It starts Tuesday, with the Lakers looking to get back on track, the Miami Heat in command in the East and LeBron James in command of everyone.
In this case, LeBron James warns not to connect the dots.
Addressing the issue directly for the first time, James told the Sun Sentinel that anyone reading into his switch of agents beyond a reunion with a longtime friend is missing the point.
"I don't think it's fair to my teammates to even get involved in that," he said, as the Heat continue training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena.
In recent weeks James began the machinations that will take him from agent Leon Rose and the powerful Creative Artists Agency to a new agency being opened by longtime friend Rich Paul.
Paul's agency will be based in Cleveland, with James' marketing arm also based in the area. As recently as last season, James declined to rule out one day possibly playing again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who he left in July 2010 to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat.
James, however, warned not to read too much into the location of either his agent or his marketing wing, noting that his LRMR marketing firm which carries the first initial of himself and Paul, has moved to his hometown of Akron.
"My agent is based in Cleveland, but my office is in Akron now," James said during a private moment on the Heat's practice court. "We're in Akron now, like two miles away from my house. But that has nothing to with basketball. It's just where those guys reside and my office."
Similarly, he said his move to Paul's budding agency, Klutch Sports Management, is not geographically based.
"Rich is a guy who's learned a lot over the last few years with CAA, got some great assistance over there at CAA, but he felt like he was ready to grow and start his own thing," James said. "He's been a close friend of mine, so I want to see him grow. So I'm going with him and offering support and want to continue to help him grow."
James' final season with the Cavaliers in 2009-10 in many ways turned into a yearlong referendum on his future. Now, coming off an MVP season and his first NBA championship, it is possible his next potential free-agency opportunity could cast an even lengthier shadow on the calendar.
"I haven't even thought about it and I probably won't give it too much thought," he said, with Wade and Bosh holding similar opt-outs in their contracts, as well as all three holding escape clauses in the 2015 offseason. The contracts for all three formally expire in the 2016 offseason.
Wade and Bosh continue to be represented by CAA through their affiliation with agent Henry Thomas.
As for James, there is business and there is basketball, and he said basketball, and the Heat, is the current focus.
"I just live each day as its own and try to get better with this team," he said. "I know what I'm here for."
A slow go
James said after winning an NBA title in late June and Olympic gold in early August that he plans to ease into the preseason.
Of next Sunday's exhibition opener against the Hawks in Atlanta, he said, "I don't even know if I'll play much at all in that game."
He said the advantage of the Olympics is that he arrived to camp in game shape.
"Usually, it takes me a week, a week-and-a-half of camp to kind of get back into it," he said following Sunday's practice, with coach Erik Spoelstra cancelling what had been scheduled as a second session Sunday night.
Spoelstra continued his cautious approach with Wade, who was limited to a brief warm-up Sunday before being pulled from the morning session, as he returns from July knee surgery. Forward Mike Miller, who spent the offseason treating a back issue, was allowed to complete three-quarters of the practice before he was pulled by Spoelstra.
Center Joel Anthony sat out of practice with a slight hamstring pull.
For offseason free-agent acquisition Ray Allen it continues to be a feeling-out process, as he works with his new teammates and recovers from his June ankle procedure.
"For me," he said, "it's still trying to get adjusted."
That includes dropping both post-practice shooting contests, including one to James.
"I lost at my own game today," Allen said with a smile.
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