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While NBA rumors fly in wild ride, LeBron James plays patient game

Jul 6, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

LeBron James LeBron James

It’s only been five days. We’re just starting Day 6.

That’s how long we have been in this NBA free agency period (it feels like three weeks, but it just started July 1). Six days is too fast to expect even Pat Riley to have pulled off a miracle, or to have rebuilt key parts of the Heat’s roster. We’re not at the point yet where most players will take a discount, they are still dreaming big.

Six days is far faster than LeBron James needed to make a decision. And he knows it. So he hasn’t.

In today’s constant news cycle/social media landscape opinions — and the emotions of fan bases — swing on droplets of news. Especially where it concerns LeBron because he swings the balance of power with him — whatever team he plays for is instantly a contender. Other players will come there. He brings that kind of power.

But clearly the man is in no rush to use it. He went on vacation right as free agency started and has another one planned within a week.

Why should he be in a rush?

The message he sent to Pat Riley about improving the roster got through and is still hangs over the Heat, forcing actions. LeBron can let his agent sort through potential Plan B options, to meet with other interested teams. LeBron can even sit down this week with a handful of those other suitors.

And then still not make an instant decision.

Would LeBron like to get this wrapped up before he heads to Brazil to watch the World Cup final? I’m sure he would. That’s different from real pressure to get a deal done — what real pressure is on him to make a fast decision? Other teams may get frustrated with the waiting, so what?

Right now the pressure is on Riley, but he is caught in a vicious cycle — quality free agents don’t want to commit to the Heat until they know LeBron is on board, LeBron doesn’t want to be on board until some more quality players are.

Then there is the money issue — Riley doesn’t know exactly what he can spend. That’s thanks to LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade not giving Riley firm numbers to go by. Our own Aaron Bruski reported that contenders speaking to Isaiah Thomas were giving him a $6 million to $7 million starting number. Other free agents were told the starting salary was $5.5 million, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, although the Heat talked of trying to make a sign-and-trade deal. Luol Deng and the Heat spoke but could only go so far because there are no solid numbers, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com.

Those are strikes against the Heat, but every potential landing spot has its own big strikes, especially for a guy such as LeBron who wants to win instantly. The Cavaliers roster is talented but very, very green and untested (plus there is some ugly history with the last exit). In Houston, can two ball dominant wing players — LeBron and James Harden — share the ball, plus get Dwight Howard enough touches? In addition the Rockets are in the West and any trip to the West is a much tougher road to the Finals. In Los Angeles it would still be seen as Kobe Bryant’s team, plus that roster is a long, long way from contending. The Bulls can’t offer a max contract like LeBron wants. The Suns have cap space and a nice core, but if LeBron wants to play for an owner really willing to spend does he trust Robert Sarver? The list goes on and on, there is no easy, clean answer for LeBron, especially since moving again to chase a ring likely leads to another public backlash (even if it is Cleveland).

So he can be patient. Let the suitors tweak their rosters and make their pitches. All the while Pat Riley keeps pulling things together to round out the Miami roster. LeBron can sit back and let it play out much longer.

And all the while, the NBA rumor mill will just keep on cranking. Droplets of information will produce wild swings, at least until LeBron reaches an actual answer.

  1. buffalo65 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Love to see an”I made a mistake” and a resign with Canada south in Cleveland.
    Give them a chance to win before the Toronto kids come home to the Raps first chance they get.

    • condor75 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      t”Made a mistake?” he went to the finals all four years since leaving Cleveland, with two rings, all player should be so mistake prone

  2. gpatrick15 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    “The list goes on and on, there is no easy, clean answer for LeBron, especially since moving again to chase a ring likely leads to another pubic”

    What, exactly, were you trying to say here?

    • miamatt - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Sadly, my girlfriend’s chase for a ring also led to another pubic…

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        sorry man, that sucks…

  3. Vir Publius - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    Hey man…you wrote “pubic” instead of “public”.

    • jeffkx - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      He also neglected to finish the sentence..

  4. dbfan4ever - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    So there is no real story here!

  5. timb12 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    This article pretty much negates all the other articles! “Guys, Lebron isn’t close to making a decision. Don’t read in to anything too much because we just don’t know”

  6. jzone954 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    He’s not leaving Miami.

  7. beachsidejames - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    The players that have come to play at low salaries are excellent players but limited to some degree from being stars. D. Wade is now that type of player. IMO his worth is more like 5-6 million per season. Thats where the room is to sign the free agent hopefuls.

    • bkbell3 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Beach, a big part of the problem this year is there is so much money out there as teams have a ton of cap space plus many teams have all or most of there exceptions left to spend so there is hundreds of millions of dollars not spent yet. That’s way your seeing some of these contracts being given out to mid-level guys. When in other years some of these guys would be forced to take less and might end up on a team like miami.

      • beachsidejames - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        If there was one thing to be learned from the finals is that a deeper bench is required to win. Three guys almost maxing out their contracts makes that quite bit more difficult. Lebron makes so much off the court its hard to hear him say he needs a max salary and wants quality players to take way less or he walks…..I like lebron but he didn’t win last year and needed the help or he would have won. Either way its getting tiresome to hear.

  8. jacobk621 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    “Yawn” !!!!!!

