The NBA’s premier free agent is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in his career – this time to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
James will join the Lakers on a four-year contract worth a total of $154million, according to a press release by Klutch Sports Group.
Earlier Sunday, James had contact with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were hoping to hang onto the best player in franchise history.
Shortly after the 12:01 EDTam start to free agency, Cavs general manager Koby Altman spoke on the phone to both James and Paul, the person said.
While there was a feverish flurry of activity involving big-named players in the opening hour of what has been billed as the Summer of LeBron, James did not announce where he’ll play next season and it’s not known if other moves, such as Paul George staying in Oklahoma City and Chris Paul staying in Houston, have affected his thinking.
The meeting with the 76ers was first reported by ESPN. James wasn’t expected to drag his choice out over several days.
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.
Because they own his ‘Bird rights’ the Cavs can offer James more money than any other team – a five-year, $207 million deal.
But the 33-year-old has interests beyond basketball and the massive Los Angeles market would give him a bigger stage and platform.
The Lakers have a young, talented but inexperienced roster and they were hoping to land both James and possibly George.
But the All-Star forward opted to stick with the Thunder and will sign a four-year deal when teams are permitted to finalize contracts on June 6.
It was previously thought that George’s choice could sway James to sign a short-term deal with Cleveland, but the Lakers were determined to get their hands on the four-time MVP.
The Cavs, on the other hand, have been mostly operating in the dark.
While there had been dialogue between Paul and Altman since the season ended, James had not given the team any sense of his plans.
That’s made it tough for Cleveland to upgrade its roster, but the Cavs remain committed to bringing back James even for just one more year.
On Friday, James formally became a free agent when he informed the Cavs he would not exercise his $35.6 million contract option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent and the prize catch in the 2018 class.