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Bulls GM Gar Forman issued this statement on LeBron James’ announcement tonight:
“I remain convinced that this organization made the strongest of bids to acquire LeBron James during this free agency period. While we’re disappointed he chose to go to another franchise, our strategy for the future competitiveness of this organization did not begin or end with James, and we feel today’s addition of two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer significantly strengthens our team’s already talented roster. It is our goal to keep exploring every avenue that it may take, whether through trades or free agency, to continue to build this team to compete at a championship level.”
Courtesy of Mike Prada at the mothership, here’s a rundown of the Q&A of LeBron by Jim Gray.
I’m glad I turned it off after the decision. Jim Gray is an embarrassment to sports journalism.
As just announced on ESPN’s special, LeBron James will play next season for the Miami Heat.
Just for the record, the “first ten minutes” promise was broken — the announcement came at 8:27 — 17 minutes late.
OK, just ONE more update, and this one, from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, has more sense than all the 6700 others put together:
If Lebron announces Miami, all the sports media who reported the same get to write “i told you so”. The people in Miami smile. Maybe some have a cuba libre and go about their business. The phones ring and the Heat sell a bunch of tickets. Pat Riley buys some hair gel. Erik Spolestra stresses about what happens if they dont win this year. Everyone starts telling lies about how such and such player would love to play for the minimum salary to play with the Golden Triangle.
On the flip side, If he says he is going back to the Cavs there are parties in the streets, horns honking, people kissing strangers. Art Modell sneaks into the state and gets a kiss. Everyone’s wife and husband, boyfriend and girlfriend all the sudden become prettier that night. People are pouring out in the street as if a war had ended. Instead of an infamous picture of a sailor kissing a young lady , there will be a picture of a couple, both in Lebron James Cavs jerseys kissing in the middle of the street. A photo passed through the internet as a momento of a moment in time that in the big picture means nothing, but for tonight means everything.
Which is exactly why I think he is going back to the Cavs. The sports world is full of uncertainties. When in doubt, go for the love.
We’ll see. Right now this one makes more sense than anything else, even if it is, like the rest of ‘em, pure speculation. (Oh, and Mark? It’s “memento”, not “momento”.)
As I posted this morning, I think this whole thing borders on theater of the absurd. No, on second thought, that’s an insult to theaters of the absurd.
But if you are still following breathlessly each and every update, here are a few.
He’s going to Miami. (ESPN)
The Heat have already sold out 2010-11 season tickets (Miami Herald)
He’s staying in Cleveland (SI.com)
He’s going to the Knicks (this is absurd, but it’s out there – ESPN)
Back to the Heat again! (LA Times)
Ugh. That’s enough, I think. As of 3:25 pm CDT, searching Google News comes up with almost 6700 hits for “LeBron”.
And in reality, only one person knows the truth.
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:
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.
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.
What would a day be if we didn’t have a random NBA player tweeting about where LeBron is going to end up? Today’s selection is Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns:
Breaking News!!! My sources tell me Lebron will announce that he will be goin to the NY KNICKS tomorrow on ESPN.. This is serious.. WOW!!!!
You know. Because Dudley and LeBron are, like, BFFs. But once wasn’t enough; Dudley felt compelled to add:
That’s what I’m hearing.. I don’t care where he goes lol.. I personally thought he would stay in Cleveland..
Thanks, Jared. Take that 8.2 PPG average and head on back to Phoenix, OK?
If LeBron James does the unexpected tomorrow and signs with the New York Knicks, that could increase the value of the Knicks franchise and its associated TV network, MSG Network.
Shares in Madison Square Garden Inc., the owners of the Knicks, jumped $1.30, or 6.4 percent, to close at $21.57 Wednesday, adding 3 cents in extended trading. Volume was up dramatically at 1.7 million trades, more than five times the daily average of 311,000.
The article also says we won’t have to wait too long into ESPN’s special Thursday night to find out LeBron’s choice:
An ESPN executive says James will announce his future NBA plans within the first 10 minutes of Thursday night’s hourlong broadcast, hosted by Jim Gray.
ESPN says Gray and James will be in one location. A person familiar with the plans, however, tells The Associated Press the interview will take place at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn.
