Feb 11, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James' agent meets with Suns owner Robert Sarver


Robert Sarver met with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, in Cleveland on Wednesday and the Phoenix Suns could be considered as James leans more toward exploring his free agency options outside of Miami, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports. Even better news for James’ suitors: Three finalists could return to Cleveland to give James their presentations in person next week.

James seems to have had “a breakdown in communication” from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the Big Three’s attempt to return to South Beach, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Suns aren’t the only NBA team that has met with Paul in the early stages of James’ free agency, which he has yet to participate in himself. The Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers could all be fighting for an in-person sit-down with the four-time MVP.

According to Broussard, Sarver and Paul discussed the team’s attempts to team James with other max-level stars such as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.

Without major maneuvers, the Suns cannot sign two max-level free agents at the 10-year plus veteran range that James will start out at. That could force a player like Anthony to take a pay cut, or for the Suns to gut their roster. Anthony is deep into the free agency process after a tour of Chicgao, Houston, Dallas, New York and the Los Angeles Lakers, and there has been no indications he is being courted by the Suns.

Perhaps signing Bosh is more realistic from a tactical standpoint and a financial one, though guessing at this point is all speculation.

The important part of this news is that Phoenix has legitimately made itself a part of the conversation. James isn’t even at the first step of deciding to leave the Heat, but over the past few days that has appeared more likely as president Pat Riley has failed to put together any free agent signings that would help bring the Big Three back together.

  • Rebel

    If LeBron is going to play for the Suns (which I believe he is), his “patient wait” or holdout in the free agent process will hurt the Suns a little bit, but it will still hurt. In fact, his holdout is hurting whichever team he will be going to, because this means that they are missing out on enticing other players to play for them (alongside LeBron). It might actually hurt the Suns the least, because out of all the teams coveting LeBron, they are the most solid group. But, really, wouldn’t Greg Monroe, for example, think about coming to PHX if he saw LeBron in the starting lineup, even for less money than what he can get from other places? Think about it LeBron…

    • DBreezy

      Monroe’s a RFA. Even if he were willing to take less money, it would just make it easier for the Pistons to match and keep their asset. I don’t think Lebron’s delay is going to hurt the Suns either way. If he comes, the Suns probably wouldn’t add much. Maybe resign Frye to help space the floor in certain lineups, McRoberts is possible there too. Also maybe another veteran shooter type if they’ll sign cheaply enough and that’s it. He’d be signing here largely because he believes in the roster the Suns currently have plus what they can do with it in the future with picks/cap flexibility. They’re not going to do much to alter that and McD has much experience with that from BOS. If Lebron doesn’t come, it seems pretty clear that they aim to keep their powder largely dry outside of likely staying involved in whatever Love talks there are. They don’t even really seem to be sniffing that hard around RFA’s like Hayward or Monroe despite early rumors.

  • LawrenceTalbot

    I think, with Melo apparently going back to NY, the Suns’ shot at Lebron is dependent on whether or not they can get Love. Assuming that report a few days ago that 1) Love would re-sign in PHX, and 2) Minny is open to trading to PHX and would be looking for chiefly picks/expirings/cap relief, I think as PHX you kinda have to roll the dice:

    Mo Bros (RFAs, effectively expirings) 8.6 Mil
    Alex Len (team option, effectively expiring) 3.5 Mil
    TJ Warren (high first round pick, effectively a pick) 1.6 Mil
    2 2015 #1s (picks)
    Gerald Green (expiring) 3.5 Mil

    17.2 Million

    for

    Kevin Love 15.7 Mil
    Kevin Martin 6.8 Mil

    Total: 22.5 Million

    Suns Payroll after:
    Dragic: 7.5
    Bledsoe: RFA, counts as 6.5 on the cap for now
    Martin: 6.8
    Love: 15.7
    Goodwin: 1.1
    Plumlee: 1.2
    Ennis: 1.3
    PJ Tucker: RFA, counts as 1.1 for now
    Roster Holds for 2 players: about 1 mil
    Frye: UFA, currently counts as 9.5 mil

    That adds up to: 51.9 (out of projected 63.2 salary cap), leaving only about 11.3 mil in cap to sign Lebron to 20.7 max he wants.

