LeBron James(notes) is planning to invite six teams to meet him over the first three days of free agency, and rap mogul Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will be part of a New Jersey Nets contingent that will make the first presentation on July 1 in the Akron, Ohio, area, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
James and his advisors plan to have the Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers make presentations. Yahoo! Sports first reported on Thursday night that James would be taking appointments with teams on July 1 to begin his free-agency process.
The Bulls have emerged as the favorites for James, and the Heat and Nets are making a strong push, too. The Knicks and Clippers appear to be longer shots to sign James. The Cavaliers remain a viable choice because of James’ seven seasons there and the opportunity for him to make as much as $30 million more re-signing with his hometown team.
The Nets are hoping the global might of Jay-Z – an idol and mentor to James – and Prokhorov can appeal to James’ desire to be a billionaire athlete with an international platform and profile.
Nets general manager Rod Thorn and coach Avery Johnson will also make the trip, but Thorn has decided to leave his job and retire in July. He hasn’t been happy with the pay cut the new owner has offered, and he also feels that at 69 years old his appetite for the job’s grind has diminished.
Nets ownership will try to move quickly on a replacement, and sources say potential targets will include Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, New Orleans GM Jeff Bower and San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford. Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks, who has drawn interest in the Portland Trail Blazers’ search, is a strong candidate, too.
The Nets are planning to move into a new Brooklyn arena after playing the next two seasons at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.