x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

LeBron James ready to choose

LeBron James will end his free agency with a live announcement on ESPN while Chris Bosh decides to join the Miami Heat.

LeBron James looks to have arrived at a decision as to which team he will play for.
LeBron James looks to have arrived at a decision as to which team he will play for.

The NBA's waiting game may be soon be over. LeBron James confirmed yesterday that he will end his free agency with an announcement tonight on ESPN, and Chris Bosh said he has decided to join the Miami Heat and play alongside Dwayne Wade. Thus, the most celebrated free-agent period in the history of American sports could be wrapped up by the weekend, and NBA teams could get on with the business of sorting through the remaining free agents.

James's business manager said the player will announce his decision a special show scheduled to begin at 9pm tonight (5am tomorrow in the UAE). "Due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron's decision, we have decided to make this announcement on national television," Maverick Carter said on lebronjames.com. James, a two-time MVP with the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been the centre-piece of a whirlwind week of courtship, and is considering offers from Cleveland, Miami, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, among others.

Right behind him in the free agent parade are Wade and Bosh, who apparently will be reunited in Miami. Wade turned down the chance to return to his hometown Chicago by agreeing to re-sign with the Heat for an eighth season, and Bosh agreed to join him after spending the last seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors. "I'm joining Mr Wade in Miami," Bosh said in an interview aired on ESPN. "We've wanted to play with each other and we have a golden opportunity to do that, so we're going to take advantage of it."

The pair, who were courted by several teams after becoming free agents at the end of the last season, played together on the United States team that won the men's basketball gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and wanted to rekindle their partnership. "I'm back in Miami," Wade said in the interview. "I got to play with [Shaquille O'Neal] and that was phenomenal and now I get to play with Chris right when he hits his prime, so right now I am one of the luckiest men in the NBA."

Bosh and Wade could formally become teammates as soon as today, when the league's signing period opens. An end to the incessant speculation about James, Wade and Bosh would be good news for the other 100-plus free agents. "I think, obviously, we know who the guys are who are the biggest free agents," said Chris Quinn, the guard who ended last season with New Jersey before hitting the open market. "A lot depends on what they do. There's a lot of other players who are free agents who are looking for jobs and working hard and want to get on a good team and win."

Only one marquee player has picked a new team - Amare Stoudemire said he will leave Phoenix for the Knicks. Joe Johnson has decided to remain in Atlanta and Kevin Durant said yesterday he would stay in Oklahoma City. But those decisions barely registered across the NBA. * AP