Blockbuster move: LeBron James signs with the Los Angeles Lakers

Jo Caldwell
July 3, 2018

James told the Cavaliers that he is not exercising his $35.6 million United States contract option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, two people familiar with the decision told the Associated Press on Friday.

Which side of the proverbial fence James is leaning on is still a bit unclear.

Another team that made a pitch to James, the Philadelphia 76ers, got their chance on Sunday to appeal to James to relocate to southeast Pennsylvania.

On Friday, Rich Paul, James' agent informed the Cavaliers that his client would be declining his $35.6-million player option with the Cavaliers for next season, meaning he would become an unrestricted free agent.

Speculation centres on contenders, including the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, but James shed no light on his plans in multiple interviews broaching the topic. James is now eligible to sign a five-year supermax deal with the Cavaliers that would be worth $205 million over five seasons.

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Despite his endless array of accomplishments, which includes four league MVP awards, three world championships and 14 NBA All-Star Game appearances, James finds himself in a quandary with regards to his next career move.

If the Lakers can offer up enough assets to snare Leonard, the chances of James heading to La La land would seem a viable option due to Leonard being one of the premier two-way players in the game and the Lakers still having enough cap space to offer James a max deal. He knows what he wants and he's very familiar with the Cavaliers after leading them to four straight NBA Finals since returning as a free agent in 2014 following four seasons in Miami. Once James makes his decision, other free agent dominos will continue to fall.

Kawhi Leonard, who has expressed a preference to play with the Lakers, could be a step toward that.

It's hard to read too much into this, as far as where James may land. But there are at least three other teams - and maybe an outsider or two - with legitimate shots at landing James, who made it clear following this year's NBA Finals that he's still driven to win championships.

LeBron James' free agency decision is the never ending question on every National Basketball Association fan's mind.

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James and the Cavaliers had been beaten in 3 out of 4 NBA Finals against the Warriors since 2015. The only problem was they got swept by the Warriors, and James appeared to be mulling free agency before the series even ended. James flew from the Caribbean island of Anguilla and landed in Van Nuys just after 11 a.m. PT.

Of the Raptors' top 10 rotation players, only Fred VanVleet could leave of his own volition as a restricted free agent.

Remember, James can't even talk to the Lakers until midnight.

According to ESPN, the 27-year-old is said to favour a move to Los Angeles, with the Lakers his preferred destination over the Clippers.

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