Lakers owner Jeanie Buss deserves the assist for getting this done, as she’s the one who made the bold move in Feb. 2017 of firing her own brother, Jim Buss, and longtime general manager, Mitch Kupchak, after years of failed free agency pitches. Magic Johnson came in as an adviser and then president of basketball operations, and Rob Pelinka, the longtime agent of Kobe Bryant, became general manager. The overhaul was complete, with Buss pushing for more synergy between the front office and ownership with the hopes that it would lead to this kind of prize. But according to a person with knowledge of James’ thinking, it was Johnson who closed this monumental deal. The Lakers legend met with James in one of his Los Angeles homes for approximately three hours on Saturday night, when the NBA’s free agency period tipped off.
In the two weeks following the Finals, James held three meetings at home with his closest advisors, in which they attempted to peg free-agent destinations where he might be able to satisfy his family and eventually vault his nemesis. Their talks focused on the Rockets, 76ers, Lakers and Cavaliers. James instructed his agent, Rich Paul, to research those organizations and present him with feedback when he returned from a vacation in Anguilla.
On Sunday morning, James ate breakfast with his wife on the patio at A Votre Sante in Brentwood. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic candidate for governor of California, stopped at their table and asked where he was headed. James kept quiet. Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California, also swung by and delivered her case for the Lakers. There is little doubt the club’s cache played as much a part in James’s thinking as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. James grew up a Cowboys and a Yankees fan, but he has never suited up for an iconic institution. Even though the Rockets and Sixers are loaded in comparison to the Lakers, they did not capture the imagination in the same way.
On Sunday afternoon, James and his wife went back to Van Nuys Airport. They were flying east again, this time to Europe, for a couple’s trip. His advisors didn’t know if he’d pick a team before he left for Europe or after he landed, or even after he returned. They prepared an old-fashioned press release under the letterhead of Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports Group, but they weren’t sure if or when they’d distribute it. James phoned Paul as he was boarding the private plane. “Call the Lakers,” he said.
Dan Gilbert: Virtually anyone with roots in Northeast Ohio paused and felt the memories of the past and the utter joy that the burden of the so-called ‘curse’ was finally a thing of the past. Cleveland, Ohio was the home of a championship team for the first time since 1964. Words do not express the meaning and the feeling this accomplishment brought to the people of Northeast Ohio. None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.
Dan Gilbert: LeBron is a family man, first. We wish his kids, his wife Savannah, his mother Gloria, and LeBron himself nothing but the best in the years and decades ahead. LeBron’s connection to Akron, Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio will most certainly endure as his commitment to the region and his support of many important causes has been impactful to so many kids and families. LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line...”
The writing was on the wall for James’s exit. The Cavaliers knew even if they didn’t know. Cleveland reportedly operated this past month as though James leaving was inevitable. It only wasn’t until a Saturday morning phone call with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that their breakup became “Facebook official,” per league sources.
Sam Amick: Lakers legend @kobebryant to @usatodaysports on his favorite franchise landing LeBron James. Enough said.
Darren Rovell: $136.6 million: What Dan Gilbert has paid LeBron for his 11 seasons in Cleveland. $154 million: What LeBron will make in his next four seasons with the Lakers.
Here is the breakdown for the LeBron James contract with the Los Angeles Lakers: $35.65M, $37.43M, $39.21M and $41M. He is not eligible for a no trade clause.
Here are three reasons why LeBron James joined the Lakers, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the high-profile nature of the deal. 1. James and his family (wife Savannah, sons LeBron Jr. and Bryce and daughter Zhuri) are excited to live in Los Angeles fulltime. He has two homes there and has spent previous offseasons there. 2. James believes the Lakers are in position – with some of the players they have now – to build a team that can contend for a championship soon. Also, James was not adamant that another All-Star, such as Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, had to join the Lakers for him to sign with the Lakers. He understands they can build and create a contender with him there.
