LeBron James Turns His Back On Chicago, Chooses To Play For Heat

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LeBron's Tax Bills Are Going To Chicago... The Latest Rumor

The news today about the LeBron James sweepstakes has been fast and furious. Sources all over the place are claiming that he's headed for the Knicks, or the Heat, or staying with the Cavs. The Bulls signed Carlos Boozer, though as of late they still haven't been labeled front runners. Perhaps the only person who knows where King James will be playing basketball next year is James himself.

...or maybe his accountant?

This rumor is coming out of the hard to believe, but seems to be true department. Earlier today, Eric Mansfield, a news anchor for WKYC-TV in Cleveland tweeted something rather interesting...

FLASH: Summit Co. processed request TODAY to change address on tax bill for BJ'S home from an LLC in Cleveland to a new address in Chicago

We confirmed that the address change has taken place. To verify yourself, follow these instructions:

http://co.summit.oh.us/

On the lower left —→ Taxes and Appraisals

In address line, enter “4157 Idlebrook”

Click the first entry, listed as Rachael Investments LLC

Scroll down to “Sales Information for Parcel 0406709,” The name should be “JAMES LE BRON” That confirms you’re on the right document.

Scroll further to the section that is a summary. Note the address for Rachael Investments, LLC.

Now, on the left, click the link for the 2008 tax bill. Compare the address listed for Rachael Investments in the summary section on the 2008 bill, vis-a-vis the 2009 bill.

You’ll see.

The relevant information is that the 2008 tax bill for the property, which is owned in the name of LeBron James and Rachael Investments LLC, was sent to an address in Ohio, c/o (care of) Kurt Schoeppler. Who is Kurt Schoeppler?

He's LBJ's financial advisor. The new c/o on the Chicago address is the CPA firm Weinberg Solheim Howell & Shain, located on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago.

So what does this mean? It means that the property tax bills for the house that James owns in Cleveland are no longer being mailed to the Cleveland based office of his financial manager, but rather to a CPA firm in Chicago that caters to high net-worth individuals... including the first family.

Now there could be very legitimate reasons for hiring this CPA firm in Chicago, that have nothing to do with where he will play for the next several years. Perhaps James likes Chicago accountants. Perhaps the firm in question has a personal connection to his financial manager Schoeppler, or another of James' inner circle. Maybe he got a recommendation from the President himself. For all we know, someone on James' side could have picked a random name out of the yellowpages and decided to transfer James' accounting to them.

But... it still seems like an awful lot of trouble, shipping tax bills and the like, to a Chicago based CPA firm if LeBron's principal place of business is essentially going to be in NYC, Cleveland, or Miami. Even if Weinberg is an absolutely wonderful CPA firm, I would have a hard time believing there are not comparable firms, who also cater to high net-worth individuals (athletes, celebrities, etc) located in NYC or Miami.

Given all that, the conclusion I've come to is that:

This is real. LeBron James (or his financial manager) has really hired this accounting firm to do his taxes. It is not a red herring to confuse people on where he is going to play -- changing the address on ones' tax bill and expecting it to leak to the public is relatively ridiculous.

HOWEVER

It may have nothing at all to do with where he is going to be playing basketball.

So, take it for what it's worth.

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LeBron James Will Announce Free Agency Decision Thursday On ESPN

Earlier, we noted that LeBron James won't be announcing his free agency decision via his new Twitter account.

Now, we find out why: ESPN is reporting on Twitter that the free agent will make his announcement on the sports network at 8 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Breaking News - Sources: LeBron James will announce decision on his free agency Thursday at 9pm EST on ESPN.less than a minute ago via web


The network doesn't offer any details as to which team LeBron James is leaning towards.

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Bulls Meet With Wade Again, Possible LeBron Partnership "On Agenda"

More details have trickled out concerning what exactly the Bulls and Dwayne Wade will have discussed when their second meeting with the MIami Heat superstar concludes this evening. According to Adrian Wojanrowski at Yahoo, it seems that GarPaxDorf is going to try to persuade the Chicago native to leave the Miami heat and play with the Bulls, potentially with fellow FA LeBron James.

Woj writes,

Dwyane Wade(notes) will meet privately with Chicago Bulls officials Friday afternoon for a second time in two days on Friday and is seriously contemplating leaving the Miami Heat to join his hometown team, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

This could be a significant step in Wade helping to create a blockbuster partnership with LeBron James on the Bulls.

Wade and James have been discussing the possibility of playing together, but the major hurdle to the starry alliance remains James' reluctance to join Wade in Miami, sources say.

As NBA writers go, Woj is generally considered to be well informed and credible, but one should still approach this latest rumor as skeptically as all of the others that have been flying around in recent days. The one thing that appears to be clear from recent chatter, however, is that the Bulls management is determined to make off with a decent haul at the end of the free agent period this time around.

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Bulls Plan Second Meeting With Dwyane Wade

The Chicago Bulls appear to have impressed Chicago native, and free agent superstar, Dwyane Wade enough to entice him for a second meeting.

