(The Sports Xchange) - LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, announcing the move on Friday in a heartfelt letter that set off celebrations in the home state he infuriated in 2010 by fleeing via free agency to the Miami Heat.
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now,” said James in an exclusive co-authored essay with Sports Illustrated.
“But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from.
“I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get,” the essay reads.
James said he sat down man-to-man with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to discuss the letter Gilbert wrote scolding James and calling him a coward following the infamous “Decision” to join the Heat.
Kevin Love might be the next superstar to parade into Cleveland, with number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins “in play” in a potential deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Multiple reports indicated the Cavaliers were pushing to acquire Love without parting with Wiggins, the Kansas product who said last week he believes his future will be in Cleveland.
The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics are also interested in Love.
The hang-up in the deal with Cleveland could be shooting guard Kevin Martin, whom the Timberwolves want to include in any Love trade to clear his contract from the books.
The Cavaliers also traded forward Alonzo Gee to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for a 2016 second-round draft pick.
The moves clears cap space for the Cavs to sign James and also could help the Pelicans in their pursuit of acquiring center Omar Asik from the Rockets.
Free agent forward Chris Bosh appears to be staying in Miami instead of following James out the door and going his own way to the Houston Rockets.
According to reports, Bosh agreed to a maximum five-year, $118 million contract on Friday to return to the Heat. Yahoo Sports also reported that the Heat are attempting to re-sign guard Dwyane Wade, keeping two of the Big Three in Miami next season.
Another report indicated that Wade was considering his hometown Chicago Bulls.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded for point guard Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick in a deal with the Rockets and also reached contract agreements with shooting guard Nick Young and forward Jordan Hill, according to reports.
The Lin deal will free up cap space for the Rockets and unload his salary of $14.89 million. However, Lin’s contract will only count $8.3 million on the Lakers’ cap based on the deal’s structure, according to Yahoo Sports.
Young, a free agent, agreed to a four-year, $21.5 million contract with the Lakers, according to multiple reports.
Hill reached agreement with the Lakers on a two-year, $18 million contract, Yahoo Sports reported.
Editing by Gene Cherry