- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2018

The NBA’s best player has a new home. 

LeBron James agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal Sunday with the Los Angeles Lakers. The three-time NBA champion leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers and joins one of the league’s premier franchises.

The deal holds a player option after Year 3, according to Yahoo Sports.

James, 33, has made the NBA Finals eight straight seasons, but has lost in the last two years to the Golden State Warriors. By joining Los Angeles, James has surrounded himself with young talent — and is coming aboard with an organization flush with salary cap space to add another star.

Unlike his decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010 or the Cavaliers in 2014, James moved relatively fast. Free agency began midnight on Sunday.

But James‘ interest in the Lakers has been long rumored. “The King” already owns two homes in Los Angeles, a city where he can further develop his interests outside of basketball. James also has a production company, SpringHill Entertainment.

The Lakers make plenty of sense for James, who once said he was chasing Michael Jordan to become the “greatest of all time.” Los Angeles has a solid, young core in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.

The franchise will become even more appealing if the Lakers can flip some of their assets to land disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Los Angeles is also reportedly interested in free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins.

On paper, a Leonard-James combo would be a versatile, lethal option that could pose problems for the star-studded Warriors — who have won three of the last four NBA titles.

This is the second time James has left the Cavaliers, the team that drafted him with the first overall pick in 2003. But James brought Cleveland a championship, snapping a 52-year title drought in 2016 by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to the Warriors. In Game 7 of that series, James recorded an iconic chase-down block on Andre Iguodala to stop a go-ahead layup in the final minute.

“Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible 4 seasons,” James posted on Instagram, with the text overlaying a picture from the Cavaliers’ championship parade. “This will always be home.”

Klutch Sports, the agency that represents James, announced the move on Twitter.

The Lakers have won 16 championships, but their last came in 2010 over the Boston Celtics. They have not made the playoffs since 2014.

James is the NBA’s seventh all-time leading scorer. He also won two rings with the Miami Heat.

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