The HEAT Beat with Josh Friedman


Finally Pat Riley and LeBron James will meet face to face

Lebron James will finally sit in a room and meet with NBA executives.  To the relief of Heat fans, this first(only?) meeting will be with Pat Riley in Las Vegas today.  Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in that room?!

Riley must convince LeBron to keep his talents on south beach and not take them north to Lake Erie(that last part doesn't exactly roll off the tongue).  Heat agreements with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger were not bought at Neiman Marcus but they didn't come via the Dollar Store either. 

They weren't the sexy additions Heat fans and players may have been hoping for i.e. Pau Gasol, Trevor Ariza, or Luol Deng.  But they are veterans who have long resumes.  Whether Granger can return to his pre-injury form remains to be seen. 

More pieces needed to be added, of course.  It will be up to Riley to sell LeBron on who he thinks he can add to the roster from here on out based on money that remains in the team coffers.  Whether LeBron will step back from his max contract demand and provide more financial relief for Riley to spend on free agents remains to be seen.

We all know Riley has enormous powers of persuasion.  But will that be enough to entice LeBron to remain a member of the Heat? 

LeBron will have questions of course.  Besides wanting to know who else Riley can add to the roster, James will want to know how that additional talent will fit into the big picture.  He'll also want to know about Dwyane Wade's health. Published reports had Wade and James having dinner in Las Vegas on Monday night followed by workout together Tuesday morning.  James certainly would want to hear from the medical staff about opinion of Wade's health going forward.

Rumors of a LeBron return to Cleveland have been gaining momentum at an exponential rate in the past 48 hours.  One had Cleveland being told by James agent Rich Paul to clear necessary cap space to facilitate a possible return by James.  ESPN is reporting such an process is underway with a three team deal also involving the Nets and Celtics with the Cavs shedding the contracts of Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev.

There were even reports that Nike purchased billboards in Cleveland prior to a LeBron announcement but ESPN cited a source that denied those rumors.

We don't know what's in James' heart.  How strong is his desire to return to Cleveland. Does he feel he has to make things right by playing again for the Cavs?  I personally can't see how LeBron could return and willing put tens of millions of dollars(or more) into Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's wallet after Gilbert penned that letter about LeBron following his departure from the Cavs.  To describe the letter as scathing would be being too kind.

So we all wait.  Wait for James to make a decision which, one way or another will set in a motion a flurry phone calls between clubs and agents, quick negotiations and much roster movement.  The question is will James emerge from that meeting with his mind made up and if so, will he announce his decision today.