With LeBron, Lakers suddenly a betting favorite

Sixers Mailbag and free agency primer

LeBron James is set to become the Los Angeles Lakers' next megastar.

LeBron James was spotted by AIR7 HD landing at Van Nuys Airport on Saturday after a long flight from the Caribbean.

When free agency hits at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday, don't expect LeBron James to jet off to visit interested suitors.

As now constructed without Leonard, the Lakers are obviously not better than Golden State or Houston, but if they get into the playoffs as a 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th seed, they could face off against several teams in the first round that today look to have a more impressive arsenal: Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota. James told the Cleveland Cavs on Friday that he will not exercise his contract option for next season.

And while the Cavs remain hopeful he'll stay, there are other teams in the mix for the 33-year-old - and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be at the top of the list.

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Per McMenamin, the Cavs have "been in regular dialogue" with James' camp since the season ended earlier this month. But players can not sign contracts and teams may not comment until 12 p.m. on Friday. Lopez, Randle and Caldwell-Pope all played a significant role for Los Angeles last season, starting a combined 195 games. Meanwhile, the Lakers have been very quiet in free agency so far.

WHY NOT: Flawed roster; blemished relationship with owner Dan Gilbert. So unless James is planning on taking a massive discount to sign somewhere, the chances of him joining the Rockets are now incredibly slim.

James' reputation took a giant hit in the basketball world when he announced his decision to move to Miami eight years ago.

But money and years of security were less a concern than being able to play for a title contender. As a result, he has not played in a game since January 13. In Los Angeles, championships are the standard and he'll feel new pressure in upholding the legacies of Johnson, Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and other Lakers greats.

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