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.
James’ conversation with Ariza was part of the Cavaliers’ attempt to make the free agent swingman the next Hedo Turkoglu, who backed out of his promise last week to join Portland and instead accepted a deal with Toronto.
Ariza, who had accepted a five-year, $33.5 million offer from the Rockets last Thursday, also received telephone calls from James and Shaquille O’Neal. When James told Ariza he’d be a Cavalier past next season, Ariza was less than convinced.
“He thought it was just a recruiting tool,” the source said. “LeBron definitely said it, but until he signs the contract it doesn’t mean much.”
The Cavaliers did not ask James or O’Neal to call Ariza, but as he did with Ron Artest, James took it upon himself to reach out. James’ future in Cleveland has been an issue with potential signees.