INSIDER: Free Agency Countdown Underway

Josh Friedman
June 29, 2018 - 2:55 pm

The NBA is already demonstrating that its offseason is more compelling than its regular season and the fun is just beginning. Tonight at 11:59 ET is the deadline for players with options for the 2018-19 season to opt into those contracts or become free agents. Multiple reports have surfaced saying LeBron James has informed the Cavs he won't exercise his option and thus become a free agent. He has switched teams twice in his career: Back in 2010 when he left Cleveland to play for the Heat and again in 2014 when he exercised an early opt out in his contract and returned to play for the Cavs.

James is the crown jewel in a star studded free agent class.  Also hitting the market are multiple all-stars Chris Paul, Paul George, Demarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan.  Before I speculate where LeBron will end up, let's put to bed one of longest of longshot hopes: LeBron is NOT returning to the Heat.  They simply don't have the room to fit him under the cap. More on that later. If I had to venture a guess, I, like others will make the Lakers the odds on favorite to sing LeBron (Paul George). Should that deal fall through, I believe he'll stay in the eastern conference and sign with the Sixers.

Even though the Heat didn't have a pick in this year's draft, Pat Riley came and spoke to us shortly after midnight on the night of the draft. I think Riley was using the media as a conduit to the fans to lower any offseason expectations they may have. The Heat are up against the cap and up against the luxury tax. Essentially, they are all but maxed out on their credit card. Should they desire to go after a free agent, they don't have the means to go shopping at Neiman Marcus or Nordstroms. Instead, they'll have to go browse at The Dollar Store. Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. on July 1st and at that time, free agents can negotiate with any team. Contracts can't be signed until the moratorium ends at noon on July 6th. So strap yourselves for plenty of rumors, speculation and reported deals. It's going to be a wild 7-10 days in the NBA.

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