LeBron James turned down his $24 million player option for the 2016-17 season on Wednesday night, making the Cleveland Cavaliers star and NBA Finals MVP a free agent once again, his agent has confirmed.
Only this time, fans in Cleveland aren't sweating nearly as much.
For one, he's made it clear he plans to stay put.
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Secondly, there's the little matter of delivering on his promise to finally give the city a long-awaited championship.
The opt-out decision, first reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard, has been long expected, as is the notion that he'll sign a one-year deal with the Cavs for about somewhere between $27.5 and $30 million that will allow him to take full advantage of an expected salary cap jump in 2017-18.
LeBron James will not exercise his player option with the Cavs for next season, according to agent Rich Paul. Deadline was Wed @ midnight— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 29, 2016
On 7/1, James becomes free agent for 3rd straight year. Tho James said he'll return 2 Cavs, Paul gave no timetable for signing of new deal— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 29, 2016
With huge salary cap increase, James is eligible for max salary of roughly $30 million. Exact amount not known until July 7— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 29, 2016
James turns 32 in December, but is coming off a dominant NBA Finals that erased any doubts of his status in the NBA's hierarchy.
His former teammate in Miami, Dwyane Wade, is also a free agent and is reportedly listening to offers from teams other than the Heat. Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is also a free agent, and will be listening to pitches from at least half a dozen teams.
On a side note, the Banana Boat Boys are back ... so maybe Cleveland fans should sweat just a little.