Monday, 23 July, 2018

LeBron James, Lakers Agree To 4-Year, $154 Million Deal

Cleveland Cavaliers' Le Bron James shoots against Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green during the first half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland. Two people familiar with the decision LeBron James of Cleveland Cavaliers speaks with GM Koby Altman by phone when free agency opens
Jennie Wade | 02 July, 2018, 05:58

And now LeBron James is joining them.

The Cavaliers also tried to keep James, reportedly being on the phone with him seconds after midnight on Sunday as the free agency period opened.

James, who has a home and production company in Los Angeles, joins a team with plenty of money to spend under the National Basketball Association salary cap and a desire to rebuild into a championship team after years of struggles. Another option for the Lakers is to acquire Kawhi Leonard through a trade. Reports of other teams seeking and even being granted meetings with James' representatives only served to fuel those thoughts.

James isn't expected to drag his choice out over several days.

James' agency made the announcement Sunday in a release, saying he has agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract.

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It means James will not have the opportunity to go head-to-head with the Warriors a fifth time in as many years in the Finals, with the Lakers and Golden State only being able to meet as far as the Conference Finals. George told a party in Oklahoma City that he's staying with the Thunder, after agreeing to terms on what is a $137 million, four-year deal that comes with an option for the final season. General manager Bryan Colangelo's resignation following an investigation into whether he created Twitter accounts to criticize his own players, has given the impression that the team isn't operating in concert and then would turn off James quickly. While there had been dialogue between Paul and Altman since the season ended, James had not given the team any sense of his plans. In his Sports Illustrated essay announcing his return, he said "I always believed I'd return to Cleveland finish my career there". Smith reported the Lakers can have as much as $68 million if they can work something out with Luol Deng, and by withdrawing a qualifying offer to Julius Randle, making him an unrestricted free agent.

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But while the Cavs and Lakers appear to be the front-runners for James, the Philadelphia 76ers aren't ready to give up the fight. Regardless, for the time being at least, the young Lakers are excited to have James on board. And who better to learn from and help position yourself for a life after hoops than Lakers president Magic Johnson? James loves the Hollywood lights, and with two homes in the Los Angeles area as well as a film production company, he has already established some roots in the land of movie stars and slow-moving traffic.

The chance to play for one of America's most storied franchises is a new challenge for James, who prides himself on knowing the game's history.

For now, though, he's not attached to anyone.

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