Basketball star LeBron James has agreed to a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agency said Sunday evening.
Klutch Sports Group announced that the contract would pay James a fully guaranteed $154 million. ESPN reported that the fourth year of the deal was a player option that James can decline in order to become a free agent again after the 2020-21 season.
James isn’t planning any more comments and there won’t be a welcoming press conference or celebration in Los Angeles, a person familiar with his plans told The Associated Press. James will make his next public comments on July 30 in Akron when he opens a public school started by his family foundation.
This is the third time in eight years that James has changed teams via free agency. He left the Cleveland Cavaliers following the 2010 season to go to the Miami Heat. He returned to Cleveland following the 2014 season.
The 33-year-old James, one of the greatest players in the NBA, is coming off a season in which he reached his eighth straight championship series. He is the first player to do so in half a century.
Last season, his 15th as a professional, James averaged 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game while playing in all 82 regular season contests. In the playoffs, James was even better, averaging 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists per game as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals before being swept by the Golden State Warriors.
During his second stint with the team that drafted him in 2003, James led the Cavaliers to the Finals in all four seasons. His team lost three of their four matchups against the Warriors, but their seven-game victory in 2016 brought the city of Cleveland its first professional sports championship since 1964.
In going to the Lakers, James is the latest in a long line of superstars — from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal — who have arrived in Los Angeles with a mandate to win championships. The Lakers have won 16 NBA titles in their illustrious history, but have not made the playoffs since 2013.
Los Angeles will also provide James with a larger platform for his business interests and social activism. He already owns two homes in Southern California and has a film production company.
The simple statement released by Klutch Sports is a stark contrast to how James has handled his previous moves. In 2010, he announced he was going to the Miami Heat at the conclusion of an ESPN special. In 2014, James announced he was returning to the Cavaliers via an as-told-to article in Sports Illustrated.
James informed the Cavs on Friday that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent. While in Los Angeles following a family vacation, he spoke to Cavs general manager Koby Altman moments after free agency opened on Sunday, and it appears that was more a courtesy than a chance for Cleveland to make one last pitch.
Shortly after the announcement, James posted a three-photo tribute to Cleveland fans on his Instagram account.
“Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons,” James wrote. “This will always be home.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.