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LeBron Watch, 1 p.m.: James reportedly prepares for South Beach celebration 07.08.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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Wherever LeBron James decided to play next season, he’ll be in Florida this upcoming weekend for a celebration on his announcement, according to a magazine report.

Two sources confirmed to UsMagazine.com that James has rented six cabanas at the W Hotel South Beach for the weekend, which could be telling after reports that he’s leaning toward playing for the Heat.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers beat writer Brian Windhorst tweeted that Cleveland is in trade talks for Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn, who is represented by the same agent as James.

Read More: Jonny Flynn, LeBron James, NBA Rumor Mill 2010,
LeBron Watch, noon: Cleveland is ‘cautiously optimistic’ at 12:04 pm ET
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Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com joined Eric Frede and Mike Giardi on the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning to talk about the upcoming LeBron James announcement. Goodman said he hears strong indications that James is heading to Miami but no one can know for sure. Stationed in Cleveland, Goodman gauges the city as being “cautiously optimistic” and having hopes that its hometown star will stick around.

Meanwhile, in Greenwich, Conn., the site where James will make his announcement Thursday night, Jeff Valin of the Hartford Courant writes that everything is normal 11 hours before the event. The Greenwich Boys & Girls Club shut out the media, forcing it to wait outside the building. Fifteen-year-old Knicks fan Mike Correa of Stamford appears to be the first fan to have arrived, hoping to get a chance to see one of his favorite players.

Outside James’ house in Ohio, the Bath Township police department is tightening up security, reports Michael Sangiacomo of the Plain Dealer.

Police Chief Michael McNeeley is hoping to avoid a large gathering outside of James’ home.

“Whether we get loads of happy fans or unhappy fans showing up outside his home, we will be prepared to keep the traffic moving,” he said.

Read More: LeBron James, NBA Rumor Mill 2010,
Mannix on D&C: LeBron still wouldn’t make Miami the favorite at 10:33 am ET
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Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined guest hosts Bob Ryan and Bob Neumeier on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to weigh in on the LeBron James situation and offer his opinion on the validity of reports that James is headed to Miami.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On  Miami’€™s position to compete in the Eastern Conference if LeBron joins Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh:

I think next season it would be extremely difficult. Now, I’€™m convinced that Michael Beasley is going to stay on the roster because they can’€™t give him away for a ham sandwich. They’€™re trying to pass him off on every team in the league, which is a little mind-boggling considering that two years ago this guy was the No. 2 pick in the draft. We were arguing about being possibly the No. 1 pick with Derrick Rose. Their willingness to just give him away is a little baffling.

But you make the point, even if those three guys sign, you’€™re left with Mario Chalmers suddenly becomes the Rajon Rondo of the Miami Heat, where he sort of he’€™s sort of an unknown commodity and he has to play exceptionally well for them to succeed. But the other problem is they don’€™t have a Kendrick Perkins equivalent. There’€™s no center down there. There’€™s nobody down there. They’€™re going to have to sign a Mikki Moore to play center for that position. They’€™re going to have fill up the rest of the roster with veteran minimum salary players.

I think come next year, if maybe Beasley proves himself he can be a trade shipment and you can use that whole mid-level exception to use on one guy and maybe spread it out over two guys,  I think that next year they’€™re in a better position. But I’€™m not convinced guys that even if those three guys come together ‘€” and I’€™m sure they’€™re going to win 65 to 70 regular season games ‘€” I’€™m not convinced they’€™re getting out of the Eastern Conference. I mean, if Boston can get their act together and Kendrick Perkins can come back in the second half of the season and give them something close to what he gave them last year, I think they’€™re still going to be considered the favorite. I just think they still have enough left in the tank to make one more run and chemistry-wise and talent-wise, I think even though they have all the stock power down there in Miami, I don’€™t believe they have enough to get past the Celtics or even maybe Chicago in the conference finals. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: LeBron James, Miami Heat, Mike Miller,
LeBron Watch, 10 a.m.: NY governor views announcement as ‘big mistake’ at 10:18 am ET
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New York governor David Paterson made his weekly appearance on WOR radio Thursday morning and was asked about LeBron James‘ decision.

Celeste Katz of the New York Daily News writes that Paterson said he would like to see James play in a Knicks uniform but feels that he is making a spectacle of himself with his nationally televised announcement.

“I think it’s a very big mistake to have national televised moment when you tell the people of Ohio, a state that is suffering dearly, that you’re leaving,” Paterson said on WOR.

