The most anticipated signing in the NBA offseason will no longer be a guessing game. LeBron James was the most highly touted free agent in the 2018 NBA free agency market and the anticipation has been lingering on which team he will sign a contract with, to play for in the upcoming 2018 NBA Season. There have been various rumors and speculation running rampant across social media, news blogs and websites and on Sunday evening, all of the speculation came to an end.
Klutch Sports, who represent LeBron James during his contract negotiations, released a short press release that stated the following:
“LeBron James, four-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP, fourteen-time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers”
The contract that James is expected to sign is a long-term deal, for four years and will compensate James $154 million dollars. The contract will break down to paying LeBron $35.65 million dollars in year one, $37.43 million dollars in year two, $39.21 million dollars in year three and $41 million dollars in year four. The fourth year of the contract is a option year so the reality is this is a three year contract with a player option.
James declined his option to play for Cleveland this year for $35.6 million dollars for the 2018-2019 season so in essence, he basically kept the same contract and will simply move to the west coast. By declining the player option with the Cavaliers, LeBron entered a very crowded free agency market that included All-Stars such as Paul George, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins. The contract will not technically be official and signed until July 6, when the NBA moratorium concludes.
There were several other teams that were rumored to be in the running for James, which included the Philadelphia 76’ers, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers. Many believed that James would resign with Cleveland due to family wanting to remain in Ohio. On Saturday, James was seen getting off a plane in Los Angeles, which fueled the fire of the LA Lakers speculation.
James has been in the league for 15 seasons and spent 11 of those seasons with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. James also spent four years with the Miami Heat, where he won the NBA Championship on two occasions. With James agreeing to a contract with the Lakers, this will turn all of the attention in the 2018 NBA Free Agency period to San Antonio Spurs disgruntled player, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard also has expressed his urge to play in Los Angeles. Leonard stated two weeks ago that his top choice for a trade out of San Antonio would be the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers are one of the few teams that are able to sign players this offseason because they have ample room under their salary cap. They are expected to go after Leonard with a trade offer to the San Antonio Spurs, but they are also expected to continue going after free agents that can help bring a championship back to Los Angeles.