The LeBron James sweepstakes is about to gain steam.
James has informed the Cleveland Cavaliers he will not exercise the $35.6 million option on his contract for next season, according to multiple reports. The 33-year-old superstar will become an unrestricted free agent Sunday.
Cleveland.com was the first to report the news Friday ahead of the 11:59 p.m. ET deadline that James had to pick up the option. Teams can negotiate with free agents at midnight Sunday, and the period before they can sign new contracts ends July 6.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also reported the news Friday, adding that it helps the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of signing James while hurting the Houston Rockets’ odds of landing the four-time MVP. The Cavs reportedly remain very much in the mix to re-sign the NBA’s biggest star.
In fact, Cleveland can offer James more money than any other team: a five-year contract worth $207.4 million, per Cleveland.com. The most another team could offer is four years and $152.3 million.
James’ decision likely is about more than just money, though. So, it all depends on what he values most on the open market.
Friday’s news isn’t surprising, and again, it in no way means he’s definitely leaving Cleveland. But there’s no denying that things just got real in NBA free agency, setting the stage for a fascinating offseason.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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