LeBron James won't take meetings at the start of free agency, but that doesn't mean teams won't speak with his agent. The Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets are among the teams that will meet with Rich Paul in Cleveland, according to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn:
Teams interested in LeBron James will meet w agent Rich Paul this week in Cleveland, according to NBA source. James will not attend meetings— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) July 1, 2014
This runs contrary to what Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported:
Among top-level NBA executives and agents, there remains a strong belief that Miami will convince its key players to return on new deals. Within the suitors for James, there's an increased pessimism they'll never get a serious chance to engage James in free-agent meetings and presentations, sources told Yahoo Sports. His agent Rich Paul told teams he will accept their calls beginning after midnight on Tuesday, but there's no sense the formal meetings will be scheduled in the near future, sources said.
Whether it's on the phone or in person, it's interesting that James' camp isn't necessarily shutting down the teams that are courting him. James might be sending signals to Miami that he's going to return, but it's smart for his agent to at least keep other options open. Being an unrestricted free agent puts pressure on Heat president Pat Riley to improve the team, and there isn't as much pressure if Riley believes James will return no matter what. The Lakers have already placed a call, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
Being the best player in the world means you have all the leverage you want. James could tell teams they had to make their pitches in Icelandic, and they'd figure it out. Regardless of the actual chances that he leaves Miami, front offices would be foolish not to at least try to get James and/or his representatives to listen to their offers. We'll see soon if any of this goes anywhere.