LeBron James is planning to invite six teams to meet him over the first three days of free agency, and rap mogul Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will be part of a New Jersey Nets contingent that will make the first presentation on July 1 in the Akron, Ohio, area, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
James and his advisors plan to have the Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers make presentations. Yahoo! Sports first reported on Thursday night that James would be taking appointments with teams on July 1 to begin his free-agency process.
The Bulls have emerged as the favorites for James, and the Heat and Nets are making a strong push, too. The Knicks and Clippers appear to be longer shots to sign James. The Cavaliers remain a viable choice because of James' seven seasons there and the opportunity for him to make as much as $30 million more re-signing with his hometown team.
All the elaborate recruiting plans for LeBron James will have to change. James will not go on a recruiting tour, his longtime business manager Maverick Carter told ESPN.com Friday.
James Where will LeBron James land? We're keeping tabs on the King. Here's the latest. LeBron Tracker
"LeBron is not going on a tour," Carter said. "He never planned to go on a tour and has not been a part of any team's plans for a recruiting trip."
Instead, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar will visit with individual clubs in Northeastern Ohio once the free-agency period begins July 1.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the latest plan calls for the New Jersey Nets -- led by new owner Mikhail Prokhorov and minority owner/longtime James pal Jay-Z -- to be the first team to meet James face to face. No one from James' camp, though, would confirm the meeting.
It was not immediately clear how many teams James plans to meet with on a daily basis when free agency commences at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday.
Sources said various teams were made aware of James' anti-tour stance Wednesday, sending many of them into scramble mode. The New York Knicks -- who according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer were planning a spectacular, celebrity-laden dinner cooked by a world-renowned chef for James on July 1 -- quickly canceled it and began plotting an emergency Plan B, according to two sources.
James' decision throws a monkey wrench in the plans of several clubs that hoped to sell him on non-basketball-related enticements such as the vibrancy of their city, the social life it might afford or the A-list celebrities who support their teams.
Several sources told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that they
believe LeBron James still prefers to sign in New York.
"Although the Bulls and Heat are clearing cap space, several people
familiar with James' thinking believe that the Knicks are still his
desired destination if he elects to leave Cleveland in his rearview
mirror," wrote Isola.
"He told me after the Olympics he wanted to live in New York," one of
the sources said. "And as far as I know nothing has changed."
When the Knicks meet with James, they will tell him: "Come here and
there is no pressure to win a title the first year. We'll win 50 games,
make the playoffs and you'll be the conquering hero. The next year we'll
reload and we'll make a run at it."
The neutral site and complete removal of celebrity BS may be the final nail in the Knicks coffin. It's amusing how Broussard specifically discusses how LeBron wants to cut through the BS and just deal with basketball decision.
The New York Daily News story is almost amusing in it's desperate reach out to still try and present New York as the winner. Seriously, you're quoting a source that told you LeBron said he wants to go to New York after the Olympics and just assuming nothing has changed?
So the finalists for LeBron:
May the best team win!