LeBron James Free Agency Rumors: Declines Player Option, Will Hit Open Market

With LeBron James becoming an unrestricted free agent, how will this summer end up shaking out?
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The day has finally arrived. LeBron James is declining to exercise his player option for next season and will become a free agent.

It has long been expected that James would test the free agent waters in the summer of 2018 and teams have been preparing for this moment for years. As of last week, the Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and 76ers are the betting favorites to land the four-time MVP, while the Celtics, Spurs, Knicks and Heat followed.

James will be walking away from $35.6 million by declining his option, and although Cleveland can offer a five-year contract worth more than $205 million compared to other teams who can only offer a four-year, $152 million deal, it doesn't seem likely that will be a major factor in his decision.

With Paul George, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins and a slew of other guys also set to be free agents this summer, and talk of Kawhi Leonard getting traded from the Spurs continues to heat up, it seems like James will try to link up with another All-Star wherever he ends up.

Here's the latest rumors and news around James as he gets set to become a free agent.

• Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert allegedly expressed a desire for LeBron to leave so Gilbert can "get his team back." (Stephen A. Smith, ESPN)

• LeBron will reportedly meet with his closest confidants in "The Decision Cave" in the Caribbean to decide his free agency decision. James opted out of his $35.6 million player option Friday morning. (Brian Windhorst via Bleacher Report)

• By declining his option, it looks less likely the Rockets will get James. (Multiple reports)

• Kawhi Leonard reached out to LeBron James to express that he's interested in playing with the Cavs star. (Yahoo Sports)

• The Spurs and Lakers believe that a deal for Leonard would "clinch" a free agent commitment out of LeBron James to Los Angeles. (ESPN)