Miami Heat's LeBron James sits on the bench during a timeout against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 15, 2014. Photo by Mike Stone, Reuters.
The Miami Heat were poised to make a direct pitch to retain free agent LeBron James, while the Cavaliers reportedly agreed to a deal on Wednesday to free up salary cap room in their bid to lure James back to Cleveland.
With the signing period kicking in after the stroke of midnight, widespread media reports said James was set to sit down with Heat president Pat Riley in Las Vegas, where the four-time league most valuable player is hosting his basketball camp.
Straining to improve the Heat after last month's five-game NBA Finals loss to San Antonio given salary cap limits, Miami have announced agreements to add free agent forwards Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
Cleveland, believed to be the chief rival to Miami for getting James's signature on a new contract, made salary room for the Akron, Ohio native by agreeing to a three-team swap that will enable them to drop $9.5 million against the cap.
James played his first seven NBA seasons with Cleveland before joining Miami as a free agent in 2010.
The Cavaliers would send guard Jarrett Jack ($6.3 million) and Russian forward Sergey Karasev ($1.5 million) to the Brooklyn Nets, and center Tyler Zeller ($1.7 million) along with a future number one pick to the Boston Celtics, according to espn.com and other media sources.
Brooklyn would ship guard Marcus Thornton to Boston, while Cleveland was expected to acquire a future draft pick in the three-way swap that would bring the Cavs $21.7 million under the cap.
The Cavaliers were also receiving draft rights to Ilkan Karaman, Christian Drejer and Edin Bavcic.
While James, who reached four NBA Finals and won two championships in his four seasons in Miami, could change the league landscape with his decision on where to play next season, other big names were also weighing their options.
Carmelo Anthony, who averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds last season for a New York Knicks team that are keen to retain him, has been courted by the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Chris Bosh, who joined the Heat as a 'Big Three' along with fellow free agents James and Dwyane Wade in 2010, has reportedly been offered a four-year deal worth $88 million to join center Dwight Howard and guard James Harden in Houston.
Other prominent players shopping their talents include Luol Deng, Gordon Hayward and Spanish veteran Pau Gasol.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)