Did LeBron James deceive the Miami Heat during his much talked about free agency decision this NBA offseason?
Deception may be too strong a word, but it clear from the words of Miami Heat president Pat Riley that he feels LeBron James certainly passed up the chance to reveal to the franchise key information this summer which would have led to them acting differently.
According to Riley, the four-time MVP never once intermitted to the franchise his plans to leave South Florida in favor of a return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers - a point which led to Riley making some now-unfounded promises to potential new recruits, it was revealed Thursday:
"I went into it with the notion he (LeBron James) was coming back, so I was selling that to players," Riley explained to reporters.
"I let him know that. He never said, 'Don't do that," the franchise president continued.
What is confusing however is that, in the same conference call, Riley stated that he never felt mislead by James during the free agency process whist at the same time emphasising the fact that the player and his representatives never discouraged he and the Heat front office from using James' name to entice new arrivals.
While it is understandable that LeBron kept his cards close to his chest in the run up to the Cavs move it is interesting to note that he was happy for his name to be used as a carrot with which to dangle in front of other NBA players.
The Miami Heat were clearly taken aback by LeBron James' decision, with Riley admitting in the same call that at no point did he think the face of the franchise would be on the way out, but they moved quickly to add several role players to fill the void.
Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and Luol Deng were signed whilst the likes of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade agreed to new long term deals with Miami.
And Pat Riley was in defiant mood about the Heat's chances next season:
"No doubt we lost a great player.
"The hurt didn't last long. We picked up the phone and went to work. Sometimes, things happen that you don't like, buy you have to move on. I feel really good about where we are right now at this moment.
I feel we are up to the challenge and will be as competitive as anyone in the East Conference."
After James signed his two-year $42 million contract the Cavaliers will of course be one of the Heat's rivals in the East next season.
And fans at the American Airlines Arena will get the chance to 'welcome' LeBron James back on Christmas Day it seems, with NBA fixtures set to reveal that the Cavaliers will travel to the Miami Heat over the festive period.