Aldridge: James’ agent turns up heat on Riley, Miami’s front office


VIDEO: LeBron James’ agent may soon be meeting with four teams not named the Miami Heat

Not so subtly all of a sudden, LeBron James is turning up the heat — no pun, not now — on Pat Riley to deliver.

James’ camp has maintained military-like silence on his intentions and plans for free agency for a year, with the three-time MVP deflecting questions all season and during the playoffs about how he’d decide what to do. And then, suddenly, there was a story on ESPN Thursday night that James’s agent, Rich Paul, had held meetings this week with teams that are not the Miami Heat — Cleveland, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, a list confirmed by sources. (Those are in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference. You have to spell everything out these days, when NBA Nation is so on edge.)

Then, ESPN reported late Thursday that the Lakers would meet with Paul in Cleveland over the 4th of July Weekend.

Where the information came from is not the issue. The message is. And it is clear to anyone who’s been paying attention: Riles, you’re really on the clock.

For weeks, the operating principle throughout the league was that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were acting in concert. Perhaps not literally, but certainly, each had an idea of what the other was planning to do. Why would Wade walk away from a guaranteed $41.5 million over the next couple of years if he didn’t know James was returning to Miami? Why would Bosh indicate a willingness to take a pay cut if he wasn’t certain he’d be playing with the other SuperFriends for the next few seasons?

Now, suddenly, we are told that Wade and Bosh have no idea what James is going to do, and that Paul is lining up alternatives for his client. Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that three finalists could be brought back to Cleveland, where Paul met in person with the Cavs, Mavericks and Suns this week, early next week. Nowhere, now, is there reassuring talk that James will return to the Heat.

That will surely get Riles’s attention.

Even as those teams aren’t at all sure James would actually walk from his team for a second time — “I don’t think we’re high on their list,” an official with knowledge of the discussions said Thursday — they, like everyone else in the league, has to at least entertain the possibility of the idea now. And that will further delay a league already in limbo waiting for Carmelo Anthony to make his own, individual decision.

Anthony finished his tour on Thursday in Los Angeles, meeting with the Lakers and Knicks, after starting the week in Chicago and then going to Texas for meetings with the Rockets and Mavericks. While Houston is still centered and all in on its pursuit of Anthony, Dallas indicated what it thought of its chances for ‘Melo by quickly wrapping up a deal with franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki for three years and $30 million. The Mavs are, if not officially, out of the ‘Melo Stakes in reality.

Indirectly, Anthony’s decision impacts another significant free agent — Pau Gasol, who was scheduled to meet with Riley in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ hopes of keeping Gasol are centered on first getting Anthony, who would then, hopefully, entice Gasol to stay in L.A. rather than follow Riley back to South Beach, or to San Antonio or Oklahoma City, both of which harbor strong and real hopes they can get Gasol to take a huge pay cut to play for a contender.

Oklahoma City, according to a source, hopes that a three-year deal with its mid-level exception can do the trick with Gasol, even as it understands his agent, Arn Tellem, will surely be able to shake out bigger offers elsewhere.

Miami’s hopes of adding a centerpiece “Big Fourth” free agent were always iffy, but as free agency has begun this week, the Heat have had to watch the likes of Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry go elsewhere, in part, because Miami just couldn’t commit enough money to guys looking for their big career payday.

With Miami locked in below $10 million in cap room, it couldn’t make a realistic pitch to Gortat, who took $12 million a year from Washington to stay with the Wizards, or to Lowry, who took the same $12 million a year to stay in Toronto with the Raptors. And with other free agents that could help like Trevor Ariza also looking for big raises, the Heat will continue to be strapped to find an accomplished veteran to take their offers, whatever they may be.

So Miami is concentrating on getting commitments from shooters like Anthony Morrow and Marvin Williams. But they’re not going to come cheap, either, no matter their desire to play for a contender (assuming the Big Three re-sign there). And Riles has to find players as he cocks an ear to the Midwest, and a city he thought his superstar player had left in mind and body, but which is still there, likely a stalking horse, to be sure, but one that must be taken seriously, its revenge/reunion fantasies still intact and getting oxygen as we speak. Or, write.

39 Comments

  1. Tony O says:

    The Cheat is done.

  2. Tony O says:

    Riley is getting what he deserve, which is Headache. Bosh can get a lot more than 42 mil from other suitors , Wade will get his loyalty money somehow. LBJ’S destination is Cavs or Suns, they have the talent and $$$$ + picks. It makes a great story for years to come if LBJ goes back to Cleveland. Cleveland is a blue color team with great fans and a great roster . The Cheat is done.

  3. Don't be deceived says:

    The big three in Miami did not opt out in order to go elsewhere and earn less money. All three will re-sign with the Heat, and make less with the Heat, in order to stay together. They are just messing with the media, and making it seem like they haven’t yet made up their minds. Don’t less their silence, or head fakes, suggest otherwise.