    However, if we renounce Frye, that goes up to 20.3 mil. Getting closer. At that point, there are a few choices. We could renounce Tucker (Which would get us there), or move either Ennis or Goodwin for a pick.

    So, let’s say we renounce poor PJ (sad to see him go, but Lebron needs minutes), then resign Bledsoe to the max (about 15.7, I believe).

    Dragic: 7.5
    Bledsoe: 15.7
    Lebron: 20.7
    Love: 15.7
    Martin: 6.8
    Plumlee: 1.2
    Goodwin: 1.1
    Ennis: 1.3
    4 Roster Holds: 2 mil

    Totals: 72 Mil

    However, putting us in the “over the cap, non tax-paying” range opens up the full midlevel exception of 5.1 Million to us. This could be used a number of ways;

    1) Resign Frye to about 4 years, 13 mil

    2) Resign Tucker for about 3.5, have about 1.5 to grab a backup big (probably somebody like Jason Collins or Lou Amundson).

    3) 4 Million for Mike Miller, who Lebron is known to want, for three years.

    After that, there’s the veteran player exception, which means going after ring hungry vets at about 1.2 mil apiece. You’re not getting anyone great out of this year’s crop except maaaaaaaaybe Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis if they really wanna stick by Lebron and/or not retire.

    Frye, given the amount love PHX has for him, and the fact that they’ll need a third big, is probably the most likely option there. So the depth chart next year would look like:

    Bledsoe-Ennis-Crappy Minimum Guy (Ish Smith?)
    Dragic-Martin
    Lebron- Goodwin
    Love- Crappy Minimum Guy (Collins? Amundson?)
    Plumlee-Fye

    12th Man: Ring Hungry Vet X (Allen/Andersen/Haslem/Lewis/holy crap did any of these guys not play for the Heat last year?!)

    That team is between 7 and 10 deep depending on how much Goodwin improves, how ready Ennis is, and whether or not we get any good vets. Not a terrible lineup by any stretch, though we’d have to spot Lebron some minutes at the 4 (where he thrives anyways). If Frye and Tucker were both willing to take a little bit of a hometown discount to chase a ring, we could conceivably bring back both, but let’s assume they’re not. Next year we’d use our one remaining pick for the best available big man, and presumably bring over Bogdan Bogdanovic to shore up the guard rotation.

    Still, pretty much a guaranteed WCF and probable Finals appearance. It’s only the Spurs, and hypotethical Pau-OKC, Chicago-Melo, or Houston-Bosh type teams that really even pose a threat at that point, and all of those teams would age out of relevance before we did (only Frye is over 30, plus we have Aaron Nelson). There’s not a better landing spot for Lebron in terms of ability to win titles, Western Conference be damned.

    We’re not quite a taxpayer in that case this season, but assuming we re-sign Dragic and Love the next year for remotely reasonable prices we will be then. Sarver, for all his reputation of cheapness, has paid the tax before and claims to be willing to pay it again; considering that Lebron is apparently worth about 143 million in revenue per 3 years, it’s probably not an issue.

    TL;DR: If we can get Love, we’re easily the best option for Lebron, and the math to do it isn’t very hard.

    • Rebel

      Honestly, I don’t really know why LeBron would ever want to play together with Melo in the Suns. It would mean LeBron would take the 4 position and have to guard the likes of Love and Griffin in the western conference. If LeBron wants to come to the Suns, he would probably want a big as a partner, i.e. Love, Bosh (from the more popular crop), or Monroe from the more durable-and-young-and-did-I-mention-quality-for-the-money group.

      • LawrenceTalbot

        Monroe’s an interesting one I hadn’t thought of. I honestly didn’t watch the Pistons barely at all last season. Can he space the floor at all? Lebron’s most comfortable with at least three shooters around him.

        • Rebel

          No, he shot a donut in the triple category last year. However, Frye definitely can space the floor, and so can Alec Brown, I hear.

