CLEVELAND (CBS Cleveland/AP) — Is LeBron James going back to Cleveland after leaving for greener pastures four years ago?
A league source tells Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com that it’s highly likely James will return home after spurring the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010.
“A plugged-in source tells me there is a 90 percent chance that LeBron James will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it will be announced on http://www.lebronjames.com if it happens,” Sheridan wrote.
Sheridan added that this information came from the same league source who said earlier this week that he felt there was a 75 percent chance James would return to the Cavs.
James’ agent, Rich Paul, did meet with the Cavaliers while the NBA superstar was on vacation with his family. Paul also met with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, all of whom pitched plans as to why the 29-year-old superstar should sign with them.
Jeff Phelps of 92.3 The Fan told CBS Cleveland last month that James will be looked at as a “mercenary” if he leaves the Heat for any other team other than the Cavs.
“If LeBron leaves Miami for any team other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, I think his image will be slightly tarnished. He’ll still be viewed as one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he’ll also be viewed as a basketball mercenary, a guy willing to market his services to the highest bidder with the cozies – and perhaps easiest – opportunity for instant stuff,” Phelps told CBS Cleveland.
Phelps believes it could be a storybook ending for James’ career if he comes back to Cleveland.
“He heads back to Cleveland, he’ll be viewed favorably by a majority of NBA fans. Who can’t buy into the ‘prodigal-son-goes-home-to-win-a-title’ story? It’s great stuff,” Phelps said. “If he stays in Miami, he doesn’t get hurt. He shows the loyalty that a lot of folks thought he needed to show in 2010.”
James is expected to meet with Miami Heat President Pat Riley before making a final decision on his NBA future, and a person close to the situation said that meeting had not happened as of Tuesday afternoon. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no one has publicly announced the date of the meeting.
After filming a TV commercial in Coral Gables, Florida on Monday, James flew to Las Vegas, which was planned because of his academy. Later this week, he’s expected to travel to Brazil to the World Cup final.
He took time to Tuesday morning to work out with Dwyane Wade in Las Vegas before his meetings, another person close to the situation told the AP. Like James, Wade has also not announced his plans for next season and beyond, though it is still largely expected that the 2006 NBA Finals MVP and three-time champion will remain in Miami.
James’ future remains anyone’s guess.
And it appears the buildup to his second foray into free-agent craziness will last longer than the one that culminated in him going to Miami in 2010. He made that announcement on July 8, 2010 — exactly four years ago Tuesday.
James wanted to contain the madness that surrounded his first foray into free agency four years ago, but the growth of social media has turned the past week into an endless storm of rumors, speculation and baseless media reports.
While James may be nearing an announcement, that won’t come until he’s met with Riley. And the Heat have been making moves as well, announcing Monday that they intend to sign forwards Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, two free agents to bolster their roster.
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