LeBron James is about to test the waters.
According to Cleveland.com, James officially informed the Cavaliers on Friday that he is opting out of the final year of his contract, which would’ve paid him $35.6 million, to enter free agency. The report adds that James has a strong interest in joining the Lakers.
From a local perspective, what does this mean for the Celtics? We laid out a number of paths that could land James in Boston earlier this month. The easiest one would’ve been an opt-in and trade, where James opts in to the final year of his Cavs deal and is then traded to the Celtics. From a financial standpoint, this deal effectively could’ve been completed as a Gordon Hayward-for-James swap, with the Celtics presumably providing draft picks to sweeten the deal.
Acquiring James in straight free agency is barely worth discussing. The Celtics enter the offseason about $30 million over the Cap, per RealGM. Signing James would likely require relinquishing two out of Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, and Hayward. Otherwise, we’re talking the loss of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, and that’s understandably a non-starter if you’re Danny Ainge.
That leaves a sign-and-trade as the most realistic means of acquiring him, but let’s be real. Outside of a report from Stephen A. Smith, the Celtics haven’t been linked to James in any substantial way. The Lakers remain the favorites if he leaves Cleveland, with the Rockets, 76ers, and maybe even Spurs ahead of Boston.
Still, it’s worth noting that the eastiest way to get him here — the opt-in and trade — is no longer on the table.
Full article @ LeBron opts out of contract — here’s what that means for Celtics
Source: GreenStreet Blog