So what are they going to do for the 50 minutes remaining? It had better be compelling TV, or there will be massive channel-switching at about 8:10 CDT.
Leave it to the Heckler to put all the breathless LeBron reporting in its place:
NBA superstar and prized free agent LeBron James announced Tuesday that he’ll be hosting a nationally televised one-hour press conference Thursday night in which he plans to announce he will not be signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“After long, thoughtful consideration, I am sad to say I will not become a member of the T’Wolves,” said James when announcing the press conference, the first he will hold regarding each of the 29 teams with which he will not be signing a contract. “Minneapolis seems like a great place and all, but the winters are too damn cold. Plus they’re all crazy about Prince up there and, let’s be honest, he’s kind of weird.”
The sad part is, a lot of people will think the above actually happened.
Just as he said he would earlier this week, LeBron James had no comments at his kids camp regarding his future:
James arrived at 9:55 a.m. driving a white Range Rover, wearing a dark T-shirt and dark shorts and wearing a New York Yankees cap. He again declined to address reporters, even as the free-agency picture around him starts to become clearer. Sources have confirmed to the Tribune that Dwyane Wade will re-sign with the Miami Heat and that forward Chris Bosh will join him there. ESPN first reported the story.
Sources told Yahoo Sports that Wade and Bosh are trying to recruit him to join them in Miami. James didn’t commit, a source said, and is expected to announce his new team Thursday during an 8 p.m. special on ESPN.
On his Twitter account Wednesday morning, James, in his second-ever tweet, said: “Good Morning everyone! Just got up so I can get ready to head down to my B-ball Camp”. James had more than 200,000 followers on Twitter as of early Wednesday.
Do the reporters think that if they show up, LeBron will suddenly decide, “Geez, you guys are here, so I’ll talk?” They’ll find out tomorrow like the rest of us. Glad to know what he was wearing today, though. Important stuff.
ESPN reports this morning that Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have made their decisions:
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are teaming up together on the Miami Heat, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
ESPN’s Shelley Smith also reported the pending move through independent sources.
Wade and Bosh are expected to announce their decision on Wednesday, according to the source.
It was not immediately clear whether Bosh will sign with Miami outright or join the Heat through a sign-and-trade deal. Bosh could earn $125 million over six years via sign-and-trade, but only $96 million over five without it.
“Either way, he’s definitely going to Miami,” the source said.
This report, if true, will make for an interesting Thursday.
LeBron James made an unusual request of ESPN:
According to the ESPN report, James and his representatives asked that ad revenue from the special be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Good on him.
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.
The network doesn't offer any details as to which team LeBron James is leaning towards.
Naturally, this information was tweeted from Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer Cavs beat writer:
Also, despite hints sources say LeBron does not plan to announce decision on website.
Doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind. Stay tuned!
As if we didn’t have enough breathless updates, LeBron James’ buddy Chris Paul of the Hornets talked LeBron into signing up for Twitter.
As of the time of this update, @kingjames had over 81,000 followers, but not a single tweet.
You’re not going to get anything done the rest of the day, are you, waiting for him to tweet?
Also, the Bulls are reportedly still exploring a sign-and-trade with the Raptors for Chris Bosh:
ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reported Tuesday morning that the Raptors have told the Cavaliers they are willing to sign-and-trade Bosh to them.
That, of course, would significantly increase the Cavaliers’ chances of retaining LeBron James. League sources couldn’t immediately independently confirm Broussard’s report.
The Raptors have made clear their desire for Joakim Noah in sign-and-trade talks with the Bulls, who have resisted those efforts. The Bulls have proposed a package involving Taj Gibson, multiple first-round draft picks and a trade exception.
Just when you thought the breathless speculation and guessing had ended for the day, there are these nuggets. Don’t leave your computer or smartphone for a second.
This is what it’s come down to — major media writers and columnists having to produce material, and having no new information or facts, they resort to outright making stuff up.
Example #1: John Jackson in the Sun-Times:
Still, the longer it takes Wade and James to make a decision, the more likely it becomes that they’ll stay put. That’s just a feeling I have.
