LeBron James is taking his talents to Southern California.
James will join the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year, $154 million deal, his representatives, Klutch Sports Group, tweeted Sunday night. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the fourth season is a player option.
The tweet read, “LeBron James, four time NBA MVP, three time NBA finals MVP, fourteen time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
— Klutch Sports Group (@KlutchSports) July 2, 2018
James can sign with the Lakers officially as soon as Friday.
The bombshell announcement changes the scope of both the Eastern and Western Conferences as the Lakers look to re-emerge as championship contenders — and Los Angeles didn’t stop at adding James.
Shortly after James’ decision was announced, the Lakers landed free agent swingman Lance Stephenson for one year and $4.5 million, and they re-signed guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $12 million deal, according to multiple media reports.
James, 33, is the latest — and one of the greatest — legends to play for the Lakers. He has averaged 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game in 1,143 career contests.
This marks the first time James will play for a team in the hotly contested Western Conference, which includes heavyweight teams such as the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. James spent his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his next four seasons with the Miami Heat, and his last four seasons back at home with Cleveland.
The Cavaliers had hoped to re-sign James, who has appeared in eight consecutive NBA Finals. The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly also had strong interest in the 6-foot-8, 250-pound superstar who entered the league directly out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
James thanked Cavaliers fans in a message on his Instagram account late Sunday. An accompanying picture showed James at the Cavaliers’ championship parade in 2016.
“Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible 4 seasons,” James wrote. “This will always be home.”
Stephenson, who has had a testy relationship with James as an opponent, will now become his teammate. The 27-year-old averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 82 games (seven starts) for the Indiana Pacers last year.
A second-round draft pick by Indiana in 2010, Stephenson has played for six teams in an eight-year career, producing 8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Caldwell-Pope, 25, averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game in his first season with Los Angeles in 2017-18 after spending his first four seasons with the Detroit Pistons.
The Lakers’ big offseason might not be finished. Another star forward, Kawhi Leonard, reportedly wants to go to Los Angeles via trade from the San Antonio Spurs.
By adding James, the Lakers immediately figure to reverse course from a recent downturn. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, which is the longest streak in franchise history. The Lakers have 16 championships, including back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 with Phil Jackson as coach.
Los Angeles now is coached by Luke Walton, who led the team to a 35-47 record last season after it went 26-56 in his first season at the helm in 2016-17.
–Field Level Media