The latest report has the most critical free agency meeting finally scheduled between LeBron James and Pat Riley, where all the rest of the major dominoes for the Miami Heat, and indeed the rest of the NBA, should start to fall.
Something has to give.
Pat Riley needs numbers to work with to retool the roster as he flies around the country to meet with Pau Gasol, Loul Deng and Marvin Williams. He needs to get the facts straight direct from LeBron James himself, amid all the rumors and reports from unknown and "anonymous" sources feeding national media writers eager for something to report on during open season for free agents.
LeBron took a much-needed rest and a relaxing vacation to clear his mind, spending time with his sons fishing and taking in the Fourth of July festivities with family and friends. The best basketball player clearly needs reinforcements if he wants to return to the Finals, and in the East that path is easier than anything else the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks or any other West team can offer him. Miami can still give him the best chance so long as Riley can get the best of last year's roster to return but add some fresh faces.
His agent has apparently taken meetings with several teams on behalf of his star client and doing his due diligence while James vacationed, and late Monday night a source reportedly close to him has told Sun-Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman a meeting indeed has been planned between the two figures of the Miami Heat organization.
Confirmed to Sun Sentinel: Source close to LeBron says, "there is an in person meeting being scheduled for next 2-3 days" with Pat Riley.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 7, 2014
If Riley can secure a commitment from LeBron ahead of the 10th of July, then obviously that makes his job that much easier to convince free agents to sign up as well. But if he starts taking meetings personally with other teams this week, then Riley's targets may choose to move on to other teams eager to overpay them.
The allure of playing alongside LeBron, Chris Bosh and a (hopefully healthy) Dwyane Wade in a class act franchise that has a proven championship-winning organization can surely convince one, two or three quality players to want to be a valued member of the rotation. Let's not forget Bosh has options as well, though he has stated he wants to make it work with the Heat, speaking words more direct than anything LeBron has said with his decision to not talk about it last season.
Amid a flurry of rumors involving Dan Gilbert, Carmelo Anthony, and other names cropping up today, agent Henry Thomas, who represents Bosh and Wade, has told ESPN that any speculation about his clients was off-base and that the two were working on any deals separately. Thomas, who also represents, Udonis Haslem, also "scoffed" at the notion of Bosh looking at a 4-year max deal elsewhere.
"They appreciate what they've done in Miami those four years together, and they want to make sure they have a chance to have that same success the next four (years)," said Thomas, who attended Sunday's games at the Orlando Pro Summer League. "With Dwyane, he's been there his entire career, so he's in a unique situation. Chris has made it known how he's felt about being in Miami these four years."
"This is a process -- really a different process for each one of them," Thomas said. "It just has to play out. But what I can tell you is that nothing's changed."