LeBron James Reportedly Expected To Decline Player Option

Lakers superstar forward LeBron James is expected to decline his $51.4MM player option for 2024/25 to become an unrestricted free agent, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. The four-time MVP faces a June 29 deadline to finalize that decision.

Woike’s report isn’t surprising. Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, James’ agent, referred to his longtime friend and client as an impending free agent during a TNT Sports altcast at the end of last month before attempting to walk back the comment. Opting out would give James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, the opportunity to negotiate a full no-trade clause if he re-signs with with the Lakers. A return to L.A. is widely viewed as the likely outcome.

Due to the Over-38 rule, James will be limited to a three-year contract, though the 39-year-old is reportedly may not be looking to play for more than a couple more seasons.

In his 21st season in ’23/24, James averaged 25.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.3 APG and 1.3 SPG on .540/.410/.750 shooting across 71 regular season contests (35.3 MPG). He averaged 27.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 8.8 APG, 2.4 SPG and 1.0 BPG on .566/.385/.739 shooting in the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss to Denver.

James extended his own NBA record last season by making his 20th All-NBA team, all of which have come consecutively. Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan are all tied in second place with 15 total nods each. James also made his 20th straight All-Star appearance in ’23/24.

Woike’s story is largely focused on the Lakers’ decision to hire J.J. Redick as their new head coach. Woike confirms the Lakers were genuinely interested and optimistic about their pursuit of UConn’s Dan Hurley, who ultimately spurned L.A. to stay with the Huskies. According to Woike, one person in a “prominent” role with the Lakers said they had “never been more shocked” in their life when they learned of the team’s secretive pursuit of Hurley.

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