October 21, 2014

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Cavaliers: Dan Gilbert’s plane flies to Florida as pursuit of LeBron James continues

LeBron James

LeBron James

CLEVELAND — Social media was set ablaze Sunday with reports about the Cavaliers’ pursuit of unrestricted free agent LeBron James.

A small plane in the fleet owned by Rock Financial LLC — a company controlled by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — traveled from Pontiac, Mich., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., late in the afternoon.

It is the same jet that transported Gilbert and the franchise’s other power brokers to New Jersey on June 30, where they offered All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving a five-year, $90 million contract that he accepted the next day.

ESPN analyst Chris Broussard, who reported that James would leave Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat a full 17 hours before “The Decision” aired four years ago, said he now considers the Cavaliers “the front-runner” in the battle to land him.

Earlier in the holiday weekend, James returned from an overseas family vacation to his winter home in Miami. “The Chosen One” still maintains his primary residence in Bath Township, just outside of Akron.

The four-time NBA MVP and agent Rich Paul are meeting with the finalists for his services, according to Yahoo. James and all other free agents are permitted to sign contracts Thursday. The Associated Press reported James will meet with Heat president Pat Riley this week.

Miami, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers are considered legitimate contenders for James, who is seeking a maximum-level contract worth $21 million per season.

Exactly who was on the Gulfstream Aerospace Gulfstream IV is unknown, but its destination was modified in the air from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

A large contingent of Heat fans and media members had gathered at the former site after the plane’s tracking information became public knowledge via FlightAware. The jet’s license is held by SLAN LLC, which is based out of Rock Financial’s building at 1074 Woodward Ave. in downtown Detroit.

The Cavaliers have $15 million in salary cap room, but could secure enough space to meet James’ demand by trading point guard Jarrett Jack, power forward Anthony Bennett or power forward Tristan Thompson.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.