LeBron James declines option, will become free agent

LeBron James averaged 27.5 points 9.1 assists and 8.7 rebounds this past season. More

LeBron will reportedly not be taking any big meetings with teams in free agency. He could be in Southern California longer than usual. His reason for being there is unknown: The Lakers are considered a strong candidate to sign James, but he also has an offseason home in L.A.

Cleveland can offer the most money, and the Cavs are, after all, James' hometown team.

LeBron James has decided not to pick up his $35.6 million option for next season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reports, including Bleacher Report's Howard Beck.

And while the Cavs remain hopeful he'll stay, there are other teams in the mix for the 33-year-old - and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be at the top of the list.

Philadelphia has the ability to pay James the maximum salary allowed by the National Basketball Association, "a $35.6 million annual maximum salary, potentially partnering him with two of the NBA's best young stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons", the ESPN reporter noted, adding that $35.6 million was also what James would have made with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018-2019. That final year was the option James declined.

In 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers after an in-person meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert.

According to reports, Lebron James has already made the decision on where he will be spending the next season, and plans to announce the news on Tuesday, July 3rd.

Never-the-less, Cleveland still has the advantage to woo back James: The team can offer a max contract of $207 million over five years, compared to the $152 million over four years he could receive from another team. Fast-forward a year, Oladipo was just named the league's Most Improved Player and Sabonis is one of the game's best young reserves. They'd lose a few of their supporting pieces, but a trio of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Kawhi Leonard would be formidable. The Los Angeles Lakers are also trying to acquire Leonard - plus free agent Paul George - to form a core of superstars in a major media market.

He's coming off another fabulous season that saw him average 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and nine assists on 53.9 per cent shooting, but also a second straight defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals - and the third in four years.

OTHER CONTENDERS: Houston: While the Rockets once seemed a good fit, James declining his option all but eliminated the chances of him joining up with close friend Chris Paul and league MVP James Harden.

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