LeBron James’ return to Miami was maybe never a slam dunk. It still felt pretty certain.
Not so much anymore.
As free agency has entered its fourth day, the LeBron James decision seems to be getting much more serious — if not much more quiet than it was four years ago.
There are no meetings in a downtown Cleveland office and no parading of teams this time. James and his agent have been meeting with teams in secret and those teams have kept that secret. James will not be repeating the public perception gaffes of four years ago (except for maybe a large donation to the Boys and Girls Club, which is always a good thing).
It is no sure thing that James will be returning to Miami at this point.
Among the teams Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com report have met with James include the Suns, the Mavericks and the Cavaliers. The Lakers appear on their way to meet with James’ Cleveland-based agent soon too.
With all these teams making their way to woo James, or at least talk to him, there is talk that he is at least open to a move and his opt-out was not simply done for leverage to get the Heat to make changes to the roster.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports some executives believe there is a split among the Heat’s big three and even between James and Heat general manager Pat Riley:
“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.”
Unless Pat Riley lines up talent appealing to James within cap structure soon, one LBJ suitor says: "LeBron seems ready to explore market."
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2014
So the possibility of James leaving has become real unless it is a smokescreen. James is really reviewing the available options to him. And that leaves the possibility that he will seek greener pastures — even though he has four straight Finals trips in Miami.
Winning is not everything, although it is a lot. Reports are James wants to make the max this year. He has never been the highest paid player on his own team. It is about time that changed, right?
Whether the Heat can provide that mix remains a mystery. The door is open if some team can sneak through.