Both are intrigued by the possibilities of playing elsewhere and are seriously considering leaving. But the longer it takes to pull the trigger on a decision to go, the more the emotions of being loyal to their current teams will tug at their hearts.
So if you’re a Bulls fans hoping to land Wade or James, you probably should be rooting for them to make a decision right now.
Jackson even admits he’s guessing:
That’s just a feeling I have.
Well, great. I have a feeling LeBron might have a Big Mac for lunch. Does that mean I’m right?
Example #2: Rick Morrissey didn’t have any real information either for his Sun-Times column, so he decided to make irrelevant comparisons:
Jump to 2016. (This column apparently has been hijacked by the producers of ‘’Back to the Future.’‘) Derrick Rose is a free agent, and he has a choice of max contracts because he’s the best player in the NBA. Under this scenario, the Bulls failed to land James or any of the superstar free agents back in 2010, and Rose has toiled on decent teams that never could seem to lure enough talent to get the job done.
The kid from Simeon High School is pondering leaving the only city he knows, in the same way the kid from St. Vincent- St. Mary High School in Akron had pondered bolting the state of Ohio in 2010.
Now are you feeling what Cleveland is feeling? It’s not too much fun, is it?
It used to be said that you could at least use newspapers to wrap fish. I think the fish would be insulted.
And we have at least two more days of this. Unless James or Bosh or [insert name of free agent here] decides to do what Amar’e Stoudemire did, and announce his decision in advance of the first signing date on Thursday.
That could happen. Or not. Anything else is just guessing.
Rick Morrissey in today’s Sun-Times says no matter what you think you know about LeBron, you’re probably wrong:
LeBron is leaning toward staying in Cleveland and trying to sell Bosh on joining him, a source familiar with LeBron’s leanings say.
Stoudemire wants to go to the Knicks for the maximum contract, a source familiar with Stoudemire’s agent’s Social Security number, mother’s maiden name and deepest yearnings says.
The Knicks aren’t out of the LeBron sweepstakes, a source bearing a striking resemblance to a desperate Amar’e Stoudemire says.
Wade is carrying Bosh’s love child, sources close to Wade’s ex-wife says.
Somebody is wrong. Actually, a lot of somebodys are wrong.
People who are speaking for James likely are ill-informed or partially informed or in for the shock of their lives. The folks who are in James’ small, tight circle surely are taking their lead from him — and he’s not talking with media members, at least publicly.
We’re left to analyze the raw intelligence, and, so far, there hasn’t been enough to fill a shot glass.
I’m not usually a fan of Morrissey’s columns, but this time, he’s nailed it. No matter what gets tweeted and posted and shouted out the next few days, we’re only going to find out the truth when the players themselves announce it.
ESPN.com reports Sunday night that LeBron has had a second meeting with the Knicks. This isn’t necessarily bad news for Bulls fans, though:
The New York Knicks held a second meeting with LeBron James’ representatives to clarify exactly where they stood in regards to signing Amare Stoudemire, ESPN.com learned Sunday.
The meeting, attended by James’ agent, Leon Rose, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald and others, took place Saturday morning in Cleveland before James himself met with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls.
It lasted about an hour, with James’ representatives wanting to know whether it was true (it wasn’t) that New York had already formally offered Stoudemire a five-year, $100 million contract.
I wouldn’t sweat it if I were you, Bulls fans. To me, this sounds like what we’re going to be hearing a lot of for the next three days — breathless rumors with little substance. Twitter better upgrade their servers.
Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that LeBron James, according to Windhorst’s sources, will not announce his decision about where he’s playing next season until Thursday at the earliest … after his Nike basketball camp this week is over.
Which makes total sense.
Telling the world whom he wants to sign with Monday, with campers congregating in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, for the next three days, only would have worked for LeBron if he’s definitely staying with the Cavs. How could he announce that he’s leaving them in free agency and then proceed with the camp?
Which means we are subject to three more days of breathless rumors. Will Twitter crash? Stay tuned.
John Jackson in the Sun-Times says maybe not:
Before the meetings began Thursday, James had indicated he wanted to make a decision by Monday. But there were whispers Saturday that it probably will take longer than that.
