NBA free agency: Is LeBron James' agent pushing him to return to Cleveland?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Rich Paul, LeBron James' agent, has the Cavs thinking that they can land James and bring him back to Cleveland.

Not even a few hours after the mystery surrounding Dan Gilbert and his Florida-bound plane had somewhat wrapped up, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that Rich Paul, LeBron James' agent, has the Cavaliers believing that they can re-sign James. At Paul's urging, the Cavaliers are also pursuing the necessary cap space to sign James to a max contract.

The easiest way for the Cavs to do that would to be trading Jarrett Jack and his $6.2 million dollar salary. Reports have indicated that the Cavs and Brooklyn Nets have discussed a Jack for Marcus Thornton swap that would do that. Thornton, however, is set to make $8.7 million next year on the last year of his contract and that's where this gets tricky for David Griffin and company. To create cap space after acquiring Thornton, the Cavs would then have to deal Thornton to a third team while receiving nothing in return. As a result, the Cavs are offer future draft picks as sweeteners. Guard Sergey Karasev has also been made available.

A name who hasn't been made available is center Anderson Varejao. With his contract only partially guaranteed for next season, cutting ties with Varejao would be the simplest way to create the necessary cap space to sign James to a max deal. According to an ESPN report, however, the Cavs would not be willing to cut Varejao. And that makes sense, as losing Varejao would leave Tyler Zeller as the only center under contract.

If the Cavaliers are unable to sign James, Wojnarowski indicates that the Cavs will turn their attention to free agents such as Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye and Gordon Hayward. Hayward, a restricted free agent, visited Cleveland last week.ccording to the report, bringing James back to Cleveland has been "something of a mission" for Paul over the past few years. Of course, if this all a smokescreen or James returns to the Miami Heat, Paul risks turning James into a heel all over again.

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