LeBron James is believed to be legitimately listening to the Cleveland Cavaliers pitch to return to his home state according to sources on July 7. There is also thought that James will ultimately choose between the Miami Heat and Cavaliers.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a former teammate of James, on his private plane down to South Florida to meet with James on July 6. Ilgauskas is extremely close with James and it is possible that he could be part of the team’s pitch to convince the 4-time NBA MVP to return to Cleveland, where he spent his first seven NBA seasons.
James is expected to meet with Miami president Pat Riley, as well as several other teams, soon for a face-to-face meeting though a date has yet to be decided James has a commercial shoot planned and was expected to travel to Las Vegas later in the day for his annual camp with some of the nation's best young basketball players, an event that opens Wednesday. James also has been planning a trip to Brazil for the World Cup final on July 13, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press late Sunday night.
James is seeking a max contract, approximately $20.7 million this season, according to his representatives.
Cleveland is in the process of clearing cap space to have the ability to offer James a max contract according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski said that the Cavaliers are looking for a team to absorb Marcus Thornton’s contract which they’d likely receive from Brooklyn in exchange for veteran guard Jarrett Jack, who is scheduled to make $6 million this season.
Cleveland also made an important draft day deal when they sent Alonzo Gee for Brendan Haywood and second-round choice Dwight Powell (will become official on July 10). Gee has a $3 million nonguaranteed contract for next season and can be waived at no cost to the Hornets, while the Cavaliers are on the hook for $2.2 million for Haywood. However, the most important part of the deal is Haywood’s $10.5 million nonguaranteed contract for the 2015-16 season that Cleveland can dangle in a trade.
In addition, Cleveland has made and has potential to make the roster upgrades that James has said he wanted from any team that he signed with.
The Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins with the No.1 overall pick in the 2014 draft and convinced Kyrie Irving to remain with the team for the next five years. Youngster Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett – who must step up big time --,Tristan Thompson, second round selection Joe Harris and veteran Anderson Varejao.
The team also potentially owns three first-round picks in the 2015 draft, including the Heat's pick if they fall outside the top 10. They also have the Memphis Grizzlies pick if it falls between Nos. 6 and 14 and their own pick.
In the meantime, Miami is still working on re-working their roster. The Heat still needs to re-sign Dwayne Wade, who will likely stay with Miami, and Chris Bosh, who is being heavily pursued by the Houston Rockets.
Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston are also in the mix for James.