The decision to decline the option for 2018-19 was expected by James because it gives him more options, which includes him re-signing with the Cavs, who can offer him a five-year, $209 million contract.
James can officially make a decision on a new team starting Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
ESPN reported that there is a belief that James is hesitant to be the first star to join the Lakers, thus landing Leonard could be an important first step for Los Angeles.
James has a home in Los Angeles, as do his chief business associates, and the allure of playing for a historic franchise like the Lakers appeals to him.The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that there has always been discussion around the league about the 76ers adding James and Leonard this offseason. He spoke Friday to Andrienne Alpert on the set of Eyewitness Newsmakers shortly after James became a free agent.
In doing so, that dramatically decreases the chances that the Houston Rockets would be able to orchestrate the maneuvers necessary to sign both James and Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden in Houston.
80 percent of National Basketball Association teams are expected to be over the cap next season with the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Lakers and Cavaliers the primary frontrunners to sign the three-time National Basketball Association champion.
The Lakers and Sixers have to be the most excited by James's decision. After James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat in 2010, Gilbert wrote a scathing letter targeted at James, who was welcomed back with open arms by the Cavs owner when he returned four years later. But the Cavaliers assembled a weak supporting cast around James last season and attempted to revamp the team the trade deadline.
James appears to believe that the Lakers have more potential than the Cavaliers.