That source said that James told Ariza he planned to remain with the Cavaliers past next summer, when he can become a free agent. James could not be reached for comment Monday night, but on Tuesday, sources who spoke to James said the story told by the person close to Ariza was wrong.
James’ conversation with Ariza was, according to the Ariza source, part of the Cavaliers’ attempt to make Ariza the next Hedo Turkoglu, who backed out of his promise last week to join Portland and instead accepted a deal with Toronto.
Over the weekend, general manager Danny Ferry and head coach Mike Brown flew to Los Angeles and met with Ariza on Sunday, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.
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. Ariza asked James about his future plans with the Cavs, and then told a person close to him James said he was staying in Cleveland long term.
“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.’ ”
Ariza still had his doubts.
“He thought it was just a recruiting tool,” the source said. “Until he signs the contract it doesn’t mean much.”