UNITED STATES—Lebron James opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reported. He was eligible to make $35.6 million if he opted in to his contract.
James had until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 29 to opt in or out of his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 at midnight.
The best options for James are mainly viewed as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Philadelphia 76ers. Since James opted out, the Houston Rockets are not a feasible option. The athlete would have needed a sign and trade in order to receive a max contract from the Rockets and since James has stated that he will not play for any contract less than the max, it seems the Rockets are out of luck.
The Philadelphia 76ers are considered to be an option for James as well. They have enough cap space to sign him to a max contract. With a strong young core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the 76ers are still in the mix. That leaves the Cavaliers and the Lakers. Both teams that can offer James a max contract.
Joe Vardon reported that James has a “strong” interest in joining the Lakers. James has stated that the most important factor to him in this stage of his career is lifestyle. He wants to pick the best environment for his wife Savanna and his three children Bronny, Bryce, and Zhuri.
With loads of young potential in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle, James could help make the Lakers a playoff team again. If another star such as Kawhi Leonard or Paul George were to join James in Los Angeles, some of that young talent may be lost.
It is clear that James still has strong feelings towards Cleveland. He returned to the Cavaliers despite the ruthless letter Dan Gilbert wrote after he joined the Miami Heat. James has shown that he can take an aging Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals. With the addition of explosive rookie guard Collin Sexton, the Cavaliers would have a shot at returning to the NBA Finals. The first day that James is eligible to sign a contract with a team is July 6.