CLEVELAND– The NBA free agency rumor mill is working overtime on the eve of the last day for player options.
Oklahoma City’s Paul George became the league’s first superstar to opt out, turning down a $20.7 million salary and becoming an unrestricted free agent. LeBron James could soon follow suit and decline the last year of his contract with the Cavaliers.
Players have until 11:59 p.m. ET Friday to formally decline or opt in. Even if James declines, he could still re-sign with Cleveland, like he did in 2016.
Things really start to heat up on July 1. That’s the first official day of the 2018-2019 season. Teams can begin talking to LeBron and he can even verbally agree to terms, but teams can’t officially sign unrestricted free agents until July 6 at 12 p.m. ET.
LeBron revealed he was taking his talents to South Beach on July 8, 2010 and announced his return to Cleveland on July 11, 2014, so we could get the big reveal anytime during the first or second week of July.
ESPN reported on Wednesday that LeBron is hesitant to be the first big star to decide on a location in free agency. That same report also noted he wants to make a decision quickly.
This puts increased pressure on the Lakers, considered a front runner to land LeBron, to resign San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard or George. They have the cap space to get all three stars.