According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers felt that they were very close to securing a commitment from LeBron James yesterday.
Hours after the Cleveland Cavaliers believed they were on the cusp of a commitment out of LeBron James, the superstar free agent jetted 30,000 feet over America with Dwyane Wade on his way back to Miami.
The fight for the generation's biggest free agent raged out of the desert and back to the shores of Biscayne Bay on Thursday night, with James tempering a brimming belief within the Cavaliers into a trepidation that Wade could be playing the part of Pat Riley's closer for the Miami Heat.
Cleveland had been carefully listening to the direction of James' agent Rich Paul, who has been privately telling people for weeks – even months and years – that he has been determined to deliver the prodigal son of Northeast Ohio back home.
Of course, the Cavaliers did just that, trading Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller, and Sergey Karasev and a future first round pick for cap space. It's possible that if they hadn't felt like they were in such a hurry, they might have been able to have secured a better deal without paying such a steep price. But they felt they were in a hurry:
When paperwork was slow to be filed to finalize the three-way deal on Thursday morning, Cavaliers officials were imploring Boston and Brooklyn executives to speed up the process, that it was imperative the deal be finalized and Cleveland officials could be prepared to present James with a max contract with a starting salary of $20.7 million, sources said.
Wojnarowski went on to report that the Cavaliers had heard from "everyone", except for James himself, that a decision was forthcoming. It wasn't.
Wojnarowski doesn't rule out a return to the Cavaliers for James, and notes that there still is no commitment to the Heat, either. What's interesting here is the notion that agent Rich Paul is trying to orchestrate a return to Cleveland, and James is either resisting or dragging his feet. Agents have legal duties to do as their principal asks them to do. If Paul is running around Cleveland working to make that happen, without the direction of James, well, it'd be pretty crazy. And that's without taking into account that they are good friends.
I'm as confused about this as anyone. Hopefully we get an answer soon.