LeBron Declines $35.6 Million Player Option, Becomes Unrestricted Free Agent
LeBron James has officially declined his $35.6 million dollar player for the 2018-2019 season, making him an unrestricted free agent.
This decision doesn’t knock any team out as a possible landing spot for LeBron James. But, it now makes it harder for the Rockets to acquire him and also limits the Cavs’ opportunities to land a larger haul if LeBron were to demand a sign-then-trade deal. This decision plays most favorably towards the Lakers, who now have the best cap flexibility for signing LeBron and another superstar.
By doing this, combined with the rumors from the last week, it feels like it’s pretty much between the Cavs and the Lakers at this point. This does not mean LeBron has made his decision. There are still a lot of questions to be answered in regards to his free agency. Opting out before the 11:59 p.m. deadline tonight is just the first stepping stone in his free agent process.
The other two big unknowns that will play a massive factor in where LeBron ends up is where Kwahi will be traded and where Paul George will sign. The initial reports from league insiders were that LeBron would only go to LA if at least one other superstar went there. Now, most are reporting that is no longer the case, and he could still go there even without those two. If the Lakers do land Paul George, Kwahi or both, then I’d say it’s a safe bet that LeBron will play for the Lakers next year.
Still, the Lakers landing a marquee superstar this off season is by no means a guarantee. Currently, Paul George seems to favor staying in OKC over LA. Even though Kawhi said he wants to play in LA, the Spurs could easily move him to another team, if they have a better offer. If both of those scenarios happen, I can’t see why LeBron would leave Cleveland for the current Lakers roster. In that case, I predict he’d sign another 1+1 deal with the Cavs, the 2nd year being the player option, and try again as a free agent next year.
Brian Windhorst reported earlier today that LeBron’s family is vacationing in the Caribbean. He will meet with his advisors, close friends and family there to decide where he will end up. While it sounds like LeBron wants to announce where he’s going sooner rather than later, it wouldn’t make sense for him to decide before he gets a clear outlook on the future in both Cleveland and LA.