James declines Cavs deal and becomes free agent

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • LeBron James is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and officially becoming an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reports on Friday.

James, 33, would have made US$35.6 million (S$48.6 million) in the 2018-19 season had he exercised his option with the Cavs.

He had until the end of Friday to opt out of the final year of his existing deal with the Cavaliers. However, James could still re-sign with Cleveland, although the strong current from national media is that he appears ready to move.

According to ESPN, he could still fetch as much as US$207 million over five years from Cleveland, while other teams can offer a maximum US$152 million over four years.

James, who won the National Basketball Association (NBA) crown with the Cavs in 2016, said after this year's Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors that he would consult his family before deciding on his future.

"To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember," he said.

Free agency officially opened up yesterday and ESPN reported the number of teams James and his representatives, Rich Paul and Mark Termini, could be interested in will be small.

Speculation centres on contenders, including the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, but James shed no light on his plans in multiple interviews broaching the topic.

Steve Kerr, who led the Warriors to two straight NBA titles, has meanwhile agreed to a deal which will make him one of the highest-paid coaches, ESPN reported.

The 52-year-old signed a contract in 2014 with Golden State for five years. ESPN did not provide details of the contract extension.

In Dallas, the Mavericks turned down forward Dirk Nowitzki's option for 2018-19 on Friday but plan to re-sign the 20-year veteran.

The move was reportedly a mutual decision, with the 40-year-old German expected to re-sign this month after the team's pursuits in free agency are complete.

Declining the US$5 million option - the second year of a two-year, US$10 million deal Nowitzki inked last summer - will give the Mavericks more financial flexibility in the free-agent negotiating period.

They are expected to pursue Los Angeles Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan, who reportedly declined his US$24 million option on Friday.

The New York Times also reported that Dallas are interested in the New Orleans Pelicans' DeMarcus Cousins and Houston restricted free agent Clint Capela.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 01, 2018, with the headline 'James declines Cavs deal and becomes free agent'. Print Edition | Subscribe