James has agreed to a 4 year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Klutch Sports Group announced on Sunday, ending weeks, if not months, of speculation as to where he would take his talents this time around.
James’ fourth year is a player option. It’s the longest deal he has signed since inking a six-year deal with the Heat in 2010. His previous three deals were all three years or shorter.
James’ move to the Lakers comes four years after he went back home to Cleveland, where he had stated his intention to finish his career with the Cavaliers.
James thanked his home area in an Instagram story. Saying in text overlaying a photo from the Cavs’ 2016 NBA title victory parade, “Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible 4 seasons. This will always be home.”
The four-time MVP and 14-time All Star certainly left his mark in his city, whether or not he chooses to finish his NBA career in Cleveland.
He delivered the first championship to the sports-obsessed city in 52 years and did it with storybook gusto, helping the Cavaliers become the first team in NBA Finals history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to win it all. The team he took down, the Golden State Warriors, had the best regular season record in league history at 73-9. And James put his stamp on Game 7 with one of the most memorable defensive plays in the history of the sport, chasing down Andre Iguodala to block the shot of the Warriors forward from behind in a tied ballgame, erasing a go-ahead layup.
It’s sure to be one of the most cherished defensive sequences that basketball will ever see and it led to James bellowing into Doris Burke’s microphone, “Cleveland, this is for you!”
James leaves the franchise as its leader in nearly every major statistical category: games played, points, rebounds, assists and steals. And if 2017-18 was his final act in Cleveland, what a show he put on, playing in all 82 games for the first time in his 15-year career and capping that off with a postseason performance as personally dominant as any playoff run he has ever been a part of.
James, who will become the first player in NBA history to lead a postseason in scoring then switch teams the following offseason, will now join the illustrious list of NBA legends to play for Lakers. Six of the top eight scorers in NBA history have played for the Lakers (James ranks seventh) and six of 13 players to win multiple MVPs (James has four) have also donned purple and yellow.
The Lakers also have agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, league sources tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.