A source close to the Heat forward confirmed to the Sun Sentinel early Thursday morning that James will be leaving Creative Artists Agency, the agency that also represents Wade and Bosh, in order to be represented by longtime friend Rich Paul, who has emerged with a significant roster of clients of his own, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson and Jonny Flynn.
James had been represented at CAA by Leon Rose, while Wade and Bosh will continue to be represented by CAA's Henry Thomas. Paul had worked at CAA under Rose but will now leave CAA to form his own agency.
The source close to James emphasized that the parting with CAA is amicable and is not a reflection of any James unease with CAA, with Wade and Bosh both made aware of the impending move.
James signed with Rose in 2005, with Rose then joining CAA in 2007.
The CAA link was cited among the factors that brought the three stars together during 2010 free agency, when James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bosh left the Toronto Raptors to join Wade with the Heat.
James already had a working relationship with Paul under the umbrella of their LRMR Marketing company, a collaboration that also includes James' manager Maverick Carter and friend Randy Mims, who has emerged as a member of the Heat's traveling party. Through that association, James branched into an international marketing deal with the Fenway Sports Group, leading to his stake in Premier League soccer power Liverpool FC.
While agency switches are not uncommon, with James having previously left the representation of agent Aaron Goodwin, they generally tend to have the greatest impact with the expiration of contracts.
While James is under contract to the Heat through 2015-16, he has an early-termination option in his contract for the 2014 offseason and a player opt-out clause for the 2015 offseason. A new agency only would collect on a new contract.
The source close to James said the 2014 opt-out clause was not a consideration in the move and the impending agency switch should not be taken as the precursor to an eventual opt-out by the 2012 NBA Most Valuable Player.
The Sports Business Journal first reported the switch of agencies.