The Cleveland Cavaliers got some bad news followed by some potentially terrific news on Sunday. In a last-ditch effort to recruit Trevor Ariza away from the Houston Rockets, LeBron James told Ariza he would remain with the Cavaliers past 2010, according to a person close to Ariza.
Even that wasn't enough to get Ariza, who verbally committed to join the Rockets last Thursday, to change his mind and go to Cleveland.
But the Cavaliers will gladly settle for the consolation prize; if indeed James' statement to Ariza was more than an empty sales pitch.
"Trevor asked LeBron if he would be in Cleveland after next season," the source said. "And LeBron said, 'I'll be there. Of course, I'll be there.'"
James could not be reached for comment on Monday.
First, I completely agree that LeBron's lack of commitment hurts Cleveland's chances in Free Agency. I don't see how it couldn't. If he's telling potential FA's that he's sticking around, it will only help Danny Ferry do his job.
Second, while I don't buy all the hype about Houston's Dork Elvis GM, I do think it's interesting that he's targeted Ariza. For all the potential and so-so stats, Ariza did just start on the team that won the NBA title. I'm not a fan of throwing a ton of money at a guy who's still considered unproven, but he's young, he's won (been through the playoff wars) and he's crazy athletic. Do we really think his jumper won't improve?
Third, I'm all for the Cavs still trying. Look, they HAVE to get younger. And if that takes trying to sign potential FAs out of their verbal agreements, then go for it. A title is a title is title.
At the end of the day, whatever happens with Ariza, I think this has to considered a good thing. LeBron is telling other NBA players that he plans on sticking around. That doesn't suck.
UPDATE: He said/she said:
That source said that James told Ariza he planned to remain with the Cavaliers past next summer, when he can become a free agent. James could not be reached for comment Monday night, but on Tuesday, sources who spoke to James said the story told by the person close to Ariza was wrong.
All I know, is that it's gonna be a long long year...