Riley needs new approach for face-to-face meeting with LeBron


VIDEO: Pat Riley issues a stark challenge to LeBron and the Big 3

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As impressive and entertaining as Pat Riley‘s first public words about LeBron James, the Heat and free agency were a few weeks ago, I think we can all agree a different approach is needed now.

Riley’s scheduled face-to-face meeting with LeBron today in Las Vegas probably won’t touch on anyone cutting and running now that the things have gotten a little more complicated. The tough guy routine won’t make it through the door of whatever luxury hotel they turn into the center of the basketball universe.

Riley’s “stay the course” diatribe in the aftermath of the Heat’s Game 5 defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in The Finals last month was epic, an instant classic. But it’s useless now, especially with rumblings that LeBron and his camp are seriously considering a return to their Cleveland and Northeast Ohio roots in free agency.

James hasn’t spoken to Riley face-to-face since exiting the premises after The Finals and before free agency began, when his agent, Rich Paul, took control off the process. Paul met with officials from the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers while James stayed away and spent time with his family.

Now the Heat family — a contingent including Riley, Dwyane Wade, Heat owner Mickey Arison and head coach Erik Spoelstra — will give their best recruiting speeches to convince James to stick around and help keep the Heat’s Big 3 together.

If we are to believe all of the smoke that billowed into the free-agency air over the weekend, it could be a tougher sell than the one Riley and Co. made four years ago when they convinced LeBron to leave Cleveland for South Beach and the lure of multiple title chases.

Notably absent from the Heat’s guest list is Chris Bosh, who like James and Wade is an unrestricted free agent. He has a max contract offer from the Rockets that he’s seriously considering, at least until he hears what James is going to do in regards to the Heat.

Riley has expressed all this confidence that the Heat’s Big Three will indeed return intact, and yet they are coming at James full force today. Something doesn’t add up. Which is exactly why I suspect Riley’s tone to change dramatically from what we hard from him weeks ago, when he compared James, Wade and Bosh to some of the great dynasties the NBA has seen and challenged them to do what Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers did and Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics did two generations ago.

“Don’t run,” Riley said then, before anyone had opted out of a contract and the Heat still seemed to be operating from a position of power.

“I’m not going to drop any rings on the table …,” he continued.

A kinder and gentler approach might be more prudent, especially at this juncture. The basketball world has changed a bit since July 1. Perspectives have changed, too.

While the Heat remain LeBron’s most viable option to get back to The Finals in 2015, provided the band comes back together again with a few tweaks, they are certainly not his only option for making repeated trips to The Finals in the future.

So it’ll be interesting to see how Riley’s tone changes now, with LeBron in complete control of the futures of so many.

13 Comments

  1. joe says:

    I would have liked to see lebron play with harding and howard in houston..

  2. birdie says:

    He’s got his nerve talking about anybody else cutting and running, Mr. “I’ll Just Fax in My Resignation.”. So you think a different approach than didactic bullying might be called for? He should just trot out smarmy and oily; it’s worked well for him before.

  3. Aristotle says:

    The stance doesn’t need to change. It’s true… what LeBron has achieved doesn’t need selling. It’s all about finding out what he wants to get paid, and who he wants to play with. Obviously a team of younger guys who fit the system.
    There’s no doubting LeBron could make the Finals with the Cavs, but Irving is JUST AS injury prone as Wade and look how younger he is. Also Love, is like a Bosh that rebounds more, but he’s been hurt too. Who are the others? Bennett? Thompson? Waiters who has issues?
    Ah well we’ll see.

  4. choikobai says:

    HEAT ROSTER 2014-2015
    (just my fantasy roster)

    Lebron James – 17M/yr
    Dwyane Wade – 12M/yr
    Chris Bosh – 12M/yr
    Josh McRoberts – 5M/yr
    Udonis Haslem – 3M/yr
    Norris Cole – 2M/yr
    Ray Allen – 2M/yr
    Danny Granger – 2M/yr
    Mike Miller – 2M/yr
    Shabazz Napier – 1M/yr
    Michael Beasley – 1M/yr
    Chris Andersen – 1M/yr
    Greg Oden – 1M/yr
    Rashard Lewis – 1M/yr
    James Jones – 1M/yr

    feel free to comment..

  5. James Earl Jones says:

    What’s up with all these players wanting to team up and play with each other. It’s ruining the league.

  6. harrythehawk says:

    I find it intriguing that Lebron James COULD return to Cleveland. It makes me want to actually see them (Cleveland) play this fall. But he will probably go to the Heat. To lose again. lol

  7. Flexy says:

    At the end of the day we all forget these players are human, with that said I’d expect Bron to do exactly what any man would do in a similar siuation, and that is to decide whats best for his family and him. To be honest I’m a die hard Heat fan with or without the big three, and have always been. Would it be great to have him stay, ofcourse, we would be dumb to let the best player in the world go, but I honeslty don’t think the way the Heat are built right now that staying would be the best move for Bron. Give up a max contract to play with Wade and Bosch is a no no. I think they need to let Bosch go to Houston and grab Melo. They have Granger which will help them big time down low, they just need to aqcuire another reliable rebounder and they could win another ring. But if Miami can’t do that, Bron will be going back home, I’m pretty sure of it.

  8. James Gillian says:

    Something is def up, not sold that LeBron is def off the Cleveland though, but probably more serious about it than previously. Read the SH piece on LeBron, Melo and Bosh’s free agency, makes some valid arguments for each, worth a read: http://straighthoops.com/enough_already.html

  9. LBJthaking!!!! says:

    Please dunt sign back with Miami!

  10. Mike Weiss says:

    the only reason the basketball universe has changed since the finals is due to the media. Noone knows what is going to happen, agents lie, and the media has to report something, and they really don’t care if its accurate. I even read one guy who said Lebron enrolled his kids in school in Cleveland. You don’t think that would’ve been all over if that was true? This is insanity that people care so much about these fools.

  11. SAVAGE22 says:

    Lebron loves making Pat sweat..in the end , I think he will be back with the heat on a short term deal.

  12. Victor says:

    Always admired Sekou Smith’s impeccable writing, this time though a few spelling mistakes caught my eye, guess he had a rough night… happens to the best of us:)

  13. TheKush says:

    Riley did everything within his power to do! Personally I just think it’s time for LeBron and Melo to hook up and win a championship! If I were leBron I wouldn’t want Wade having more rings than I have! I think the Knicks are missing out on a great opportunity if they don’t try and at least pursue James and I don’t want to hear anything about a salary cap when talking about the New York Knicks!