While re-signing with the Miami Heat looked like a lock at the end of last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have worked their way into the conversation.
The longer James waits to sign his contract, the more the NBA grows restless.
Here are the latest rumors surrounding James and where he will play in 2014.
James Leaves Meeting with Pat Riley Without a Deal?
After losing in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, many felt that James would see his work in Miami as incomplete. Heat czar Pat Riley was one of those who talked about not walking away when things got tough, but the certainty is gone.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, James and Riley did not have an agreement in place when the team’s top star walked away from their meeting:
LeBron James left the meeting without committing to a deal with the Heat, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
To be fair, James did give Miami the final meeting, and the franchise was presented the opportunity to convince him to stay. Instead of signing a deal on the spot, the NBA star is smart to take all of the information and sit down with the people who matter most.
The fans of the NBA and the other free agents want his decision as soon as possible, but James must do what is best for him. He will be the man who has to serve out the contract, and he must be happy with his decision.
Just because he left the meeting with Riley without a deal doesn’t mean he won’t re-sign with the Heat, though. It does, however, lend more credence to the possibility that he could jump ship.
Chris Sheridan Claims James Will Return to Cleveland
James spent the first seven years of his NBA career in Cleveland, and he was born and raised in the Akron area. There were many fans who considered the Cavaliers an outside contender to land him this offseason, but it’s looking more likely he could return home.
While the consensus is that James will wait to pick his team moving forward, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com is reporting that the decision has already been made:
The Decision has been made. LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a league source tells SheridanHoops.com.
James met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley today in Las Vegas to deliver the news. A contingent of other Heat officials were informed they were not welcome at the meeting, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This is huge news if it comes to fruition. Not only does it ruin almost any chance Miami has of becoming a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference again, but it would make the Cavaliers favorites to win the title if the right secondary moves are made.
Cleveland also possesses several first-round draft picks over the next few years, and that could be the basis of a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. Add in Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, and the Cavaliers could be deadly.
James Skipping Return to Akron?
After all of his meetings, James was reportedly supposed to return to Akron, but he has aborted that idea and will fly from Las Vegas—where he held the meetings—to the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.
The NBA may be at a stalemate while it waits for James’ decision, but the King is living it up.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, James changed his original 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's Brian Windhorst and Chris Broussard report that James will go over his options, but there is no timetable for his announcement:
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.
There is no question that free agents such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and others are waiting for the James shoe to fall before they put pen to paper on their own deals. Regardless of how he is perceived, only James has to live with his decision.
He should be in no rush.
When he finally does make his choice, James will have plenty of time to get into the gym and work on the playbooks. Whether it’s today or in two weeks, the NBA star must make a decision that he and his family will be comfortable with for years to come.
*Stats via NBA.com.