NBA superstar LeBron James has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for a four-year $154 million deal
James, the 33-year-old four-time league MVP and three-time NBA champion, was expected to make a quick decision on his future after opting out of his contract with the Cavaliers on Friday.
This is the third time in eight years James has changed teams. He returned to the Cavs in 2014 after four seasons in Miami.
The Lakers have a young, exciting core but haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, with whom James has had an often contentious relationship, issued a statement wishing his departing superstar well, saying in part, “We will always remember the evening of June 19, 2016 as the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, ended the 52-year drought, delivering the long-elusive championship that many thought they would never see, a championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed. LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line.”
James’ decision is expected to affect the fate of other superstars and role players across the league, most notably San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who has reportedly expressed interest in teaming up with James.
The Lakers will give James a larger platform for his business interests and social activism – since James already owns two homes in Southern California and has a film-production company.