It’s moment we’ve all been waiting for. LeBron James is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers.
James, 33, had his choice of teams this offseason, particularly between the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and others that could have obtained him either through trade or signing him out right.
Reports were that James was waiting until Kawhi Leonard had found his way out of the sticky San Antonio Spurs situation. However, on July 1st James decided to jump the gun and head to LA.
What’s more surprising is that LeBron decided to sign a 4-year contract with LA. In previous seasons, LeBron had held leverage by maintaining his own flexibility with short deals with the Cavaliers.
Now with four years to go in Los Angeles, there is lots of time for the team to build around him. Leonard could still be on the table at this point, although the Lakers still have some cap space and they will no doubt be able to entice top-flight talent while James is in purple and gold.
This is a huge shift not just for the Western Conference, but for the entire NBA.
James’ deal is huge, and during the final year he will earn a whopping $41 million per season. Even with the first year coming in at $35.65 million, Los Angeles still just has something like $82 million committed in salary next year. That gives the Lakers $19 million or so to spend in free agency if they do not make a trade.
Leonard still wants to be in LA, apparently, and the Lakers might not be done dealing just yet. Leonard could absolutely join LeBron at Staples next season, and seems the most likely candidate now that Paul George has reportedly decided to stay in Oklahoma City.