That might leave the Bulls with an interesting decision in the next few days if Dwyane Wade decides he wants to join his hometown team. Do they give Wade a maximum-contract deal and hope they also can add James, should he choose them? Or do they put off Wade until James makes his decision and run the risk of losing him?
Can they still get both? It’s possible, but we may not know definitively until Thursday — no contracts can be signed before them.
All that means is that we will be subject to four more days of incessant Twitter rumors.
Via the Tribune, Bulls brass met with LeBron James for nearly three hours today:
The Cavaliers’ meeting with James ran about two hours — a little longer than expected — and in brief remarks to the media, general manager Chris Grant said it went well and that he was glad LeBron chose Cleveland as the site of his meetings.
After the Cavs left, the Bulls arrived, including new coach Tom Thibodeau, GM Gar Forman, John Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf. They donned jackets, but no ties. The Bulls didn’t park in the parking garage where the other teams parked; so they had to cross the road … ala the Beatles in Abbey Road.
The Bulls met with LeBron for about three hours (12:15 p.m. to 3:14 p.m. CT), before leaving in two SUVs to a chorus of boos from Cleveland fans who were waiting outside.
The Bulls left without saying a word, but Thibodeau left with a smile on his face. Unlike the other suitors, the Bulls did not cart any visual aids or equipment.
Meanwhile, Cavaliers fans rallied outside to try to convince LeBron to stay there:
In what may be their last effort to show support for James, Cavaliers fans made their way downtown to greet James and Cavaliers executives as they prepared for their 11 a.m. (Eastern time) meeting.
A rough estimate put the crowd at a couple hundred fans — and they were indeed fans, not Cavaliers employees like the previous two days. There was even a couple of people dressed in Santa Claus outfits, for some reason.
While Twitterers and others wait by keyboards for updates, it may be that LeBron will try to enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend before making a final decision.
The Sun-Times reports on the Bulls’ preparations for meeting with LeBron today:
The Bulls’ brass was expected to depart for Cleveland this morning where they will be the last of the six teams to make their presentations to James.
The New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks went Thursday, followed by the Heat and Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. James’ team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is expected to go first today and make a brief presentation followed by the Bulls.
Not surprisingly, the tight-lipped Bulls have kept the details of their presentation close to the vest. Whether they keep the talk focused solely on basketball or mention some of the virtues of the city of Chicago and playing in the United Center remain to be seen.
But you can be sure that at some point someone in the Bulls’ four-man contingent — chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, executive vice president John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau — will make the point that Derrick Rose, an All-Star at 21, isn’t close to his potential.
Will the fact that the Bulls are going last make a difference in the end? The Cavaliers, who will meet with LeBron this morning before the Bulls’ contingent gets there, have their own ideas on how to keep him in his home state:
Their strategy, according to sources, will be somewhat different from the other teams’ and focus on just how well they know their superstar. The meeting is expected to be relatively short, nowhere near the length of the Knicks’ and Heat’s, who met with James for more than two hours.
Owner Dan Gilbert, General Manager Chris Grant and new coach Byron Scott are expected to be the principles in the meeting, but other members of the organization that James is close with could be present as well.
The Cavs also plan on playing toward James’ sense of humor and playfulness, something with which the team is very familiar. The plan is to keep it loose and informal because of their long-term relationship with James, who has been attending the meetings in T-shirts and sweats while his suitors arrive in $2,000 suits.
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.
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.
The Chicago Bulls appear to have impressed Chicago native, and free agent superstar, Dwyane Wade enough to entice him for a second meeting.
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.
Rob Manker of the Chicago Tribune writes that NBA.com’s store briefly signaled some good news to Bulls fans who want to see free agent LeBron James sign with Chicago.
Conspiracy-minded Bulls fans had a field day with word Thursday afternoon that a LeBron James Bulls jersey was already for sale on NBA.com. Well, not exactly. A page showing a James No. 6 Bulls jersey was briefly viewable there, but its origin was unclear. While anyone can customize a jersey on the site with the name and number of his or her choice, this would not result in the customized product being visible to all. So, does the NBA know something about the league’s most coveted free agent that the rest of us don’t? Bulls fans would like to think so.
For all things Bulls and free agency, head over to SB Nation’s Blog-a-Bull.
