LeBron James has typically not announced his free agency decision for more than a week after the July 1 start, but this year, the King took a new approach to his freedom of choice this summer.
LeBron didn’t even wait a full 24 hours before he made a very lowkey announcement in the form of a release tweeted by Klutch Sports’ Twitter account stating he was joining the Lakers on a 4-year, $154 million deal. There was no television special or lengthy first-person piece about coming home, just a brief paragraph explaining the facts of the matter. He won’t even be speaking publicly until his I Promise school opens in Akron on July 30.
Until then, we’ll be parsing through the fallout of LeBron moving West for the Lakers, the rest of the West, and for the first time in a long time, an Eastern Conference freed from the reign of James. We’re also learning a lot about how the LeBron recruitment happened, with very little leaking about actual contact between James and the Lakers prior to the announcement. However, as we learned on Sunday night from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Magic Johnson took matters into his own hands with an in-person visit to James’ L.A. home to close the deal.
That report was confirmed not long after, with Sam Amick of USA Today and Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com noting there were only three men present in the meeting: James, Magic, and LeBron’s agent Rich Paul.
That conversation clearly sold James on the vision the Lakers have, as he didn’t need to see another star sign alongside to go to L.A. — in fact, they found out the opposite as Paul George stayed in OKC. Instead, James heads to something of a blank canvas in Los Angeles where there are assuredly more moves to come, but they might take place over the next year heading into 2019 free agency rather than immediate, sweeping roster changes.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-signing a 1-year, $12 million deal shortly after James indicates that’s the plan, as he’ll come off the books just in time for the Lakers to make runs at top free agents.