          • LawrenceTalbot

            Yeah, but Brown’s playing overseas for a year I’m told and ideally you’d want a starting 4 who can create for the penetration-oriented Dragic and James, especially with Bledsoe’s shakiness from 3 and Plumlee’s interior disposition.

            Though I suppose you could start Monroe in place of Plumlee, but that probably hurts you defensively as much as it helps on O, considering the team is already loaded with weapons and only player can shoot at a time.

    • Adam

      You did a lot of work in that post…thanks. It helps to see what the numbers would look like.

      Getting Love would be incredible…..the only part I don’t like is sending them both Len and Warren. Both of those guys have a ton of potential to be exactly what we would be needing after dealing them…a young big and a swing man behind Lebron.

      If we could send the Wolves: Morris Twins, Green, Goodwin, Both our 1st rounders next year, and maybe our first in 2016….AND we were willing to take back Martin….That is by far the best deal they are going to get. I think they would have to take it. They get 2 young players to build around (Markeif and Goodwin) and 3 first round picks. It depletes us a little, but we would be in title contention for the next several years so picks arent as valuable.

      Then…we would need Frye to take a hometown discount to stay in PHX, play wil Lebron, and win a title. Since a lot of his other suitors have already made moves..that is not out of the question.

      If we could go into next season with our depth chart being:

      Bledsoe, Ennis, Ish Smith
      Dragic, Martin
      Lebron, Warren
      Love, Frye
      Plumlee, Len

      And a vet min guy for the 12th man spot……that is a great team. It’s star studded and ready to win…its also still developing young talent. Keeping Ennis, Warren, and Len gives us a nice young core.

      Is there anyway to make that work financially? What would Frye have to play for in order to make that depth chart a reality??

      • LawrenceTalbot

        That deal takes 4 million out of the outgoing salary, so Minnesota is getting less cap relief and probably less talent in that version, not sure they bite on it (kinda has to be a Godfather offer as they can always just hang on to Love and hope GSW gets desperate). Worse yet, we keep Ish Smith. *shivers*

        I don’t like that one only because it’s relying on two unproven and relatively expensive (compared to available alternatives) in Warren and Len (3 with Ennis, but he was also in mine). I’d rather hang onto Goodwin, who we’ve actually seen a little bit of on an NBA court and has shown some real promise (and for about a third the price of Alex Len and still less than Warren despite being a second year player).

        Still, basically any deal where we don’t give up Dragic, Bledsoe, or Plumlee would be fine with me if it knocked over the dominos to get Lebron.

        However, with the news the last few days I’m now pretty sure Cleveland has a bit better shot than PHX (we have a better roster, but there are elements at play there we can’t match) assuming the rumors that Lebron is “tempted” (and therefore presumably no longer pissed at Dan GIlbert) are true, especially as Cleveland is actually the one other team besides us that can put together a semi-compelling Love trade (something like Jack, Bennet, Waiters, and a future #1 maybe, or something built around Varejao’s expiring deal) and still have room for Lebron.

        In that case, I guess we throw a near-max at Hayward and hope Utah blinks (they won’t) and try and convince Bosh to come (probably also won’t). But, hey, if those both work a team that looks like:

        Bled-Ennis
        Dragic-Green- Goodwin
        Hayward-Tucker- Warren
        Bosh- Morris- Morris
        Plumlee-Len

        Is still a pretty strong contender, even in the West. Depending on how high you are on Dragic (and I’m of the opinion he’s a top 3 PG in the league, and probably a top 12 player), that team may or may not have a true “go to star”, but it’s got a tremendous amount of depth and is positionally above average at every roster spot from #1 to #8, and if Ennis/Warren are any good, again at 11-13 (along with Marcus).

        EDIT: To answer your Channing Frye question, in basically any scenario where we get two stars, we basically have to use most/all of our midlevel on him, or somehow convince him to take, like, 2 million in year one. He’s worth at least double that, so I don’t see him giving up half his earning potential to stay in PHX. He’s already done the team a solid by opting out of his 6.8 million deal, so even at 4 mil he’s given up nearly half of his next year’s paycheck; hard to ask him for more.