LeBron James Rumors: Star Will 'Unequivocally' Join Lakers in Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2017

HONG KONG, HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 05: Lebron James appears at the Rise Academy Challenge on September 5, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar forward LeBron James is reportedly planning to leave the organization for a second time to join the Los Angeles Lakers following the 2017-18 NBA season.     

On Saturday, veteran sports columnist Peter Vecsey posted a message on Patreon examining James' plans next summer (via HoopsHype).

"Accordingly, I'm publicly terminating the pandemic of speculation surrounding LeBron James' playing plans past this season," Vecsey wrote. "For months, many in the media declared or composed presumption the Lakers would be the beneficiaries of his talents when he became a free agent July 1, 2018. I'm eradicating all conjecture and uncertainty! I'm comfortable now in stating unequivocally, LeBron will leave the Cavaliers a second time and join the Lakers, and return the team to L.A. Lore status."

James is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract. He can decline a $35.6 million player option in his deal and become an unrestricted free agent next July, per Spotrac.

In addition, the Cavaliers' future is unsettled beyond the longtime NBA gold standard's status. The recently acquired Isaiah Thomas along with Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Derrick Rose are among the other notable players who can follow James into the open market.

It's raised considerable speculation about whether he'd leave Cleveland again. He took his talent to South Beach in 2010 and helped the Miami Heat win a pair of NBA titles before rejoining the Cavs in 2014. He led the way as the franchise captured its first championship in 2016.

Alas, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported last month "league executives not only expect James to leave but have circled his destination—the Los Angeles Lakers—for a host of reasons," including interests away from the basketball court.

The Lakers have started to put together a solid foundation led by Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, the second overall picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively, but still need more star power to contend.

LeBron and new Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Paul George have been the most common names mentioned as potential Los Angeles targets next summer.

Expect the James-to-the-Lakers rumors to remain at the forefront of the NBA conversation for the next 10 months until his next decision takes center stage.