The 2018 NBA Free Agency period might as well officially be here.
According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, LeBron James has informed the Cleveland Cavaliers he will be opting out of the final year of his contract before the midnight deadline.
This sets the stage for James to reach free agency, where he will have multiple teams vying for his services. It is widely expected that LeBron will be choosing between the incumbent Cavs and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Opting out effectively ends the chances of James joining the Houston Rockets who would have to make myriad roster gutting moves to clear the space to sign him outright.
In recent days, the Lakers have reportedly aggressively pursued trades for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard hoping that his addition would pave the way for James’ move to Los Angeles.
The Lakers reported pressure to get a deal done quickly was reportedly in part due to uncertainty that he would opt out. LeBron’s decision will ease the tension some, swinging leverage in trade negotiations back to the Lakers.
The Lakers now have time to continue courting LeBron James while pursuing star teammates like Leonard and Paul George. James reportedly wants to make his free agency decision quickly.