LeBron James has agreed a $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a short statement, the 33-year-old’s sports management group said the three-time NBA champion has agreed a four-year contract with the Lakers, seeing the star leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second time and make his debut in the Western Conference.
Speculation had been mounting over the NBA star’s future after his player option with the Cavs expired over the weekend.
In the early hours of Monday, Klutch Sport Group posted on Twitter: “LeBron James, four time NBA MVP, three time NBA finals MVP, fourteen time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
Entering his 16th NBA season, James had been with the Cavs for 11 of them with a four-year break at the Miami Heat in 2010-2014.
This year, the Cavs made the NBA Finals for the fourth season in a row but were beaten to the title by the Golden State Warriors.
Hours after the announcement, the Cavaliers issued a statement from chairman Dan Gilbert, thanking James for leading the team to the NBA championship in 2016, calling it a title that “united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed”.
In a post on the Cavs’ Twitter page, Gilbert said: “We will always remember the evening of June 19, 2016 as the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, ended the 52-year drought delivering the long elusive championship that many thought they would never see.
“None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.”
Gilbert went on to say the team wish James “nothing but the best in the years and decades ahead” and also said they looked forward to someday retiring the star’s number 23 jersey.
“LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line…,” he added.
In 82 games this season, James averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists.
In the post-season, the 14-time All Star averaged 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and nine assists, and was tipped to MVP by the Rockets’ James Harden.
The Lakers have failed to make the play-offs for the last five seasons.
Kobe Bryant, who played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five titles, welcomed James to the “family”.
“Welcome to the family @KingJames #lakers4life #striveforgreatness @JeanieBuss @MagicJohnson and RP well done!!!,” he said on Twitter.