While the Cleveland Cavaliers knew they would have a chance to sign LeBron James last offseason, they certainly were not tipped off to it beforehand as Pat Riley insinuated.
"I know for pretty sure the Cavs were in the dark," said Windhorst on Zach Lowe's podcast. "And I have an indisputable reason why: they didn't have the cap space to sign him.
"Even if you think bringing Gordon Hayward in for a visit was subterfuge, and they were trying to line up one with Chandler Parsons. The jet Dan Gilbert flew to Florida to meet with LeBron, the previous flight that jet took was to go to Indianapolis to pick up Gordon Hayward and bring him to Cleveland for a visit."
The Cavaliers had to engineer a trade to clear Jarrett Jack from their salary cap to sign James.
"If there was a conspiracy, the Cavaliers wouldn't have hired David Blatt either."
Windhorst reports James certainly didn't make up his mind before the end of the Finals and he would have certainly remained with the Miami Heat to go for a fourpeat.
James wanted to go home to Cleveland, but other issues were in play such as the Heat using the amnesty on Mike Miller.
"LeBron was really upset about Mike Miller being released," said Windhorst. "The argument was there was this sense of sacrifice through the organization. And for the Heat to cut Mike Miller to save money, and it was a lot of money, $17 million in luxury taxes. That undercut what LeBron was seeing and combined with the fact that he saw the Clippers sell for $2 billion and arguably at that moment you might have been able to get $2 billion, at least $1.5, $1.7. I think it irritated LeBron that there wasn't this equal willingness to sacrifice across the organization."
Windhorst also said there will be a lot of pressure for the Cavaliers to sign their free agents this offseason because of that fact. J.R. Smith is expected to opt out, while Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson will be free agents.