James’ agent, Rich Paul, met with Philadelphia – another storied franchise – which worked hard Sunday to reach a deal with San Antonio to acquire Leonard and then convince James to join, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. But the Sixers never made serious traction with the Spurs. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about trade talks.
Ramona Shelburne: Some more context to the Magic-LeBron meeting Saturday night. LBJ was already strongly considering the Lakers but wanted to look Magic in the eye and see if they could find a trust before making a decision, per sources close to the situation.
Ramona Shelburne: This was a very hush-hush operation. Lakers knew they needed to give Bron space to decide and announce it as he wanted. None of us reporters could even confirm they’d been in touch whereas calls with Cavs & Sixers leaked. Says something on the discipline for all involved
The cheapest Lakers season tickets on StubHub before James' announcement were $3,499 each. Twenty minutes after the announcement, those same seats were also the cheapest -- $5,800 each. After the deal was announced, one person paid $188,781 on StubHub, including fees, for four season tickets. The seats, which are 16 rows up and one section off center, are only for regular-season games and don't include the playoffs.
In Cleveland, ticket broker Mark Klang, of Amazing Tickets, said he anticipated that the tickets he held for next season would lose 60 percent of their value, the same thing that happened when LeBron left Cleveland the first time to go to Miami.
Ramona Shelburne: How did the Lakers close this? Magic Johnson went to one of LeBron’s houses in LA late Saturday night and met with him for several hours.
Ramona Shelburne: The Lakers had felt a sense of urgency this week to find a co-star LeBron — either PG or Kawhi. However when Magic spoke to James late Saturday, he assured them this was a long term play and his decision wouldn’t be affected by a transaction they could make under a time pressure
Kobe Bryant: Welcome to the family @LeBron James #lakers4life #striveforgreatness @Jeanie Buss @Magic Johnson and RP well done!!!
Will Guillory: Twelve of the 15 players that made an All-NBA team last year will be in the Western conference next year. That's insane
DeMarre Carroll: I guess everybody can sign now..... since LBJ committed to the Lakers...Crazy how 1 man hold up Free Agency...😂💯💯💯
Brian Windhorst: The fourth season of LeBron's four-year deal is a player option. It is still the longest deal he's signed since 2010.
Shams Charania: LeBron James' new 4-year, $154M agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers includes an opt out in the fourth year, league sources tell Yahoo.
Bobby Marks: Cleveland with the James departure now have $110M in salary and are over the cap. The Cavaliers have use of the $8.6M room midlevel and $3.4M biannual exception but using both would push the Cavaliers into the tax. Cleveland still has bird rights on... espn.com/espn/now?nowId…
Josh Lewenberg: LeBron to the Lakers, and his streak of winning the East ends at 9 straight seasons. The Conference is more wide-open than it's been in a decade.
Another option would be to waive Bayless and stretch his salary over three years. This move would allow the Sixers to immediately free up money, something they would need to do to be able to sign free-agent target LeBron James to a maximum salary of $35.63 million this coming season.
Yes, the Lakers are still favorites—but not total locks—to sign LeBron James, league sources say. For what it’s worth, some executives believe LeBron’s indecision is all theater, and he has already decided on the Lakers as his new team.
Signing Boogie Cousins could be a sweetener for LeBron. In January 2017, James called Boogie, “the best big man in our game.” LeBron’s praise of Cousins came before the New Orleans big man had suffered a major injury, but sources say he remains interested by the idea of playing with Boogie.
Sources have said that this is not an obligatory meeting with James’ representatives. The free agent is really interested in playing for the Sixers, according to the source. The forward would welcome playing alongside all-star center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons, the rookie of the year. He’s also impressed with coach Brett Brown and the Sixers’ state-of-the-art facility. And by coming to Philly, James believes he would have a great chance to play in his ninth consecutive NBA Finals.
