Normally, I don't pay much attention to any somewhat declarative statement from a reporter about where LeBron James ends up this summer, because LeBron is an expert in the art of sending mixed signals. But Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is different. Windhorst has been covering LeBron since high school and is the one reporter who really knows what's going on with LeBron. He's like Ahmad Rashad with Michael Jordan, except with much more journalistic integrity.
So when Windhorst writes an article saying that all signs right now point to LeBron re-signing with the Cavaliers, it means something. Windhorst did what he could to qualify his statements, saying that a lot can change between now and the end of the season, but he also explicitly wrote that LeBron is supposedly more committed to re-signing with the Cavaliers than ever before.
After being mostly neutral and downright noncommittal for some time, those closest to James have been altering their view recently. The vibe being sent out from James' camp -- whether it is private conversations or discussions about new business or plans for the near future -- is that James currently is leaning strongly toward re-signing with the Cavs.
That may sound vague and, as always, it continues to be fragile. Yet there is no denying the gradual shift within James' circle and, it is assumed, by James himself.
James has declined to talk publicly about free agency since November. But as one source said, "I have never been so sure that he's going to stay in Cleveland than I am right now."
Now, I'm sure a lot of you will jump on Windhorst for fueling the speculation. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News did, submitting this really odd blog post filled with some not-so-subtle digs at Windhorst. (For the record, Windhorst took the high road, saying Isola was just "having some fun on his blog"). But here's the thing: how else is Windhorst or anyone supposed to get this information? LeBron's not going to say anything on the record, and neither will the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers or anyone else. The only way to cover this story and get some real important information out to readers is to do exactly what Windhorst did. Try to talk to people in LeBron's circle, quote them anonymously so you can keep talking to them, and throw in the necessary qualifiers to make clear that this is just the "vibe" at the time.
I happen to think talk of this summer is tiring when the playoffs are shaping up to be spectacular, but there's no denying the LeBron story is a big one for fans. Kudos to Windhorst for writing about it in a insightful, enlightening way.