That's with the Lakers having nearly $50m in cap space to add experience to their crop of young talent in the likes of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. James opted for a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. It is unclear how many of them will actually play with James rather than being included in a trade.
This Summer of LeBron was barely a fling.
It was all different this time.
The Philadelphia 76ers, whose young star Ben Simmons has the same agent as James, were also in the hunt, hoping to build a potential triple threat alongside the reigning Rookie of the Year and All-Star center Joel Embiid.
LeBron James' decision to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers has the potential to reshape the National Basketball Association.
Before the James news broke Sunday night, the Sixers' brass, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, made its pitch to James' agent Rich Paul. It has been widely speculated for a year that James had his eye on Los Angeles, where he maintains an off-season residence and has myriad entertainment business ventures. He already owns two homes in Southern California and has a film production company. This will require him starting from scratch in terms of building chemistry with his teammates, just like he did when he left Cleveland eight years ago and when he returned four years ago.
The 33-year-old had previously said he wanted to finish his career in OH, and although he's leaving home again, Cleveland fans are more forgiving after he ended the city's 52-year sports championship drought in 2016.
James informed the Cavs on Friday that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent.
Cleveland's roster was exposed during this year's finals, and James may not have seen a way for it to improve enough to win a fourth title. Now that he's in Los Angeles, that's impossible.
James gave Cleveland something to remember in his final season. Throw in the chance to stay in the familiar Eastern Conference and play for a storied franchise (James has frequently counted Julius Erving and Allen Iverson among his favorite all-time players), and the Sixers would have appeared to be near the top of the list.
In the end, James believed it was the right situation for him. LeBron had taken the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2016.
It's now his turn.