Chris Sheridan says ’90 percent chance’ LeBron James returns to Cavs

LeBron-James-HeatAll of the LeBron James speculation will hopefully come to a halt by the end of the week. After James meets with Miami Heat president Pat Riley (possibly Wednesday), he should know what his plans for the future are. If you believe Chris Sheridan’s sources, LeBron returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers is pretty much a done deal.

Sheridan reported on his website Tuesday that a “plugged-in source” has told him there is a 90% chance LeBron will return to Cleveland. The source added that the announcement is expected to come on LeBron’s website lebronjames.com, which Sheridan claims is updating its server to handle a massive traffic spike.

On Monday, Sheridan reported that LeBron’s wife and entire inner-circle want him to return to the Cavs. The former ESPN and AP writer seems more convinced than anyone that LeBron is heading back to Cleveland. That said, what’s the use of saying 90 percent? If you’re that convinced LeBron is signing with the Cavs, just make the prediction. Don’t leave the 10% hanging in the wind to cover your ass.

Remember, Sheridan is the same guy who made the mind-boggling decision to not vote LeBron for All-NBA first team last year. We don’t blame you if you hold that against him.

Personally, and this has nothing to do with “sources,” I could see LeBron going back to Cleveland. Why? For starters, the Heat are aging. They can’t offer the type of promising future that young stars like Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins offer. Dwyane Wade is breaking down physically and Chris Bosh is reportedly considering a max offer from a team in his home state. The Cavs, with LeBron, would probably have a better chance to win over the next five years than the Heat.

And then there’s the narrative. Can LeBron really catch Michael Jordan by winning four more rings in Miami? Probably not. Can he become the only NBA player in history to come back and rescue his home state by bringing them a title after breaking their hearts? You know it. The drama associated with the homecoming may be too much for LeBron to pass up.

Cavs nearly gambling favorites to win NBA title thanks to LeBron speculation

LeBron-CavsRumors and speculation about LeBron James possibly returning to Cleveland next season may be meaningless to many of you, but they mean plenty to Las Vegas oddsmakers and casinos. When the NBA season ended, the Cavaliers had 60-1 odds to win the 2015 NBA championship at most sportsbooks. They are now inching toward becoming the favorites.

As ESPN.com’s David Purdum pointed out, the Cavs are now 10-1 odds to win next year’s title at the MGM in Las Vegas. The reports about LeBron’s wife wanting him to go back to Cleveland and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert trying to make nice with James have inspired gamblers to drop some serious coin on a team that finished 33-49 last season.

“(The Cavs) are our biggest liability right now,” MGM VP of Race and Sports Jay Rood told ESPN. “We took a dime ($1,000) on them at 40-1.”

As of Monday night, only the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls had attracted more money at Vegas casinos than the Cavs. According to Las Vegas Superbook assistant manager and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman, there have not been many bets on the Cavs that were “significant” in size but the amount of wagers has already cut Cleveland’s odds from 60-1 to 30-1.

If LeBron did end up signing with the Cavs, Sherman said Cleveland would become one of the favorites at around 8-1.

“They are such a young team,” he explained. “They would be better positioned for the next season than this upcoming one.”

We don’t know if LeBron will go back to Cleveland. I’m starting to believe the hype while LB just doesn’t see it happening. Let’s just say if I lived next to a casino that had the Cavs at 60-1 to win next year’s championship, I’d probably have to give it some thought.

LeBron James’ wife reportedly wants him to sign with Cavs

LeBron-James-endorsement-money-after-championshipWe know how out of hand NBA free agency can get when players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are involved, but it may actually be time to consider the legitimately possibility of LeBron returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Amid various reports that the Cavs are pushing to sign LeBron and LeBron is listening, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com adds that Mrs. LeBron James wants her husband to return to Cleveland.

According to Sheridan, LeBron’s wife Savannah and most of the others within his “inner circle”  believe it is time for him to go back home. And the King just might agree.

Various reports say James will give serious consideration to returning to the Cavs, who he met with Sunday in south Florida. James is traveling today to Las Vegas, and a source who has been briefed on James’ free agency maneuverings told SheridanHoops that James’ inner circle, from his wife, Savannah to his agent, Rich Paul, to his best friends, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims, are unanimous in their belief that James’ best move is a return to the team he played for from 2003-2010.

My source believes there is a 75 percent chance James returns to Cleveland.

Sheridan, who used to cover the NBA for ESPN and worked for the Associated Press for 18 years, said James is “more likely than not” to sign with the Cavs if Pat Riley is unable to present him with a plausible plan for upgrading the Miami Heat in the coming days.

While I always do my best to tune out the noise, sometimes it is just too loud to ignore. All indications are that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert met with LeBron in South Florida on Sunday. The two may have used the meeting to patch up their differences. After all, the Cavs removed their open letter to LeBron from the team’s official website on Monday after it had been up for four years.

It’s hard to not get wrapped up in the rumors and gossip. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who reported that LeBron’s agent is urging the Cavs to clear cap space, says the Heat are still confident they’ll keep LeBron despite what his wife or agent want. Credible sources like Sheridan, Wojnarowski and Chris Broussard all seem like they’re leaning toward James returning to Cleveland. When should we believe them?

Report: LeBron’s agent urging Cavs to clear max contract slot

LeBron-CavsThe thought of LeBron James returning to the Cavaliers must already have the people of Cleveland drooling. Evidence that the Cavs are relentlessly pursuing LeBron continues to roll in.