  4. kb24 says:

    Once a chicken and will always be a chicken…that is the true Lechicken folks. Loyalty is not in his DNA….tsk tsk.. Gudlak Heat! But one thing I know, Lechoke cannot mess up with the maestro Pat so he better go back in Miami or else….

  5. Celtics fan says:

    Let’s face it…Lebron and the and the rest of the big three are going back to South Beach! Riley is going to add Deng or Ariza, and one other player. Then they will get some veterans on the cheap and be back in the finals unless some team in the east outside of Chicago signs Melo.

  6. rookie98 says:

    I hope Miami learns that keeping all their eggs in three , basketball players will comes back and bites you .My hats off to them
    they did appear in four finals and did donate week east. Even if they do get back James they still need other players(circa
    2013 Lakers) if he gets hurt. Good luck to the Irish man>

  7. rookie98 says:

    I hope Miami learns that keeping all their eggs in , basketball players clubs comes back and bites you.Mo them y hats off
    them they did appear in four finals and did donate week east. Even if they do get back James they still need other players(circa
    2013 Lakers) if he gets hurt. Good luck to the Irish man>

  8. levictor levingston says:

    james anderson graduated from ok state 2 guard great 3 point shooting ability and has some exploveness driving lane look at houston highlights he is free agent and comes at good price to a contender instant help

  9. Miles says:

    Putting aside all the contents from the media hype, let LeBon take the vacation with his family. Come the start of 2014-15 season he would put another stellar performance anyway regardless of which team he would play for. Riley probably has little sleep over these past couple of days now. Why is the public craving for too much answer this early? Lol

  10. ELDiabLo says:

    Deng is also a good pick for Heat if he is available..an scorer with D..

  11. Big Al says:

    Riley and company are not quick enough to solve that one big issue affecting the team: having a real center. Even now, they’ve let go of a handful of opportunities. Asik was already dealt to the Pels, and Gortat chose money over playing for a more respectable team. At least they should have approached Marcin and convinced him of an idea of a potential championship, even if he doesn’t get paid as much as Washington offered him.

    Gasol may be a good option, but at the right price. I’d certainly take him over Bosh, who should never wear a Heat jersey again. At least Pau can legitimately play the five. He can defend much better as well.

    Finally, Jameer Nelson should be picked up. At least he’s already in Florida, and more importantly, a reliable point guard that shouldn’t cost too much. If Miami can at least grab those two and add bench substance, I don’t see why LeBron should need to look elsewhere.

    • Ram says:

      In what drug-induced fantasy did you come up with the idea that Pau Gasol is a better defensive player than Chris Bosh?

  12. youngsieg856 says:

    LeBron is not going to the west he will not make it out alive. Riley will find some magic way to keep the heat together as he has. Even in their current state they will still make it out of the east so it’s no need for the heat bandwagon to panic. They just need to find someone to get them over the west hump since the three best players in the east can’t do it themselves anymore(mark my sarcasm).

  13. former fan says:

    Felt it from part way through the Finals, he knows it won’t work, & he’s rethinking & I don’t blame him. $ is important.
    But so is having people respect & listen to you. We all know Riles thinks he’s the Godfather. We know the behavior of other people
    speaks louder than their words. LeBron respect yourself & honor what you know & experience most deeply: listen within & be with the decision till you have certainty, follow your heart in other words. If necessary, be willing to take care of yourself young man, sow the seeds of greatness & be fully supported elsewhere. Recognize what you know & be willing to follow that, no matter the cost, because its your truth.

    Lebron is gone. So be it.

  14. lbjheat says:

    make some moves right now RILEY,.. retool the heat. iwant to see lbj and ray allen once more in a heat jersey ..wade and bosh didnt steped up in the finals .inconsistent,they deserves a pay cut.

  15. Dann says:

    Ok people listen to what I have to say because I know alittle something about what im talking about……There is NO way Lebron is going to the Lakers. He wants to be the greastest of all time. So there is no way he is going to the Lakers to help Kobe win a 6 or 7th ring. With that being said I think Lebrons best bet is to…..Stay with the Heat, Go to the Cavs or Wiz maybe even Nets depending on if KG and Pierce leave because they dont like Lebron. With that also being said I will be shocked if Lebron goes to a Western team…I think he will stay Eastern.

  16. Matt says:

    *4 time MVP

  17. vancityballer says:

    Anybody else think it’s interesting why the Cavs and Suns are looking to sign Lebron and not at all interested in Carmelo? I used to really like Carmelo, especially during his College year, but he’s got to learn to share the rock and play better D. He’s gotta be more well rounded. While other players are always trying to improve on their weaknesses during the off season, from foot work, 3 point shooting or defense, etc. Melo only cares about putting the ball through the hoop which he’s already good at and that hasn’t gotten him very far. Scoring is important but you have to lead by example on both ends of the floor.

    • Peter says:

      Lebron’s defense is highly overrated.

