First reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN and verified by many other NBA sources, the Phoenix Suns are being told there's a still chance they get LeBron James away from Miami.
Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports says that Sarver was flanked by President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and GM Ryan McDonough.
Then Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Suns owner, as well as representatives from Cleveland and Dallas, were given guidelines for next steps:
After conducting meetings with three NBA teams interested in pursuing free-agent star LeBron James, his agent suggested to owners and executives present that a failure of Miami president Pat Riley to rapidly recruit a strong supporting cast could bring finalists back to meet with James himself next week, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
But before you get your hopes up too high, executives didn't come out of those meetings with a real sense that James was ready to jump ship.
Some executives believe there's an opportunity because of a disconnect between James and his teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
"There's clearly a breakdown in communication between LeBron and [Wade and Bosh]," one executive who participated in the meetings over the past two days told Yahoo Sports. "[James is] giving Riley time to go get players for them but if that doesn't happen in the next few days ... LeBron seems ready to explore the market."
Another executive attending the meeting flatly said, "I think it's a smokescreen."
So LeBron is trying tighten the screws on Pat Riley to prove that he can make the HEAT better. LeBron knows they are on their way down the back side of that hill. Dwyane Wade is a shadow of his former self, and Chris Bosh has regressed as well. Though Bosh is still just 30 and has several good years left, what's remaining in that HEAT cupboard?
But no one around the country is yet convinced that LeBron will leave the HEAT and his two friends this summer. It's not like he can take Bosh AND Wade with him to a new team.
The Phoenix offer
The Phoenix Suns are offering a unique situation and can make the necessary moves to get two of LeBron and someone else of his choosing and STILL have All-NBA third team guard Goran Dragic, budding superstar and close friend Eric Bledsoe and Rising Star Miles Plumlee in the starting lineup.
I think we can rule out Carmelo Anthony, since he's already done his FA tour and is likely to take the money in NY. So let's focus on Bosh, who isn't ready to relinquish his riches in Miami as has been reported. In Phoenix, Bosh could get all the pennies he wants.
If Bosh comes over with LeBron and both make $20 million per year, the Suns would have to lose Channing Frye and may have to jettison the Morris twins who help make the second unit a nightmare for opponents.
However, if Bosh would take $15 million per year, the Suns could keep the Morris twins. Either way, the Suns are a juggernaut.
Let's compare his suitors, which may now include the Los Angeles Lakers. That the Lakers jumped in might be a sign that there's a chance Lebron is really willing to leave.
Let's take a look at where James could go:
Click on the pic to make it bigger, if you need.
The cupboard, beyond LeBron and Chris Bosh, would be bare in Miami and Los Angeles next season. Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant are not likely to play like All-Stars in 2014-15. They might get named to their respective teams because of fan voting, but they almost certainly won't play like All-Stars in 2014-15.
The Dallas Macericks option is intriguing until you remember that (a) the second best player is Dirk Nowitzki and (b) Nowitzki is 92 years old. But they do have a great coach. So if LeBron wants to move from the Miami retirement home to the Dallas retirement home, he can do that. Dallas has no future other than LeBron.
The Cavaliers option is intriguing because that's his home. But what has Cleveland done with their roster since he left? They've added one sure All-Star out of 3 #1 overall picks, and that's it. But they have not won many games since he left, so LeBron would be going to a team that will rely entirely on him to close out big games. And, they are going with a brand new coach and front office that is yet unproven.
But in Phoenix he's got it all. He gets to bring Bosh with him. He gets to upgrade from Wade and Chalmers to Dragic and Bledsoe. And he could be joining a team that could send as many as four guys to the All-Star game. And best of all, the Suns will continue to bring youthful energy to the table.
In Phoenix, with Bosh in tow, the Phoenix Suns could become the juggernaut of the NBA. They have a great young coach, youth and talent in spades. And now would have the game's best overall player and a power forward/center who can upgrade the Suns defense to one of the league's best as well as one of the best offenses.
But in all of these cases outside Miami, LeBron would have to ditch Dwyane Wade.
So where will LeBron go?
Almost certainly back to Miami with his buddies, but this time on a short deal (two years). He isn't ready to leave yet. Wade still just might get a new lease on life. Riley just might get him some help from the bargain barrel of free agency.
The Suns need to dance this dance right now, whether they think they can or not. It's quite possible that this dalliance, as well as continued success, will give the Suns the street cred needed to land the big names in 2015 and 2016. One of those big names could very well be LeBron James.