Just when free agency was getting dull, the tidal wave came crashing in on Thursday.
LeBron James is an unrestricted free agent. Some have forgotten this because it’s been played as a preconceived notion that LeBron will re-sign with the Miami Heat, along with buddies Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
But there’s just a slight problem with that notion at this current point in time — the Heat have a grand total of one player under contract. And there’s another problem — Pat Riley hasn’t gotten any commitment from any free agents to come to Miami.
So while the Heat have been scrambling to put a quality team around Miami’s Big Three, LeBron’s agent Rich Paul has held meetings with numerous teams inquiring about King James’ services.
One team on that list? Of course it would be the Dallas Mavericks. Why wouldn’t they be?
ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Mavs, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers each made a pitch to Paul. ESPN’s Chris Broussard later reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were going to get in on the fun, as well.
Hide your kids, hide your wife. It’s “The Decision” all over again, and the Mavs are involved in it this time around.
It also seems unreal that Rodrigue Beaubois isn’t holding Dallas back from going after LeBron this time. To be fair, the Mavs weren’t a realistic destination for LeBron in 2010, but it was interesting hearing reports that the only thing holding Mark Cuban from landing Dirk Nowitzki‘s ultimate sidekick was this kid from Guadeloupe who’s currently out of the NBA.
But that was then, this is now. Do the Mavs have enough right now to convince LeBron to come to Dallas?
That depends. If you ask Carmelo Anthony, probably not. It’s still something to wonder about.
How much of a smokescreen is this really? Is this all a ploy to give Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra more time to recruit free agents to Miami? Is LeBron just doing his due diligence as an unrestricted free agent by talking to the other 29 teams in the league?
Again, not sure.
Here’s what we know, though. Chris Bosh is looking for more money than this paycut he’s been asked to take. A deal worth five years, $90 million — along with the max deal that LeBron is looking for — isn’t going to give Miami much wiggle room to reel in better names than Mario Chalmers.
That puts the Mavs right in the thick of things for LeBron.
Is it a long shot? Absolutely. This isn’t a slam dunk. The Mavs are up against (possibly) Houston, a young Phoenix squad and the hometown Cavaliers.
The Lakers? Again, no.
Houston is a minor possibility because they’re hoping to land Bosh if Carmelo doesn’t go to the Rockets. Seriously, they’re begging for someone to take Chandler Parsons off their hands.
Dallas would be pitching LeBron almost the same exact way they did Carmelo. Although the odds are great that this meeting wouldn’t last more than just two hours, the bulk is the same — a quality supporting cast that he can play with, a star in Dirk, a defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler and a complimentary scorer in Monta Ellis.
LeBron’s max deal with a team not named Miami is valued to be at four years, around $88 million. Mark Cuban has said that he refuses to give a top-tier free agent a max deal. That also seems to be out the window considering Dirk is now locked up for a projected $10 million per year over the next three years.
But what if LeBron really wants to go to Dallas? Again, a pie-in-the-sky scenario, but in all seriousness — Dirk doesn’t have to sign his deal until July 10. If LeBron really wanted to go to Dallas and have a chance at a championship, there’s a good chance Dirk would be more than willing to renegotiate.
If you’re a betting man, good chance LeBron stays in Miami. If you give Riley enough time to work some magic, he’s sure to get something that would make LeBron want to stay. But the Heat are running out of time.
Dallas is a longshot. But do they have a chance? Absolutely. And they’ll take full advantage of this chance this time around.