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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Pat Riley once had bold proposal for LeBron James

Pat Riley smiling

Sep 22, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat president Pat Riley address reporters during a press conference at AmericanAirlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Riley was a great coach and has become a great executive as well. Perhaps that’s because he is so fearless. In fact, Riley even tried to convince LeBron James to take less than a max deal prior to LeBron’s departure from the Heat.

LeBron played for Miami from 2010-2014. When it came time for James to make a decision after 2014, Riley decided to shoot his shot and see whether James would consider returning on less than a max deal. The request was met with utter silence.

Marc Stein broke down the situation on “The Stein Line” earlier this week, suggesting that Riley’s request was so egregious that those in the room weren’t even certain he was serious. In addition to James, James’ agent Rich Paul and longtime NBA agent and attorney Mark Termini could do nothing but stare, jaws on the floor.

At that point in his career, James had never landed a max deal and was hellbent on breaking that trend. Apparently so were his representatives.

Riley’s proposal stemmed from a desire to restructure Miami’s roster. He believed that if James took less, the Heat would be able to bring in more quality veterans and create somewhat of a super-team. That, of course, did not happen.

Shortly after Riley’s request fell on deaf ears, James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a two-year, $42 million deal with a second-year player option.

Stein’s full report on this awkward exchange can be found at the aforementioned “The Stein Line,” but take note that is it currently behind a paywall.

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