agency as a member of the Cavs. Instead, the source said when James does reach a decision, he will make it known in a manner "that is likely to be bam, this is where I'm going."
Updates from Wednesday, July 2
Broussard has this on James' recent interaction with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh:
When the Miami Heat's "Big 3" went their separate ways after a lunch meeting last Wednesday, they went not knowing whether they had played their last game together, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
While Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were committed to returning to the Heat, LeBron James was unsure of what he would do, the sources said.
The only certainty coming out of the meeting concerning James was that he wanted a maximum-level salary.
James did not ask or suggest that Wade and Bosh opt out of their deals or take lesser salaries to allow the Heat to add other top players, according to the sources.
Updates from Tuesday, July 1
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that it's been a quiet day on the LeBron free-agency front:
24 hours into free agency, LeBron James has been quiet. Teams hoping to engage have been mostly unable. No doors closed but teams moving on— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 2, 2014
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe provided an update earlier in the day on teams that are expected to meet with James' agent, Rich Paul:
Teams interested in LeBron James will meet w agent Rich Paul this week in Cleveland, according to NBA source. James will not attend meetings— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) July 1, 2014
A Western Conference team placed an early call to Paul, according to ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne:
The Lakers also placed a call tonight to Rich Paul, the agent for LeBron James— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2014
Joel Embiid also took the time to reach out to James and ask him to come to Philadelphia:
@KingJames hey bro hope you're having a good day...... Want to join us in philly?? Peace— Joel-Hans Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) July 1, 2014
Updates from Monday, June 30
The latest report by Wojnarowski suggests James won't be making a decision right away once free agency begins at midnight tonight:
As free agency starts, James/Bosh/Wade plan to give Pat Riley a window to enact his plan on upgrading supporting cast, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
Updates from Sunday, June 29
Wojnarowski reported another franchise is looking to land James in free agency:
Armed with an offer that no else in the NBA can make – a chance to partner with Carmelo Anthony on an instant championship contender – the Phoenix Suns are planning an aggressive pursuit of LeBron James on Tuesday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Phoenix is determined to emerge as a legitimate destination for James and Anthony, who have privately shared an affinity for playing with each other in the NBA. Salary-cap structures make it prohibitive for teams elsewhere to fit these two stars together without completely gutting a roster, but Phoenix's general manager Ryan McDonough has constructed a far different reality to sell them in potential meetings next week, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne previously reported James has already been discussing free-agency plans:
After agreeing to all opt out of their contracts together, Miami Heat stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have been discussing financial terms of new contracts among each other, sources told ESPN.com.
The talks between the three players is the strongest indication yet that James plans to re-sign with the Heat after he becomes a free agent on Tuesday. Unlike in 2010 when all three took nearly identical contracts, the discussions this time have included the possibility that James would draw the highest salary among the three, sources said.
James, 29, has never been the single highest-paid player on his team in his 11-year NBA career.
Under league rules, players are not allowed to negotiate new contracts with their teams until July 1. However, there is nothing preventing the players from working it out among themselves, and cutting up the Heat's upcoming record $55 million in available cap space is believed to have been a major part of the discussion when Wade, James and Bosh held a meeting last week in Miami.
Updates from Friday, June 27
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have reportedly opted out of their current deals, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press:
Dwyane Wade has opted out.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 28, 2014
AP can now confirm Bosh opted out as well.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 28, 2014
Wojnarowski provides details on how LeBron's deal with Miami could play out:
While Bosh, Wade and Haslem could ultimately take less money with the early termination outs in their deals, James, the NBA's four-time MVP, is seeking a full maximum contract extension – or something close to it – to stay with Miami, sources told Yahoo Sports.
James' priority remains to find a way to make a future work with Miami, but a failure by the organization toward improving the Heat's roster to his satisfaction could send him aggressively into free agency, sources said.
Windhorst indicates James' other suitors are on standby:
Teams hoping to schedule free agent meetings with LeBron James next week have not been able to as yet, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 28, 2014
Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick weighs in on the possibility of James returning to the Heat:
Updates from Wednesday, June 25
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports a new team is throwing its hat in the ring for LeBron:
Denver reportedly will try to clear cap space for LeBron James. It's safe to say they won't for Carmelo Anthony.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) June 25, 2014
Amico reports on the current state of the Cavaliers' hopes of landing James this summer:
For the record (well, off the record) told Cavs not expecting LeBron return in 2014. David Blatt told Israeli radio basically the same.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 25, 2014
Broussard added more on James' free agency and his potential destinations, including the likelihood of a move to Los Angeles to play for the Clippers (Insider Only):
As mentioned above, I'm told the Clippers are not among James' most preferred destinations. While James and Clippers point guard Chris Paul are great friends, there are concerns about the compatibility of their games. Paul is not as capable of excelling off the ball as Wade was when he adjusted to playing with James.
