Wild: LeBron going to the Lakers only adds to West test
Kevin Durant, Paul George and Chris Paul all made quick decisions to stay put and remain in the Western Conference.
And now LeBron James is joining them.
Just like that, the West got even wilder.
Day 1 of NBA free agency was not lacking for fireworks or firepower, led by James’ decision to leave Cleveland for a second time and join the Los Angeles Lakers. James agreed to a four-year deal worth $154 million, meaning his streak of eight consecutive Eastern Conference championships — four with Miami, four with the Cavs — will end next year.
He could still go to the NBA Finals, of course. He’s just going to have a much tougher time getting there out of the West.
Compared to his past free-agent decisions, James moved super swiftly — it took him eight days to reveal in 2010 that he was going to Miami, 11 days in 2014 to say he was going back to Cleveland. This time, it took about 20 hours.
Durant, George and Paul were way faster than that.
The bonanza started Saturday night when Durant decided to sign a two-year, $61.5 million deal with the stay with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, one where he’ll make $30.5 million this season. The terms were confirmed by a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot become official until the league’s offseason moratorium ends this week.
The deal comes with a player option for 2019-20, so Durant can — and likely will — become a free agent again next summer.
George and Paul made their announcements known not long afterward. George told a party in Oklahoma City that he’s staying with the Thunder, after agreeing to terms on what is a $137 million, four-year deal that comes with an option for the final season. Paul made his intentions known on Twitter at exactly midnight EDT Sunday, saying he’s staying with the Houston Rockets after agreeing to a four-year contract worth $160 million.
All three of those players will have designs on a title next season.
As if getting through one another won’t be tough enough, James is now coming to join the party. By the time he announced, just over $900 million worth of new deals had been agreed upon, based on figures confirmed to the AP by people involved in the various decisions — almost all of that money getting committed by teams in the West.
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