Storyline: LeBron James Free Agency

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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. In the hours after his commitment, the Lakers reached agreements with guard Lance Stephenson and center JaVale McGee—not exactly Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Any hope of the Lakers building an instant rebuttal to the Warriors was dashed.

“Today is a great day for the Lakers organization and Lakers fans all over the world to welcome LeBron James, a three-time NBA Champion and four-time NBA MVP,” said Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “LeBron is special. He is the best player in the world. He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful. The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals. It’s a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals.”

“This is a historic moment for the Lakers, and we could not feel more grateful and honored,” Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “When LeBron James – a perennial NBA MVP and champion who is playing at the most astonishing levels of his career – chooses to join the Lakers, it serves as the ultimate validation for what we are building here. However, we all know that the work is not yet done. We will continue forward and do all that is necessary to achieve our shared obsession of bringing banner No. 17 to the world’s best fans – Lakers Nation.”

James clearly trusts Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka more than he ever trusted Gilbert. The four-year, $154 million deal he agreed to Sunday includes three guaranteed years. The fourth year is a player option, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. The last time he gave Cleveland a three-year commitment was 12 years ago when he was coming off his rookie deal. He even gave the Miami Heat and Pat Riley four years guaranteed in 2010. Despite his willingness to spend, James never trusted Gilbert enough to give the Cavs the same lengthy commitment.
5 months ago via ESPN

Preorders for new Lakers LeBron James jerseys were robust enough on Sunday night to give retailer Fanatics one of its top 10 sales days in terms of NBA gear sold, a spokesman for the company told ESPN. Jerseys, with the placeholder of No. 00, went up on the site of the world’s largest seller of licensed sports jerseys at around 8:45 p.m. ET on Sunday night, roughly 40 minutes after the news broke. James will wear No. 23, the same number he wore in both of his Cleveland stops, league sources have told ESPN.

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.

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.

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…”

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.

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.
5 months ago via 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.
5 months ago via ESPN

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.
5 months ago via 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.

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.
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December 10, 2018 | 10:05 pm EST Update