  9. SBoy - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    If the hold up to making a decision about where to play is about winning, than Lebron, Wade and Bosh have to give Riley and whatever teams they’re considering some specifics… i.e. sign Deng and I’ll play for X… Sign Steve Blake and I’ll play for Y, etc.

    Otherwise how can they expect things to get done? Are players suppose to take a pay cut or sign with Miami just for the privilege of having a chance to play with LeBron IF he decides to resign?

    By not giving specifics, they’re holding teams and other free agents up and making it harder for Riley to do what they want him to…

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      All we know is that they haven’t given specifics *to the press*. There is zero actual reason to think that Pat Riley is also in the dark, and your own excellent points show why it is highly unlikely that he is.

    • djjeremiahj - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Lebron made his demands and gave Riley a week to come up with a “pitch”and do research….
      I think we can all agree that Lebron wants to stay in Miami, but he also wants to win and Miami may not be able to provide him with this request for a while.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        Miami may not be able to provide him with a team to challenge 72 wins… but they can always provide him with a team that can contend for rings. It doesn’t matter who Miami signs, if they have LeBron, Wade and Bosh they will be right there in the mix as they have been over the last 4 years.

        Remember that 2011 Heat squad was completely devoid of supporting talent or depth and they still went up 2-1 in the Finals on Dallas, even with LeBron playing poorly.

  10. harshedmellow - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Really, Wade is the pivot point. He was under contract for 2/41 and opted out. I agree that his FMV is around 6-7 mil/year, but, there is no way the Heat don’t give him back that 41 mil and then some, just spread out over 4 years.

    So now you have Wade overpaid at say 4/12. Bosh’s FMV is max or close to it. Lebron’s is certainly max. Problem is if you go max for LBJ and nearly so (a “discount”) for Bosh, and add in 12/yr for Wade, you get up around 52-55 mil a year… there’s simply no room for another quality guy, plus decent roster pieces.

    I’m a D-Wade fan; have been since he carried Shaq to that title. He was an absolute beast, and a real warrior. But guys get to this point (cough Kobe cough) and are ridiculously overpaid for symbolic reasons. That’s fine, and good for him I guess, but it does have ramifications.

    LBJ is in an interesting pickle here. He knows, better than anyone, that the current core of the Heat is not a championship team w/o a major addition. Yet there’s no money for one. Lowry would’ve been a great “Wade light” but with him now locked up, it’s unclear that there even IS an UFA out there that fits. Picking up a “nice” player doesn’t solve a thing.

    • marcusfitzhugh - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      Why should any player give up a guaranteed $41M over two years for the hope that their employer pays them the same $41M over four years? The Heat is his employer, not his friend.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Bosh is not going to get anywhere near the max on Miami.

  11. tv63 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    No mention of Laker’s roster? They don’t even have enough players for a pick up game. Still no coach. How is this better? You will need more than Kobe to have a successful season.

  12. terremotinho - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Daily Lebron Update.

  13. andreboy1 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Do you know what LBJ had for breakfast?

    That would be more interesting than this story.

  14. jollyjoker2 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    LeBron is trying to put pressure on Riley and Miami to get some players …Now that they all know how much money is left over. I think Riley bluffed as their isn’t much out there and fed him the corporate line. Two egos’ going against each other. Interesting.

  15. jimeejohnson - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Lakers are desperate. They see their crosstown rival Clippers playing for championships while they play for last place! They see the Warriors playing for a championship while they wallow in inferiority, all the while bragging “Lakers own L.A.”…HA! Lakers are delusional, ever since Dwight Howard spurned them and Southern California.

    • djjeremiahj - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      We get it… you’re a LakersHater… and like the rest, all you can do is parrot the same tired rhetoric that every Hater uses.

      Lakers aren’t desperate… You are witnessing how they build a team.
      RE: Champoinships…. Warriors, Clippers…. a bit dramatic don’t you think?

      • antistratfordian - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        We’ve already witnessed how they build a team without PJ and Riles. It was a spectacular failure.

  16. scorp16 - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    If you want rings you have to put yourself in a position to play for one. The easiest road to the Finals right now is in the east. If he goes to LA then he still has to get through the Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Mavs and Clippers. If he goes to Rockets is a Big 3 of Harden, Howard and LeBron really all that much better than a Gasol, Durant, Westbrook lineup? Playing with Howard creates spacing problems. Put him on the Clippers with CP3 and Blake. How does that match up against Nowitzki, Chandler, and possibly Bosh? What if he goes to the Mavs with Nowitzki and Chandler? Enough to beat a Rockets team with Howard, Harden, and maybe Bosh?

    No the easiest route back is East. He may go back to Cleveland to play with Kyrie, and Wiggins but is that really enough to beat a healthy DRose, Noah, and maybe Carmelo? Indiana hasn’t gotten better but they will still be a factor and a problem matchup.

    Miami is still his best option if he wants to play for a ring next year.

  17. antistratfordian - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Nothing has changed. It’s the same story it was on day 1.

  18. thetooloftools - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    HELLO CLEVELAND !

  19. j0esixpack - Jul 6, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    My prediction: Everyone in China chips in $1 and LeBron defects and plays for the Chinese National Team for $1 billion.

  20. whalesarenotmammals - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    LBJ is killing that hat. Sir Winston Churchill would be jealous!

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