CLEVELAND (CBS SPORTS) — LeBron James will hit the NBA free agency market after all. The four-time NBA MVP opted out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to become an unrestricted free agent, as first reported by Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
This is what everyone assumed would happen, as it gives James the freedom to go wherever he wants this summer. It shouldn’t, however, be viewed as proof that he will definitely leave the Cavaliers.READ MORE: Officer Shot During Traffic Stop In Wise County, Suspect At Large
James likely cannot make quite as much money — he opted out of $35.6 million for next season, but the estimated maximum contract for this offseason starts at $35.4 million. That small financial blow could be more than offset by a long-term contract, with the Cavaliers or another team.
So who might those other teams be? While James opting out of his contract doesn’t eliminate the Cavaliers, it does pretty much eliminate the Houston Rockets. They would have been hoping for James to opt in to the final year of his deal and then force a sign-and-trade, just like Chris Paul did last summer. Now, they won’t have the cap space to just sign James.READ MORE: MedStar Implements Extreme Weather Response On Hottest Day Of Year So Far
Along with the Cavaliers, James’ other options appear to be the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers. Those are the only two teams he was linked to who have the requisite cap space to ink him to a max contract. At this point, however, all the buzz is pointing to L.A., and it seems the decision may come down to whether James wants to remain with the Cavs or join the Lakers.Police: 1 Dead In Downtown Austin Mass Shooting, Juvenile Suspect Arrested