At 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, he and the rest of one of the best classes of free agents in recent memory could negotiate with suitors. The New Jersey Nets have the first crack at James Thursday.
Deals can be agreed to but no signings can occur until July 8, when the new salary cap takes hold. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn, whose club has roughly $20 million to spend. “It’s going to be crazy, and we need to jump into the craziness.”
New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov, coach Avery Johnson, minority owner Jay-Z and outgoing president Rod Thorn will be in Akron to meet James. Minus Jay-Z, they will meet with Wade and Bosh in New York on Friday.
The New York Knicks plan to drop in on James, too. They can afford James and another max player, which might be what they need after a franchise-worst nine consecutive losing seasons.
“We’ve had to live through some tough times in order to get where you think you start rebuilding the franchise,” club President Donnie Walsh said. “We have that opportunity now.”
Riley and his contingent left Wednesday for California, where they were expected to try to see Amar’e Stoudemire (FSY) and Carlos Boozer (FSY) among others. Stoudemire tweeted Wednesday: “I opted out of my contract with PHX. Can’t wait to see what lies ahead. I had a blast with my teammates last season. What’s Next !!”
Frye is “the perfect example of a guy who can get swept off his feet (today). You can see some signings like that one that could have a big impact on a team next year,” said former Phoenix Suns general manager Steve Kerr, who signed Frye last offseason.
“I don’t think (that class of players) will have more of an impact, but they really are going under the radar. There’s only nine teams with cap room and realistically, only a few of them have a shot at LeBron. If I’m one of those teams, I’m going to try and sneak under the radar and do that immediately.”
The decisions of general managers will not only impact their teams’ futures, but their careers, as well.
“Job security is an oxymoron in the NBA. These moves these guys are going to make will absolutely determine their futures,” Kerr said. “You’re going to be the hero or the goat.”