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More fun with NBA free agency: taxes, jerseys & a camel named for D Wade

We make a big deal of Florida being one of the few states without an income tax. It’s one reason lots of wealthy athletes make their homes here.

While it’s doubtful any of the top free agents, including LeBron James, still mulling where they plan to play for the next several years will make their decision solely based on the potential tax savings, we still wondered how much that savings could mean.

Martin R. Press, a tax attorney, and Brandon L. Chase, a summer associate, at the Gunster law firm in Fort Lauderdale crunched the numbers for us. Of course, there are a number of caveats, but Press and Chase looked at last year’s Miami Heat schedule and figured James’ max free agent salary next season – expected to be $16.6 million – and compared that to the tax rate in states the Heat visited last year. They excluded the two games in Toronto and didn’t figure in credits, deductions, real estate taxes and other sources of income, such as endorsement deals, which would also be taxed in tax-levying states.

Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, but states that levy taxes may tax them for the days they work there. If James were to play for the Heat – he’d likely pay other states $436,818 in state income taxes. Play in New York for the Knicks, and that number, which includes the New York City tax, rises to $1.45 million. It costs more than a million in New Jersey to play for the Nets, too: $1.16 million, Press and Chase figured. Find the chart that compares playing in Florida versus Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and New York here.

The $16.6 million salary works out to $202,439 per game. There would be no state income tax implications for the 41 games played at AmericanAirlines Arena, two games in Orlando and three played in Texas, which also doesn’t have a state income tax. The state on the Heat’s schedule with the highest tax rate appears to be Oregon – the one game played there would cost $21,863 in state taxes. Four games in California cost $77,236; two in New York $31,783 and so on.

+ Meanwhile, decisions are yet to be made as to which free agents will actually play for the Heat, but the team is already prepared and selling jerseys.

Of course, right now the jerseys are listed at with a question mark, but you can place a pre-order.

They’ll be shipped out 14 business days after the new players choose their numbers. You’ll then need to email or call the team with your preference. The items include this description: “Your Miami HEAT is set to rock the NBA world with blockbuster player moves during the HEAT Summer of 2010. Be among the first HEAT fans to sport the jersey of our next new superstar!” Replica jerseys are $55, shooting shirts $65, authentic jerseys $170.

+ And while Burnie continues his vigil atop a ledge at AmericanAirlines Arena until Wade signs with the Heat, "We Want Wade" week continues Monday with fans encouraged to wear Wade gear. Jungle Island is celebrating Wade too, naming its new camel “Flash” after the superstar Heat guard.

Jungle Island is calling Monday “Wild for Wade” day and inviting fans to have their photos taken with the new camel. If you’re wearing Wade gear, you can get the photo for free. The event is all day, but photos with the camel will be taken from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Heat dancers and the Heat Banana Man will appear from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Categories: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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