Business Week examines what signing LeBron James could mean to the city where he signs:
An NBA team is virtually the only landscape in team sports where one player can make enough of a difference to propel a team into a playoff berth, not to mention single-handedly increase ticket sales. So a lot of effort goes into the recruiting of the NBA’s best, including sending private jets so they can travel in style and comfort, star-studded wining and dining, and promises of access to the best homes, schools, and exclusive clubs in a community. This summer represents a once-in-a-generation harmonic convergence of talent on the free-agent market, and teams are positioning themselves to capitalize.
Television rights holders are paying close attention as well—should James & Co. land in Chicago, for example, WGN-TV, the regional home of the Bulls, will be able to increase dramatically the amount it charges advertisers in anticipation of sky-high TV ratings.
While the Bulls have squeaked into the playoffs the last two years only to be bounced in the first round — this past season by James’ Cavaliers — they would instantly be favorites to reach the Finals next season, which would mean a lot more money into the pockets of various Chicago entities, including WGN-TV, CSN Chicago, vendors who work games, souvenir sellers, and many other associated businesses.
The same rooftop club that lured the Blackhawks (with the Stanley Cup) to their place a couple of weeks ago, is now trying to get LeBron James to stop by, with the same offer, photographed by me this morning at 3619 N. Sheffield in Chicago:
No word on whether he’s agreed to take them up on their offer. Yet.
People got excited about this for a while today:
Usually, for the “generic” jersey that you can customize, it says “PLAYER 00”. Instead, for a time this afternoon, it looked the way you see it above. The link in the article above at the NBA store is gone now.
But maybe you’ll be able to get that jersey for real on Monday. If LeBron does sign with the Bulls, I predict you’ll see these on Chicago streets by the end of that day.
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.
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.
“Are you willing to give up your game just to win?” That’s the question Derrick Rose poses in this Comcast SportsNet Chicago video. Rose was addressing free agents, such as LeBron James, who are being courted by the Bulls right now. Derrick deserves much credit for his comments in this clip. He’s very honest and humble about the fact that he’s young and still learning the ropes in the NBA. The question is: Does James want to step into the role of a mentor? Stay tuned.
James’ decision really was quite revolutionary because the NBA’s collective bargaining rules are designed to encourage players to remain with their current teams. James can sign with the Cavaliers for $30 million more than he can make with any other team.
Those rules are why there has been little movement among superstars on the free-agent market over the years. Star players usually only changed teams via trades because few were willing to leave millions on the table in exchange for their freedom.
James’ decision also radically changed the way teams approached building their rosters. Instead of acquiring assets to try and swing a trade for a star, teams began focusing on shedding assets to get under the cap this summer for a shot at either James, Wade, Bosh or other free agents.
So in most of the cities involved in the LeBron sweepstakes, anticipation of this moment has been building for at least a couple of years.
But perhaps the biggest reason LeBron mania is off the charts is because it’s unprecedented for a superstar to hit the open market at 25. James is just entering his prime, and he wants to make sure he doesn’t spend his prime on a team with little hope of winning.
The money, as noted, may not be the most important thing for LeBron. No matter who he signs with, he’ll have enough money — unless he fritters it away, always possible — for several generations of his family.
But he won’t be remembered in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant unless he wins championships. And it would appear his best shot at that is with the Bulls. We await developments.
When the NBA free-agent signing period begins late tonight, the Bulls will pull out all the stops to sign LeBron James:
League sources said the Bulls’ traveling party to Ohio is expected to include team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, senior vice president John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and possibly Thibodeau. A rumor that former great Scottie Pippen would attend couldn’t be corroborated, though there has been contact between the organization and its six-time NBA champion.
Those sources did indicate the Bulls plan to discuss global business and marketing opportunities off the court with James, who calls business titans such as Warren Buffet friends. In this manner, the meeting will be about basketball and business.
The article says that the Bulls’ meeting with James is expected to come on Friday.
It’s no secret: the Chicago Bulls have been dumping salary like crazy in an attempt to free up cap space to make a run at free agents like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, a relatively minor trade by the Nets today pushed New Jersey past Chicago in the race for most cap space. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has the full list of NBA teams with the most cap space; Chicago currently sits in third place.
