LeBron James' agent Rich Paul has reportedly met with several teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, to determine the best fit for the top-rated free agent, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst.
The three reporters suggest that Phoenix's Robert Sarver met with Paul for two days, while the others arrived in Cleveland on Thursday. For the first time in a week, it sounds like a real possibility James leaves Miami. Previous reports that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have divided up the Heat's salary-cap have blown up in smoke as Heat president Pat Riley has struggled to find supplementary talent early in free agency.
Says official who was part of meetings ESPN reported on: "There's clearly a breakdown in communication between LeBron and (Wade and Bosh)."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2014
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
Why each team is a good idea for LeBron
The thought of James in the Suns' transition system with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe has just about everyone in the NBA world salivating. The Suns are a well-coached and disciplined team, with both Dragic and Bledsoe acting as ball handlers who can also play off the ball. Adding James as another dribbler and versatile defender would take them to the next level out West.
NBA Free Agency
This year's LeBron derby has 1 key difference
The conditions of this year's LeBron James chase mirror 2010's in a lot of ways, but there's one very different quality that changes a lot ... and it isn't a TV special.
NBA Free Agency
In Houston, the combination of James Harden, Dwight Howard and James would be an absolute nightmare offensively, and could shore up some of the defensive inequities from Harden. Houston hasn't been shy about chasing a third max contract player, and getting James would be scooping the cream of the crop.
For the Cavaliers, getting James back to town has become a priority. Cleveland already offered Kyrie Irving a five-year, $90 million extension earlier this week, and if James were to come back, he would immediately be part of an Irving-Andrew Wiggins wing lineup.
Finally, if James ends up on the Mavericks, he could help Dirk Nowitzki earn his second ring after the Mavericks ended Miami's hopes in 2011. The Mavs were a great offensive team last season, and adding James at the forward with newly-acquired Tyson Chandler behind him might just be enough to shore up their defense.
Why each team is a bad idea for James
In Phoenix, getting James has been discussed as part of a sign-and-trade deal to pair him with either Carmelo Anthony or Bosh. Adding those players will likely mean giving up one if not all of the No. 1 picks the Suns have stockpiled, and either Dragic or Bledsoe. It wouldn't gut the team, but it might lose some of the luster and allure that drew James there in the first place.
If the Rockets happen to land James, the challenge for coach Kevin McHale will be designing an offensive system clever enough to get Harden and Howard the ball enough while having the best player on the planet roaming the wing. There have already been issues with Howard demanding the ball in Houston, and that's without someone like James, who couldn't reasonably be cut out of the equation. Defensively, the Rockets might still be a mess.
Cleveland has myriad issues standing between it and James, the least of which is the open letter to Cavaliers fans from owner Dan Gilbert flaming James in all Comic Sans. The Cavs were a disaster defensively last season despite having Irving, they couldn't shoot the three-pointer and, beyond Kyrie, have two young No. 1 overall selections that will likely still need time to develop before they can contend.
Dallas, however, seems stuck at the bottom of the pack. Yes, Nowitzki and Chandler are great players, but they are getting on in age at this point in the game and the Mavericks have a young, ball-dominant scorer in Monta Ellis. James fits in just about everywhere because of who he is, but Dallas doesn't seem likely given the shelf life of that team.
Likelihood James leaves the Heat
It's July 3 and James is still on vacation. Let that sink in. Things could drastically change between now and then, including moves by Anthony or Bosh. James, however, does have several legitimate suitors and all have their flaws, including Miami. The Heat need to find some kind of solution between Bosh, James and the degrading talent of Dwyane Wade. As far as moving to another team goes, I'll give it a 5/10 chance of happening, which is more than many thought just a few days ago. Grade: B