The stage is set.
According to Cleveland.com, LeBron James has informed the Cleveland Cavaliers that he will be declining his $35.6 million player option in order to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
While this decision doesn’t mean James will definitely be leaving the Cavaliers, who can offer him a five-year deal worth $207.4 million, another report on Cleveland.com claims the 33-year-old has “strong” interest in playing for the Lakers.
“The allure of playing for a historic franchise like the Lakers appeals to him,” the report states.
Despite other reports, the Lakers may not have to land Kawhi Leonard in a trade in order to convince the three-time NBA champion to sign with the purple and gold:
Sources close to him told cleveland.com that James’ decision to join the Lakers would neither be clinched nor doomed by that franchise’s ability to trade for Kawhi Leonard. So, at minimum, the LeBron-to-the-Lakers stuff has real merit.
The Lakers will still continue to explore potential deals for Leonard, per various reports, though their attention will most certainly be on James. If they can land him – arguably the greatest basketball player on the planet right now – then the other chips will follow.
Paul George, who has been linked to the Lakers for many years, may decide to stay in Oklahoma City after the Thunder traded for him last summer.
In an on-going documentary that’s leading up to his free agency, George stated that winning a championship is the “most important thing” to him.
While George will have Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in his ear as soon as free agency begins this weekend, you have to wonder if he’d be able to ultimately turn down the chance of playing for the Lakers, and say no to a recruiting pitch that could potentially be delivered by the likes of LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.
Either way, the next few days should be highly entertaining. Stay tuned.