Beyond that, there is still the very real problem of Donald Sterling's shadow hovering over the Clippers. I was not told that this would be an issue, but as outspoken as James was about wanting Sterling out of the league, it seems implausible that he would willingly go play for the Clippers until Sterling's ouster is complete. That is not likely to happen before July 8.
Updates from Tuesday, June 24
Broussard reports James has made the decision to become a free agent:
LeBron James' agent Rich Paul has told Heat LeBron will exercise early termination option— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 24, 2014
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reports the move was a tactical one for James:
As a free agent, LeBron can put pressure on Heat ownership to commit to spending more to build roster. Opting in, he couldn't do it as well.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 24, 2014
Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick has more insight into what this means:
Re: ESPN report about LeBron opting out... It wasn't a surprise to Heat. Expected him to weigh options. Doesn't mean he's leaving (1/2)...— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 24, 2014
... (2/2) No risk to LeBron by doing so. And all the information I've gathered is that the Heat are still in strong position to retain him.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 24, 2014
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press has more on James:
Source on LeBron's thinking about where to play next season: "He doesn't know yet." Away we go, folks.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 24, 2014
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports the Lakers are interested in James:
The Lakers are intrigued by LeBron James reportedly opting out of his contract and are hopeful of meeting with the free agent-to-be, The Times has learned.
They are proceeding with caution, however, aware that James might simply re-sign for less so the Miami Heat can add another free agent of note.
The status of LeBron James promises to dominate the NBA's offseason in the coming weeks and months. Initial reports suggested that King James' talents would remain in South Beach.
James can opt out of the remainder of his contract if he so chooses, but Sean Deveney of Sporting News is reporting that LeBron is expected to stay with the Miami Heat regardless.
A source close to the situation told Sporting News that, while no final decisions have been made, James 'is very likely' to stay in Miami. ... The source indicated that James remembers all too well the way he was pilloried for leaving Cleveland four years ago, and that he has worked hard to rebuild his public perception. He feels the team can still win in Miami, and bolting while the team is still of championship caliber will undo the remaking of his image.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that Pat Riley's press conference on Thursday did little to help Miami's odds of retaining its superstar:
One NBA team prez said Heat prez Pat Riley appeared nervous about keeping LeBron in his long, odd presser & more teams will make a pitch now— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 20, 2014
This report comes on the heels of a SportsCenter poll which revealed that the majority of fans expect James to play elsewhere in 2014-15:
The vote is in! 55 percent of SC fans DON'T think LeBron James will stay with the Heat. pic.twitter.com/rGD05zD1Lk— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 19, 2014
If James does remain with the Heat, that doesn't necessarily mean that he will opt in. If he opts out along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, then it could potentially allow Miami to add another star such as Carmelo Anthony provided they agree to pay cuts.
According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, James opting out is the expected result since it will present him with the most potential options moving forward.
No player deals with a heavier burden to perform on a daily basis during the season than James does. He is now in position to transfer that to the organizations and his peers. That is why his most likely path is to opt out of his contract after the draft so that he will maximize his flexibility while putting teams on the clock.
Not surprisingly, LeBron was publicly noncommittal when asked about his free-agency plans following the end of Miami's season:
Per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, James was totally unwilling to reveal anything significant about his future with the Heat or any other team for that matter.
Me and my team will sit down and deal with it. I love Miami. My family loves it. But obviously right now that's not even what I'm thinking about. ... You guys are trying to find answer. I'm not going to give you one. I'm just not going to give it to you. When I get to that point, I'll deal with it.
If LeBron does decide to return to Miami as Sporting News suggests, then there is no doubt that improvements need to be made. The fact that the Heat made the NBA Finals four straight times with James at the helm is incredible, but they were decimated by a superior San Antonio Spurs team.
After getting eliminated by the Spurs in five games, LeBron had no problem admitting that the Spurs were simply better:
The Heat did make the Finals, so it isn't as though they are that far off. They should have a fairly easy road through the Eastern Conference once again next season and could get better than whoever their Western Conference opponent ends up being by adding someone like Melo.
With whom will LeBron James play in 2014-15?
James may not be in an ideal situation with the Heat right now, but it can get better. LeBron also has an opportunity to show his loyalty after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers high and dry four years ago.
LeBron proved that anything can happen when he jumped to the Heat initially, but jumping ship for a second time would arguably be even more shocking than the first considering everything James has accomplished in Miami.
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