Potentially staggering news, Dwyane Wade is poised to meet again tonight with the Bulls, likely in the presence of his agent.less than a minute ago via web

It’s difficult to speculate too much on the Bulls and Wade planning a second meeting within 48 hours, this time with Wade’s agent involved, but it surely means something.

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Chicago Bulls Set Free Agent Courting Calendar

The Chicago Bulls will continue their free-agent recruiting process on Friday by hosting Toronto Raptors star Chris Bosh, according to Roman Modrowski of ESPN Chicago.

Aside from Bosh, the other free agent targets are as follows:

The Bulls, who spent the opening day of NBA free agency on Thursday by visiting with Dwyane Wade at the United Center, also will host David Lee on Friday.

Oh, and of course there’s that LeBron James character everyone has been talking about. Unlike Wade, Bosh and Lee though, the Bulls will have to travel to Akron, Ohio to meet with the Cavaliers star.

A Chicago contingent of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, general manager Gar Forman, vice president John Paxson and coach Tom Thibodeau, will travel to northeast Ohio on Saturday to make a pitch to LeBron James, ESPN Chicago has confirmed.

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Chicago Bulls Met With Dwyane Wade Thursday

The Chicago Bulls met with Chicago native Dwyane Wade Thursday according to numerous reports.

Wade, a free agent shooting guard who has played with the Miami Heat since being drafted fifth overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, averaged 27 points last season for the Miami Heat.

The 28-year-old made headlines in May when he questioned the Bulls loyalty in an interview discussing free agency with the Chicago Tribune.

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LeBron To Chicago A "Done Deal?"

Now that the U.S. has made its sadly predictable World Cup exit, we can finally turn our attention back to the LeBron James free agency saga. Whew, what a relief.

As we've been reporting over the last several days, information from multiple sources suggests that the Chicago Bulls have become the leading destination for King James. Confidants of LeBron, agents, and sports journalists have all been singing the Bulls praises -- a talented young core of players, a new and widely respected coach in Tom Thibodeau, and enough salary cap space to bring in two high profile free agents (albeit not at the maximum salary for both).

And now those voices been joined by an anonymous NBA executive, who believes that LeBron to Chicago is virtually a certainty at this point, even though the free agency period has yet to officially start. Johnathon Abrams of the New York Times, writing on the New York Knicks declining chances to land the coveted free agent says,

But the meetings might not be much more than a formality. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A. executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.

"I think it's a done deal," the executive said.

He said he thought James was going ahead with the meetings in Ohio "to be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops," a reference to the clubs, like the Knicks, who traded reasonably talented players like Jamal Crawford the last two seasons in an effort to open up as much salary-cap space as possible. But if James and Bosh are indeed going to Chicago, moves like the ones the Knicks made will have been done at least partly in vain.

It's true, of course, that the Bulls have never had the most luck in free agency.... but it was also true that until a few short weeks ago, the Blackhawks hadn't had the most luck in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Perhaps, as with the Hawks, this is the year that the Bulls' fortunes will finally change.

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More Sources Suggest LeBron Is Leaving Cavs

A further update to what we've written below. More sources are tweeting that they've heard the same that Jalen Rose has (from different people), namely, that LeBron James is not going to be returning to the Cavs.

Alex Kennedy, a reporter at Hoopsworld, adds two tweets to the mix. He writes:

An agent just told me that LeBron James won't be returning to Cleveland from what he's hearing. Lines up with what @jalenrose is reporting.

...

The agent hadn't heard about @jalenrose's tweet but said he wasn't surprised based on what people are saying in recent days.

 

Of course, as we noted in our first update on this subject, anonymous sources and "people" should never be considered to be confirmation of anything. We've seen, as recently as a short time ago with the Big 12 fiasco, just how much can change and how quickly it can do so within the sports world.

All the same, the more people who report a rumor of the type we have here, the more likely it is to be at least in the general vicinity of reality. We'll keep our ears to the ground and update as more emerges.

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Jalen Rose Says Bulls Lead Competition To Acquire LeBron James

In response to the many tweets he's recieved since he first broke word that LeBron James was "almost certain" not to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jalen Rose has repeated what we and many other sources have been saying for the last several weeks:

If LeBron James leaves Cleveland, the team that is currently in the lead to acquire him as a free agent would be the Chicago Bulls. Jalen Rose writes,

#NBA as of 2day the Bulls have the best chance of landing LBJ...Miami would need to make more roster moves...Clips have a punchers chance!
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LeBron "Almost Certain" To Leave Cavs?

From the shaker of salt category, an interesting tweet just emerged from Jalen Rose which claims that LeBron will almost certainly be leaving his home state of Ohio. Rose tweets,

#NBA BREAKING NEWS (research/sources say) It is almost CERTAIN that LEBRON JAMES WILL NOT be returning to the CAVS! (Bulls/Heat/Clips)

Now, obviously this is a bit less than iron clad in terms of reliability, but still an interesting tidbit. The Bulls have long been considered the front runners for James, assuming he decided not to return to the Cavs. If this tweet is true, could we soon be welcoming James to the house that Jordan built?

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