LeBron James is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and officially becoming an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reports on Friday morning.
The 33-year-old would have made $35.6 million in the 2018-19 season had exercised his option with the Cavs. According to ESPN, James could still fetch as much as $207 million over five years from the Cavaliers, while other teams can offer a max of $152 million over four years.
Sources have told Joe Vordon of Cleveland.com that he has declined his contract option for next season.
James had until Friday at midnight ET to opt out of the final year of his existing deal with the Cavaliers. He could still re-sign with Cleveland, although the strong current from national media is James appears ready to move again.
In 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers after an in-person meeting with teamowner Dan Gilbert. Their relationship was never a great one, but hassplintered in recent years.
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— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) June 29, 2018
In 2010, James bolted Cleveland in a nationally televised announcement "TheDecision," infamously declaring he was taking his "talents to South Beach" andjoining the Miami Heat. Before he joined the Heat, James had meetings with theChicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, whereteam representatives pitched the All-Star with personalized presentations andmarketing plans.
Free agency officially opens up on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET when teams can begin their negotiations.
James has played in the NBA Finals eight consecutive years, but he and theCavs were swept this season by the Golden State Warriors.
ESPN reported the number of teams James and his representatives, Rich Paul andMark Termini, could be interested in as free agents will be small.
Speculation centers around contenders, including the Houston Rockets, SanAntonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, butJames shed no light on his plans in multiple interviews broaching the topic.