And down the stretch they come! As we race towards July 10th, the first day NBA free agents can officially sign their new contracts; the biggest name in free agency has yet to decide what uniform he’ll be wearing next season. But the finish line is within sight and should be crossed in the next few days from what I’ve been told.
Sources tell me that LeBron James and his people will meet with the two or three finalists in Las Vegas over the next day or so and then make the decision as to where he will be playing next year.
It looks now like it’s a two horse race between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with an outside shot of the Lakers climbing back into the race if they can convince Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol to sign in L.A. But to use a horse racing term, it’s considered a very “Long Shot”.
The reason the Cavs chances continue to rise is no all-star caliber free agent is willing to take less money and sign with the Heat as of tonight. Pat Riley struck out with Kyle Lowery and Marcin Gortat. He met and left without a verbal commitment from Luol Deng and Pau Gasol. Riley now is said to be talking to Marvin Williams as a potential free agent candidate. I’m not sure that’s the type of player that’s going to knock LeBron’s socks off and make him want to stay in Miami. So the longer this goes without a commitment from a legit, still close to his prime type player saying yes to the Heat, the better the chances are for the Cavs. But don’t count Riley out just yet. If he goes down, he’s going to go down swinging. But there may not be enough power (or salary cap space) in those punches to help him or save him.
With that in mind I would now put the Cavaliers chances of convincing James to return to Cleveland as a free agent at least at 60 percent and here’s why. They will offer him a max contract. There is an immediate chance to win, as well as an extended chance to win with the current roster. Also if James signs, the Cavs have the assets of cap space, young talent and future first round draft picks to change the roster if need be to bring in a third all-star player. Plus he’d be returning home, which would in turn make his wife happy. You know the old saying, “Happy Wife, Happy Life!”
James would also get the opportunity to finish what he started eleven years ago, when he was drafted first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers, and that was to bring the city of Cleveland a championship. He also promised to “Light Cleveland Up Like The Las Vegas Strip”. So it would only be fitting that if LeBron is indeed does return to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers, he announce it this week from Las Vegas!