LeBron James doesn’t opt in to final year with Cavs, will become unrestricted free agent

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LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio.

LeBron James informed the Cleveland Cavaliers he will not opt in to the final year of his contract with the team and will become a free agent on Sunday, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about James’ decision.

This move was expected. Though he could have opted into the final year of his contract at $35.6 million, no one expected him to do that because of financial reasons. Even if he re-signs with Cleveland, he is due to make more than $35.6 million in the first year of a new deal in 2018-19.

Read more from USA Today:

LeBron James, Paul George and the top 40 NBA free agents of 2018

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After ‘therapeutic year,’ free agent Gerald Henderson ready to contribute after rare surgery

Speculation about James’ future and how he decides to announce his decision are under the microscope, and speculation is climbing toward a fever pitch.

Will he stay in Cleveland? Or go to the Los Angeles Lakers? Do the Houston Rockets or Philadelphia 76ers really have a chance?

Will he make his decision on UNINTERRUPTED, James’ media platform? Maybe. Or in conjunction with Nike, his longtime business partner? Unlikely. Or, as one longshot theory suggested, in the trailer of Space Jam 2?

Did James text Kevin Durant, urging Durant to join him in Los Angeles? No, according to people close to James. What about playing alongside Paul George or Kawhi Leonard?

Get ready for July fireworks.

As for James, he doesn’t appear stressed at all. He posted video of himself and his sons jumping off a small cliff into the water on Thursday.



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