LeBron suitors making pitches
Posted: Friday, July 2, 2010 5:55 am
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Finally free to leave Cleveland, LeBron James is ready to hear reasons why he should.
The NBA’s long-awaited free agency period opened early today, with teams such as New York and Miami focusing their attention on California.
Now all eyes will be on Ohio.
James was set to welcome the New Jersey Nets and the Knicks to his home state, with additional teams awaiting a later audience with the King.
The Clippers have scored an invite, proving even longtime losers have a chance for a transformation in this highly anticipated shopping season.
Teams could begin making their pitches at 12:01 a.m. EDT, and some got started quickly. Chris Bosh heard from four of them, including presumed favorites Chicago and Miami.
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson was expecting early visits in Los Angeles from the Hawks and New York Knicks, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that the Hawks were prepared to offer the All-Star shooting guard a maximum salary contract.
James could get multiple offers today as the head of perhaps the deepest class in history.
It includes other All-Stars such as Dwyane Wade, Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer; veterans such as Shaquille O’Neal and Ray Allen; and young up-and-comers such as Rudy Gay and David Lee.
“We’ve never had anything like this in my time that I can remember,” New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn said. “There have been big-time free agents before, but never this many teams that are trying to woo them. So it’s unprecedented.”
Teams were headed around the country to speak with players, though the Mavs were saved a long trip when Nowitzki informed them he would meet with them today in Dallas — with the message arriving while president Donnie Nelson was at the airport preparing for a flight to Germany.
Showing they planned to be active, the Knicks confirmed on Twitter they would also meet with Wizards swingman Mike Miller in Los Angeles. But they did so without team president Donnie Walsh, who went directly to Ohio in preparation for today’s meeting with James.
Pat Riley and a Heat contingent also began their free agency tour in California, where teams were hoping to meet with Stoudemire.
Published in The Messenger 7.1.10