Sources says the Sixers are not out of James’ free agency hunt. Now, things could change if the Lakers are able to trade for San Antonio Spurs two-time all-star forward Kawhi Leonard. Under that scenerio, James would probably like to play alongside Leonard. However, sources have said that the Sixers are still in the hunt for trading for Leonard as well.
Sam Amick: Also, from the longest-of-longshots department: I'm told Houston will continue pursuing LeBron James until he makes a final decision. No known meeting, but - cap obstacles be darned - they have not waved the white flag on that front.
Marc Stein: Among the Sixers' planned top selling points to LeBron James' agent Rich Paul today: Philly believes it still has a real chance to win the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, league sources say
A high-level Philadelphia 76ers contingent is meeting with LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, on Sunday in Los Angeles, league sources told ESPN. James isn't expected to attend the meeting, which is the first significant chance for the 76ers to make case a free-agent case to James, league sources said. Ownership and possibly interim president of basketball operations/coach Brett Brown are expected to lead the meeting with James' representatives, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Philadelphia is meeting with LeBron James and his reps today in Los Angeles, league sources tell ESPN.
Denver has been in contact with James’ agent, Rich Paul, and has doggedly tried to position the team as James’ best option, the source said. Paul George’s decision to re-sign with Oklahoma City has taken a potential James teammate in Los Angeles off the board, and thus far the Lakers’ talks with San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard have gained no traction.
Chris Mannix: With Jokic and Barton on board, the Denver Nuggets will turn their attention to one more free agent: LeBron James. The Nuggets have been in contact with James's agent and will aggressively pursue a meeting.
Dave McMenamin: Cavs general manager Koby Altman spoke to both Rich Paul and LeBron James over the phone at 12:01 a.m., sources tell ESPN.
When NBA free agency officially opens at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN. James' camp and the Cavaliers' front office have maintained a dialogue since the season ended, sources said. James' agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not opt in to the final year of his contract; he was scheduled to make $35.6 million in 2018-19.
A league source familiar with the Cavs' thinking told ESPN that the franchise has found it difficult to plan for its full team around James with the way he has approached his free agency, which could prompt hesitancy by free agents or trade partners to complete deals with Cleveland in the interim. 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.
Kevin O'Connor: DeMarcus Cousins sounds like an increasingly likely target for the Lakers on a short-term max contract now that it appears Los Angeles will lose out on Paul George, per league sources. In January 2017, LeBron James called Cousins "the best big man in our game."
Bobby Marks: The max salary for LeBron James to stay in Cleveland is $206.79M over 5 years. Signing with a new team is 4-years $153.3M.
Ian Begley: Members of an ownership group from an NBA team ran an analysis that concluded signing LeBron James could generate approximately $65 million annually for the franchise, per sources. He’s projected to sign a contract worth $35 million for the 2018-19 season.
Five-time All-Star Kevin Love remains in the Cavaliers’ plans even if LeBron James elects to leave Cleveland for the second time when free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
But should four-time league Most Valuable Player James depart, the Cavs intend to remain competitive and believe Love can lead a talented roster of veterans and up-and-coming young players. “The plan is not to go backwards,” one source said. That strategy would seemingly rule out major moves, such as trading draftee Collin Sexton, without knowing James’ intention for next season.
Alex Kennedy: If you're betting on LeBron James to the Lakers, you'd have to bet $5,000 just to make $100. (In other words, they think LeBron to L.A. is a done deal.)
Ramona Shelburne: ESPN producer @Jlshobar shot this of LeBron’s plane landing in LA this morning. Why is he here? Said one source, “He lives here in the summer.”
LeBron James has touched down at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, hours ahead of 2018 NBA free agency. While James owns property in LA, the timing of the visit coupled with the absence of a meeting scheduled with Cleveland suggests that his presence in the area could certainly be related to his next free-agent move.
I will continue to say that James owes the Cavaliers nothing, and has nothing to fear about damaging his legacy, if he decides to leave Cleveland again, after delivering in 2016 the championship he promised. I also reject the notion that James will pick the Lakers only if Leonard or George, or both, will join him.
