CLEVELAND — After two turbulent days to open the NBA’s free agency period, calmer waters prevailed Thursday.
LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, continued meeting with teams interested in signing the four-time MVP as an unrestricted free agent. All of the negotiating sessions are being held at Paul’s office in downtown Cleveland.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Mavericks counterpart Mark Cuban, Suns owner Robert Sarver and representatives from the Rockets have already spoken with Paul, according to ESPN.
The Lakers, Clippers, and Bulls are also expected to take their best shot at convincing James to leave the Heat. The Akron native spent the first seven years of his NBA career with Cleveland before signing with Miami in July 2010.
Paul will review all of their sales pitches, then present them to James upon his return from a family vacation. Free agents can officially sign contracts on July 10.
While the first set of meetings were taking place on the North Coast, “The Chosen One” was busy posting an Instagram photo of his son, LeBron Jr., catching a black fin tuna at sea.
Cleveland is currently more than $15 million under the salary cap, but could easily clear enough room to offer James a maximum-level contract starting at $21 million. Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward is also on the club’s radar, but only if it fails in its primary pursuit.
The rookie-scale contracts of power forward Tristan Thompson ($5.4 million) and shooting guard Dion Waiters ($4.1 million) make them prime candidates to be moved this offseason, either in a deal for a post player or in a sign-and-trade for a scorer.
Three other members of the 2013-2014 Cavaliers could be imminently headed elsewhere.
Brooklyn has renewed its interest in trading shooting guard Marcus Thornton for Cleveland point guard Jarrett Jack, according to WEPN-FM 98.7 in New York.
The Nets first proposed the swap in mid-June, but have been in disarray since now ex-coach Jason Kidd attempted his front office power play. Jack has two guaranteed seasons and $12.6 million left on his contract, while Thornton will make $8.7 million in the final year of his pact.
Center Spencer Hawes accepted a meeting with the Suns, whose perimeter-heavy offense is similar to the scheme favored by Cavaliers general manager David Griffin and coach David Blatt. The 7-foot UFA previously spoke with the Trail Blazers.
Small forward Luol Deng is the most likely player to leave the Cavaliers over the next week as a UFA. The Clippers and Mavericks view the former All-Star as a backup plan if they fail to land James, while the Heat is eager to add him as its sixth man.
Cleveland has no interest in re-signing Deng, but would consider a sign-and-trade that would net him a larger salary and give the Cavaliers some value in return.
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