With LeBron James arriving in Los Angeles ahead of free agency and reports that he's not scheduled to have a meeting with the Cavaliers at the start of free agency, the evidence continues to mount that James is headed to the Lakers. With Cleveland's lack of cap space, and LeBron's rocky relationship with Dan Gilbert, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be the best fit in a free agency where no team seems to be the "perfect fit" for LeBron's now or longer term to win championships.
The Lakers are considered an early favorite to land James because they have created enough cap space to sign him and another young player, like Oklahoma City's Paul George, to a max contract.
The 33-year-old opted out of the final year of his Cavs deal on Friday but could yet resign with his hometown club despite strong interest from the Lakers. Both Vardon and ESPN's Zach Lowe disputed that report.
"I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business", James said after the Cavs last NBA Finals loss.
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The New York Times also reported that Dallas are interested in the New Orleans Pelicans' DeMarcus Cousins and Houston restricted free agent Clint Capela. If he stays with Cleveland he's due to make more than the $35.6 million in the first year of a new deal 2018-2019.
Without any additional roster moves, losing James via free agency would drop the team below the league's $123 million luxury tax line, which would save owner Dan Gilbert from paying further tax penalties and give the Cavs more flexibility in acquiring players.
The Cavaliers already know James is opting out of the final season of his contract; that was communicated to them Friday morning.
The option was part of a two-year, $21 million deal signed last July. If the Sixers make that trade, they probably wouldn't be able to add James, as well. He averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists during the regular season.