LeBron James’ career has featured three significant free agency decisions.
The first came in 2010 when James joined the Miami Heat — technically in a sign-and-trade — and the second came in 2014 when he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four seasons in South Beach. Now, James is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers after opting earlier this offseason to leave Cleveland in favor of Tinseltown.
On the surface, it might seem like James can’t stay in one place for too long. But don’t let the nomadic lifestyle fool you. There’s typically a method to James’ madness, and his longtime agent, Rich Paul, recently offered a very simple explanation for each of his client’s free agency choices.
“In 2010, when he went to Miami, it was about championships,” Paul told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. “In 2014, when he went back to Cleveland, it was about delivering on a promise. In 2018, it was just about doing what he wants to do.”
Everything worked out well for James after his previous decisions. He reached the NBA Finals in each of his four seasons with the Heat, winning twice, before returning to Cleveland, where he won another title while guiding the Cavs to four straight Finals appearances.
It’ll be much more difficult for James to contend for a championship this season, as the Golden State Warriors have ruled the Western Conference for four straight years. But his decision to sign with the Lakers this summer wasn’t a knee-jerk move by any means.
Here’s what Jenkins wrote in a piece appearing in the July 16 issue of SI:
James was leaning toward L.A. for days, and according to those outside his direct orbit, for months. But Paul rejects the commonly held explanations that James was driven either to expand his Hollywood empire or spark an overnight superteam.
So, there you have it.
James, who turns 34 in December, signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers, so it’s entirely possible he’ll finish his career in Los Angeles. Or we could have another decision down the road, which, if history is any indication, will come only after careful consideration.
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