Lakers GM Kupchak to meet with LeBron’s agent; pressure increases on Pat Riley to improve Heat


The general feeling around the league is LeBron James still isn’t going anywhere. He ultimately will not leave Miami. That at the end of the day everything he is doing is to put pressure on Pat Riley to improve the Heat roster, and fast. Riley and coach Eric Spoelstra were in Los Angeles talking to free agents Thursday (including Pau Gasol) but this early in the process it’s hard to talk players into discounts.

However, if those roster improvements don’t come, LeBron will have options.

Those will include the Lakers — Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is flying to Cleveland to meet with LeBron’s agent, reports Chris Broussard and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

LeBron’s agent already met with representatives of the Rockets, Mavericks, Cavaliers and Suns. If LeBron gets serious the Lakers and Knicks will want into that conversation.

While all this has been going on, LeBron has been on vacation with his family. He will wait a while longer, then maybe meet with other teams if the Heat have yet to really secure any additions to the roster.

The pressure is on Riley now. LeBron’s agent simply laying a foundation, just in case.

Suns, Mavericks, Cavaliers, Rockets met with LeBron’s agent; LeBron ‘seems ready’ to explore the market


The Suns are doing what they can to enter the LeBron James sweepstakes, even if it’s only a theoretical competition at this stage of the proceedings.

Most believe that James isn’t going anywhere, and that he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are working together to structure their contracts so that they can stay in Miami, while creating some additional cap space to allow the team to add talent in free agency at the same time.

But LeBron hasn’t said a thing since opting out of the final two years of his deal, and while he’s sitting out this initial round of meetings — again, possibly because he has no intentions of leaving — his agent will be exploring options with at least a few teams on his behalf.

The Suns are one of them, and the team’s owner reportedly had his shot with James’ agent on Wednesday.

From Chris Broussard of

Sources: Suns owner Robert Sarver was n Cleveland yesterday & met with LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul. Teaming LJ/Melo or LJ/Bosh n Phx discussed

The Cavaliers, Mavericks and Rockets also reportedly met with LeBron’s agent this week. The most interesting news of all may not happen until next week, however, when James himself may be present for meetings with three finalists, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Suns are the most intriguing here, mainly because the players currently in place are talented enough and young enough to keep contending for years to come. And, the team’s GM has demonstrated an above average ability to play this game correctly, by assembling draft picks and creating cap space while also putting a product on the floor that won 48 games last season in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Teaming James with another star like Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh, while keeping Goran Dragic and re-signing Eric Bledsoe would obviously make the Suns into an instant championship threat. It still feels like an extreme long shot, but if nothing else, Phoenix can take some solace in knowing it was on a very short list of teams James would potentially consider if, for some reason, he seriously would consider leaving Miami to try to contend somewhere else.

One more thing to add here, and that’s the fact that the little wrinkle of LeBron potentially attending free agent pitch meetings would, in theory, seem to complicate things. Miami needs to add talent to upgrade the roster, but the market we’ve seen so far isn’t one where bargains are there to be had — guys are being overpaid more than anything else, and if that trend continues, the Heat will end up missing out.

It was never perceived as a serious threat that LeBron would leave Miami. But based on the information we have at this stage of things, it at least seems possible — and that in and of itself is going to make for a frenzied finish to free agency.

Report: Luol Deng likes idea of sign-and-trade to Clippers


The Clippers want to upgrade the three spot this summer. The Jared Dudley era did not exactly work out as either side expected last season.

Outside of that guy who led the Heat in scoring last year, Luol Deng is the best small forward on the market. And he fits what the Clippers need — he’s a strong defender who works well as a third scoring option as either the roll man or cutting off the ball (plus he will get out in transition and finish).

The challenge is the only way Deng ends up with the Clippers is a sign and trade. Deng is good with that, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

If you’re wondering who the Cavaliers would want back, Jamal Crawford’s name has come up in sign and trades. The Clippers have other guys at the three they would move (including Dudley, who could well have a bounce-back year).

The Clippers and Cavaliers are not making any moves until LeBron James makes his decision, as both harbor long-shot dreams he would come to them (for the Clippers it would be LeBron forcing Pat Riley into a sign-and-trade, good luck with that). Meaning this could be on the back burner for a little while.

Deng can take his time, in fact he just got back from Europe. He has had some interest from the Heat but that would involve a steep pay cut he’s not likely to take. Also interested are the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers. A return to the Chicago Bulls is not out of the question.

But don’t expect any action for a little bit. Deng and his suitors are going to take their time.

Report: Heat, Thunder targeting sharpshooter Anthony Morrow


LeBron James reportedly was frustrated that the Miami Heat amnestied floor-spacing shooter Mike Miller in a money saving move last summer. (Pat Riley can try to spin that however he wants, the move was to save money.)

Miami’s free agent search has turned to replacing that shooting with Anthony Morrow, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

But the Heat are not the only contenders looking at him.

Morrow shot 45.1 percent from three last season, he does that exceedingly well. He’s not going to give you much else, but the one thing he can give is something both Miami and Oklahoma City could use more consistently.

Oh, and he’s affordable, having made just $1 million last year.

Which goes back to one of the fun guessing games around the league: How much money does Pat Riley really have to spend? Early reports suggested a fair amount, but his actions are suggesting numbers not so grand.

Pat Riley is looking for bargains. Morrow is one. If the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer he could be another. Expect a few other players to slip through the cracks and Riley to grab them. But with the cap system and three stars earning eight digits each already (even if they take pay cuts) it’s going to be hard to bring in the Kyle Lowry/Pau Gasol kind of free agents.

Which of course leads to the “how does LeBron feel about that?” question.

Carmelo Anthony to meet with Knicks today – in Los Angeles


Carmelo Anthony’s free agency tour had planned stops in Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles. The Knicks also believed they’d get the final meeting.

Well, he’s met with the Bulls, Rockets and Mavericks and is meeting with the Lakers today.

That leaves only the Knicks.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

This sounds like a bit of a power play on Melo’s part, forcing the Knicks to fly across the country when he toured every other city.

But maybe Phil Jackson is already in Los Angeles. Remember, when the Knicks hired Jackson, a big topic was how much time he’d spend in New York rather than California.

The only drawback for Jackson and co. is they can no longer Photoshop Melo into a Knicks jersey on the Madison Square Garden marquee. I heard that was going to be their big pitch.

Really, Melo already knows what the Knicks offer. Because they had him under contract, he met with them before free agency began. I doubt much has changed since.

Melo originally planned to decide on a team by the second week of the month, but this could accelerate the plan.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

Soon, this process will end, and the NBA can stop waiting on Melo and LeBron James.

It can wait on only LeBron.