Report: No Free Agency Tour for LeBron
LeBron James will not go on a free agency tour, according to ESPN.com, which cited Maverick Carter, the longtime manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar.
"LeBron is not going on a tour," Carter told the web site, referring to when the free-agency period begins on July 1. "He never planned to go on a tour and has not been a part of any team's plans for a recruiting trip."
Carter's statement is contrary to popular belief, which had the superstar forward poised for a whirlwind trip to different NBA cities, where courting teams could have wined and dined James. Instead, the report said that James will meet with individual teams at a neutral site -- most likely, his home in suburban Akron, Ohio.
Perhaps the most ballyhooed free agent in NBA history, James will have to make his decision while considering issues both on and off the court. In the past, he has said that he intends on trying to become the first billionaire athlete, making a move to a big market all the more tempting.
The New York Knicks -- located in the league's biggest market -- apparently will have to quickly reverse course in their recruitment due to the aforementioned development. ESPN.com reported that the Knicks had planned to throw James a lavish dinner party prepared by a celebrity chef, where famous New Yorkers would try to sell the city to the King.
According to ESPN.com's sources, the Knicks still will bring free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in for visits, though it has been clear for over two years that James is their main target.
As he is for everyone else.
The Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and Wade's Miami Heat are among the other teams who have maneuvered for cap space for a chance to sign James. The Cavs, however, have the upper hand, at least monetarily, seeing as though they can offer James $30 million more than any other club.
The Bulls and Heat have the superior rosters, while the Nets can offer a global marketplace thanks to the presence of their new Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The perpetually cursed Los Angeles Clippers have even thrown their hat in the ring.
So, it all begs the question -- what is more important to LeBron, an immediate chance to win or a move to brighter lights and bigger headlines? Maybe, he thinks he can do both at the same time.
One thing is for sure, a neutral-site meeting with James is not ideal for clubs, like New York, that are trying to sell their cities just as much as their teams. While it's clear that was the plan for several suitors, the Cavaliers remain coy about their plans to keep their Ohio native at home.
"We have a plan and we will execute it," Cavs general manager Chris Grant told ESPN.com.
James has not indicated which way he is leaning, though he told veteran talk show host Larry King earlier this month that the Cavs have the inside track. According to the report, LeBron already has met with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, who traveled to Akron to meet with his prized possession last week.