The LeBron Sweepstakes: James Will Reportedly Join Wade, Bosh In Miami

At 9 p.m. ET we will find out from the man himself where he intends to play basketball in the years to come. But in the meantime there is plenty of speculation. Follow along with this StoryStream for all the reports and rumors leading up to "The Decision."

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ESPN Not Allowed To Sell Advertising On LeBron Announcement Special

ESPN got a major coup when they landed the right to broadcast LeBron James’ official announcement on Thursday. However the World Wide Leader had to agree to some fairly specific restrictions in order to do it.

First, ESPN does not know what the decision will be and won’t know before hand. The location also has not been released, but something tells me it will be in Bristol, CT where ESPN is located.

Secondly, ESPN is NOT allowed to sell advertising for the 1-hour Primetime event. Instead, LeBron’s marketing company – LRMR I suppose – can sell sponsorships with all proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Brian Windhorst is reporting that Bristol will not be the location, nor will any of the other cities that James might end up (or stay).

The plot thickens. Or doesn’t, depending on whether or not you care.


LeBron James Expected To Announce His Decision Thursday Night On ESPN

Decision day is upon us as new twitter member LeBron James is going to announce his decision on a one hour free agency special on ESPN this Thursday at 9 p.m. eastern time:

LeBron James will announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on ESPN Thursday night, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard has learned through independent sources.

ESPN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing that James makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.

James has had talks with six teams so far in this free agency period, but we can all agree the Clippers have no chance:

James' plans still are a closely guarded secret. He visited with six teams -- the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls -- last week at his business offices in downtown Cleveland and may have made up his mind already. But until he gives word, other teams are positioning themselves to make a run at the 6-foot-8, 260-pound All-Star.

This looks to be the inner younger LeBron getting his chance to announce his team of choice on national television since he did not get a chance to do the played out three hats on a table routine which includes at least two fake outs before picking his collegiate team of choice.


Decision Delayed By Dissention In Team The LeBron Ranks?

Things have gotten very quiet on the LeBron James Sweepstakes front. He recently met with the Knicks but otherwise the meetings are done. With the decision up in the air, everyone is looking for any kind of news on which way Team LBJ is leaning. The problem might just be that those around LeBron are leaning…but in different directions. So says Plain Dealer’s Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst.

Based on several people who have talked to LeBron in last 72 hours, he is giving impression he’s undecided after last week’s meetings.

He really likes Rose & Noah. But there’s lack if shooters on roster. Also it doesn’t sound like he’s exactly being welcomed by Rose.

Also, can confirm several reports of a rift between Wes Wesley & James camp. Wes was indeed pushing Chicago, I’m told.

And so we wait, just like we’ve been doing.


NY Times Report: LeBron And Bosh Leaning Toward Chicago

As SBN Chicago (among other networks) has reported, LeBron James is hosting six different franchises in Akron to help him decide on a free agency destination.

The New Tork Times, however, quotes an unnamed NBA executive who believes the proceedings are little 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.

As the Times notes, even after the Bulls' unceremonious dumping of Kirk Hinrich and his $9 million salary, the Bulls still don't have enough cap space to take on both Bosh and James. The solution may be in a sign-and-trade, where the Bulls would send the suddenly expendable Luol Deng to Toronto or Cleveland. That'll take some finagling with salaries, as Deng's $11.4 million salary isn't close enough to James' or Bosh's expected salary to make the trade work. There are ways around this, though--usually by signing B-list free agents as chess pieces.

Of course, Bosh's agent Henry Thomas announced an immediate denial of the reports, telling that they were "completely untrue" and that Bosh "hasn't decided anything." But Thomas is still working on delivering a maximum salary for his client, so regardless of whether the reports are true, it's in Thomas's and Bosh's best interests to deny, deny, deny--even if it's just by pretending there's no difference between "leaning" and "deciding."


Mark Cuban Fined $100,000 For LeBron Comments On CNN

LeBron James is not a free agent. He could not be one right now even if he wanted to, and it'spretty safe to assume he wants to be one. He is, by rule, a Cleveland Cavalier until July 1, and rules state that teams may not tamper with another team's player's status. This, then, would qualify as a violation:

[Mark] Cuban said on the CNN interview: "Come July 1, yeah, of course. Anybody would be interested in LeBron James and if he leaves via free agency, then it's going to be tough. If he does like I'm guessing ... which is say 'I'm not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,' then he'll try to force a sign-and-trade and that gives us a chance.

Whoops-a-daisy! David Stern didn't take kindly to the talk, and fined Cuban $100,000 for the slip in judgment. And lest anybody think Stern's just going after his favorite target out of boredom, the NBA also fined Steve Kerr $10,000 for joking about LeBron taking the mid-level exception in Phoenix.

And besides, we all know that LeBron's going to Chicago. Either he opts out and takes a mountain of money from the Bulls, or he engineers a sign-and-trade where the Cavs get Luol Deng and an as-yet-undetermined expiring contract back. Then LeBron can win somewhere between two and four rings with the Bulls, and the Cavs will move to Kansas City by 2011. Also, Google will buy the state of California.

(This column has just been fined $650,000,000 by the NBA.)


Report: LeBron James Currently "Leaning Strongly" Toward Re-Signing With Cavaliers

Normally, I don't pay much attention to any somewhat declarative statement from a reporter about where LeBron James ends up this summer, because LeBron is an expert in the art of sending mixed signals. But Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is different. Windhorst has been covering LeBron since high school and is the one reporter who really knows what's going on with LeBron. He's like Ahmad Rashad with Michael Jordan, except with much more journalistic integrity. 

So when Windhorst writes an article saying that all signs right now point to LeBron re-signing with the Cavaliers, it means something. Windhorst did what he could to qualify his statements, saying that a lot can change between now and the end of the season, but he also explicitly wrote that LeBron is supposedly more committed to re-signing with the Cavaliers than ever before. 

After being mostly neutral and downright noncommittal for some time, those closest to James have been altering their view recently. The vibe being sent out from James' camp -- whether it is private conversations or discussions about new business or plans for the near future -- is that James currently is leaning strongly toward re-signing with the Cavs.

That may sound vague and, as always, it continues to be fragile. Yet there is no denying the gradual shift within James' circle and, it is assumed, by James himself.

James has declined to talk publicly about free agency since November. But as one source said, "I have never been so sure that he's going to stay in Cleveland than I am right now."

Now, I'm sure a lot of you will jump on Windhorst for fueling the speculation. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News did, submitting this really odd blog post filled with some not-so-subtle digs at Windhorst. (For the record, Windhorst took the high road, saying Isola was just "having some fun on his blog"). But here's the thing: how else is Windhorst or anyone supposed to get this information? LeBron's not going to say anything on the record, and neither will the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers or anyone else. The only way to cover this story and get some real important information out to readers is to do exactly what Windhorst did. Try to talk to people in LeBron's circle, quote them anonymously so you can keep talking to them, and throw in the necessary qualifiers to make clear that this is just the "vibe" at the time. 

I happen to think talk of this summer is tiring when the playoffs are shaping up to be spectacular, but there's no denying the LeBron story is a big one for fans. Kudos to Windhorst for writing about it in a insightful, enlightening way.

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