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Miami Heat & Riley meet with top free agents on 1st day of free agency, LeBron looming

A delegation of Miami Heat execs led by Pat Riley put a full court press on most of the max free agents Thursday at the stroke of midnight and even though no deals were struck the news wasn’t all bad. In fact, with the many dreadful contracts agreed upon by several other teams (Darko: the $20 million dollar man?) you could say it was a pretty positive day overall. After leading the We Want Wade Rally in downtown Miami early Wednesday, Alonzo Mourning ended up joining the Heat recruiting team that included Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, owner Mick Arison and his son Nick Arison (who has worked with Team USA). They wasted no time in making the trek out to the West Coast where they met with Amar’e Stoudemire but did not offer a contract, making it obvious that their #1 preference is Chris Bosh. The Heat have also reached out to Plan B players such as Raymond Felton, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller should they be unable to land the top 3 free agents. The contingent then made their way to Chicago where they met with Dwyane Wade who also visited the United Center today for a two-hour presentation from the Chicago Bulls that’s sure to make Heat fans sweat just a little. But perhaps the most important meeting so far came later on Thursday with none other than Chris Bosh, perhaps the key to all of this. Should he be convinced to join the Heat then Wade would assuredly re-sign with the Heat. Together, the duo with Riley could then lure in LeBron James who might see his chances of reaching the Finals greatly improve with those two by his side instead of on the other side of the court. Because Bosh is the only one regularly posting updates on Twitter we are at the very least slightly privy to his thoughts, something not possible with LeBron or Wade. In reading them, I did notice something that might lend credence to the sources who claim that Miami may be in the lead for his services. Last night (after midnight struck), Bosh posted the following: It's been an exciting first couple of hrs. Got some interesting visits and presentations from Houston, Toronto, Chicago and Miami. We'll see who else will come out tomorrow. This occurred in his hometown of Houston and then he later flew to Chicago where his first meeting of the day was with…Miami at agent Henry Thomas' office. About to head in the first meeting. Looking forward to seeing what Miami has to offer. So then this was the second meeting already with Miami? The first one might have been via telephone or video conferencing but this one was definitely face-to-face with the Heat group. (He also plans to see the Bulls again as well so the Heat isn't the only team that will talk to him twice, though they appear to be the only ones that will do this.) The encouraging update later was upbeat and positive a whole four hours later (how long was that presentation?). Off to a great start. First one went well. Pat Riley is very passionate about winning. An hour later Bosh reported he had bumped into Wade at the office. So that likely means he stayed an extra hour after the presentation to talk with Thomas. Just said what's up to @dwadeofficial as I was heading out. Good to see a fellow free agent going through the same process. A few hours later he reported that he had met with the Nets… New Jersey meeting was very good as well. These guys really know how to sell a franchise. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but it doesn’t sound nearly as effusive but maybe my view is slightly biased on this one. Bosh will meet with Chicago on Friday. Meanwhile a short distance away in Cleveland, James spent his first day of meetings with New York and New Jersey trying their best to make James forget just how bad these teams have been the last few years. Best to get those out of the way first so James can now pay attention to the true contenders for his signature with Miami meeting with him on Friday and then on Saturday he’ll listen to what Chicago and Cleveland have to say. Tomorrow is Riley’s last chance with the heavy-hitters. With players like Rudy Gay and Joe Johnson off the table the Heat need to swing for the fences. While it’s a good thing the Heat didn’t offer the max to either Gay or Johnson, the fact remains that plenty of teams have cash to spend and will assuredly overspend on the next tier of free agents and the Heat will have more competition for these players. It would have been nice for Bosh and Wade to have already accepted the Heat’s offer but realistically that was a long shot and Thomas would never allow it with other teams yet to make their pitch. But Friday may just bring us some actual news. Maybe.