LeBron James declines $35M player option, becomes free agent

LeBron James declines $35M player option, becomes free agent

LeBron James declines $35M player option, becomes free agent

LOS ANGELES- The so-called Summer of LeBron is off to a big start. The star forward is another Southern California native who has said he wants out of San Antonio for the final year of his contract and that the Lakers are at the top of his list of destinations. His reason for being there is unknown: The Lakers are considered a strong candidate to sign James, but he also has an offseason home in L.A. James can also sign a short-term deal with Cleveland, something he has done each year since returning in 2014.

"When NBA free agency officially opens at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN", wrote McMenamin.

The decision sets up a wild National Basketball Association free agency period that begins Sunday, with teams trying to assemble talent and money to make a run at top stars like James and Paul George, who opted out Thursday from Oklahoma City. Along with having a core of promising young players that they've built with high draft picks, the Lakers appear to be on the verge of adding at least one, if not two or three All-Stars. James has not publicly commented on what team he will sign with as his family and close advisers consider offers at his "decision cave" in the Caribbean.

Not many. LeBron is believed by most to be down to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Eight years after LeBron James left his hometown of Cleveland behind - with no championship success and a team that without him were only capable of winning under 20 games the following season - the threat hangs in the air again as James has opted out of his $31 million contract option next season. He spoke Friday to Andrienne Alpert on the set of Eyewitness Newsmakers shortly after James became a free agent. The Cavaliers could go over the salary cap to re-sign James because they own his "Bird rights", named for Celtics legend Larry Bird, but any other team he signs with would have to create enough space to sign him under the cap. The Cavs can offer James a five-year deal worth about $207 million.

And if that's the case, Joel Embiid sent out a not-so subtle message that could easily be directed at LeBron James about the Lakers not truly never belonging to James. Then Brown would bank on his relationship with the swingman, the chance to play with some of the NBA's best talent and a full year in a budding Sixers culture to sway Leonard into sticking around long term. He averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assist in 82 games last season. He finished second to Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the MVP voting.

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