Update: No decision has been made following LeBron's meeting with Pat Riley.
Nine days into the free agent negotiating period and a day before NBA squads can formally ink free agents to deals, the Miami Heat will get the first meeting with prized free agent LeBron James. The sitdown on Wednesday is the first time James will meet with a team in person, and its outcome is paramount to how the rest of his (and the NBA's) offseason goes. How it goes will determine where James goes next and it will also kick-start what's been a sluggish free agency period.
Where is it?
James' meeting will take place in Las Vegas, where the free agent forward is currently posted up as he conducts his Nike skills camp for high school players.
Who will attend?
It's expected that the Miami representation to meet with James will include president Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and fellow free agent Dwyane Wade, reports ESPN's Chris Broussard. James and Wade have already met in Las Vegas, though under casual circumstances. Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears adds that James' agent, Rich Paul, is expected to attend the sitdown as well.
Paul has done a great deal of preliminary work for James, who has thus far remained out of the free agency process. To this point, James hasn't even been involved in Miami's myriad attempts at roster improvements. James' agent has met with representatives of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
So what will be discussed?
Is LeBron's agent pushing him back to Cleveland?
LeBron James' agent is reportedly pushing for the Heat forward to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed before it becomes a reality.
At the end of the season, Riley delivered a strong message toward his coach and free agents about doing everything to retool the Miami roster. He wants the Heat to adapt.
It's been a task for Riley himself to change, as he struggled to sign any help until this past weekend when the Heat agreed to contracts with former Charlotte forward Josh McRoberts and former Los Angeles Clippers forward Danny Granger. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, Riley will use the Wednesday meeting to discuss those signings with James and Wade while also detailing the process moving forward.
The communication will also be vital if James has truly kept the Miami brass, Wade and teammate Chris Bosh in the dark about his feelings regarding a return to Miami. A hitch in all of this concerns Bosh specifically; he could be swayed away from the Heat by the Houston Rockets after they offered him a full max contract.
What will come of the meeting?
It's expected that James' next move will come swiftly. If he and the Heat can come to an understanding and he trusts their plan of attack moving forward, James could quickly re-sign to the expected max deal that will pay him $20.7 million in the first year of a new contract. If Riley's plan is shaky, James could quickly work to schedule out meetings with teams that his agent Paul has met with.
The wider perspective is that this should push forward the domino effect of free agency as lower-tier free agents begin to receive offers after James and Carmelo Anthony sign. However, that process will still be on hold depending on how many teams James decides to meet with, if any.