As the picture continues to look darker and darker for the Cavaliers in their efforts to retain LeBron James, those hopeful have been dealt another blow: LeBron won’t meet with the Cavaliers in person prior to free agency beginning, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.
James’ camp and the Cavs front office has been in regular dialogue since the season ended, sources said, and James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not be opting in to the final year of his contract with Cleveland worth $35.6 million.
Paul, who represents several other players entering into free agency -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nerlens Noel among them -- will conduct all his business over the phone when free agency begins, sources told ESPN.
It is unclear at this point if an in-person meeting between James and the Cavs has been scheduled down the line. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported this week that James would not be seeking out elaborate pitch meetings during the free agency process.
McMenamin is reporting that the Cavaliers still feel that they’re in the mix for James in free agency, but have found it difficult building their team not knowing what James’ plans are.
These are natural and fair reactions from the team, but to this observer, it feels that they’re laying the groundwork to defend themselves from losing perhaps the greatest player in history twice. Ultimately, teams can line up trades without executing them. It happens all the time, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that if the Cavaliers had a strong deal available to save the LeBron James tenure in Cleveland, it likely would’ve been executed by now, or it would have been communicated to James privately.
Not meeting with the team hardly is a death knell, as it’s already been reported that James isn’t interested in protracted pitch meetings this season. But it’s not great news in an offseason that hasn’t featured much.