LeBron opts out of Cleveland deal, becomes free agent

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, it was reported that LeBron had opted out of his Cleveland contract option and became an unrestricted agent.

The decision to decline the option for 2018-19 was expected by James because it gives him more options, which includes him re-signing with the Cavs, who can offer him the most money - a five-year, $209 million contract.

Though there's still a chance that King James will choose to stay with the Cavs, sources say he is eyeing teams like the Lakers and 76ers.

The three-time National Basketball Association champion was not on the phone with the Lakers at 12:01 a.m. E.T., either.

Los Angeles is believed to be the first stop for James on his free agency tour.

Yet whatever pitfalls that might come with how James goes about his decision, the Cavs, according to the source, are still very much hoping to re-sign him.

L.A. presents an interesting case since it has the means to sign LeBron and pair him with another star such as free-agent small forward Paul George. On Thursday, George told the Oklahoma City Thunder he's declining his $20.7 million option for next season. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, James is one of the most sought-after free agents in the league's history.

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Philadelphia hasn't hid its desire to land James, a three-time champion who would instantly make the club a championship contender.

James will factor family - he has three children, and his oldest son is a rising hoops star - into the choice of where he plays next.

According to Fox Sports Australia, the recruiting pitch was made by 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, who shared an Instagram story earlier on Friday that featured a photo of himself and James sharing the same court, with the caption "KJ X FP" above the image. Players are eligible to sign with new teams beginning July 6.

"I have no idea at this point", James said after the NBA Finals when asked if he's played his last game for the Cavaliers after getting swept by the Golden Warriors.

It was James' eighth consecutive Finals appearance, a remarkable feat not matched since Hall of Famer Bill Russell and a handful of Celtics did it in the 1960s.

At this point, it does seem like LeBron will either end up in Los Angeles or Cleveland, and while the Lakers are the clear favorite at the sportsbooks, you probably shouldn't count the Cavaliers out.

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