Remember: The most definitive thing we know so far about James’s free-agency leanings is his disclosure after the finals that family considerations will play a bigger role than they have before. If his family decides Los Angeles is where it wants to be full time, it’s not difficult to envision James making the leap with great belief that his presence will help Magic flank him with the requisite help eventually, if not immediately.
When NBA free agency officially opens up Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN. James' camp and the Cavs front office has been in regular dialogue since the season ended, sources said, and James' agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not be opting in to the final year of his contract with Cleveland worth $35.6 million.
Paul, who represents several other players entering into free agency -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nerlens Noel among them -- will conduct all his business over the phone when free agency begins, sources told ESPN.
A league source familiar with the Cavs' thinking told ESPN that the franchise has found it difficult to plan for its full team around James with the way he has approached his free agency and it could manifest itself in hesitancy by potential free agent signees or teams interested in trades, from completing deals with Cleveland in the interim. 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 because.
The Cavaliers do not intend to trade Kevin Love if they lose LeBron James in free agency this summer, and would rather try to make the playoffs than immediately begin rebuilding without their iconic star. Sources told cleveland.com this week that the Cavs would not trade Love, a five-time All-Star who is owed about $50 million over the next two seasons, if James leaves as a free agent. Sources say James is strongly considering joining the Los Angeles Lakers. "There is no reason to go backwards," one source said, describing the Cavs' situation.
If James does return to the Cavs, or signals to them that he wants to, no one on the roster would be untouchable from a trade perspective. Cleveland wants to develop its young talent -- including rookie point guard Collin Sexton -- but wouldn't pass up the right opportunity to add an established veteran with James to improve their chances of reaching another Finals, sources indicated.
The Cavs have tried unsuccessfully to engage James this summer, according to multiple sources. He has again left Paul to handle all of his communication. James has been much more proactive in past summers working with the Cavs than he has been since the Finals ended in a sweep. He recruited for the Cavs in past summers, from calling Kevin Love to join him the summer he returned to pursuing Jamal Crawford last summer. The Cavs disagreed with him on Crawford and signed Cedi Osman instead.
Two years ago, in the weeks and months after the city’s championship parade, the Cavs privately began mentioning the possibility James could leave for Los Angeles in the summer of 2018. Now it could be days from happening.
As Paul George considers the Lakers in free agency and Kawhi Leonard tries to force his way from San Antonio to Los Angeles, those around James insist trade negotiations between the Lakers and Spurs will not influence James’ decision.
Harrison Faigen: On Woj/Lowe ESPN special, Lowe says the Cavs were selling it as a win that LeBron opted out because he only would've opted in to be traded
Harrison Faigen: "I believe that the Lakers have the inside track on getting LeBron"- Windhorst on SportsCenter
Dave McMenamin: Had LeBron opted in, that would have been a bad sign for Cleveland -- it would basically have meant that his camp had a trade partner lined up. As it stands now, CLE is still in the mix. According to a Cavs source, the team's "Plan A, B & C in free agency is to keep LeBron"
Joe Vardon: LeBron James’ agent informed the Cavs he will not exercise his $35.6 million option and thus will become an unrestricted free agent, sources told @clevelanddotcom ... Story coming
James had until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to pick up the option, which would have kept him in Cleveland for at least one more season. James' agent Rich Paul notified the Cavs of his decision Friday morning. The emotional side to this is obvious, James is separating from the Cavs again (for the third time in four years) with no guarantees that he'll re-sign. Sources suggested to cleveland.com that his interest in joining the iconic Los Angeles Lakers is strong.
Bobby Marks: Not surprised by the LeBron decision. The impact is that a sign and trade (see Houston) would likely be off the table because of the hard cap and the pool of teams now shrink to a possible 3.....Cleveland, LA Lakers and Philadelphia.