Are the rumors being planted by James’ agent?

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, LeBron’s agent and childhood friend Rich Paul has urged the Cavs to create the maximum contract salary slot they would need to sign James. While that does not mean LeBron is actually considering a return to Cleveland, Paul has reportedly made it his mission to get James to go back and is encouraging Cavs officials to pave the way.

Adding to the speculation about LeBron potentially leaving Miami has been his alleged lack of involvement with trying to get players to sign with the Heat.

“LeBron is the ultimate recruiter, but he hasn’t been any part of this process,” a source reportedly told Yahoo! Sports. “The first question they all ask is the same: ‘Do I get to hear from LeBron? What’s he going to do?’”

There’s a good chance LeBron is trying to freeze Pat Riley out to pressure him to improve the Heat. As Wojnarowski noted, Paul could be playing a dangerous game with LeBron’s image. Given the way he left Cleveland the first time around, the last thing James needs is to create the impression that there is a good chance he is returning to the Cavs only to leave them hanging again.

Between Dan Gilbert’s plane activity and the Cavs decision to remove the open letter to LeBron from their website, it would certainly seem that Gibert and company are making a serious run at James. What we don’t know is if LeBron’s agent has more interest than he does.

Cavs reportedly ‘leaning toward’ Jabari Parker with top pick

jabari-parker-dukeFor a while, it appeared that former Kansas star Joel Embiid was the safest prospect in the 2014 NBA draft class. A previous report said Embiid looked so dominant in workouts that it would be “impossible to imagine” him not being drafted first overall. A serious foot injury has changed all that.

Embiid, who is said to be fully recovered from a back injury that kept him out of the NCAA Tournament, fractured the navicular bone in his right foot earlier this week. He underwent surgery and is expected to miss 4-6 months.

According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, it now looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick.

With Joel Embiid’s foot surgery, and the reported 4-6 month recovery that comes with it, the Cavs are said to be leaning toward Duke’s Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick. Parker is more NBA-ready than Andrew Wiggins, who would go to the Bucks at No. 2. Rival executives believe it would be out of character for Cleveland GM David Griffin to trade the top pick, and believe Bucks GM John Hammond would be hard-pressed to deviate from the other consensus top player in the draft after Embiid’s injury shook up the top of the lottery.

There was a time when the Cavs were getting a ton of calls about trading for the top pick, but a lot of those teams were likely interested in Embiid. Now, several general managers from around the league have said there is no way a team could use a top-five pick on Embiid given his injury history.

Embiid might wind up being a steal for a team in the middle of the first round, depending on how his foot heals. His injury is the same one that essentially ended the careers of Yao Ming and Bill Walton, so there is obviously cause for concern. Parker would be a much safer pick.

Report: John Calipari was ‘deep in discussions’ with Cavs before Kentucky extension

John CalipariJohn Calipari already tried coaching in the NBA once, and it didn’t go well. After winning the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award in 1996, Calipari went on to compile a record of 72-112 in less than three seasons with the New Jersey Nets. According to one report, he was fairly close to giving the NBA another shot last week.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson of Yahoo Sports claim Calipari was “deep in discussions” with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he finalized a contract extension with Kentucky last week. He had even reportedly outlined the terms of a potential agreement with the Cavs that would be worth $60 million-plus over seven years and make him president of basketball operations as well as head coach.

Calipari, who signed a seven-year, $52 million extension with the Wildcats, was offered more than $8 million per season from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. That would have placed him among the highest-paid coaches in the league. Calipari was said to be “intrigued” by the offer, but there is some speculation that he may have been concerned over how he would mesh with a hands-on owner like Gilbert.

Had Kentucky defeated UConn and won a national championship in April, it probably would have been easier to lure Calipari away. Now that the Harrison twins are returning to Lexington for their sophomore seasons and the Wildcats are easily the No. 1 team in the country heading into next season, Calipari probably wants to stick around. It’s a shame he’ll have to settle for only $7 million-plus per season.

Cavs GM was getting calls about No. 1 pick before he got off TV

NBA draft lottery ping pongThe Cleveland Cavaliers won the No. 1 overall pick for the third time in the last four years on Tuesday, despite the fact that they had less than a 2% chance of getting it. The 2014 draft class is loaded at the top, and there are plenty of teams who want a shot at someone like Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Just ask Cavs GM David Griffin.

During an interview with ESPN Cleveland’s “The Really Big Show” on Wednesday, Griffin said he was getting phone calls from teams wanting to trade for the No. 1 pick before he was done being interviewed about it.

“I actually got calls right afterward, while I was standing there doing media,” he said. “Teams were already reaching out and texting, so I think it will be an active period of time.

“I’ve said many times that I’d trade me if it made us better. We’re going to be open-minded to whatever it is that advances our cause the furthest.”

The big name on everybody’s mind is obviously Kevin Love, and the Minnesota Timberwolves would be wise to check in with the team that has the top overall pick before anyone else. However, it seems unlikely that Love would want to go to a team like the Cavs. Winning the draft lottery three out of four years and still not having a competitive team isn’t a great quality.

Teams are always going to inquire about trading for the No. 1 pick, but it’s also possible GMs around the league think the Cavs are more likely to deal it this year. Let’s face it, having the top overall pick hasn’t worked well for Cleveland over the past few years.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk