The top five contenders in the LeBron Sweepstakes will meet with the King in Akron, Ohio, starting July 1, but according to one team executive, the meetings are just a formality.
After numerous discussions with NBA colleagues, the executive told the New York Times’ Jonathan Abrams on Saturday that LeBron is strongly leaning toward the Bulls in a tandem with fellow max free agent Chris Bosh.
“I think it’s a done deal,” the executive said.
He said he thought LeBron was going ahead with the meetings just to save face and “be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops,” such as the Knicks, who have used the past two seasons to trade away talent and clear cap space with the hope of landing James this summer. If he and Bosh do join up in Chicago, the Knicks’ moves will have essentially been for nothing.
The executive also said the Mavericks were trying to join the leading suitors and land a meeting with The Chosen One. But Mark Cuban’s club is already over the salary cap and could only get James only through a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavs.
But back to the Bulls: On draft day, they traded away Kirk Hinrich to put them $29.2 million under the projected salary cap of $56.1 million next season, and though it’s still not enough space to sign both LBJ and Bosh to max deals, the exec seemed certain they could make another move to acquire both. Meaning Chicago’s rotation next season could include a solid set with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, James and Bosh. [New York Times]