CLEVELAND – LeBron James did not take up the player option in the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and became an unrestricted free agent.
James had time until 23:59. ET Friday to inform the Cavs about his intentions before the option expired.
The decision makes the four-time MVP the headliner of a top-class free-agent class, which includes Paul George, Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins.
The free agency will start at 12:01 ET on Sunday, and the balance of power in the NBA may shift as James leaves Cleveland to found a new super team with the Los Angeles Lakers or join an emerging power such as the Houston Rockets or Philadelphia 76ers. Free agents can not sign contracts until July 6th.
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James has twice shot as a free agent – in 2010, when his contract with Cleveland was and he opted for the Miami Heat, and in 2014, when he made the early termination option in his Heat- Exercised contract and returned to Cleveland. He signed his contract with the Cavs in 2015 to sign a new "one-plus-one" deal, and resumed his contract in 2016 to sign a new two-year limited warranty agreement with a player option for
This third season – worth $ 35.6 million for 2018-19 – is the option that James rejected.
According to ESPN front insider Bobby Marks, Cleveland James can offer a more lucrative deal than any other team – a five-year Max deal in the neighborhood of $ 205 million. Any other suitor can offer a four-year pact worth $ 152 million.
Should James re-sign with a shortened one-plus-one deal in Cleveland – to regain free rein in the summer of 2019 – his compensation for 2018-19 would be $ 35.4 million, and 2019-20 would become $ 38.2 million jump as the election year.
James, 33, comes from one of his finest campaigns as a pro in his 15th out season. He played for the first time in all 82 games and averaged 27.5 points (the highest since 2009-10), combined a career with 8.6 rebounds per game and set a career high with 9.1 assists per game while he shot 54.2 percent out of the field. He followed in the playoffs with an average of 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9 assists, while he shot 53.9 percent. The Cavs advanced to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year and were swept by the Golden State Warriors.
James finished second in the MVP voting and scored 738 points behind first-time winner James Harden of the Rockets (965).
In the days leading up to James' opt-out decision, the Lakers have fought for the triple champion in the race by recording trade talks with the San Antonio Spurs to the entire NBA striker Kawhi Leonard, as Adrian Wojnarowski reports from ESPN
While winning the Leonard Sweepstakes LA would certainly cost some of his young players and draft picks, James guaranteed a legitimate superstar running buddy and would not match the Lakers' abilities affect James to offer a maximum offer.
The Sixers have also made an offer for Leonard, said league sources ESPN, and would only need to make a few minor roster adjustments to free up the cap slot to offer James a maximum supply
Jam It's currently on vacation with it Family in Anguilla, and it is unclear whether he will return in time for face-to-face meetings with potential sellers this weekend, or whether he will allow his representatives, led by agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini of Klutch Sports.
Even if James is involved in the meetings, he has no interest in hearing elaborate team pitches ESPN reported this week. This is a subdued approach to public advertising, in which he participated in 2010 with a handful of teams.
After the loss of the Cavs 4 in the finals, James formulated what factors he will weigh in terms of his future  "The one thing I've always done is obviously my family," James said. "Especially where my boys are their age by then, they were much younger than the last time I made a decision four years ago, I have a teenager, a teenage girl, and a little girl who was not I say me and think about everything, my family is a big part of what I'm going to do in my career, and that will continue to be so. "