LeBron James Leaves Cleveland Again, and Signs with the Lakers
LEBRON JAMES didn’t waste much time deciding on his next move. Last night, on the first day of free agency, he announced that he’s leaving Cleveland again . . . this time for the L.A. Lakers.
He signed a four-year, $153.3 million deal with the Lakers. That’s the most L.A. could offer . . . but he’s leaving roughly $53 million on the table. The Cavs could’ve offered him five years and more than $205 million if he stayed.
The fourth year of LeBron’s new contract is reportedly a player option, so if things don’t work out in L.A., he can opt out after three years.
Obviously, Jack Nicholson and other Laker fans should be thrilled . . . but it’s unclear who his teammates will be. At the moment, they have Lonzo Ball, but if LeBron isn’t interested in the Ball family sideshow, the Lakers could trade him.
The only other major players they have under contract are Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. They’re also bringing in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lance Stephenson, but the roster isn’t a finished product.
Meanwhile, Cleveland went into TOTAL MELTDOWN MODE the last time LeBron left . . . including that infamous letter from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
But things might be different this time. For starters, LeBron DELIVERED on his promise: He brought them a championship in 2016 . . . Cleveland’s first since the Browns were champs in 1964.
Also, LeBron didn’t embarrass the city on national TV with a silly ESPN special this time. In fact, the announcement came in the LEAST dramatic way possible . . . with just a one-sentence press release from his agent on Twitter.
— Klutch Sports Group (@KlutchSports) July 2, 2018
James thanked the fans in an Instagram story. He posted a photo from the Cavs’ victory parade, and said, quote, “Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons. This will always be home.”
Sure, there will probably be some fan freakouts, but as of last night, there were mostly THANK YOUs to LeBron on social media. (Like this.) And even Dan Gilbert put out a classy thank you.
Things might be a little different in Cleveland this time around. pic.twitter.com/0JafCMfb7j
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 2, 2018
So what does this mean for next season? LeBron’s streak of eight-straight Finals appearances is in jeopardy, because the West is FAR tougher than the East. And back in Cleveland, the Cavs are headed into full-on rebuilding mode.
Not surprisingly, the Lakers’ odds of winning it all are trending up, and the cost of Lakers tickets is skyrocketing.
(Here’s a report from ESPN. And here’s a report from Stephen A. Smith, if you can tolerate him.)