The Cleveland Cavaliers today dealt backup guard Jarrett Jack and young prospect Sergey Karasev to the Nets, and a first-round draft pick to the Celtics. At the same time, ESPN reporter Chris Broussard started tweeting that they were looking to sign veterans Ray Allen and Mike Miller, who won championship rings with the Miami Heat in 2012. All this wheeling and dealing is happening with one goal in mind: getting LeBron James back to the team that drafted him, which he left in an acrimonious fashion in 2010 to go win titles with the Heat.
The only problem: no one knows if James is actually interested in going back.
For sure, rumors have been swirling for weeks now that LeBron's camp — especially his agent Rich Paul (an Ohio native) — has been pushing for a return to Cleveland, a short drive from his hometown of Akron, where he still lives. Though the outpouring of hatred from Cavs fans after he declared he was going to Miami during an ESPN special still lingers, the allure of a hometown hero returning to resurrect the sad Cavaliers franchise might be too good to resist, right? The Cavs seem to think so, finally taking down owner Dan Gilbert's 2010 screed against LeBron from their website.
Now, they're without Jarrett Jack and a first-round pick, but they have the necessary $20 million+ in cap room to offer LeBron a maximum contract. If he'll take it. But so far the only words coming out of James' camp have been anonymously-sourced rumors. Yahoo reporter Adrian Wojnarowski says there's "no assurance" that James will take the Cavs seriously, although his agent has reportedly met with them (and other teams.)
Today, we might finally get some concrete facts. James is meeting with Miami Heat chairman Pat Riley, and conventional wisdom says he's gonna stay with the team where he just went to the Finals four years in a row, winning twice. Yes, his co-star Dwyane Wade is looking shakier than ever, but LeBron can give himself insurance by getting a quick out of whatever deal he signs.
Among GM's, there's still belief LeBron James walks into Pat Riley meeting, lays out his 1-2 year max contract proposal and stays w/ Heat.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
If that happens, no one will be too surprised — except, perhaps, Cleveland fans. The story is romantic enough to instantly buy into, and the blowback if LeBron stays in South Beach could be even more fierce than 2010. The longer we go without an official leak from James' camp, the more Cavs fans can talk themselves into the hometown hero returning. Which is maybe more surprising than anything, considering their long history of being let down.