      He gets his share of blocks and steals based on pure physical attributes, but I rarely ever see him apply the type of suffocating lock-down defense you’ll often get from elite defensive players like Tony Allen or Avery Bradley.

      Lebron is a better overall player than Melo no doubt, but Melo is a better scorer, and he’s less of a whiny girl.

  18. js10 says:

    If I’m Lebron I’m leaving if D Wade is staying! Plain and simple he killed them in the finals this year! Straight GARBAGE! I know Miami wants to stay loyal to him but he’s either got to take the minimum and come off the bench or leave so they can bring in Carmelo and add another center a real center like Gasol.. trust me if they get Carmelo, then Gasol would take less money to have a chance to win a title multiple titles.. Gasol, Bosh, Melo, LBJ and Napier thats solid.. and this is possible if Wade takes a back seat.. But he wont.. and if he doesn’t trust me as much as Miami fans don’t want to hear it Lebron is GONE! You know he doesn’t want to leave Miami because he will be criticized like crazy, but his legacy is at risk and he knows it if he stays and adds a couple players like Marrow and Williams.. lol what they heck are they gonna do..! Riley has some big boy decisions to make! And he better hurry, if i was lebron i would go to Houston with Carmelo, game over!

    • Peter says:

      Typical Miami fanboy response…

      In no world is Wade going to take a vet min deal. If Wade left Miami, they’d struggle to make it past Washington.

  19. Joe says:

    Heat cannot WIN anymore championships with the fully injured wade. Its just 2 folks Lebron and Chris Bosh. And often Bosh is struggling to give a good game. I don’t think WADE deserves anything more than what Ray Allen gets. I would think WADE should take a pay cut and get only 3 to 5 Million per year. Pat needs to add some folks from international basket ball using the funds coming out of WADE and Bosh cap cut.

  20. arnold de silva says:

    I think the Heat needs to sign Jameer Nelson and not let him get away because he could come in cheap. In addition, the Heat must try to sign up either Gasol or Morrow. Failing that, this team will be stuck with also-rans like Ariza. Also, I think that Cole should be traded and Oden should not be invited. Finally, I still believe that there is value in holding on to Beasley and Chris Anderson.

  21. TOPCAT TEE says:

    Gentilemen,and I use that term loosely!! The Big Three are friends first.Do you really think they will leave D.Wade to fend for himself in Miami?NOOOO! They are playing the media and Riley to get the best chance to Kick A__,next year.I see 3 more Championships if they get a good(SPACE EATER) Gasol or one of those Big tuff forien guy’s.Labron already got a good distributor in the draft pick to get him the ball just like he likes it.(HE WILL PERSONALLY TRAIN HIM).The Spurs got up off the floor last year,Now the Heat will take over the next three!!

    • Michael Council says:

      The heat are done, they where lucky to win 2-4 chips… they shouldve went 1-3. The mistakes they made in letting Miller go, just going to get worse.they lost ray allen & Battier this year and no longer have the floor spacers.adding gasol is just going to make it worse cause wade & lebron need the paint wide open to operate,. ADDing Napier really doesn’t matter, firzt he’s too tiny & seond lebron and wade really cany operate with having the ball in their hand, unless their wide open. The only way gasol helps them on they add 3 great 3 point shooter…..

  22. harrythehawk says:

    Pat Riley has bitten off all of his fingernails.

  23. Freight6Train says:

    Has anyone thought about the fact that it could just be pat riley wanting to sign the supporting cast first and with the remainder of the salary cap distribute it between the big 3?

  24. Hear me says:

    Time to get back to where you left Cleveland.Give em title now or never.LBJ#legacy%

  25. Nomi says:

    This article as so many mistakes. Pau Gasol wasn’t going to meet Riley in LA and LeBron has 4 MVPs.

  26. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    So far we have added Shabazz Napier to the roster …… that is all. Unless LeBron sees Pau Gausol & Jameer Nelson & multiple other quality role players sign with Miami then it would not make sense to go back to the Heat at this point.

    Unless Pat Riley has any more miracles up his sleeve then I think its safe to say that the Big 3 are finished… Bosh will probably go to Houston or Dallas, Wade will probably finish his career in Miami and LeBron will most likely head back to Cleveland.

  27. Da Bullets still live says:

    David – nice article and let’s see if LeBron actually makes Pat Riley sweat. In my opinion, the talent in Cleveland and Phoenix are better than in Miami. The experience and grit are better in Miami if Allen, Wade, and Bosh return. Either way, LeBron has the game to get any of these teams back to NBA Finals. Now – tell me how much the NBA is learning from the NFL about getting people to talk about your game, your players and your league even when no games are played. Right now, the offseason in the NBA is still generating new buzz daily and helping hype a league on the rise.

  28. Afsdgwgs says:

    first

  29. Savage22 says:

    Every time I start a new career in 2k14 (restarted it about 3 times already), Lebron always finds himself with the Lakers..maybe the creators knew something before any of us did….??