Read More: David Paterson, LeBron James, NBA Rumor Mill 2010,
LeBron Watch, 9 a.m.: MSG stock falls in early trading at 9:32 am ET
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Stock for Madison Square Garden Inc., which had surged to $21.47 per share Wednesday from $20.27 on July 6 amid speculation that LeBron James would join the Knicks, fell 4.6 percent to $20.58 after reports indicated it was unlikely James would land in New York.

Meanwhile, James’ Twitter account that he launched Tuesday was up to 292,000 followers as of 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, despite the fact that James posted just three tweets since its inception.

In gossip news, a man who claims to be James’ biological father is suing James, according to the celebrity news website TMZ. Leicester Bryce Stovell, 55, claims he is the victim of a DNA cover up by James’ mother, Gloria. Stovell said he met James’ mother in a Washington, D.C., bar in 1984, when she was 15 and he was 29, and had a sexual encounter with her. After losing contact for 20 years, Stovell got in touch in 2007 when he began to suspect LeBron was his son. James’ lawyer agreed to a paternity test that came back negative, but Stovell insists the test was tampered with.

Read More: LeBron James, NBA Rumor Mill 2010,
NBA roundup: Boozer to Bulls, Durant re-signs with OKC at 9:18 am ET
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‘€œThe Decision’€ that everyone is waiting for Thursday night on ESPN could be an hour-long waste of time if reports that LeBron James wants to team up with stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami are true. Chris Broussard of ESPN wrote early Thursday morning that unless there is a change of heart by James, he’€™ll leave Cleveland and try to be a part of a dynasty with the Heat.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, one executive whose franchise was among the initial suitors for James said Wednesday morning that the Akron product was only seriously considering Miami and Cleveland.

Meanwhile, while the LeBron hoopla builds to a crescendo, other notable free agents are making their move. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer will sign a five-year, $76 million contract with the Bulls.

After various reports had New York big man David Lee heading to Phoenix to replace Amar’€™e Stoudemire, it looks like the double-double machine could be heading farther west to California. Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times is reporting that the Warriors and Knicks are close on a deal which would send Lee in a sign-and-trade to Golden State for forward Anthony Randolph.

Already under contract, Kevin Durant decided to extend his stay with the Thunder in a relatively quiet manner when he announced the deal Thursday via Twitter. Sean Sweeney of Dime Magazine writes that Durant signed a five-year, $85 million extension while showing humility amid the LeBron chaos.

The Celtics, meanwhile, have been busy this offseason as they look to bring back most of last year’€™s team for another run. After reaching an agreement with Paul Pierce and reportedly agreeing to terms with Ray Allen last Wednesday night, Boston reportedly is going after Jermaine O’€™Neal to replace the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. According to Wojnarowski and Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have offered O’€™Neal near the midlevel exception of $5.8 million over two years. O’€™Neal is expected to make a decision by Thursday night.

Another O’Neal whom the Celtics have targeted to replace Perkins has been Shaq, who has shown interest in both Boston and Atlanta. Now, Chris Tomasson of AOL FanHouse is reporting that O’Neal’s first choice to try to win his fifth championship is the Spurs. No matter where Shaq lands, Tomasson writes that sources have said that he won’t return to Cleveland for next season.

Read More: Carlos Boozer, David Lee, LeBron James, NBA Roundup
LeBron Watch: Report indicates Miami is the choice at 6:26 am ET
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According to reports from Newsday and ESPN, LeBron James has decided to sign with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh there. James will announce his decision Thursday night at 9 p.m. in an ESPN special.

Shortly after midnight, Newsday‘s Alan Hahn tweeted that “multiple sources” indicated James had decided to pass on the Knicks and go to Miami.

The ESPN report by Chris Broussard followed about an hour later. It notes that James’ friend Chris Paul has urged the superstar to stay in Cleveland and play for new coach Byron Scott, who previously coached Paul in New Orleans, and that James could reconsider his choice. Other family and friends apparently also have reservations about how James would be perceived joining a power-packed team and if that would take away from his brand.

A report at Yahoo! Sports indicates that James’ representatives began calling free agents Wednesday to assess their interest in joining the new “Big Three” in Miami. The Heat have only two players under contract: forward Michael Beasley and point guard Mario Chalmers.

However, the Yahoo! report noted that James reserves the right to change his mind and sign with his hometown Cavaliers, who can pay him a six-year, $125 million contract, more than $30 million more than what he could get from the Heat.

‘€œLeBron always waits until the last minute to make a decision,’€ Yahoo! quotes Chris Dennis, who used to run James’€™ foundation. ‘€œHe always does.’€

Read More: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, NBA Rumor Mill 2010,
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