Cavaliers meet with agent for James

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Creating Cap Space In Cleveland


By TOM WITHERS

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Four years after their messy breakup, the Cavaliers and LeBron James are at least talking about a reunion.

Cavs officials met with James' agent, Rich Paul, this week about the free-agent superstar's possible return. The sides visited as James continued his family vacation, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

It was not immediately clear if owner Dan Gilbert was at the meeting.

James recently opted out of the final two years of his contract in Miami. The two-time NBA champion has gone to four straight finals with the Heat. However, after the team was throttled by San Antonio in this year's finals, James said he would weigh his options this summer.

One of them could be re-signing with the Cavs, the team he spent seven seasons with before leaving in 2010 to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Florida. Wade and Bosh also opted out of their deals with Heat, raising speculation the "Big Three" could be headed in different directions.

James' decision to leave Cleveland - Thursday was the four-year anniversary of the team's last pitch to him - prompted Gilbert to condemn him in a scathing letter to Cavs fans. The owner also told The AP he felt James had quit during games in the playoffs.

ESPN has reported that Paul also met with representatives for the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. A photo of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in Cleveland circulated on Twitter, though he said he was there for a commitment for his TV show, "Shark Tank."

While James has been out of the country with his wife, Savannah, and their two sons, Paul has been working on the four-time MVP's future. Unlike four years ago, when teams flocked to Cleveland to make presentations to woo James, the courtship of him this time has been low key and rather business-like.

The Cavs have waited patiently for their chance to try and convince the Akron, Ohio, native to come home. In the past few weeks, the Cavs have hired new coach David Blatt, selected Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick and gotten All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to agree to a five-year, $90 million contract extension.

Now, they're working on bringing back James, who has never ruled out the possibility of a return.

Two years ago, James was asked if he could ever see himself playing for the Cavs again.

"I don't know. I think it would be great," he said. "It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense.

"And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me."

Cleveland fans, most of them anyway, have gotten over James' infamous "Decision," when he announced he was leaving on a nationally televised special. He was booed mercilessly in his first games back with the Heat, but in recent years he has been received more favorably. Maybe that's because the Cavs haven't been to the playoffs since he left and Clevelanders know he might be the only chance they have to see a championship in their lifetimes.

Cleveland hasn't won a title in any of the major sports since 1964.

If he were to come back, James could repair the damage he did to his image when he left.

But that remains a big `if.'

In having Paul meet with other teams, James could simply be putting on pressure for the Heat to upgrade their roster. Miami has been pursuing free agents and Yahoo Sports reported team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra met in Los Angeles with Lakers free agent Pau Gasol. The Heat could have trouble surrounding James with enough talent if the reports he will only accept a maximum contract are accurate.

James is scheduled to be in Las Vegas next week to host a basketball camp, and then is expected to attend the World Cup in Brazil.

In order for James to play again in Cleveland, he and Gilbert would have to have some sort of reconciliation. Gilbert's letter - famously typed in comic sans font - was a blistering attack on James, who had carried the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007 but failed to deliver on his promise of a championship. Gilbert had guaranteed the Cavs would win a title before James, but later regretted the prediction.

"Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my life," Gilbert said.

He and James may get a second chance together.

Cavaliers meet with agent for James
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James waves to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat keeps the ball away from Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)


SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat comes on the court after a timeout as his team plays the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts on the bench against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs controls the ball against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat controls the ball as Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs defends during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots over LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 12, 2014. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 10, 2014.  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 10, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LeBron James #6, Mario Chalmers #15 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Finals Championship, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs won the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs embrace after the San Antonio Spurs victory in Game Five and winning the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat speak to the media following a 104-87 loss in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh, LeBron James and other members of the Miami Heat watch from the bench during the fourt quarter of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck 
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives into Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat defends Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
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