While the rumor mill is churning at full speed with only three days remaining before players can ink contracts with clubs and speculation running rampant as to what will happen with LeBron James, Heat fans received some good news over the weekend:
James and his agent, Rich Paul, will have a much anticipated face to face meeting with Heat president Pat Riley. USA Today first reported the meeting would take place sometime this week and other outlets quickly confirmed the story.
If figures haven't been exchanged yet, they will be during that huddle. Heat fans are hoping Riley and James can come to a meeting of the minds regarding a contract and how James' salary demands will affect which players Miami can afford. In 2010, when at his meeting with James in Cleveland to try to convince him to come play for the Heat, Riley famously placed all his championship Rings he acquired as a player and coach in front of James. Two weeks ago during his press conference with us, Riley said that wouldn't be necessary this time, that James can put his own two championship rings on the table.
Should LeBron stay in Miami as many in the media(including me) have speculated all along, then an agreement between James and Riley should be the onset of a chain of events. Deals between the club and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would likely follow. Following that, we'll see which free agents Riley can convince to come play along side the Big 3.
Bosh has stated all along that he loves Miami, loves playing for the Heat and would take less money to remain here. Thus, his decision to opt out. Over the weekend, both ESPN and CBS Sports reported that the Houston Rockets would put a full court press on to try to convince Bosh to return to his home state of Texas. If true, whether Bosh would consider such a move is unknown.
Then there was speculation that if Bosh jumped ship, would Melo be a possible replacement? Don't you love playing fantasy NBA GM?
What is also unknown is how much Dwyane Wade's health will factor into LeBron James decision. That wasn't the case four summers ago when a relatively healthy Wade was 28 years old. But with four more years of mileage on his 32 year old body, one can see how this may be a factor in James' thought process as he considers his options.
While never calling Dwyane out by name, it was clear on numerous occasions throughout the season that James was very frustrated by his close friend missing 28 regular season games, more than one-third of the season. This put even more pressure that usual on James due to Mike Miller not being around to step in for Wade(that's a whole blog unto itself) and and underperforming bench unable at time to pick up the slack.
Rumors also flew over the weekend when ESPN's Jorge Sedano tweeted a photo of Dan Gilbert's private plane after it landed at a Fort Lauderdale airport on Sunday. Who was on that plane and what their business down here was is unknown. Was Gilbert or someone else on that plane meeting with James? No one who knows the answer to that is saying anything. Sedano later tweeted that Gilbert has other business interests down here so it may in fact have nothing to do with James. The plane took off and left Fort Lauderdale several hours later.
With only three days remaining until contracts can be signed, fasten your seatbelts. If you thought the NBA roller coaster that is free agency was wild last week, you ain't seen nothing yet!