LeBron James Reportedly Opting out of Cavaliers Contract, Will Become Free Agent

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2018

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 3: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2018 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Blinch/Getty Images

LeBron James reportedly plans to decline his $35.6 million player option for the 2018-19 season.

Bleacher Report's Howard Beck confirmed reports of James' decision, which will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. James has "strong" interest in joining the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon.

The move doesn't necessarily mean James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, but it officially opens the door for him to explore other possibilities. While it's unclear which teams the 33-year-old will sit down with, buzz throughout the regular season suggested his list of prospective suitors isn't long.

In March, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that the Cavaliers, Lakers, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers would be the only teams on his radar.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN noted the move helps the Lakers but hurts the Rockets' chances of landing James, and it doesn't disqualify the Cavaliers from the conversation.

The New York Times' Marc Stein added San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich "is bound to try to force his way into the conversation to sell James on the merits of South Texas."

Last week, OddsShark established the Lakers as the -325 favorites to sign James with the Cavaliers placing second at +325.

Still, James and his camp haven't given any indications to this point regarding who they'll meet with and how seriously they'll consider certain destinations.

James told reporters after Game 4 of the NBA Finals:

"I have no idea at this point. The one thing that I've always done is consider my family, understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl right now that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everythingmy family is a huge part of whatever I've decided to do in my career, and they'll continue to be that. So I don't have an answer for you right now as far as that."

Given the state of the Cavaliers roster and the questions surrounding their viability as title contenders, though, it's fair to wonder if James is bound to leave Cleveland behind for the second time this decade.

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