Ira Winderman: LeBron James opts out of Cavs deal, seemingly eliminating Heat chances. sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-h… Forward now becomes a free agent Sunday.
ESPN Cleveland: "To me, the longer this has gone on, the more I've come to feel (LeBron) is going to stay in Cleveland for another year and do this all over again next summer." - @Tom Withers on RBS
LeBron James has until the end of June 29th to exercise his opt-in for the 18-19 season and in the interiim, there have been reports of James communicating with Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Paul George. "The LeBron operation, I don't know how else to put it, but they have basically thrown cold water and vehemently denied everything that has been out there the last couple of days," said Brian Windhorst. "They have denied that he is communicating with Kawhi Leonard. They have denied he is communicating with Kevin Durant about joining up in Los Angeles. They have denied there is a three-way conversation going on between Paul George, Kawhi and LeBron. They have denied that Kawhi being traded to the Lakers would clinch LeBron going to the Lakers. "They have pretty much denied that any of that is happening.
"Clearly, LeBron is keeping a very close eye on the Lakers. This is my read on the situation: if he opts into his contract, that it pretty much closes the door on him going to the Lakers. It doesn't necessarily guarantee that he is staying with the Cavs, but I think it's a really good sign that he will. "If he opts out of the contract, I don't necessarily think that it means he is leaving the Cavs, but I do think it bodes better for the Lakers if he does that. "There are other teams involved; obviously Houston, Philadelphia etc. But I really think this is a Cleveland or L.A. decision.
The possibility of James and Leonard teaming up with the Lakers does not appear to be directed by the two of them communicating with each other. "As for Kawhi, I have been assured very strongly that LeBron has not communicated with Kawhi, not only during this process but for a very long time. He has really not spoken to him and expressed a desire to play with each other."
A league source told GetMoreSports.com that Pat Riley and the Miami Heat should not be counted out of the equation, because the key to getting LeBron is being able to get Kawhi. And if you think Riles would not relish an opportunity to get the better of Magic Johnson, you probably did not know that Riley was drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft and owns the trademark to the term “three-peat.”
Alex Kennedy: Several veterans have told me they'd settle for a minimum deal with the Lakers if they land LeBron James. All eyes will be on L.A. and very few teams have cap room this summer, so they'd have no trouble adding complementary pieces to fill out the roster: hoopshype.com/2018/06/29/los…
But the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers have been pressing the Spurs to trade Leonard this week, as both teams believe that acquiring Leonard would put them in pole position to try to sign LeBron James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers when free agency starts Sunday at 12:01 a.m., Eastern time. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers are also known trade suitors for Leonard.
July 6, 2022 | 9:14 pm EDT Update
Brad Turner: Sources: The Lakers had free agent point guard Darren Collison in for a workout Wednesday. Collision, 34, played in 3 games with the Lakers last season and has interest in playing in NBA this season.
JD Shaw: After playing with the Warriors during the California Classic, point guard Jacob Gilyard has now decided to play with the Timberwolves during the Las Vegas Summer League, according to a source.
Kevin Huerter: Thank you to @Atlanta Hawks organization and their fans for the past 4 years. Atlanta truly became a 2nd home, the relationships and memories I created here will last a lifetime. The city embraced me as their own, as K’Von, and for that I’m truly thankful. Always love for the ATL❤️
July 6, 2022 | 8:57 pm EDT Update
Brady Hawk: PJ Tucker says his goodbyes to Miami on IG Then Jimmy Butler said his goodbyes to PJ Tucker lol
Iffe Lundberg stayed in Phoenix planning to play for the Suns in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but he needed “security” for that to happen. Without a guaranteed deal, Lundberg headed back to Denmark ahead of the Suns beginning Summer League play Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center.
“I didn’t want to risk playing in the Summer League without having some kind of security,” Lundberg told the Republic on Monday. “They didn’t want to give me that, so I went home. I can’t risk getting injured without having a deal. My family depends on me to provide for them.”