2018 NBA free agency highlights: LeBron to the Lakers and more

LeBron James
LeBron James to the Lakers MGN Online

The NBA Finals, which ended promptly with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been over for nearly a month.

Many sports fans would’ve loved to see the series go to seven games. But the speculation over where LeBron James would land during free agency eclipsed much of the finals action — so much so that many people were ready to fast forward to his decision, which came last week.

The excitement of free agency wasn’t limited to just James — well, it basically was — but there were other big names, too, like Demarcus Cousins, Chris Paul and Paul George.  But for those players, the question wasn’t where will they sign, it was, will they play with James?

So let’s get back to James. He went from Cleveland to Miami back to Cleveland and as of last week, the Los Angeles Lakers. By signing with the Lakers, James left over $30 million on the table by not exercising his player option with the Cavaliers.

After spending days in the Caribbean with close friends mulling over his options in what has been dubbed the “Decision Cave,” James, 33, has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The three-time NBA Finals Champion, four-time NBA MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and 13-time NBA All-Star, is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time after leading the Cavs to four straight NBA finals. One of those finals appearances included a historic comeback from being down 3-1 in 2016 against the Warriors, as well as the most recent finals where the Cavs were swept.

The decision comes as a surprise to many experts who speculated James would not join the Lakers unless another superstar, i.e., Kawhi Leonard or George, were already signed. However, Leonard’s future is still up in the air, despite reports saying that he wants to be a Laker next year. San Antonio Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich, has said he will not trade Leonard to another Western Conference team.

The most significant challenge facing James is still the Golden State Warriors, but now he will meet them in the Western Conference finals, instead of the NBA Finals, which could be the demise of his eight-year NBA finals streak.

One can surmise that James did what is best for his family, as his son Lebron James, Jr. will now be able to play with one of the best high school teams in the country, Sierra Canyon High School in L.A.  During the NBA Finals, James Sr. was quoted as saying that the most significant accomplishment of his career would be able to play with or against his son in the NBA.

James’ decision was followed by the Lakers signing two other free agents, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. These moves, with the attention on James, dominated the news cycle.  But something, arguably even bigger happened the very next day: Cousins, another big name in free agency, signed a one-year deal with the defending champions for $5.3 million dollars.

You may think that is a lot for one year but think about this: Josh Smith who has been out of the league for years, is still making $100,000 more than Cousins, and he won’t play a single second this season.

With Cousins in the lineup, the Warriors would have an all-star starting at all five traditional positions. However, after being named an All-Star, Cousins season last year was cut short due to a torn left Achilles’ tendon. For the Pelicans, Cousins was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

In other notable free agency news

Paul and George, both signed with their former teams, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma Thunder, respectively. George’s former teammate, Carmelo Anthony, is reportedly on his way out of Oklahoma City, which will give the team an extra $100 million by getting rid of his contract.

Deandre Jordan signed with the Dallas Mavericks, on the team’s second go around at recruiting him. The last time, in 2015, Jordan’s teammates from the Clippers locked him in his house and talked him into staying in L.A. after the news broke about him verbally agreeing to go to Dallas.

Tony Parker’s nearly two-decade-long tenure with the San Antonio Spurs has reportedly come to an end as he signs a two-year, $10 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

Other, less notable free agent signings include:

Dwight Howard is set to sign with the Washington Wizards

Tyreke Evans signed with the Indiana Pacers

Rajon Rando signed with the Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony Tolliver signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves

Derrick Favors re-signed with the Utah Jazz

Aaron Gordon signed an $84 million with the Orlando Magic

Dirk Nowitzki re-signed with the Mavericks.

Derrick Rose re-signed with the Timberwolves.

Stay tuned for more free agency updates.