New York Knicks: $34.17 million
New Jersey Nets: $29.99 million
Chicago Bulls: $29.17 million
Miami Heat: $27.13 million
Los Angeles Clippers: $16.83 million
Sacramento Kings: $15.35 million
Minnesota Timberwolves: $13.44 million
Washington Wizards: $7.18 million
Oklahoma City Thunder: $6.13 million
Although both the Knicks and Nets now have more cap space, that doesn’t mean they can offer any individual free agent more money. On the contrary, Chicago can still afford to give any player it wants a max contract. However, those two teams have slightly more room to round out their roster. Chicago, of course, has a significantly better current roster thanks to the presence of quality young players Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
It is clear from these numbers, though, that it will be a relatively evenly-matched financial brawl for the right to sign guys like LeBron James.
Since the LeBron James rumor mill first started kicking into high gear last week there have been way too many rumors to keep a handle on. Seemingly every reporter or NBA "expert" from the Bronx to the Hollywood Hills has had one or more "sources" tell them definitively where LeBron James is going to play next year.
First it's New York, then Cleveland, or Chicago, or maybe MIami with the edge in the free agent sweepstakes that hasn't even started yet. At some point, you begin to wonder if anyone commenting on this circus is credible anymore.
So, with all that in mind, it's refreshing to see a slightly different take on things. ESPN writer Chad Millman has an interesting article today on his blog that attempts to devise an algorithm to predict King James' final decision. Millman analogizes the LeBron speculation to the practice of handicapping in sports betting. He consulted professional gamblers, NBA analysts, and even a statistician from Cal-Berkeley in order to build his algorithm.
In a nutshell, Millman created categories and subcategories of items that might factor into James' decision on where to play, and then assigned point values to those categories. His factors included the ability to win a championship next year, the ability to win multiple championships in the next several years, cost of living, city-wide reputation, and even marketing endorsement potential to build his formula. After a bit of statistical magic, he ended up with a ranking of the five teams who are in the LBJ hunt. Who won?
Obviously, I know my system has some flaws. Most important of which are the assumptions I am making. But this, my friends, is part of handicapping. Wise guys are constantly trying to glean insight into a coach's plans or a player's mindset from what they read. And that's what I did with LeBron. My assumption is that the two things that matter most to him are establishing a long-term legacy of success and becoming a billionaire. Both of these goals can be accomplished by winning as many titles as possible in the next decade.
According to my math, the winner of the LeBron sweepstakes should be ... the Bulls. Combining their point totals from the Legacy category and Money category, they beat out the Heat by 18 points. Next up were the Knicks, then the Nets, Cavs and Clips.
No one can say for sure where LeBron will end up. But if he cares about winning and money, it's hard to bet against Chicago. (But I wouldn't ignore Miami, either.)
Hop on over to ESPN (Insider) to read the full article, which breaks down Millman's formula and explains his logic in the values he assigned to his categories. It's quite the intriguing read.
The Sun-Times’ John Jackson examines some other roads the Bulls could take if they don’t or can’t sign LeBron James:
Will anything the Bulls do other than signing James be considered a failure?
The short answer is that it will be a disappointment but not necessarily a failure.
From the moment the Bulls decided a couple of years ago to do what they could to become major players on the free-agent market this summer, the plan wasn’t necessarily to sign James. It was to put themselves in position to make a big-time signing.
They can do that by signing Toronto Raptors center/power forward Chris Bosh and, say, Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson.
We’ll find out soon; the NBA free-agent signing period begins on Thursday.
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.
The [Kirk] Hinrich move is only a small part of why I think the Bulls suddenly are the front-runners. While James’ opinion is the only one that matters, there have been a lot of whispers of late from people close to him indicating that he’s ready to leave Cleveland and that Chicago is the likely destination.
If the decision is all about basketball, joining the Bulls makes the most sense. The Bulls have the most talent, more elements of a team in place and a young core of players — Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson — 25 or younger who will enter their primes at the same time as the 25-year-old James.
Makes a lot of sense. Caveat: athletes don’t always make free-agent choices that make the most sense. Just ask Milton Bradley. But if James wants to win championships, Chicago’s his kind of town.
