Nothing like a little Sunday night drama from the NBA rumor mill.
ESPN's Chris Broussard created a massive Twitter storm when he tweeted this out:
Cleveland has replaced Miami as my frontrunner to land LeBron James...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
Broussard, who took plenty of criticism four years ago for his unnamed sources on where James would wind up in 2010, is still well connected and likely is as close as any reporter to the James free agency situation.
Still, Broussard took to Twitter again to say that he wasn't reporting anything of fact, but rather an opinion "based on many conversations I've had around this story." Broussard also tweeted that he's "heard enough to believe" that James will return home to Cleveland, where he spent the first seven years of his NBA career before taking his talents to South Beach.
If that weren't enough -- and if you aren't sold on Broussard for reputable sourcing -- Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski then took to social media to provide the latest he had been hearing on James' free agency.
In pursuit of max slot for LeBron James, Cavs searching for team to take Nets' Marcus Thornton in deal to unload Jarrett Jack, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Longer James has gone w/ minimal contact, more unsettled Bosh/Wade have become on Heat future. "They're reading the tea leafs," source says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Cavaliers want to unload Jarrett Jack's $6M annual deal to clear space, without touching Anderson Varejao -- a LeBron James favorite.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Around Bosh/Wade, there's uneasiness about James' intent; uncertainty. No one's sure -- yet. Heat aren't done, but empire's teetering.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Once Pat Riley has chance to lay out his progress in free agency to James soon, there could be better clarity on James' next step.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Those first few tweets would make it seem as though James is leaning away from Miami, but Wojnarowski's last tweet may be the most important. James has not met directly with any teams in free agency -- his agent, Rich Paul, has, and the Cavs were one of those teams -- and Miami Heat president Pat Riley is busy crunching numbers and forming a plan that he ultimately will share with James on how they will rebuild the roster. Until that happens, there's really no sense in believing James (or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh) are leaving Miami.
But it's apparent the Cavaliers are pulling out all the stops to attract James. And it's reportedly caught James' eye.
I'm told, by multiple sources now, LeBron agent Rich Paul told Cavs he's impressed w what they've done and what they can still do to roster.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 7, 2014
This offseason the Cavaliers selected Kansas wing Andrew Wiggins with the first pick in the NBA Draft, they re-signed talented young point guard Kyrie Irving to a maximum contract and have plenty of young talent (Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters) that would seem appealing to James, who played with an aging roster in Miami the past three seasons.
Still, it would be a minor shock to this author to see James go back to Cleveland. The four-time MVP and two-time NBA Finals winner isn't one to hold grudges and he seems to have put his ego aside since his first year in Miami, but it's hard to think of him forgetting about the letter owner Dan Gilbert wrote to Cavaliers fans shortly after James departed for South Beach.
In that letter, Gilbert referred to James as a "self-entitled former king," called James leaving Cleveland "cowardly betrayal" and "a shocking act of disloyalty." Whether Gilbert was right or wrong, he was certainly out of place and apologized shortly after for the Comic Sans-laced rant. That, combined with fans seen on TV burning James' jersey in the streets of Cleveland after The Decision makes it hard to believe he'd return there, even if it is 40 minutes away from his hometown, Akron.