LeBron James flew back to Los Angeles from a family vacation in the Caribbean. Growing up in California, he has long stated his desire to suit up for the Lakers and has been linked heavily to the hometown team in Los Angeles. George reportedly will re-up with his current Oklahoma Thunder home, while Paul re-signed with the Houston Rockets for a maximum deal.
James told the Cavaliers that he is not exercising his $35.6 million contract option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, two people familiar with the decision told the Associated Press on Friday. Soon-Shiong also mentioned the possibility of other All-Stars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard teaming up with James on the Lakers.
Meanwhile, a source told Yahoo Sports that Leonard actually reached out to James to let him know he wanted to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar. And although the two sides have been in touch since the Cavs were swept by the Warriors in the NBA Finals, no face-to-face meeting is imminent. But his fit with Simmons, whose lack of a jump shot makes it very hard for him to play off the ball, would be an awkward one, and it's unclear if James would want to go to a team with such a young supporting cast at this advanced stage of his career.
According to a New York Times report, the Dallas Mavericks will make Jordan their top target in free agency after previously discussing various opt-in-and-trade scenarios with the Clippers. At the moment, most have James pinned as either making a move to either Philly or Los Angeles if he chooses not to return with the Cavs.
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It is unlikely, though, that telling James to leave Cleveland - only to wait a year to have championship-level talent around him - will be a winning sales pitch. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were already in Los Angeles, but we'll have to wait and see which other famous Philadelphians (if any) they were able to bring in for this one. The Cavaliers can offer him a max deal of $205 million over five years ($41 million annually), while another team can max out at $152 million over four years ($38 million). Fast-forward a year, Oladipo was just named the league's Most Improved Player and Sabonis is one of the game's best young reserves.
But the expectation is the Lakers, who have plenty of spending room under the National Basketball Association salary cap, will make a run at James and George and offer draft picks and players to San Antonio for Leonard.
LeBron James spent the last four years in Cleveland, but his days as a Cavalier could be numbered.
The 33-year-old averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.4 steals and shot 54.2 percent from the field this past season.