LeBron James declines option, will become free agent

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The most feasible path for James to go to Houston was by picking up his action and demanding a trade to the Rockets.

James had until Friday at 11:59 p.m.to make a decision on his player option. Even that was a remote possibility.

Cleveland can still offer James the largest contract at five years and over $200 million, while the most another team can put on the table is a four-year deal worth $152 million.

Of the teams other than Cleveland expected to be serious contenders for James, that leaves only the Los Angeles Lakers - although the Philadelphia 76ers could also conceivably clear enough cap space to accommodate such salary.

The good news: LeBron helped get Cleveland its first major sports title in 52 years.

Any team that acquires a player in a sign-and-trade gets "hard-capped" at $6 million more than the luxury tax, meaning the team's salary can not exceed that number.

For the third time in his illustrious career, LeBron James will have the opportunity to shake up the National Basketball Association landscape.

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McMenamin posted it on Instagram and says that this is "to save me from some repetitive conversations in the next few days when I leave the apartment and go on coffee runs downtown to fuel the free agency grind".

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James watched during Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., on June 3.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, the superstar has chosen to decline his $35.6 million player option and opt out to become an unrestricted free agent.

That doesn't mean the rumor mill hasn't stopped churning, with much of the focus on how he might land with the Lakers.

"I always believed that I'd return to Cleveland and finish my career there". That would pair arguably the two best players in the league with one of the NBA's most storied franchises.

The move is a serious blow to the Houston Rockets' chances of landing James and thus, a slight advantage for the Los Angeles Lakers. He also is unlikely to hold any meetings with teams, which is different than 2010 and 2014 - the last two times he was in the position of contemplating where to play next - when his decision stretched into mid-July.