LeBron James will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and officially become an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reports on Friday morning.
James, 33, would have made $35.6 million in the 2018-19 season had he exercised his option with the Cavs. According to ESPN, James could still fetch as much as $207 million over five years from the Cavaliers, while other teams can offer a max of $152 million over four years.
James had until Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET to opt out of the final year of his existing deal with the Cavaliers. He could still re-sign with Cleveland, although the strong current from national media is James appears ready to move again.
In 2014, he returned to the Cavaliers after an in-person meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert. Their relationship was never a great one, but has splintered in recent years. In 2010, James bolted Cleveland in a nationally televised announcement “The Decision,” infamously declaring he was taking his “talents to South Beach” to join the Miami Heat.
—Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team will consider any possible trade scenarios to improve this offseason, but also added that any blockbuster-type of trade is “unlikely.”
Speaking at an introductory press conference for first-round pick Robert Williams, Ainge wouldn’t go into significant detail on the team’s plans as free agency nears, but he intends to look at all options.
“If I feel like it’ll help our team — we explore every trade of players of certain magnitude or superstar, first-ballot Hall of Fame-type of players,” Ainge told reporters. “We’re going to take a look and kick the tires and see if there’s something there. But that’s all. I think those things are unlikely.”
—Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has informed the team he will decline the 2018-19 player option in his contract before Friday’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline, according to multiple reports.
By declining the $24.1 million option, Jordan will become an unrestricted free agent when negotiations are permitted to begin Sunday. Players are eligible to sign with new teams beginning July 6.
According to a New York Times report, the Dallas Mavericks will make Jordan their top target in free agency after previously discussing various opt-in-and-trade scenarios with the Clippers. Per the Times, the Mavericks did not want to surrender draft compensation in a trade, preferring to pursue Jordan via free agency.
—The Golden State Warriors are finalizing an extension to make Steve Kerr one of the NBA’s highest paid coaches, according to an ESPN report.
Kerr, 52, just finished the fourth year of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed when he joined the Warriors in 2014. The team has gone 265-63 in his four seasons at the helm, making four trips to the NBA Finals and winning three titles.
Kerr has battled health issues that have forced him to miss games over the past few seasons, including the first 43 of the 2015-16 season when he was dealing with a serious back injury. But he and the Warriors’ front office said previously they expected a new deal to get done quickly.
—Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has a torn meniscus in his left knee, Yahoo Sports reported, though he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Ball reportedly was diagnosed with the injury at the end of the regular season and has gone through some healing treatments. It isn’t immediately clear whether or not Ball underwent a surgical procedure.
Ball had problems with the knee during the regular season. He missed a total of 30 games due to a sprained medial collateral ligament and a bruised knee, as well as a sprained shoulder.
—Center Enes Kanter will return to the New York Knicks next season after exercising his $18.6 million player option ahead of Friday’s deadline to do so.
Kanter alluded to his decision in a tweet with the hashtag “#MakeKnicksGreatAgain.”
Kanter, who had originally hoped to sign a long-term contract this summer, told ESPN in a phone interview he took out an insurance policy that will pay him $20 million if he suffers a career-threatening injury because he will be playing on a one-year deal.
—The Indiana Pacers picked up the $10.5 million option on forward Bojan Bogdanovic’s contract, Yahoo Sports reported.
The option was part of a two-year, $21 million deal signed last July. Indiana also declined the $1.6 million team option on guard Joe Young’s contract. The decision makes Young an unrestricted free agent.
The Pacers also face a decision on the contract of point guard Darren Collison. The team holds a $10 million option for next season.
—Sacramento Kings guard Garrett Temple told multiple outlets he is exercising his player option to remain with the club.
Temple’s option is worth $8 million in 2018-19, which marks the final season of a three-year deal he signed in July of 2016.
Temple averaged a career-high 8.4 points in 65 games (35 starts) last season. He also averaged 2.3 rebounds and shot 41.8 percent from the field.
—Field Level Media