LeBron James to opt out, will become a free agent

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Lakers set sights on LeBron James in free agencyOn Friday, he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers to officially become a free agent. If the Lakers can land another star, their chances of signing James are extremely high.

After opting out of his current contract with the Cavaliers, there are at least four teams strong in the running including the Cavs, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Lakers. Los Angeles has increased its win total by exactly nine games in each of the last two years.

Embiid is right in a way that the Lakers would never belong to him the way the Cavaliers now do. James is now eligible to sign a five-year supermax deal with the Cavaliers that would be worth $205 million over five seasons.

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James could still sign a new deal with the Cavaliers, the hometown team he led to an NBA crown in 2016 to snap a major sports title drought dating to 1964. The Rockets will look to resign key players on their own roster, including Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Luc Mbah a Moute.

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George was a third of the "OK3" combo the Thunder created a year ago alongside Westbrook and former all star Carmelo Anthony . George declined his player option last week to become an unrestricted free agent, but didn't take long to make a decision.

In the meantime, without James or Love on the books, and the likelihood of being free from paying Hill, Korver, or JR Smith in 2019, the Cavs could have significant salary space to start to retool.

The Lakers, on the other hand, know exactly what they need to do: find another star to pair with James.

It's plausible, if not likely, that the Lakers might first wait on a free-agent decision from James before looking to move forward in a trade for Leonard.

According to a separate ESPN report, James is unlikely to visit other teams or take an audience with suitors as he did in past free-agent circuits.

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Technically, James isn't a Rams fan, but when seeing how big of a deal this was at the time, the superstar clearly wanted to be in on the action since the city of Los Angeles had been waiting a long time for another football team. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Spurs are believed to be uninterested in the Lakers' young point guard as a trade centerpiece. Both Vardon and ESPN's Zach Lowe disputed that report.

Just like George last season when he looked to force his way out of Indian, Leonard is entering the final year of his contract.

A source familiar with the Cavs' thinking said re-signing James is Cleveland's "Plan A, B and C" when it comes to free agency. It is a decision that the 33-year-old didn't have to make until Friday's midnight deadline.

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