LeBron James agrees to sign with the Lakers
NBA.com Global on Jul 02, 2018 08:21 AM
FILE - CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 3: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white) LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 3, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
After years of high draft picks and fruitless free agency pursuits, the Los Angeles Lakers landed the biggest name of them all.
Klutch Sports Group announced on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) that LeBron James will sign a four-year max deal with the Lakers. The four-time Kia MVP's decision comes less than 24 hours after free agency negotiations opened at 12:01 a.m. (12:01pm, Sunday, PHL time).
It marks the third time in eight teams James will have changed teams via free agency, following his departure from the Cavaliers to the Heat in 2010 and his return back to the Cavs in 2014.
He also marks the latest superstar to join the Lakers during their storied history, alongside the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal.
Even at 33, James remains one of the NBA's elite players, ranking among the league leaders in scoring (27.5 points per game) and various advanced measures during his 15th NBA season. He also set career-highs in rebounds (9.1 per game), assists (8.6 per game) and appearances (82 games). It was good enough to finish second in the voting for this season's Kia MVP, an award he's already won four times previously.
While James' previous departures were to ready-made championship contenders, his work will be cut out with a promising but young Lakers team that has missed the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, the longest stretch in franchise history.
James, in contrast, hasn't missed the postseason since his second NBA season in 2004-05, and has appeared in eight straight Finals.
James' second departure from his home state of Ohio comes under far different circumstances than the first, which sparked intense anger and disappointment among Cavaliers fan following his announcement on ESPN.
In addition to returning in 2014, James led the Cavaliers to their first championship -- and his third -- in 2016, a historic comeback from 3-1 down against the defending champion Warriors. He also took a decidedly quieter approach, with the sports agency founded by his agent, Rich Paul, releasing a simple press release.