Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

LeBron James, Pat Riley meet; now, the wait

LAS VEGAS — Pat Riley made his pitch. And now, LeBron James wants time to think.

The Heat president met with the four-time league MVP on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports. James, his agent Rich Paul, Riley and Heat executive Andy Elisburg reportedly were at the meeting.

So now, Miami waits. So does Cleveland. So, too, does just about the entire NBA — because once James picks the Heat or the Cavaliers, the teams believed to be the leading candidates for his services, the domino effect of other free agent moves will surely follow.

The meeting in Las Vegas lasted for more than an hour and took place more than two weeks after James opted out of his contract and elected to become a free agent, and the day before free agents can begin signing contracts.

James spent part of his day before the meeting at his annual skills academy with some of the nation's top high school and college players, interacting and observing workouts. That was why Riley had to fly across the country to make the meeting happen, with hopes he would return to Miami from the gambling haven with a huge win — keeping James for at least another season.

Several teams have met with Paul during the free agent process, but it appears James has only one decision to make: Cleveland or Miami, the same choice he pondered four years ago when he decided to move to the Heat.

The Cavaliers didn't sit idle waiting for James and Riley to meet. Cleveland created salary cap space by agreeing to trade guard Jarrett Jack, swingman Sergey Karasev and center Tyler Zeller in a three-team deal with the Nets and Celtics, the Associated Press reported. The maneuvering is designed to open room under the salary cap so the Cavs can re-sign James.

Not long after making the trade, the Cavs reportedly had exploratory discussions with the Timberwolves about a possible trade for three-time All-Star Kevin Love — if James does return to Cleveland.

parsons, Hayward offers: Rockets restricted free agent Chand­ler Parsons has agreed to an offer sheet with the Mavericks, and Jazz restricted free agent Gordon Hayward has agreed on a maximum offer sheet with the Hornets, the Associated Press reported. Parsons, a former Gator standout, agreed on a three-year offer with Dallas that would pay the small forward more than $45 million; Hayward agreed to a $63 million deal over the next four years with Charlotte, the Associated Press reported. Houston and Utah would have three days to match the deals for their respective players. Dallas got an agreement in place with Parsons, 25, even before small forwards Carmelo Anthony or James announced where they will play, a signal the Mavs are most likely out on the two most prominent free agents.

More Pop for Spurs: Gregg Popovich, coming off his fifth NBA championship and his third coach of the year award, has agreed to a multiyear extension with the Spurs. No details were released and coach salaries are not made public, but Popovich, 65, is believed to make $6 million a season. He is the longest-tenured coach in any of the four major North American pro sports leagues, taking over San Antonio in 1996.

Increase: The league has set the salary cap at $63.1 million, an all-time high and a 7.5 percent increase from last season's $58.7 million, paving the way for contracts to be signed. Deals became official starting at 12:01 a.m. today.

Bucks: First-round pick Jabari Parker was signed. Terms were not disclosed, but the former Duke star is guaranteed a minimum of about $8.5 million in the first two years before the club has team options on his third and fourth seasons.

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