In the Tribune, KC Johnson runs down six teams that will be vying for LeBron James’ services starting Thursday. Perhaps most surprising on the list is the Nets; LeBron’s good, but they’re starting from a 12-win base. Here’s Johnson’s take on the Bulls’ chances:
James filed paperwork to switch his jersey number from 23 to 6 next season, which means he’s coming here for sure, right? More seriously, James grew up a fan of the Bulls and Michael Jordan — whose No. 23 is retired — has talked openly of his love for the city and has gushed about the team’s young core after both regular-season and playoff games. He even complimented rookie Taj Gibson.
With a 21-year-old All-Star guard in Derrick Rose and a no-nonsense winner in Joakim Noah, the Bulls are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. Barring another trade, the Bulls also have roughly $14 million to offer another significant free agent.
Historically, the Bulls haven’t fared well in free agency, although a surreptitious trip to Newport Beach, Calif., in July 2004 by Paxson and team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf impressed Kobe Bryant.
While it had long been anticipated that LeBron James would go on an extended tour of potential free agent destinations, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com is reporting that James will conduct all interviews with other NBA clubs in Northeastern Ohio.
Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Bulls will be one of the six teams that will travel to Akron to meet with James. He also writes that Chicago appears to have the inside track.
James and his advisors plan to have the Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers make presentations. Yahoo! Sports first reported on Thursday morning that James would be taking appointments with teams on July 1 to begin his free-agency process.
The Bulls have emerged as the favorites for James, and the Heat and Nets are making a strong push, too. The Knicks and Clippers appear to be longer shots to sign James.
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.
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,
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?
In a now widely reported story, Tom Izzo has publicly proclaimed his loyalty and apparently lifelong dedication to the Michigan State University basketball program. In doing so, he has effectively removed himself from the running for the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching job. Many believe this is good news for the Chicago Bulls, because (so the story goes) Izzo would have been more inclined to take the Cleveland job if he believed LeBron James was intent on staying with the Cavs. By all appearances, Lebron will now avail himself of the charms of any NBA team willing to court him. This could put the Bulls in prime position to make a move.
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This Chicago Sun-Times article suggests the answer to that question is "yes":
The way I see it, the only reason James -- who is from Akron, Ohio -- would return to Cleveland is out of loyalty to his home area.
But as he proved when he signed his contract four years ago, James doesn't want to be stuck in a bad situation. And the pressure he feels to win his first NBA title only will intensify after this latest disappointment.
That's why I think he'll land with the Bulls if he leaves the Cavaliers. The Bulls have more talent in place than the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets or any other team with cap room this summer.
With a talented young core of Derrick Rose (21), Joakim Noah (25), Luol Deng (25) and other role players, the addition of James could make the Bulls contenders for the next half-dozen years.
The Bulls won six championships with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way. James and Rose could be the Jordan and Pippen of the 2010's... if James realizes Chicago is the best place to win a title. Or a lot of them.
We'll update this story with more info as we get it.
Via Ohio.com, a report that LeBron James might be seriously considering the Bulls when NBA free agency begins on July 1:
Of all the teams vying for James, the Bulls seem to be the biggest threat. In addition to the pieces already in place, they have enough available cap space and the big-city lure, and Chicago is just a short flight from James’ home in Bath Township.
Known James adviser William Wesley, according to Yahoo! Sports, has been telling associates that James is ‘’leaning hard’’ toward signing with the Bulls.
Johnson doesn’t believe any part of James’ decision will be affected by new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the Celtics’ top assistant who was chosen to replace the fired Vinny Del Negro. Wesley represents Thibodeau.
‘’I think it’s safe to assume that if LeBron had an issue with that hire, it would’ve been conveyed to the Bulls,‘’ Johnson said. ’’Sometimes I think the perception of his influence or demand is way overstated. I think he respects the game and people’s basketball intelligence enough to know he’s a player and management will hire who they think is the best fit for the coach’s job.
‘’That said, I do think there are some people LeBron would not want to play for. If [Thibodeau] was on that list, I think the Bulls would’ve heard about it.’’
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