LeBron James Declines $35.6M Option, Will Enter Free Agency

Kawhi Leonard and Le Bron James
LeBron James has reached out to Kevin Durant about joining him in LA [report]
Author

30 June, 2018

The real games haven't begun. If reports about James' intentions are to be believed, things are going to heat up quickly from here.

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, LeBron intends to make his announcement before the 4th of July holiday. The Sixers have the fourth-best odds, at 10/1. Let's go through a quick rundown of the relevant facts. This isn't insignificant. If James looks around the league and doesn't see a situation he loves, he can [looks up teen slang] secure the bag by signing a long-term deal in Cleveland.

Two of the main competitors on this front?

LeBron James probably won't join the Rockets.

The Cavaliers have an advantage over other teams in their pursuit of James: The NBA's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay their own free agents more money than other teams through the Larry Bird exception, named for the Boston Celtics legend. The Rockets can't really open up a max salary slot this summer while also keeping Paul and valuable role players like Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza.

LeBron James has until late Friday night to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but rumors surrounding his free agency got stronger on Thursday after Stephen A. Smith dropped a bombshell.

That's not an option anymore.

National Basketball Association free agency opens on July 1, and LeBron James made the first significant decision Friday by telling the Cavaliers he has chose to become an unrestricted free agent.

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One implication of James opting out is that it likely removes Houston as a possible destination.

LeBron would have to significantly lower his asking price to team up with Paul and James Harden unless the Rockets attempt a complicated sign-and-trade while gutting the roster.

LeBron James made the first move.

That leaves us with three real contenders for his services: his hometown Cavaliers, the Lakers, and your hometown 76ers. (A trade involving Jerryd Bayless makes sense in that scenario because he makes over $8 million next season, though his lack of on-court value would require attaching a pick in any transaction.) Philly already has two budding stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and that's an advantage over the Lakers.

What motivates his forthcoming decision is hard to say.

Medium Large is looking to add motivated individuals with big dreams and a big appetite for success to our LakersNation.com direct sales team based in Los Angeles or Orange County. The Spurs, and ONLY the Spurs, can offer him a five-year, $219 million deal this summer.

Even after 15 years in the league, James is coming off one of the top seasons of his career, ending with his eighth straight trip to the NBA Finals. Many options for him are complicated, however, and it seems as if there's no flawless fit for him.


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