The Los Angeles Lakers responded to Paul George agreeing to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder by coming to terms with LeBron James on a four-year contract. A year ago, George was seemingly a lock to join the Lakers.
But in the days leading up to 2018 NBA free agency, it began to become apparent he would remain with the Thunder. Conversely, speculation pointed to James signing with the Lakers. He reached free agency for a third time by declining a $35.6 million player option for the 2018-19 season.
That was the first domino to fall for the Lakers, and it was a positive sign as it would allow for them to sign the 14-time All-Star outright rather than acquiring him via trade.
That also lent to some optimism for the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose general manager Koby Altman reportedly spoke with James and his agent Rich Paul minutes after free agency officially opened.
It was to no avail, however as James wound up making the jump to Los Angeles. His four-year contact includes escalating salaries but not a no-trade clause, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks:
Here is the breakdown for the LeBron James contract with the Los Angeles Lakers: $35.65M, $37.43M, $39.21M and $41M. He is not eligible for a no trade clause.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, James did receive an opt-out clause after the third year of his deal:
LeBron James' new 4-year, $154M agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers includes an opt out in the fourth year, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2018
Should James play out the lifetime of his contract it will take him through an age-37 season. He turns 34 years old in December.
Despite this past season being James’ 15th in the league, he played at arguably the highest level of his career. James will have his streak of eight consecutive NBA Finals tested this season, though the Lakers roster could be reshaped with a trade for Kawhi Leonard and other free agent signings.
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