After months of anticipation, LeBron James declined his $35.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reports. He’ll become a free agent Sunday at midnight.
James had until Friday at 11:59 p.m. to make a decision on his player option. He still could ultimately re-sign with the Cavaliers in free agency.
From a Sixers perspective, this is a positive development. Because the Sixers and Lakers are the only teams vying for James with easy paths to make room to sign James outright, they're in a much better position with teams such as the Rockets and Celtics effectively eliminated from the sweepstakes.
This time around, James reportedly does not want any big pitches in free agency (see story). However, Kawhi Leonard has reportedly made his own personal pitch for why James should play with him (see story).
The Lakers are the current favorites to land James. The Sixers have the fourth-best odds, at 10/1.
One implication of James opting out is that it likely removes Houston as a possible destination. The Rockets’ most feasible path to acquiring James was through a trade, as the team would have to free up substantial cap space to sign him in free agency.