With the Heat set to face the Cavaliers in Cleveland tonight, the focus is on LeBron James, who yesterday expressed an openness to eventually play in Cleveland again before telling Heat fans not to worry today. While both remarks struck me as attempts by James to make everyone happy, Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo Sports says LeBron came to Cleveland on a mission this week, and that his comments were no accident.
According to Wojnarowski, James delivered the same message he expressed publicly yesterday to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert months ago via "an emissary or two." Wojnarowski says LeBron is legitimately interested in the possibility of returning to Cleveland when he can opt out of his current contract (2014) and is already putting out feelers. Says one source to Yahoo: "[LeBron] has started to lay the groundwork, and he’s waiting to see what Dan Gilbert’s reaction to it is."
Under NBA tampering rules, Gilbert can't reply to James' comments, so we shouldn't to expect to hear anything out of the Cavs' camp. And with over two years until he even has the chance to opt out of his current deal, the two-time MVP could easily change his mind a few more times before he even hits free agency again. However, according to the Yahoo report, LeBron has nagging doubts about Miami.
Wojnarowski is blunt in his assessment of LeBron's motives, writing that the former Cavalier "lives for the recruitment, lives to be wanted elsewhere," and rightly pointing out that the Heat and president Pat Riley must be "livid" about James discussing free agency already.
Whether or not James is serious about a potential return to Cleveland, this week has made one thing clear: The road to The Decision: Part II could be even longer and more winding than the first time around.